“Ship on my port side, ship on my port side…come in”. Such a familiar cry over the VHF, as 20 or more watch officers in VHF range look up from reading their newspapers (let’s face it, you never had time to read them while in port!), and ask, “is he talking to me?”
In this day and age of greater emphasis on training and more and more sophisticated equipment, are our seas really getting safer? Are collisions dropping? Is AIS helping?
AIS, the savior of VHF assisted collisions! Now you know Dopey’s name on your port side! But why should we care? What is this untold fascination with using VHF?
So how about a campaign to NOT use the VHF when following the Rules of the Road? (Naturally areas under VTS management and such, would not fall into this category). If you know what you are doing and so does the other officer, VHF is a moot point. If you know what you are doing and Dopey clearly does not, then is talking to him really going to instill in you a greater level of confidence in his abilities? I certainly doubt it. Just ignore him and follow the rules.
While it may be amusing for the bored night watch to listen to, (or even participate in), the catcalls and mocking every time someone comes on the VHF, a reduction in this type of abuse may be one of the positive side effects of not using VHF.
As an aside, a couple of anecdotes.
Heard over the VHF is a busy European waterway, “I say old chap, is your steering gear working?” to which the reply was “Oh yes, my steering gear is working fine”…“Well bloody use it then!”
Two ships passing a few miles apart…”Hello, ship on my port side…my satellite is broken, can you give me position”. The 2nd Mate duly obliged and gave him one 60’ behind where he really was. We often wondered what his shock must have been when he reached land before he was supposed to.
About your author… he has not been to sea for a while so may be somewhat out of touch. Feel free to bring him up to date as necessary by leaving your comments below.