The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Friday, June 17, 2011

You Give Good Headphone!

More than a dozen years ago, Vic, a good friend of mine who I knew had only just recently began boating, told me he knew the two most important rules for a boater to remember.  He knew them because he had learned them the hard way.

1)    Never, Never, NEVER yell at your first mate!
2)    Always maneuver your boat very slowly.  You can afford to repair anything you hit slowly; it is when you start freaking out and hitting throttles in these situations you do real damage.
Regarding rule No. 1, Vic explained that after several outings on his new boat, his first mate kept finding excuses not to go with him.  More than a year later (during which she steadfastly refused to boat with him) she finally confessed it was because he always yelled at her.  Unusually for me, I took Vic’s sage advice.  Like Vic, I usually insist on learning things the hard way.  Anyway, most times I was tempted to yell (or occasionally did), it was because I had screwed up and I was venting on her.
Nevertheless, it is essential to communicate from the bridge to the deckhand and visa versa.  With all the noise of the engines and elements, you simply have to holler to be heard.  And, I don’t care how careful you try to be when you yell, it always, always, sounds like you are yelling at each other in at least a twinge of anger.   Guys, if you don't believe me, you try yelling "nicely" at your wife and see how far you get.
One solution for some boaters is the use of two way radios with headphones (so you are hands free to drive or handle lines).  These have become popular, even essential with some folks.  We learned about this long ago, but it was not until we were planning for this trip  through all these locks that we purchased a set.  Even then, we felt a little goofy the first time we tried them on, so our $300 purchase sat unused in the case under the seat.  A few days ago, after we had gone through 17 locks of the Erie (more about that later), Ginny from Free to B told us we were crazy for not using them.  They use them religiously when locking and even during docking.  She called them “marriage savers”.

My first mate models the latest in fashionable looper gizmos
So, in lock number 18, here we were with our headsets on and radios in use for the first time.  My first mate is on the bow and I am at the helm on the fly bridge.  I say something clever like, “Testing, testing, testing, can you hear me clearly?”  She responds (as I am trying to maneuver through very turbulent waters entering the lock), “Ooooh!  You give good headphone!”  I started to crack up laughing and almost ran into the lock gate!  As we entered the more calm water of the lock, she mutters almost under her breath, “Gee, I just thought of something else.  I talk to myself a lot when I am out here alone, and now you’ll know everything I’m thinking.”  That turned out to be true, and a very scary place for me to be indeed.  The character Dory in Disney's Finding Nemo comes to mind!  But, the girl does make me laugh!

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