|Boats are hidden in spray|
They were right where we planned to cross. So what to do?? "You're going to have to call them on the radio." Mark said.
I keep my VHF radio tethered in my pfd pocket. Mark's radio, which is older and larger, is in his day hatch. My radio has a good charge, it was fully charged before the trip. On the back of my radio are "mayday" instructions, but they've kind of worn. This isn't a "mayday" issue, so what is it? "Pan, Pan?" "Security?"
What I remember best from VHF rules is never to actually use it in play or practice; we always practice with the radio off. I also don't want to interrupt official Coast Guard training if I don't have to. So I turn my radio on to channel 16 while we do some more sightseeing. No message from the Coast Guard, and no pause in the skirmishes either. Actually, it seems like they're using more of the harbor than they were at first; so I'll have to call. We're paddling back to the Fort Point to be in position for the crossing, when one boat takes notice of us and comes by to ask if we're looking to cross. We confirm that and book across.
So one more thing to add to our Spring list; in addition to checking the emergency gear, charging the radio, and trying an emergency call also think about non emegency uses of the radio.
Crossing protocol seems to vary slightly from site to site, but MITA’s guidance is to use VHF 16, press the microphone button and call “Security, Security, Security this is 2 kayaks in Portsmouth Harbor crossing from Fort Point NH to Fishing Island, ME, course is 45 degrees, speed is 3 knots, any traffic in the area please respond.” If I didn't hear back specifically from the Coast Guard, I'd try again.
And some more links to VHF radio guidance:
Paddling Light suggests laminating a card to use for practice. I recommend, if you don't use a radio regularly, use a small font, list not only emergency but crossing instructions, and tape it to your radio.