Safety Net

Written on Monday, February 17, 2014

A much better day.  Today we discovered the net.  We’ve read plenty about cruising radio nets (the original chat rooms).  But today we were initiated.  We’re anchored in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side, the main hub for hanging out and getting things done in St. Martin.  We’re neighbors with all the megayachts with their crews with matching polos, but we’re also—we’ve learned—part of a community of people voyaging around the world, or living here on their boat in humble, simple circumstances.  And they’re eager to help and be of service.

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The local radio net, on VHF channel 10 at 7:30am is hosted by Mike “Shrimpy”.  He welcomes new arrivals, wishes departing boats well, moderates announcements, swap/barter/need/giveaway, and miscellaneous information.  You name your boat.  When he acknowledges you, you go ahead and speak.  I botched this protocol and was corrected in no uncertain terms, but still got to say my bit.  It’s kind of like attending the town hall meeting for all the boats within a several mile radius.  By the end of the forty-five minute net, we managed to get offers to help from three people willing to teach us about boat electronics, got a lead on a used dingy (to replace the one we’re borrowing from Sunsail), and an invitation to just chat.  The last one truly changed our day.

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Ken and Lynn invited us over to their boat (s/v Silverheels III): the sloop anchored a few hundred yards away with green canvas.  We decided on 2pm.  They’ve been on their boat for eleven years.  Canadians.  They’ve been cruising the Caribbean for six years.  The first five were spent in Canada.  They proceeded to take the next three hours and—after offering us ice cold drinks (oh man)—explained Ohm’s Law, the difference between 6V and 12V batteries and why 6V+6V is better than 12V.  Lynn taught Emily how to make pizza dough in her kitchen, gave her a large stainless steel bowl from her mother’s kitchen, and they showed us how they rig their wifi, secure their dingy, and countless other tidbits of information and wisdom.  I have pages of notes.

We also had three people stop by our boat and offer help or items we might need.  We also felt great offering the coffee pot that came with our boat.  It was gone in a matter of minutes.  We don’t drink coffee, so it was an easy give, but it still felt wonderful to contribute to the community, even in this small way.

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The icing on the cake—quite literally—was the box of whipping cream Lynn gave Emily.  They were having company over and needed room in their freezer for a tiramisu.  So she gave Emily the cream.  We proceeded to hand whip it and put it on the chocolate cake Emily baked in our oven.  So good!  We all went to bed well fed.  We’ve still got a lot to learn, but thanks to our wonderful new neighbors, I think we’re starting to get the hang of things.