Wednesday, July 03, 2013


A young man wanting to earn some money, decided to hire himself out as a handyman-type and started canvassing a wealthy neighbourhood.

He went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had any jobs for him to do. "Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?"

The young man said, "How about 50 dollars?" The man agreed and told him that the paint and ladders that he might need were in the garage.

The man's wife, inside the house, heard the conversation and said to her husband, "Does he realize that the porch goes all the way around the house?"

The man replied, "He should. He was standing on the porch."

A short time later, the man came to the door to collect his money.

"You're finished already?" he asked.

"Yes," the young man answered, "and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats."

Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50.

"And by the way," the young man added, "That's not a Porch, it's a Ferrari."

Misunderstandings can happen. We humans are less than perfect communicators. It is not always what we say that is misinterpreted, but sometimes rather what we don’t say or how we say something that would have provided context. This is especially true with conversations over the phone or by email where no body language is there to support the conversation. Same holds true for conversations on the VHF radio.

Not helpful radio conversations go like this “ White boat to the right, watch out you are heading for a rock shoal just off the main channel across from the island”. This conversation gets the attention of 100 boats that think they are about to run aground. Helpful conversations go like this “White Sea Ray towing dingy on our starboard heading north towards Bear Island you are approaching a rock shoal to your starboard ahead about 300 feet adjacent to Bear Island.

I am always amazed, that more often than not on a busy Saturday large boats giving securities going through narrow channels routinely get no response ... and yet there, coming the other way around the bend will be another boat smack in the middle of the channel. How many times have I cursed under my breath as the happy skipper waves going by with music blaring and oblivious to the danger caused.

Last season I heard a conversation on the VHF in Russian that went on for five minutes on channel 16 as many boaters chastised them to get off the channel to no avail.The Coast Guard never stepped in. They were probably too busy communicating on real emergencies.

The point is, we can all be better communicators on the VHF. It makes for safer more courteous boating. Think about what you plan on transmitting on the radio before you start the conversation. And if you are one of the many that don’t have a radio operators license take the course and get on board. Otherwise you have no right to use the VHF that you bought from West or inherited with the boat. VHF marine radios are not toys and their intended use is to foster safe boating and access to important information.

Posted by at 1:37 PM