Tuesday, June 6

Roger that.

I find beauty in the language of boating. Not unlike any other organized community of people, there are protocols and etiquette. On the VHF (very high frequency) radio, you call another boat by saying, for example, “Best Ever, Best Ever, this is Sanctuary.” Sometimes you repeat your own boat name twice. There is the familiar “roger” or “copy” to alert the listener that you have understood some direction. Often there is the little embellishment with a “roger that”. You finish a communication with several different possible endings. If you’re soon to be unavailable, you may say “Sanctuary, over” “Over” can also just alert the listener that you are done with that particular statement. If you’re sticking around you might say “Sanctuary, standing by”. People often also add the channel they are on. “Sanctuary, standing by on 72”.

If you are stranded in a dinghy with Max, for example, on a beach in Alaska at night and the motor won’t turn over and you find you need to call the “mother ship” to get rescued, the proper procedure for talking on the VHF would be the following:

Eaglet: “Sanctuary, Sanctuary, this is Eaglet”
Sanctuary: “Go ahead Eaglet, this is Sanctuary”
Eaglet: “hey Dad, we’re stranded. Help!”
Sanctuary: “Okay, Eaglet, we’re sending Larry over in his dinghy to tow you back, Stand by.”

Now rules are meant to be broken. Etiquette is meant to be discarded. And recreational fishermen, it would seem, have a completely different idea of how to talk on the radio. Their conversations are very informal and oftentimes we just listen to them talking randomly and at length about little details of their day and their lives. Occasionally they mention something to the tune of, “hey Bob, how’s it lookin’ out there? Have any beer on board?”

Many times on this trip we’ve been fairly well isolated from any other boats and the range of the radio limits our announcements to pretty much just us. In those times, especially after another arduous crossing, you may hear the following:

“Grand Banks Fleet, Grand Banks Fleet, this is Becky, from Sanctuary. Due to the disturbing shade of green that my face has taken on and the sorry state of my tummy, the cooking class for today at 1pm has been rescheduled. The chef’s weak constitution did not hold up well on our crossing and the thought of food is making me sick. Sanctuary, lying by (on the couch). Over.”

Post-script: I must elaborate on said arduous crossing. Coming from Duncanby Landing we were caught off guard and had not battened down anything in the boat. I was in my familiar position laying down on the couch (which, I might add, worked pretty darn well from keeping me from really getting bad off) as Max bravely caught flying objects near her horizon-watching post next to the galley. Buck was laying on the other couch and we were riding 5-6 foot rolling swells that were made more uncomfortable by the side chop we were getting. Forward and back and then side-to-side despite the presence of stabilizers on the boat. I was contemplating getting up to help secure more objects when a large brass lamp caught me in the back of the head. Just as I was rubbing out the pain I watched in slow motion as a cascade of fruit came spilling off the counter above Buck's head; a projectile fruit cocktail on a mission. First the orange, then the mango and finally, one lime dropped squarely on his head, bouncing off onto the floor. It was very funny, even at the time. Even knowing that I was green, with a goose egg on my head, and that Max looked even worse than me - it was truly comical.

Post-script #2: I arrived back home from Wrangell last night and am sorting through all the final posts I'd like to put up about the conclusion of the journey. Stay tuned for those and thanks so much for coming along. I, probably no surprise to anyone, would like to continue the blog and will soon redesign the name and feel of the site. More about food, community, Seattle, seasonal, local food and the people who share their stories and humor with others.


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