Posted by: adventuressetravels | February 1, 2011

Radio, Radio

I blearily woke at around 5 in the morning to the sound of my name.  I could speak a bit of Spanish, most importantly a bit of nautical Spanish.  An immense ship was on a collision course for us and we weren’t sure if the crew spoke English.  We were in Spanish-speaking waters.

We were sailing off the coast of Cuba.  The lights of Havana twinkled invitingly a few miles away, tantalizingly out of reach.  Sadly we were bound for Mexico and as close as it was would not be able to stop there.  The boat captain being ex-coastguard made that impossible.  For him, just going to Cuba was considered an act of treason.

Still half-asleep I made my way over to the VHF radio and organized what to say in my mind, the butterflies beating their wings hard against my stomach.

“er… llamando el barco que va al sur.  Llamando el barco que va al sur.  Estamos el Leeway.” With that I sat back to listen.

Someone clearly gave a response, but all I could hear from his hand-held shoddy radio was a unintelligible burst of static.  Partially because I didn’t want to try and pick out Spanish through the static, and a little because I didn’t want the pressure of having to act as translator while I was more than half asleep, I apologized for my atrocious Spanish and asked them to speak more slowly.

Much to my relief, not only was his reply intelligible, but it was in English.  I was off the hook.  The person on watch could sort things out with the other boat. I stumbled back to my bunk smiling that my first use of the VHF had been in Spanish.  I guess you never know when language skills will come in handy.

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