Fig.1 Channel 16 - The emergency channel
On the helm overnight I kept an ear out for SOS and other messages on Channel 16. What I got was the most bizarre set of calls and messages:
The US Navy acting on behalf of the United Nations ... the message went on to ask skippers to look out for anything suspicious and to report it. This is 8-12 miles out to sea along the Spanish, Mediterranean coast.
On my watch I had:
- a small yacht, all sails up - no lights at all. They shown a torch into their sail as they came close.
- a cattermarran; no lights on. Lights on as we approached, then all navigation lights on after we passed and motored off into the darkness.
- a rib, in the dark, someone holding a torch.
- one legit, correctly lit small yacht
- various tankers in the distance, the largest a staggering 313m long and 40m wide.
Calls to prayer
"Mayday, Mayday" - not in the immediate vicinity but the person couldn't give their chart position
My fertile imagination thought a war had broken out and I could hear shells exploding in Algeria.