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Personal Christmas Message from Mike Aiken

Amy and Mike Aiken aboard their Tayana 42 sailboat on Christmas Day
Mike Aiken
year we spent Christmas and New Year’s at sea on a 24-day passage
between the Canaries and Antigua.  Because we are such a small vessel,
we always call ships on our VHF radio to make sure they can see us and
that our transmitters are working.  While at sea, this is our only means
of communication.  Our line of sight (nine miles from horizon to
horizon) is our maximum communication distance.  That Christmas Day, we
were approximately 1000 miles from any land and had had no communication
from anyone, so no one knew if we were alive, dead or in a life raft. 
It was a Christmas miracle that a freighter appeared on our horizon that
day.  Typically, we don’t see many of those big ships, and when we do,
they are not in our view for long.  On that day, we were nowhere near
the shipping lanes, but out of the blue, a Captain came on our radio and
asked if we needed anything: fuel, food, etc.  We asked if he could
send a fax to our families to let them know we were thinking of them and
to give them our updated position.  He agreed readily, saying it might
be nicer if he made a phone call for us, so he stopped his ship to stay
in range.  He remained on the bridge and spoke with us about the small
boat he sails when home in the North Sea while his mate went to a
different part of the ship to patch the phone call through to my
father.  We learned much later that after we parted company with the
ship, the Captain and my dad spoke for another hour.  As far as we are
concerned, that was Santa Claus on the bridge that day.

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