I have already discussed how hard it is to get good phone service here in the Abacos. The islanders have come up with a solution for local communications. When boaters, businesses, home owners and renters want to contact each other, we all use our marine VHF radios, which are similar to CB radios. Even the taxis, fire, police, and emergency services have their own separate frequencies. Two channels are set aside here for trying to reach a person or boat, and then we switch to another channel to have our conversations. If you don’t switch to another ‘working’ channel, someone will always come on and admonish you.
When you do switch to whatever channel you want to converse on, you have to really be careful about what you are saying, because anyone can be listening. In fact it has become a sport around here, and Harbour Rats are required to eavesdrop (we even have a certificate to attest to this!). It becomes quite hilarious, and if we hear a question that we can answer or a comment we want to make, we just say “Break” or “Info!”
Calling (aka hailing) on the VHF is when you really want to have a boat name that people can pronounce. The air waves really get interesting when two boats have the same name and you never know which one is going to answer. We have close friends in the harbor whose boat is named Horizons and this is how our conversation starts… “Horizons, Horizons, Horizons, this is New Horizon” They answer with, “New Horizon, New Horizon, this IS Horizons.” Every time we hail each other we just have to laugh.
Then there are the people who have handheld VHF radios that they bring to shore with them so they can call back to their boat to get picked up.
Today we heard someone from a boat called Happy Clams being called by their spouse in their dinghy called Clam Bucket. Then I heard Piglet calling Flying Pigs. Another one of my (least) favorites is Skinwalker. How did they ever come up with those names?
It really is quite a lifestyle and totally different than what we do during the summer months. When I write this blog I am always wondering if people are saying, “They really need to get a life!”