While we were at sea, we had little in the way of communication. We had our Amateur Radio for long distance, that could not communicate locally and our Marine Radio that could communicate locally, but not over long distances. Every day at a scheduled time, we would check into a radio net operated by a ham radio operator in Washington State. He kept track of everyone who regularly checked in. Often the only way our parents could tell if we were safe was to listen to the net for our report. If the radio propagation was just right, my parents who also were ham radio operators could talk to us direct, which was a treat. But other times, we could only communicate by relay.
It was through the radio that we were able to stay connected with home and the other cruising boats. We never met some of those we talked to, and even depended on in life threatening conditions. Their willingness to faithfully be there to listen, to track and to relay information, made us feel, even when we were hundreds of miles out at sea, and thousands of miles from home, that we were connected.
Once when we were in the San Blas Islands, we heard on the radio that some friends’ engine had failed and their mast had broken. They were dead in the water as the waves grew. I listened as they described their boat, their home for so many years, breaking apart.
We had rigged a relay between them and our son, who gave information to my husband, who relayed to net control in Massachusetts who called U.S. Coast Guard, who called the State Department, who called the Panamanian embassy, who contacted their Coast Guard by phone. We talked and listened and prayed with them until finally they rescued. We were community spread out across the world.
Now we have many more communications options. We can share a virtual breakfast and prayer time together on Zoom. We can talk by phone to our family, whether next door or across the country by phone. Today the only thing stopping us from communicating is the willingness to do so.
I have been trying to find ways to reach out to those in my churches and in my family. Ironically I have become closer to some friends, some loved ones due to this enforced distancing. I have not yet been able to connect with others.There are some times I wonder if it is worth the effort.
And then I remember the voice of my friend, alone at sea, clinging to the radio mic as the waves crashed over her boat, and I know that for one who feels alone, it means the world to know that they are not forgotten, but are connected. Those who keep reaching out, who keep trying to connect, they are angels of God.