Went island hopping from Mexico
to New Zealand
and while we monitored VHF16 the radio
was only used to contact harbour authorities upon approach/egress. It did, however, make a nice night-light near the ladder well!
From NZ we island hopped to Pago Pago where we've dropped the hook for repairs/overhaul. The Harbour Master here is also the Pilot, and he uses 16 for everything from welcoming visiting sailboats to giving steering
instructions for the tug boats. We're waiting to hear how he handles the QE2 when she arrives!
The anchorage has between half a dozen sailboats (last cyclone season) to 30-odd yachts when the transit season is on. (Round the World groups, etc.) Then 16 gets busy as Boat-Alpha tries to contact Boat-Mike. Normally, they agree to switch to a working channel.
Most confusing times on VHF: Right now in late September, as the Tuna fleets cycle through to unload, re-provision, and head out. Those boats are big enough to carry their own helo, yet get stacked four deep at the pier. Besides the Harbour Master trying to keep everything under control on 16, the fishing
boats are trying to tie up, or change positions so another boat gets dockside time, and they make calls on 16 to avoid fender-benders. Sometimes they change channels, sometimes not. Added to that noise
we've operators with English
as their second (or third) language so the repeating and misunderstandings take radio
time. Then the Koreans will chatter whilst the Chinese jaw and the Native English
speakers chime in and the German speakers (my wife and I) sit on the aft deck
with a beer
and enjoy the show.
Life is good.