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Owner, Green Bay Packers
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Thanks for relaying that story, Simon.

One thing that struck me right away was how fortunate that they'd had their VHF radio switched on. Channel 16 is the distress and hailing frequency but most cruisers, based on events related, could benefit from selecting another channel to monitor while in port. Most radios will do this. That would leave 16 clear for more important traffic. It's quite common for ships and fishermen to monitor a channel distinct from 16 in such situations with the channel to be used agreed upon before hand or known from prior practice. If that traffic is an irritant it can be shut off without having to stop monitoring 16.

I had a similar experience while moored in Guam with a small fishing boat adrift off the spit. His radio was so weak that we were the only vessel to pick up his distress call on 16, from 1/2 mile away. He was indeed in dire straits, about to lose a tenuous grip with his anchor on the rip-rap in 12 foot seas merely 100 yards off the spit. We liaised with the CG on Guam, who could not hear his radio transmissions at all, and jointly decided to quit talking a get our RHIB in the water. It was a short jaunt, especially since we had no visual idea of how close he actually was to us hidden behind the spit. We were glad we'd not dawdled when we saw a pretty marginal anchor rode basically tending up and down! The rest was uneventful but I think it didn't hurt at all that we had a heaving line on board. I doubt most sailors carry one. It's something to consider.

The most important factor in the whole thing though was that we had a mate on watch, on the bridge of the ship, with the VHF on. Had our practice been, unconscionably, to not have an anchor watch, even on a very secure mooring, the call would have gone unanswered to who knows what effect. Boats in distress are always likely to be low on battery power; goes with the condition.

Ironically, the Pacific Daily News monitored the whole conversation on the VHF and responded almost as quickly as we did by getting a photographer out on to the end of the spit and we made the front page of next mornings paper. A perfect photo of a young Third Mate throwing a heaving line to the stricken fishing boat. Kid had excellent technique even if he did graduate from Mass. Maritime! (g)
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