Two suggestions. When you are in a specific forum the chat doesn't seem to ever work. Maybe replace those forms with the same Google search used on the main forum top page before you drill down to a specific forum?
When opening the main page, how about pre-populating the chat room with the 10-15 most recent messages? Yucata does that, I think it's a huge help. 1- if you had to reload the page you don't lose chat, 2- people can jump into a conversation more easily, 3- provides for some async chat which is better than just silence.