Date: 07 May 97 15:51:20 EDT
From: Gene Gruender <104675.2134@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Rainbow Chaser and Ocho Rios

May 7, 1997

We left Port Antonio after getting clearance from customs to Ocho Rios. Setting sail at 7 am, we thought we'd make the 40 mile trip in about 8 hours and pull into Ocho Rios about 3 or 4 PM. We must have bad wind karma, as when we go to the windy places , it dies.

We'd been prepared for the Windward Passage, expecting a rough, flying downwind run. We were becalmed through it all. Now we planned to fly down the Jamaican coast, and we had more current than wind! In the end we motorsailed most of the way and hoped our transmission would stay in one piece. It did, but the drivetrain is doing a lot of vibrating. The coupler is loose, in addition to the transmission problem, so it's getting shaky.

Other than that, the trip was pretty uneventful, except the fishing. We trailed 2 lines, since we're nearly out of food. We need some fillets. I got one fish, he jumped several times and threw the hook. I don't lose many fish once they're hooked, so that was a disappointment. Later, one of the rods started screaming. As I started to reel it in, the other took off, also. I had one, Nellie the other. Once again, mine threw the hook. Bad luck. I took over Nellie's, since it was out a couple hundred yards and she was having trouble. I got him out of the water, just planing on top, so he was coming in pretty quickly. I was a little nervous, though, because I knew that as far as I was dragging him, it could easily attract the attention of a shark or a barracuda. We needed the fish. The distance he was being drug was a lot longer than it may sound, too, since we were still going forward about 3 knots. Normally, I'd just heave too, hit the autopilot and the boat would stop nearly dead still while I brought the fish in. We were going wing on wing, with a sail on each side, so it was more problem to heave to than to fight the fish on in.

Nellie was video taping the fish coming in and telling what was going on. When the fish was maybe 150 feet from the boat, I saw a dark shadow go across in front of the fish. I was pretty sure I'd had it, but I reeled faster to try to get it. About then, the shark made a big smash at my fish, exploding the water. With the dorsal fin cutting the water just like something out of "Jaws", my fish was gone. Nellie was screaming, the water was boiling, my lure was gone, and we had nothing but a sharks dorsal fin slipping away to show for it! He taken the whole thing, just cutting my 60 LB steel leader like a strand of a spider web. So much for my fish.

We ran a close race to Ocho Rios. It was getting dark just as we got there and I had no chart. We hadn't planned to come to Jamaica and had found no charts along the way. I did have a harbor drawing in my "Cruising Guide to the Caribbean", though, and it got us in. (Thanks, Anne!)

We had no more than gotten in and a Rasta Man came up in a boat wanting to know if we wanted to "Party". Of course, what he had in mind was selling us the "party supplies", which would consist of a little baggy of funny smelling weeds. We politely declined.

A few minutes later Nellie had the TV going. They have TV here, mostly daytime soaps, old American reruns, cricket matches, CNN in the morning, etc. We'd heard the stories of the Colombian drug boat back at Port Antonio. The local people had told us all about it. We figured they'd embellished it a bit for our benefit, telling us about all the people who'd gotten rich over it, and all the people who'd died over the whole thing. The first item on the local news was about a Port Antonio taxi driver who'd had his throat slashed. They said it had been yet another death in the continuing battle over all the Colombian cocaine from the boat that had run on the reef! It would seem our Port Antonio friends had just told us just like it was.

We've gone in this morning, cleared customs and hit a local teller machine (it spouts out Jamaican money and deducts American dollars from your account. Gives balances, etc.) shortly after visiting the Jamaican Tourist Board office, where they told us no ATMs existed. It was one block from their office.

We hit the grocery store just after the Burger King. Burger King had more or less stateside prices, the grocery gave us another bout of sticker shock. Catsup and beef steaks were about stateside prices, most everything else is high. Can goods like peas, corn, etc., $1 at a can, for example.

We're heading in a bit to try to locate a method to send the email - obviously, if you get this, we were successful. It'll probably be a week or so before another download.

Gene Gruender
aboard Rainbow Chaser
sitting at Ocho Rios, Jamaica