It's fun to compare plans, and to try to remember who is doing what. And, no surprise, we bump into some people repeatedly at the different places we go, since many of us are doing more or less the same things.
At the end, sometimes the net controller will ask for a volunteer to run the net on the next day; or sometimes the same person will do it for weeks at a time (as long as they are in the area). The whole net affair takes about 30 minutes here in Barra, and was a bit longer is some other areas we've been in. After the net, Channel 22 remains open for use by all the cruisers as a local "hailing" channel. So if you want to contact another boat, you can first try them on Channel 22, and then you agree to switch to some other channel for your conversation. The official hailing channel is Channel 16 -- that is what is monitored by the Coast Guard (in the US), and all boats underway typically monitor 16. But in the marinas and anchorages, at least here in Mexico, we all use Channel 22 to talk throughout the day. And it is sort of like an old "party line" phone, in the sense that you can listen in to other peoples' conversations! When other people agree on channel to switch to for their conversation, if you are particularly interested you can just switch over to that channel as well and listen in!
We made great use of the fact that people monitor Channel 22 throughout the day when we came into Barra de Navidad two weeks ago. If you look at the "How I Wonder Where We Are" map, you will see that we are located in the Barra back lagoon -- is it a back-water area, open only through a narrow passage. When we came in, we were totally confused about where to go -- we knew that the water depth back in the lagoon was low in many places, and that the channel is not marked! At one point we ran aground, but we were able to back off before getting seriously stuck! We flagged down a passing dinghy, and they suggested we call for assistance on Channel 22. Within 20 seconds, we were talking to another boat who was already anchored in the lagoon, and who could actually see us. He basically talked us in the whole way! At one point I remember him saying " no no, don't go any farther to starboard, you're gonna run out of water!"
I think one big reason that new arrivals run aground here is that one of the most widely used navigation softwares, called Navionics, actually shows the deep-water channel, but it is off place by about 200 feet to one side of the actual channel location! Earlier this week there was a trimaran stuck for most of the day, right in the location of the Navionics presumed channel!
|The boat 'Lovely Rita' firmly affixed in the sand bar at low tide. Over the radio|
they sounded quite OK about the whole situation -- they said they were doing
shots of tequila, waiting for high tide... because, what else are you gonna do!?