Friday, February 22, 2008

Georgetown Speak

Many essays have been written about VHF communications--most of them are boring and redundant. I will discuss only the patois that is common in Georgetown, Bahamas.

In Georgetown channel 14 is reserved for the taxis. Channel 16 does have some emergency function. The harbor control stands by on 16, but God knows why. Businesses uses channel 16, and actually it is useful to know that Mom's Bakery truck will be under the tree from 1 till 5.

Because there are so many cruisers in Georgetown during the season, channel 68 has become the hailing channel. Channel 68 is also the home of the famous Georgetown net that binds this community together. It meets reliably at 8:30 am and triggers a whole morning of interaction.

Many French-Canadians cruise in the Bahamas. My observation is that they talk a lot. They seem to speak so as to enjoy the visceral pleasure of speaking French, especially the vowels. However, in the urgency to clear off of 68, one often hears the pidgin "six-neuf" instead of the correctly pronounced French phrase for 69--"Seise-nuef." (Note: French 6 is spelled six but not pronounced the same way.)

Some stations seem to hog the airwaves. One duet between Winds of Peace and Semper Vivands was particularly egregious. Finally I followed a conversation to channel 17 just to see what all of the hot air was about. Quickly I realized that these were two pre-teen girlfriends talking. Also their parents were always checking up on them. Here were two young ladies in the tropics robbed of everything meaningful--friends and a cell phone--just trying to get by.

One particular chatterbox annoyed us all the way down the Exuma chain. I will not name names here. However, in Georgetown this individual quickly volunteered to help us in our distress. With his gossipy nature within 15 minutes he found a fellow cruiser who would watch the White Pepper at the slip while we were in Texas. I could not have done the same within 2 days. Henceforth, Jan and I will never degrinate VHF abusers.

Woman seem to be in charge of the communications in Georgetown. They dominate the airwaves in that harbor. Their mute husbands are relegated to the engine room. Women seem to be in charge of the weather which also comes over the airwaves. I quickly learned to follow particular femine voices up and down the channels whenever the weather was at issue.

Because so many stations are talking, finding an open line is often a problem. A typical conversation might start like this, "Yacht A, Yacht B." Then "Yacht A, this is Yacht B. Go to channel 69. If 69 is busy, skip channel 70 because that channel is reserved for DSC communications, and go to 71, 72, etc. until we find an open channel to talk." Of course, no one says all this. What is said is, "69 and up." Because of the channel 70 issue a more common hail is, "67 and down." Even this phase gets abbreviated. At this point I must confess I find something mildly erotic about hearing a husky woman's voice call out to her friend to go "down and down."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Successful Laminectomy

After several consultations Jan and I settled on Dr. Karl Swann, neurosurgeon, of San Antonio, Texas. All consultants recommended surgery. I felt just slightly more comfortable with Dr. Swann's narrative. I am sure that surgery would have been successful in Corpus Christi, but we were very pleased with the process at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. We arrived (late, caught in traffic) Monday 2-11-08. The surgery took only 21 minutes. Dr. Swann removed a huge (3 cm) disk fragment from Jan's lower spinal canal. I am sure that the surgery will be a great success. Recovery, however, has been slow.

Current plans are for her to recover here in Corpus Christi for 6 to 8 weeks. I will return to the White Pepper in 2 to 3 weeks after the post operative visit. Jan will rejoin me in Georgetown sometime in April, hopefully before the Out Island Regatta. Dr. Swann assures us that she can continue on the voyage. I hope so.