Communication on a Boat-Part Two

A few years ago we went to some seminars at the St. Petersburg Boat Show. One of the seminars was about docking, mooring and anchoring. We had anchored before but mostly in the bay. We had never moored. We thought it would be a good idea to hear what the more experienced boaters had to say. The course was taught by a couple who had cruised together for over ten years. They were still married so that was a good sign.

The important take away for me was communication. Whether we use hand signals, shouting or radio we needed to have a plan and good communication.

Boats on moorings at sunset. Exuma Land and Sea Park

One of the issues with anchoring or mooring is sometimes the wind will drown out verbal communications. Over the years Mark and I developed hand signals for anchoring. This works great for anchoring but we are now mooring more often. While mooring both of my hands are busy holding the boat pole and trying to pick up the mooring painter (the rope and loop from the mooring ball to which you secure your boat line). As we approach the mooring Mark loses sight of the mooring ball because of the height of the bow. It is hard for Mark to see if I have caught the painter on the mooring ball so I need to communicate this information to him. With both hands on the pole I cannot give him hand signals. On a windy day he cannot hear me from the cockpit so it goes something like this:

                                                 Cindy: Ok, slow down you are getting close.

                                                 Mark: What?!?

                                                 Cindy: I almost have it. Slow down or I’ll lose it!

                                                 Mark: What??!

                                                 Cindy: Got it! (Or sometimes-Crap! Lost it!)

                                                 Mark: Did you get it?!

                                                 Cindy: What??!!

                                       There has to be a better way.

View of mooring ball from deck

There are several different devices on the market for boaters. I was stunned to find out that each transmitter is sold separately as is each headset and charger. Seriously? You do need two for it work otherwise you are just talking to yourself. I get that most have the capability to add up to 4 or 6 units but still, at least have a packaged set of two. Being married to Mark for three decades, the bargain hunter has rubbed off. I started looking for a better deal. I found a communication system that comes as a set.

I often check RV, motorcycle and other retailers for items we need for the boat. I can usually find the same item or similar item and usually for less money. I found a communications set up for equestrian training. It was sold as a set of two transformers, two ear buds and two chargers. YEA! And, Amazon had the kit in their “open box” list which meant I saved an additional $70 off list! Since buying this system last summer, the company now sells the all inclusive communication system at multiple internet outlets and even a few marine outlets. It is like the one I purchased and the prices are about the same on each website.

Two way open communication

Since this was an open box deal, we decided to test it while still in the USA. It would be easier to send it back if there was an issue. Mooring is always a bit hectic so we decided to test it while anchoring. The microphone picked up our voices well. I did not have to talk very loud at all.  I was able to direct Mark where the shallow water was ahead and we could communicate about the area being rocky, grassy or sandy. It was much easier than my running up and down the deck to report the status of the bottom or using hand signals.

Next, mooring. We decided to pick up a mooring ball in Shroud Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park in the Bahamas. The communication system worked fine with one exception; wind. The winds were 15 knots that day. The wind was crackling through the microphone almost drowning out speech. Mark said it was hard to concentrate with all the wind blowing in his ears and through the microphone at the same time. When we next moored I pinned the microphone inside my shirt to buffer it from the wind and it worked much better.

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Dolphins on the bow

We find taking turns helps us to communicate better. I will drive the boat while Mark anchors or picks up a mooring painter. The next time Mark drives. That way, we both understand each other’s job and can adapt. We do not always need to use the radios. We use the radios every time we pick up a mooring but hand signals are usually all we need when anchoring.

Now the only yelling on the boat is when we see wildlife swimming past. “Quick! Quick!! LOOK!!” The excitement of that never wears off. I hope it never does.

Communications Part 3 coming soon!

Categories: Equipment, Questions Women Ask, Sailing Blog

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