Your brain correctly filled those letters in. Yup, we are back in Grenada and yup the radio retards are still here. Maybe you think I’m being harsh or too foul, but I promise you I’m not.
First let me give you some background on what a marine VHF radio is and how it works. A marine VHF radio is on pretty much every boat out on the water and has been for many years. Its very similar to a CB radio that truck drivers use in North America. However its different in a few ways.
1. A marine VHF is for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore only communications (you cannot use 2 handhelds to speak to each other on land).
2. Depending on your country, a valid VHF license is required (called a ROC-M in Canada).
3. They use different frequencies that are provide longer range.
4. Channel 16 is for Emergencies and monitored by most boats and the Coast Guard around the world.
Now because these radios are an essential part of our safety equipment and somewhat controlled there are more rigid rules than on the CB bands. However, its still somewhat of a free for all and they mostly require courtesy and maturity of the user community to function properly. Each island or location we travel to will have slightly different accepted rules on the use of the VHF. Two of the most important rules are called the “Hailing” and “Working” channels. You see, since a VHF radio has a ton of channels but you can only be tuned to a single channel at a time, you never know what channel a specific boat’s radio may be tuned to. So a “Hailing Channel” is chosen and generally agreed upon by the local boating community. All boats in the area will tune their radio to a specific channel and have it sit there all the time (68 here in Grenada). This means that you can put out a call on that channel for any boat you may want to talk with. Once that boat responds, you then pick a new channel to move to so you leave the hailing channel free for other users. This new channel is called a “working channel”. Now I realize the above may be somewhat confusing so lets do an example of what a call out would look like.
First I pick up the radio microphone and ensure the radio is tuned to the proper “hailing channel”.
Party of Five: Avanti… Avanti… Avanti… this is Party of Five hailing on 68.
Pause while everyone on Avanti fights over the microphone.
Avanti: Party of Five this is Avanti. Do you want to go to 69 and up?
Avanti wants to move to channel 69 but continue going to higher channels if we hear people already using 69
Party of Five: Roger Avanti, 69 and up!
Both boats switch to 69 and listen to see if anyone is on the channel. The original hailing boat is supposed to initiate the conversation on the new channel.
Party of Five: Morning Bob.. Damn that was a hell of a party last night. Where the hell did I get nipple tassels and why did I wake up in a banana hammock?
Avanti: I have no recollection of the nipple tassels, but I was shocked you could fit in Robbie’s speedo!
5 old bitties that heard me call Avanti and followed us to channel 69 are now logging onto to Facebook to say how we are terrible parents and they are disgusted.
Alright.. So that is how a proper VHF conversation should work.. Now, can you see a small problem with this arrangement?…… No?….. Well what if you just arrived in a place after sailing a long distance and you have no idea what arbitrary channel the local community picked as a “hailing channel”… Or, possibly your first language is not English and you don’t understand this fact, even after reading the local guide. The entire thing hinges on the fact that its “assumed” everyone knows this channel. As you can imagine, its not uncommon for boats to not know. Many long distance boats will pick a channel to sit on with their buddy boats and use it as both the “hailing and working” channel since the odds someone else is on that channel in the middle of ocean (12 mile range) is pretty slim. So its pretty common for arriving boats to be using 68 and start chattering on that channel. THIS IS WHERE THE COURTESY AND MATURITY COMES INTO PLAY. If that happens, this is an example of a proper course of action.
Boat1: Hey, what a great passage. Damn we had fantastic wind and caught 2 Mahi Mahi in the last 20 miles.
Boat2: No kidding. I haven’t had a passage like that in a long time. I’m really looking forward to putting the anchor down, cracking a beer and having some chill time. We didn’t catch any fish, want to share?
Grateful: BREAK… BREAK… BREAK…
Boat1: Boat2, I’m hearing a BREAK.. Go ahead BREAK!.
Grateful: Hello this is S/V Grateful. I just want to let you know that channel 68 is a hailing channel here in Grenada. Can you please pick a working channel and move off 68?
Boat1: Oh, sorry, we didn’t know. Thank you for letting us know…. Boat2.. Do you want to go 69 and up?
Boat2: 69 and up!
5 old bitties change to 69 because they have no life and want to listen about these 2 boats trip from wherever. They are hoping to hear some bullshit they can complain about on the Women for Sail Facebook group (maybe one person forgot to tether one night).
To the people reading my blog, this will seem completely simple and normal process. Unfortunately here in Grenada there are quite a few social rejects (see I gave a nice name this time) that have ZERO concept on how to be a proper human being. Instead of the above conversation, one of the following will happen.
1. Someone yelling “GET OFF, GET OFF, GET OFF” over and over in their microphone. They are too stupid to realize that the boats won’t hear them if they are actively talking into their microphones. So this happens OVER AND OVER AND OVER as a stupid person yells into their microphone at the exact time one of the boats is keying their mic talking to the other boat. Everyone in all the anchorages within 12 miles gets to enjoy this stupidity.
2. Social reject extraordinaire takes his handheld VHF and holds it up to the microphone on his ships VHF to create feedback. He creates loud feedback that can only be heard when the other boats stop talking since his boat is a screaming pile of shit and his VHF is wired in with coat hangers and twist ties. The new boats wonder why there is feedback when they stop talking, but since their radios work over top of it, they keep talking on the hailing channel. Everyone trying to properly let them know of their mistake has to deal with Mr. piece of shit boat’s feedback. (you know cause feedback is SOOOOO MUCH better than someone’s talking). Seriously I have no idea how these people got this far into life without eating paint chips and dying of their own stupidity.
3. Ahh, my favorite. Mr or Mrs Fucknuckle thinks that keying their microphone over and over and over and over and over (keying means just pressing the microphone button) should take care of the problem. So all everyone hears is just clicking on the radio when the original 2 boats stop talking. YA… That should tell those bastards that this channel is not for talking, cause clicking couldn’t possibly be local interference (seriously, I cannot make up this much stupid).
Now.. The commonality to all this stupid is one thing. None of these cowards will ever say their boat name, ever. I mean seriously, they really should give out their boat names. It would help us help them. You know with helmets, signs, crayons and such. We can give them some VHF rules written in bubble letters since I guarantee they NEVER studied or wrote any certification.
Sigh.. Rant over!