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VHF Marine Radio Etiquette Rules to follow and how to entertain other boaters

We talked about radio use before, but lets do it again because some of us need to lighten up.

Marine radio rules and regs for us to follow

Some of us when calling (hailing) our good buddy's say the boat name they are calling (usually some descriptive name like "barfing good times for all" or "I think I heard enough already" or this true one "om pa pa - om pa pa" try listening to that three times ) three or four times in a row, and if that's not tedious enough they say it clearly, plainly, slowly, enounciatingly, pronounciatingly, excruciatingly perfect. Enough already again, just say it once, normally -- are you in love with saying the boats name or something? Besides you just talked to them five minutes ago, why should all of us have to listen to your ten minute hailing speech again. And then, all you have to say is something like, "Hey Joe, do you want french or thousand Island dressing?"

Now I know its proper to repeat three times when hailing -- but give it a break.

Here are some pet peeves and tongue in cheek ideas:
  • Is your radio set on low power when you call Joe, no one in the next state wants to hear you.
  • How about staying on 68 or 69, 71,72, if you're going to keep calling every five minutes.
  • If they don't respond, wait awhile longer than thirty seconds before trying again, unless the world is ending it wont matter.
  • Try using your cell phone.
  • If your making us all listen to your party plans, how about an open invitation.
  • Sticky mikes happen a lot,  check yours if your not hearing anything. The easiest way is with another radio. (call for a radio check)
  • Just say the name once--pleeease, unless it really does sound  better to repeat repeat
Okay, I've cooled off some, ranting can be therapy, let's continue.
  • Transmit on low power unless, a mayday call (radios have a high/low switch).
  • Hail on channel 16 and then agree to switch to 68,69 or others for chit chat.
  • Keep your chit chat short, others are waiting and we only have a few channels for recreational use.
  • Btw, radio use (all channels) is supposed to be for operational purposes not chit chat and exchanging dinner recipes. This rule is widely ignored,
  • Btw, did you know your required to monitor 16 if you have a radio?
  • Be polite and concise, then get off. 
  • Hold the mike close but don't yell.
  • You can say over but you dont need to, most know when its over.
  • Over.
  • Roger.
  • Roger dodger.
  • Standing by on 16, 69, pins and needles.
I'm good, I'm done.

Another radio post here >>marine-radios-do-you-need-one?


Swinomish Channel thin water or "A Rising Tide Floats All Boats"

         "A rising tide lifts all boats."  Ever heard this old saying or something like it?  Most of us have seen a derelict boat on shore somewhere, half submerged, half part of the driftwood. Those boats are long past rising on a flood tide.

           Lets think about when that boat went aground.  Did the skipper intentionally run-aground?  Doubtful, maybe a storm, maybe mechanical failure, possibly.  In all likelihood someone made a decision or series of decisions that eventually led to grounding and eventual loss of the vessel. I suppose you are now thinking, that's so obvious, and your post is boring me, get to your point.  Okay,

         Okay, here is a real life boating decision I made that others may relate to.  When planning our departure time from Shelter Bay on Swinomish Channel I consulted my tide forecasts noting that low tide would be around noon.  I also noted that numerous skippers have reported shoaling and groundings within the buoyed channel near Goat Island where I was headed.  So my decision was to delay departure and time my transit so that I would arrive at the problem area, at or after low tide.

          Now some may think that was dumb thinking, intentionally looking for thin water, and waiting until the water was the thinnest, of course your going to get into trouble. But they're wrong, I was thinking if I do run aground, the rising tide would soon release us and away we go.  If on the other hand, we went ahead and left early and still ran aground on a falling tide, we could suffer damage as the water fell further, our stranded boat with its five and half foot deep keel could tip over and when the tide rose we could down-flood before the boat righted and essentially become another derelict.

           So my decision to wait a few hours may easily have resulted in another enjoyable outing, versus who knows!

         Very very sad proof of what happens when you run aground on a falling tide  Nightmare on Swinomish Channel

          Lets see, how does the saying go?  "all skippers have run aground, or will run aground, and the rest are liars" or something like that.

        While were on the subject of decisions and choices. I would be remiss if I didn't expand a little beyond driving my boat into the dirt, but I will avoid lecturing. You can just add your own thoughts while glancing over the list below.

Decisions and Choices we make
  • PFD's "life jackets," everyone has them, but do you insist wearing them at certain times?
  • fire extinguishers?
  • anchors
  • routine maintenance
  • alcohol/drugs
  • second skipper (huh) can others besides you run the boat when you fall overboard
  • checklist(s)
  • float plan
  • non swimmers
  • handling fuel on board
  • first aid and medicines
  • emergency plan, supply's
  • go or no go into poor conditions
  • wake or no wake (huh)
Try adding to this list, I'll bet you can.

It's October and I'm going out this weekend, how about you?
Swinomish channel thin water


This sites Purpose is ?

The Purpose is to help others by sharing what we know.
We learned the hard way, you don't have to.

     Our first trip started by putting in at Olympia, I thought that was how to visit Victoria and cruise the San Juans.  We foolishly attempted to cross the Strait of Juan De Fuca in the fog with a  truly dangerous and scary massive flood tide sporting fifteen foot waves.  We almost lost everything under the Narrows Bridge at Tacoma when we ran out of fuel. While switching tanks the 10 mph current threatened to drag us under a anchored  barge. (ouch) We paid for reservations at Roche and Friday Harbor and then abandoned our prepaid fees when our plans changed.  We averaged around 10 mph at under 3 mpg  paying dearly for fuel.

     In the end we persevered, had fun and kept coming back.

     It wasn't long before I became acutely aware that there was very little information for first timers and out of area boat travelers with simple questions needing simple answers. We put in at Olympia that first trip because we didn't know any better, we thought it was close by to the San Juans and knew of nowhere else to go. After all isn't, Puget Sound, The San Juans, Juan De Fuca, Hood Canal, all one big place? The simple answer is a resounding hell no! We thought Deception Pass was a dangerous place with massive waves to be avoided at all costs.  We had never heard of Swinomish Channel or Squalicum Harbor, had no idea that wonderful little Jones island even existed.  Things have changed for us in almost twenty years of cruising the area. The simple questions are all answered. Our children arrive in their own boats.  We no longer put in at Olympia unless we are heading for Gig Harbor.

     So, for my enjoyment and to help others I write little tidbits about the area and our good times.  I keep in mind those very simple questions that stump newbies.  

FYI - I have learned enough to confidently write and publish two books - "San Juan Islands Cruise Guide" and "San Juan Islands Travel guide,"  both available at Amazon books.

I have tried to share information that others will find useful, especially  budget conscious trailer boaters dragging along family's.

       Some of my readers will not actually be able to visit the places I write about, so I try to keep articles entertaining,  and include pictures where I can.



Must a sailor use sails to be called a sailor?



A person whose job it is to work as a member of the crew of a commercial or naval ship or boat, esp. one who is below the rank of officer.
A person who goes sailing as a sport or recreation.

Sailor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A sailor, mariner, or seaman is a person who navigates water-borne vessels or assists in their operation, maintenance, or service. The term can apply to professional mariners, military personnel, and recreational sailors as well as a plethora of other uses.

1.  seafarer. Sailor, mariner, salt, seaman, tar  are terms for a person who leads a seafaring life. A sailor  or seaman  is  occupation is on board a ship at sea, especially a member of a ship's crew below the rank of petty officer: a sailor before the mast; an able-bodied seaman. Mariner  is a term now found only in certain technical expressions: master mariner  (captain in merchant service); mariner's compass  (ordinary compass as used on ships); formerly used much as “sailor” or “seafaring man,” now the word seems elevated or quaint: Rime of the Ancient Mariner.Salt  and tar  are informal terms for old and experienced sailors:an old salt; a jolly tar.
1.  landlubber.


Sailer - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary noun \ˈsā-lər\. Definition of SAILER. : a ship or boat especially having specified sailing qualities. First Known Use of SAILER. 15th century

So, does a power boater even want to be called a sailor?
(how about skipper, and the rest are crew)