Thursday, July 26, 2007

Samana Cay, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: ESE 10 knots

On the radio at five this morning, the mechanized voice gave a bizarre overview for the entire Caribbean and tropical region, and no individualized forecast at all. I was terrified and lay trembling in my berth for hours afterwards. They’ve been warning for a month now that they might cut “high-frequency radio transmission” and I’ve been unable to get internet access to scream NOOOOOOO!!!!!

So, today, in case I later forget, I’m going to request that any and all readers of these words, at any future date, please go forthwith to this website:, or send an e-mail to, and plead with them to retain their high-frequency radio broadcasts of weather. They’ll kill us otherwise. I can’t believe they’re talking about it so cavalierly, at this, the onset of genuine, hardcore hurricane season. It must have to do with budget cuts. I can think of no other reason. But why now?

I’m actually not even sure that those are the correct e-mail or web addresses. I can barely hear them as they’re recited by the NOAA computer voice. I swear, though, if we die at sea without weather, it will be solely the fault of the US government. Well, that, and the guidebook that told us that we could rely on the SSB weather forecasts out of the National Weather Service’s headquarters in Norfolk.

It’s ironic, really, in some ways. Here we are, trying to get away from America’s problems, and we keep running up against them. The only conceivable reason I can think of for theoretical NOAA budget cuts is the billions of dollars my government is spending on the war in Iraq. I should have known all that money would come home to roost, or, more aptly, take flight, and I should have guessed that it would be siphoned from little, esoteric government programs like weather forecasting and shortwave radio broadcasts. Really, in this day and age, who needs weather radio? Really, who cares about mariners? Any mariners worth their salt these days will have satellite phones and internet and professional weather routers and radar. No one cares about poor, little mariners like us, trying to do it with just “dragnets and rope,” as Bob Dylan says of his grandfather, on his album “Love & Theft:”

My grandfather was a duck trapper,
he could do it with just dragnet and ropes
My grandmother could sew new dresses out of old cloth
I don’t know if they had any dreams or hopes
I had them once, though, I suppose...

I know we should be trying to do it with barometer and clouds. We don’t have a barometer, but I’m studying clouds like crazy. Aghast, you may gasp: no barometer? Heck. If you want to mail us one, we’ll take it.

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