VHF 16 is NOT Your Personal Radio Station, Mario!

posted in: Offshores | 0

Mel did not do a post yesterday because she was a little seasick. Going upwind is not fun. After Mel complained about how fickle the winds in the Med were, they decided to settle down and stay right up Marvin’s nose. We had to tack. Cruisers hate tacking. Not going directly to your goal seems so…inefficient. Okay Med, you made your point.
Of course, even though the winds are consistent now there is still plenty to keep one busy, especially on the night watches. Last night Mel was at the helm watching all of the fishing boats circle around on AIS, and she paused her audiobook to listen a bit to VHF 16, the channel that ships use to communicate with each other. At first she enjoyed it, hearing chatter with Spanish accents, French accents, Japanese accents…Unfortunately, as the night went on, the chatter became less official and took on a…zoo-like quality.
“Mario! Mario! You are such a #$%!” “Click-clickety-click-click-click-clicccckkk-click” (for two minutes some guy tapped out an unidentifiable song with his call button. This means it was probably Zeppelin.) “Woo-hoo! Sexy lady!” (man in high-pitched voice.) Pan flute music. That’s right. Pan flute music. And, of course, seeing how long he could draw it out in one breath: “Maaaaarrrrrrriiiiiiioooooooo!”
This goes on, uninterrupted. The VHF volume goes from 10 to 3. Mel goes down to get some water, and when she comes up she hears a boat talking to another boat with a clear, commanding, American voice, even at volume 3:
“…part of NATO operation (unclear) with a mission to PROTECT and DEFEND and to DEFEAT TERRORISM around the world. Please sir, switch to Channel 74.”
You could have heard a pin drop on channel 16. Mel swelled with pride. “Go USA!” she thought. Let our awesome country show them how VHF 16 is done! Of course, the silence likely occurred because everyone had probably switched to channel 74 to eavesdrop on the questioning, but VHF 16 stayed quiet and professional for at least a good hour. And then, at 3 a.m.: “Maaaaarrrrriiiiioooooo!”
Mel thought of lots of retorts for this: “NATO guy: hot. You guys: NOT hot.” or “You know what’s sexy? Silence.” or “Fish with your poles, not your mouth.” In the end, she chickened out, as she didn’t want to piss off the fishing boat circling around at 0.3 kts directly in her path.
Mel hopes that NATO is around again tonight to keep these guys in line. Poor guys/girls. The downside of being awesome is that you never get a break.

Boat stuff: About 302 nm in last 48 hrs. We broke a plastic reefing sheave, but Greg replaced it and we are using a gibe preventer on the boom even though we are going upwind to stop the boom from bouncing and minimize the stress on our reefing lines. We are currently motorsailing with a single-reefed main at wind angle 30 degrees. The apparent wind is only 15 kts, so we don’t need the reef, but we don’t trust the Med yet and so we aren’t shaking it out. The Mistral winds from France are on their way, and we are supposed to miss them, but we shall see…

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