Cruiser Net Overload
While I was finishing out my job in Seattle I heard a lot about cruiser nets from the publications I read. Web sites like CSBB and “Lectronic Latitude” were always referring to net this and net that - “we heard about it on the net“. What were these curious institutions formed by American cruisers wherever they go? I did not find out until I got to Ensenada…..
For the uninformed - cruiser nets are when all the cruisers in an anchorage or marina area log on to their radios at 0730 or 0800 and have a chit chat together in a standard format. There is a net controller and the action typically follows a similar pattern - the opening announcement by the controller, then emergency traffic (there never is any), cruiser check ins where everybody says their boat name, new arrivals and departures, weather and tides, items for sale, requests for information, and calls for people to take mail home who are leaving to go back to the states.
So far we have listened to nets in Ensenada, Mazatlan, San Blas, and now down here in Puerto Vallarta. - I have one thing to say about the nets.
“Me no like stupid sounding voices coming out of little black box - make Gringo Gary‘s head hurt.“
These nets uniquely reflect American cultural traditions of isolationism, insular protectionism, and a sort of circle the wagons mentality - think of them as sort of a mentally constructed compound to hold back the darkness of misinformation and shed light on the availability of domino games and boat races in the afternoon. How so -cause most Americans would rather talk among themselves than go out in the local town and talk to a Mexican and find out where something is.
In Ensenada there usually was about 10-15 boats - the net had a somewhat wishful quality to it, as Ensenada was a waystop for most on their way south. But for a few - those who had set out and managed to get 60 miles south of the border before coming to a screeching halt, Ensenada was home. We learned frightfully important information on the net - like what days the local movies were half priced.
In Mazatlan the net was bold, assertive, full of individuals who had made it that far - however, most of them were holed up long term in Marina Mazatlan - some for the rest of their lives. Typically - 40 boats would log on (there are 350 in Marina Mazatlan and 200 or so in El Cid - where we were moored). And people would ask all sorts of questions, announce all sorts of things for sale or pursue a practice of forcing their own personal entertainment agenda down other people throats (or ears so to speak). Marina Mazatlan is sort of at the end of a road in Mazatlan, and they get all sorts of things delivered to them - someone would announce - “the veggie truck will be here at 0800 on Wednesday - the shrimp truck is here on Thursday, the water truck is here, the propane will be picked up.”
When I get to old to sail the boat, forget about a nursing home - I will move to Marina Mazatlan because I will never have to leave the boat or the marina - everything is delivered there.
Some people vigorously pursue a purely recreational agenda - one person in Mazatlan would announce on the net - every week, every day, day, without fail, no matter what - that there would be a “bike to brunch on the beach trip for this coming Sunday.” It seemed this person never left the marina except to bike to brunch. I’m sure it is a nice event but it would be easier on the ears if they simply announced the trip once or twice a week. Other people would ask some of the laziest things - like “where can I get a light bulb?” - duh - you are in a city of 395,000 folks - what are they using - candles? I can’t possibly describe how stupid this all sounds, and it is uniquely American.
In Puerto Vallarta the net is very serious - since this area if full of “real sailors” - south bounders, puddle jumpers - people with real boats and real trips planned to far off destinations - they get together for meetings to discuss serious sailing stuff - this is all announced on the net. Then there are the announcements for fun in the sun - these go on for about 10 minutes - there is a lot of action here - people sail in and - again - never sail out. There are few things announced for sale/trade the further south you go - in Mazatlan one woman announced the sale of a 35 pound anchor for two weeks straight, every day - the folks in PV are way to serious to trifle with such small items, better to announce the next race across Banderas Bay or the local yacht club activities…
I could go on and on about this. But you know - we still listen to it - why - because my wife makes me [the wife wants to hear the weather & tides forecast because the wife has no functioning SSB to do it herself, bub. - MS - “yes dear” - gb] - oops - wrong answer - well - to get information, to feel part of a group - to hear about local fun in the sun. The biggest hoot is about how indignant the gringo net controller gets when a Mexican panga fisherman “steps on” their transmission - after all this isn’t their county, is it?