A good product will sell itself. That’s what has happened to the Little Current Cruisers Net based in Little Current, Ontario. (See “North Channel Retrospective,” Cruising World, May 2006.) Serving Lake Huron’s North Channel during July and August, this VHF-based cruisers net has experienced remarkable growth.
Roy Eaton founded the LCCN in 2004 with the help of local restaurant owner Bruce O’Hare. Roy supplied the news and on-air delivery while Bruce supplied the studio and equipment. From its first year, when on a busy day maybe four to six boats would call in, the LCCN hit an all-time high last summer when 113 boats checked in one August morning. From just a few hundred call-ins during its entire first summer, the LCCN received 3,446 check-ins from 742 different boats in 2007.
But the numbers aren’t what makes Roy the most proud. It’s handling medical emergencies (such as getting an ophthalmologic opinion from a doctor on a boat 30 miles to the west to a worried sailor on a boat 30 miles to the east), relaying good news (“You’re a grandmother!”) and bad (“Please call home immediately”) and providing on-site Doppler radar and weather information that the local radio stations haven’t sent out yet.
Even the Canadian Coast Guard is paying attention. One of its members read the above-mentioned CW article, checked in with Roy, requested that he switch from his original and more commonly used Channel 74, and designated Channel 71 at 0900 as the formal home of the LCCN. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have an unknowing user of Channel 71 in the morning told in no uncertain terms by the faithful to get off the air so they can hear Roy without interruption. With a higher and newer antenna, paid for by donations from grateful listeners, the transmission and reception have improved as well.
And Roy, to his admitted satisfaction, has become a bit of a celebrity. Sailors line up in the morning to be at his side in the studio, the walls of which are now covered with sailing burgees from grateful cruisers. Roy even got a request to officiate at an onboard wedding in the harbor off Little Current. He deferred the nuptial duties to a local minister but did serve as the best man!