The VHF radio is a very different beast in Mexico.
Less than 100 miles south of the border, the coast guard and distress calls that clutter channel 16 in San Diego are all but absent. Replaced by seemingly random conversation and very sudden, booming hails. We were forced to lower the volume when the jolting hails began to send Nikka shaking and flying from her bed. Her least favorite type of hail, a very sudden, piercing whistle repeated three times in quick succession before a quick pause and two final whistles. Upon first hearing such an ear piercing nondescript hail, we assumed that similar to the U.S, the person was likely intoxicated and enjoyed the idea of their voice going out to a wide and compulsory audience. Not so in Mexico it turns out. The legitimacy of the hail was confirmed for us when we heard a man, whom we could only assume was not able to whistle, repeat the words,
“whistle, whistle, whistle” pause “whistle, whistle!”
My favorite Mexican VHF moment so far this trip was when Erik and I, surprisingly bored of each other’s company by day 2 of a 5 day sail, contemplated finding some music to play in the cockpit. Erik quickly waved the idea away, saying, “sounds great, but we don’t have any music.” Just as the sic in music left his lips the VHF sprang to life with the sounds of a mariachi band in full swing. Until the music broke off about 2 minutes later, Erik and I just stared at each other in disbelief. Then after checking to make sure our mic wasn’t keyed, laughed until tears welled up in our eyes. We tempted fate again with “we don’t have any ice cream,” hoping that if an ice cream sandwich did not drop from the sky at least a Dryer’s commercial might play from our speakers.
But nothing, so we settled back into the cockpit, still a little weary about who may be listening.
As a side note: VHF in Mexico utilizes the USA channel list, as opposed to the international channel list, which we had assumed when we first arrived. The different channel lists are similar enough to make you think you have it right, but different enough to drive you crazy. For example, due to restricted frequencies in the US, Channel 22 receives on a different frequency than the International setting, making it very difficult to hear morning nets and communicate with other cruisers who exclusively use Ch. 22.