Tuesday, November 10, 2015

VHF and SSB Nets

We are back in Trinidad and I find once again I have been asked to be Thursday Net Control on the morning VHF net.  I did it last fall as well.  I don't mind.  In fact, it is a great way to give back to the cruising community and meet fellow cruisers.  People hear your voice, name and boat name each week,  and to a lesser extent, the same is true on your side.  Then one magical day, in the anti-fouling paint isle at Budget Marine you say hello to a fellow cruiser you don't know and soon they say "Hey, so YOU'RE Honey Ryder.  I hear you on the net each week.  Nice to meet you."

Our first year we met SO many cruisers first on the SSB Coconut Net and then finally in person, in some anchorage.  The same is true for last season.  We actually heard sv Badgers Set season one and two on the Coconut Net.  Half way through season two we finally met he Ken and Judith.  They invited us to a happy hour gathering of the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) and we met several other OCC cruisers that also check into the Coconut Net.  Ken let it be known that the OCC net was at 7:30 on 6227 and we started listening in on that net, meeting/hearing even more cruisers that we also see in various anchorages.

Now if you will remember back a few years, I haven't always had the best relationship with our SSB.  But I can say now, it has been a great way to meet fellow cruisers, "share information and keep cruisers connected" (part of the net control script for the Coconut Net).  Again, it's not hard to be net control.  You just need a good radio, the script and a pen and paper to take notes.  So.....if you ever have the opportunity to step up and be a net controller, take it!  And there is often the chance as current net controllers set sail leaving their day open.  You might be radio shy and or nervous but after the first time, that will pass.  Fellow cruisers don't care if you get tongue tied or goof up a hard to pronounce boat name.  They are supportive and happy to have the sharing of information.

The power of these nets was proven again this week.  Sunday morning net is usually a quite one.  Not everyone gets up on Sunday for the net.  This past Sunday as the net started, there was a broken radio transmission from a cruiser in need of assistance.  His transmission was faint and garbled at times and not everyone could hear it.  He was west of mainland Trinidad, in a bay off one of those islands over there.  His engine had quit, there was no wind and he was drifting, no immediate danger but the Venezuela coastline looms in the distance.....NOT a place you want to end up.  Through the use of those with powerful VHF radios and relays, the cruising community here was able to contact North Post Radio and they in turn contacted this solo sailor to assess the situation.  Later the Trinidad Coast Guard got involved and ultimately towed him into Chaguaramas harbor.  Nice group effort that all started because he got on the VHF radio during the scheduled morning net.    

Note -
The local net here in Trinidad is constantly looking for weather readers.  It's not as hard as it sounds but it does require internet.  All you have to do is go out to a few weather web sites and get the information and then read that on frequency when asked.  The hardest part is getting up a tad earlier so you can download the info.  But then again.....most cruisers get up way before us so that is not a problem.

Trinidad net - channel 68 at 8:00am AST
Coconut Net - SSB 8170 at 8:00am AST
OCC Net - SSB 6227 at 7:30 AM AST
KPK Net (Seven Seas Cruising Assc) - This is a new net on SSB 8104 at 7:45am AST and also available on 8152 after Cruiseheimers and Doo Dah nets
*There are many more nets depending on the area you are cruising.


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