I'm in Germany (timezone GMT+1) usually on 10pm to midnight, but occasionally get a chance to get on before. Recommend that you use the fleet private channel if possible.
Timelord - can F2P join the custom chat channel?
Yes. That works. You might have to log 20 hours playtime or complete at least one transaction of any kind to unlock private messages to other players beyond your friend list, but that's the only limitation I am aware of.