Thursday, 29 August 2013

Nosy Neighbours

Yes, that's us - nosy neighbours. We have progressed beyond simply sitting on deck looking out at the scenery and now frequently use our binoculars to get a close up look at what is happening on the decks of other boats, and we even (shockingly!) listen in to other people's conversations on the VHF radio. For the non sailors out there, it is customary in the San Blas to use channel 72 as the "hailing" channel. That means that when you are in sight of another boat, (VHF range is usually line-of-sight) you can call out the name of the other boat on channel 72, and if the other boat responds, both parties agree to move frequencies, usually one up or one down, to have their conversation and free up channel 72. The thing is, everyone else can move up or down and listen in too. I imagine it is much like the days of party lines on telephones.

So, when we are bored, or when we are curious, we listen in. Most of the time, the conversation between other boats is about trying to fix some random boat or technology problem, which is generally not that interesting and we go back to 72 to wait for something else to come by. Some couples on boats have a portable VHF that one of them will take with them in the dingy if they go off exploring on their own and then you hear conversations like, " What time will you be back, honey?" or "Do you want me to take the chicken legs out of the freezer for dinner?" (We had mild envy that some of these boats have freezers on board, but in this cloudy weather it has been a struggle to keep our fridge going with our solar panels, so I can't imagine we'd ever be able to keep up with the energy needs of a freezer; it would become a "slushy" instead.)

Occasionally, listening in on the VHF has been very helpful, like when we overhear people talking about the pros and cons of a place we're going to be visiting, or once Phil was able to offer a tool to someone who had a boat problem and bemoaned that he didn't have the right thing to do the job. Several times we've heard comments about the weather, from boats who have better access to forecasting tools like satellite imagery or radar. About half the time their predictions are correct and it is helpful, and the other half the time it has the same limitations of weather forecasters anywhere: rain when it should be clear, wind when it is supposed to be calm, and so on.

The other day we suffered the common fate of eavesdroppers: discussions of a party were going around and we were not included. Served us right for listening into what was none of our business, I guess! But all was not lost, and we heard a "Diva, Diva" on the radio the next morning and got our own official invitation and enjoyed a fun night socializing with other cruisers.

This new unbecoming behavior might just be a sign that it is time for us to move on; that palm trees and white sand beaches aren't quite as stimulating as one would hope. And indeed, as I may have mentioned in previous posts, we are thinking about moving further west along the Panamanian coast, but we're just thinking about it, and who knows, if something interesting is on the radio, we might stay here another day...

P.S. An update on our boat pets: Jayne and Phil, They left us just over a week ago now and we were very sad to see them go, especially because now we have to go back to fighting over whether the Captain or the Crew is responsible for washing dishes. Last we heard, they were in Colon, waiting for a boat that could take both them and the motorcycles all the way to Colombia.

P.P.S. An update on our location: If you click on the link above called "Diva's location via satellite" or if you get re-directed to the "findmespot" website via an email, it has been recommended that you click on the "satellite" tab in the upper right hand corner of the map. The default image is using the "map" tab and I have been told that it seems as if Diva is simply floating in the ocean next to nothing. However the satellite image shows the groups of islands and gives you a better sense of where we are.

P.P.P.S. An update on sharks: I have now seen several sharks and have survived to tell the tale! Two were on the ends of fishing lines - one of these was 6 feet long - but both were let go, thankfully. One was while I was in the water, and despite knowing logically that it wasn't going to hurt me, I turned around, swam away and got out of the water quite quickly! Anyways, they have been fascinating to see and someday, as I have promised many times, I will post pictures.

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