This summer I finally bought a handheld marine radio (Standard Horizon 851x, if you’re interested). After years of paddling without my own radio, I finally dropped the money to get one, in part because I paddle more often near the big vessels in the harbor.
As it happened, we were coming back from a short trip across the river and decided to wait for a southbound barge to pass us by. While we waited, I overheard that vessel and another talking on the radio – I paraphrase below:
Vessel 1: This is [vessel 1] coming round the Battery to the North River.
Vessel 2: Hey there vessel 1, this is [vessel 2] southbound on North River. Want to do one or two?
Vessel 1: 1 is fine.
Vessel 2: OK. Hey, there’s some kayakers here, about 4 by the Holland Tunnel.
Vessel 1: I don’t see them.
Vessel 2: They’re behind me now.
Vessel 1: OK, I see ’em.
So, a little translation first: The Hudson River is referred to as the North River, and “one or two” is code for 1 or two toots of the horn, which are the more traditional way of signaling passing port to port (1 toot) or starboard to starboard (2 toots), on which side a vessel will overtake the other on.
I decided to let them know our intentions, first talking to Vessel 2, then Vessel 1, but neither responded.
As it happens, I was able to look up Vessel 2’s owner and email them, and I got a reply from one of the crew. He hadn’t heard me hailing them, but had heard me attempting to hail the other vessel. He gave me a nice pat on the head for being a polite kayaker and suggested a way to signal intentions better (one that I knew, but which we were not using). And that was that.
Put another way: I emailed a harbor vessel after trying to talk to her on the water.