PACIFIC SEAFARERS CHECK IN
03 May 2010 | Underway from Mexico to Marquesas
Day 16 Sun May 2 Joe: Checking In
I am listening to the ham network, 14.300 Mhz USB, which runs the Pacific Seafarers Net, "warm-up" session, and I have my report ready to deliver when they call KD8KBR, my ham call sign. They set it up by calling all over the Pacific for relay stations. This means wherever you might be - in Hawaii, Australia or Marshall Islands - one of the ham stations can relay your report to net control where your position and other details are copied down.
Now it is 0325 zulu and they begin the "roll-call" session by putting out a call for "any emergency, medical or priority traffic" and this goes out from stations all over the Pacific. A listening pause follows each repeated call. These are licensed amateur radio men, most with American accents, one with a cockney accent, and a couple with aussie accents. All professional, strict protocol except for flashes of humour.
Meantime I wait, having written out my report, which looks like this: Time: 0300 Zulu Latitude: 03 deg 51' North Longitude: 127 deg 11' West Course: 180 deg true Speed: 4 knots Wind Direction: None Wind speed: zero Swell Direction: Confused Swell height: 6 ft Cloud cover: 100% Barometer: 1011 up 1 in last 3 hrs
And all the while I sit at the chart table - engine running, autopilot steering, radar scanning for ships and thunderheads/rain. Adrienne is cooking dinner. It is dark outside, it has been raining, the swells bounce us up and down, roll us side to side.
The Pacific ocean is huge, I thought, as I first flew over it in a jumbo jet. I was right. It IS. . . We are not inching our way across it, but perhaps "yarding" our way. Miles drop off our stern, as the hours roll by.
www.PacSea.org is the web site where (should you want to) you can check our position every day. If the numbers mean little or nothing to you then you can install Google Earth and visualize exactly where on the globe we are.
Now above the static I hear my call sign - KD8KBR! - and I pick up the mic, press the button on the top of it - "this IS Kilo Delta Eight Kilo Bravo Romeo, I have a very good copy on you, over" - and a minute later, all done. Next vessel . . .