moving right along...................amver + obs

14th August 2007, 23:37
has anyone still got the met office atlas he was given for assiduously sending in obs messages?

and has anyone got a blue and white amver pennant? liberated from a ship sent for scrap perhaps?

its all history now, this stuff

K urgess
15th August 2007, 00:01
Who ever assiduously sent in OBS messages?

It was OK if you could find some sucker willing to take them, usually they ended up in the CQ bin with nobody bothering to listen.
I had no idea they gave away atlases probably because nobody wanted my OBS messages.

Never saw an AMVER pennant, probably nicked as soon as they arrived onboard.
Saw plenty of USCG Orions and Neptunes when you didn't send one.[=P]

15th August 2007, 00:08
being an assiduous r/o..........

i sent lots...........:)

just the kind of guy i am.......i guess...........:)

hee hee

K urgess
15th August 2007, 00:14
Ah, Yes!
I also sent lots but I don't think anyone was listening.
Every one that landed on my desk was sent.
It was really painful trying to find someone that was remotely interested when you were in the middle of the south Pacific[=P]

PS I think the lurkers are about to ask what the hell we're talking about.

15th August 2007, 00:19

me 2

good innit?

im qrt for

Ron Stringer
15th August 2007, 00:23
Sent hundreds of the buggers. The 1800Z ones were the worst, as the R/O's watch ended at that time. The C/O would usually send the apprentice in with the 1800Z OBS message about 2 minutes before the end of the watch was due. Sometimes it took an hour or more to get the damned thing away to a relevant coast station.

The AMVER messages were much easier to deal with, being just a glorified TR and with a ready to hand network of USCG stations ready to take them. Plus there were only 2 or 3 of them to send on each passage; there was an OBS message every 6 hours, every day!

15th August 2007, 13:23
Kris, I was stunned by your first post on this thread! I sent OBS messages religiously - even in the middle of the Pacific you could knock them out to Hawaii. I was gratified to meet a couple of met. men who both told me how much they valued the OBS messages from ships at sea - especially in remote areas. Hope they weren't just pi**ing in my pocket. I don't think so as they both ate, slept and breathed weather.

Ships' Masters were often awarded brass barographs for their time served on observing ships - this always seemed a bit unfair to me as they played no part whatsoever in the operation. One Captain, with whom I'd sailed previously, asked me if the other ship was an "OBS" ship. I informed him that, like all the companys' ships, it was. He said: "Captain .... has just been awarded a barograph and I'm totting up my time on OBS ships to see when I'll get one." I thought: "Well, you can untot this one from now on!"

I'd say all the AMVER swag never got out of the office, well, not to the ships anyway. The only AMVER stuff I ever saw on a ship was the certificates that they stuck on the bridge bulkhead.

John T.

K urgess
15th August 2007, 13:49
The met men may have valued them, John T.
The problem was the operators especially when you had to send them through a naval or coastguard station. Although commrcial stations could be even worse.
Doubly especially when they landed on your desk at the end of a tiring watch. I always thought half an hour of constant trying to clear was good enough.
Very nearly got reported for over calling a few times so I did try.[=P]

Heard about the barometers but never saw one.


15th August 2007, 16:04
I think the lurkers are about to ask what the hell we're talking about.
Yes, what the hell????

David Davies
15th August 2007, 17:09
Is this the same procedure we had in the 50s. Selected ships sent the first 10 groups + , others sent the first 6+ every 6 hours on North Atlantic run. In those days the ship not the master got the barometer and also received the met office magazine some of which I've still got in the attic. The R/O would get the synoptic chart every other day at about 0900hrs an the poor old 2/0 would have to draw it up in his own time while waiting for the sun. 6 days shalt thou labour but on the 7th thou shalt work a b----y sight harder

K urgess
15th August 2007, 18:05

Certain merchant ships were nominated as weather observation (OBS) ships and would take readings of wind speed/direction, temperature, pressure etc., every 6 hours and they would be transmitted to a participating radio station for use on weather maps. There were also weather ships stationed in the north Atlantic taking the messages and doing their own readings.

AMVER was the Atlantic Merchant Vessel ETA Reporting system or some such acronym. Every vessel heading for the US had to report. I'm not sure if you had to do it if you were just passing through their waters. If you didn't you could get into trouble. Even if you did they sent an aircraft to check you were who and where your said you were.

I always though that if you went on the bridge when you signed on and they'd got a recording barometer in the chartroom you were in for a workup. If it was a standard aneroid dial type you were safe. They started supplying the grey digital Air Ministry type in the later 70s.


15th August 2007, 21:34
when i sailed as senior r/o.....i always got the junior to send the obs messages..........

the obs messages were mostly numerals.......begining with the ships lat/long.
followed by coded groups appertaining to the observed wx (weather).....and there could be a lot of them

the sending of numerical sequencies is not so easy for a novice r/ a glimple through google looking for morse code numerals will indicate.
but it was a good learning disciple, and good they were actually transmitting to someone on the other end.....unlike self training at college.

the u.s.c.g. were brilliant at taking obs from a ship within seconds of being called.......always telling the sending ship to omit the "preamble".....the details of ships and just get on with sending the message.

as mentioned by trotterdotpom........the met boys were always weather obsessed....and seemed to genuinely appreciate these messages being sent.

15th August 2007, 22:04
I must have been lucky as I don't recall ever having much bother getting OBS messages sent, especially on the north Atlantic. I did feel sorry though for the folks on those north Atlantic weather ships sailing around in small circles for weeks on end taking weather observations and taking OBS from passing ships. It was bad enough for us to be on passage in rough weather but those guys just couldn't escape.

I did have the pleasure in, I think, 1965 of visiting the AMVER centre in New York. We were made very welcome and the US Coast Guard (?) staff were proud to show off their then state of the art computer systems and banks of Hollerith card reading equipment that they used.

All a very long time ago but all part of the experience of being a sparks in the halcyon days of the British Merchant Navy.

All the best,


Ron Stringer
15th August 2007, 22:07

The ships weren't nominated, the shipowners volunteered to take observations and report them. Kind of them to take on the extra work for us!

In the 1950s and 1960s, i.e. the days before satellites, the OBS messages were a valuable source of data for the Met Office. They gave out annual awards based on the number of OBS messages sent in to the Met Office at Bracknell. Clearly the staff there were most interested in reports from the Atlantic (after all, that is where the UK's weather was coming from). OBS messages sent to other administrations didn't seem to count towards the annual awards so the winners usually came from among those ships permanently on the UK/North America run. Manchester Liners appeared regularly in the photos of the award presentations at that time. Those ships running up to Churchill in Hudson Bay (Huntings?) were also frequent recipients of special awards.

There was a small team of Met Office ex-seafarers that visited the ships on a regular basis. I met one of them, Gordon Mackay, many years later when we both attended IMO meetings in London. They installed the equipment and checked it out on subsequent visits. There was a Stevenson Screen up on the monkey island containing the wet and dry bulb thermometers, a barograph, a mercury barometer suspended in gimbals and the 'bucket' with thermometer for checking the seawater temperature. Plus of course the all-important book of cloud photos and sea-state photos.

Most of the deck officers that I sailed with were very keen observers. I realised the value of the work (obviously I was well brain-washed by the visiting Met Office man) but my heart still used to sink when the message appeared just as I was going off watch for the night (or to go down to the saloon for my meal). I sailed with some 'observers' who delighted in insisting that the readings were taken exactly at the specified time, and then presenting the results to the radio room after I had gone off watch. Taken half an hour earlier wouldn't have invalidated the data but you couldn't explain that the those "Jobsworths". You get 'em in all walks of life.

In the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic (June to December) there was special interest in observations and reports from ships in that area. You could be asked to report 3-hourly instead of at 6-hourly intervals, or even more frequently on occasions.

AMVER was also used to direct ships providing assistance to others. A plot of ships and their descriptions/capabilities was maintained at the AMVER HQ. This enabled the USCG to quickly identify help in the vicinity of a ship with problems e.g. medical emergencies. When I was on a ship with a doctor we had several such calls to assist or give medical advice to other vessels.

As you say, even though you were on the AMVER plot and reporting as required, it didn't stop the old 'Neptune' patrol aircraft buzzing you at frequent intervals. On one ship we were on passage from Charleston NC to the Panama Canal during the Cuban missile crisis. We were buzzed so often that we came to recognise the pilots as they flew alonside us so closely.

K urgess
15th August 2007, 22:51
Hadn't realised we were "volunteered", Ron.

Mind you it was over 30 years ago that I sent my last OBS message and, since it wan't my favourite occupation, (especially around the middle and south Atlantic), I've probably blanked out a lot of it.[=P]

The South American stations I seem to remember were exceedingly reluctant to accept them as were the West Africans.

I do remember the "yard of mercury" now you mention it.

Trouble with this is, as well as remembering the good stuff, sometimes stuff you'd rather forget floats to the surface.

I usually found that any OBS ship I was on sailed in strange waters whereas a trip on a VLCC it could have done with something to relieve the boredom. Unfortunately I've not noted which ships were and which weren't. I can guess though that the ones where I QSO'd 4YA to 4YE and lots of odd coast stations would be OBS ships.

I think 4YA etc., were the ocean weather stations. I bet they were glad when the weather satellites came on line.


15th August 2007, 23:14
out of interest gugliemo............

do you remember dakar? and its "distinctive" modulation?

K urgess
15th August 2007, 23:28
6VA?........more of a buzz.
Much preferred GLD

15th August 2007, 23:31
more of a glv man myself............

better pubs.......:)

K urgess
15th August 2007, 23:41
I was meaning the tone but as you say GLV was closer to pay off time.
I did post a story about GLV and the Irish Sea a while ago but I can't find it at the moment.

GKZ was even better 'cos it meant home cooking.

15th August 2007, 23:57

I won't ask - sounds far too complicated for this Lurkers little brain to comprehend at this late hour!

PYU Gentlemen


K urgess
16th August 2007, 00:01
The call signs of radio coast stations round the world comprised 3 letters or a number and 2 letters.
The first letter was the country identifier, normally.
6 was Senegal and 6VA was the station at Dakar.
G was the UK so
GLD was Landsend
GLV was Anglesey
GKZ was Humber Radio
GCC was Cullercoates etc.

Feeling better now, Peter?

John Briggs
16th August 2007, 01:11
Used to hate doing the weather obs. We were a selected ship and on a regular run from India to South Africa. Got a prize from the Indian Met office though.

Keltic Star
16th August 2007, 04:06
It's fine for you sparkies sitting in a warm radio shack to complain about not getting the goodies. Think about the poor cadets who had to take the sea water temps in minus 20 deg. My only reward from AMVER or the owners for that matter was frostbite.:cool: :cool:

16th August 2007, 12:43
Never minded sending OBS, they were 'made' for an automatic morse keyer :~)


16th August 2007, 13:28
AMVER = AUTOMATED MUTUAL ASSISTANCE VESSEL RESCUE SYSTEM. Initiated by the USCG, it was initially voluntary, but eventually became compulsory for vessels in the US sphere of influence. Ships were plotted from their Sailing Plans and Deviation Reports and those in the vicinity of ships in difficulties could be identified and alerted. Eventually, many other countries adopted similar procedures, including Australia with "AUSREP". No doubt many lives were saved due to the AMVER organisation. No doubt the CIA benefitted at times too, what the hell? Is it still going?

I too remember the warbling tones of Dakar Radio and fruitlessly calling the station. It turned out to be quite easy to contact them on HF as they actually listened on those frequencies at the times appointed in the Radio Signals books. Realistically, what was going to happen to any OBS message sent to a West African station? Whoever heard of the Dahomey Meteorological Bureau? I'd say folk around there relied on Ju-Ju rather than the 6 o'clock News. However, there was always good old Portisheadradio and the UK Met Office apparently received all reports with glee (even late ones). It was relatively easy to tack OBS messages on to other stuff (even though OBS messages actually had a higher priority than company messages - remember that?).

The awards to Captains were not poxy wooden barometers with a plastic dolphin stuck to them, they were precision brass barographs with a roll of paper and a stylus - worth a packet. They were awarded for consistent reporting and also lots of reports on meteorological and other marine phenomena which was eventually printed in the "Marine Observer" - what a fantastic record those books are. Quite annoying for the **** to receive an award when he didn't even know it was all going on!

Keltic Star you should have abandoned the North Pole and headed south! I remember chucking that line into the water to get the sea temperature - it was a novelty in the tropics - but eventually they just used to get the sea temp from the engine room. I recall once setting up a 3rd Engineer - the 3rd Mate and I were talking about the Scotch we were going to get for doing the weather observations and remarked on how it was only for us, not the Engineers. "But we give them the sea temperature!" came the plaitiff cry.

What's the weather like where you are, Judith?

John T.

16th August 2007, 13:36
Kris et all,

We used to take hundreds of OBS per day at GKA. These were priority and ships offering them were taken as the first RO became avaialble. This however did not mean - and many tried - that you could then tell us you had other traffic, having jumped the queue. We had a dedicate telex circuit direct to the Met office. This gave them much needed data. The weather ships 4YA/B and I believe even C/D had their own links to the Met office. In later times we had other weather ships - names escape me at present - which we would pole at specific times and on set frequencies via radio telex direct to the Met office. One which comes to mind was the Polar Stern. I know that in some areas of the world they were difficult to clear but I can think of only a few occassions when I used the CQ route. We were also (GKA) a dedicated AMVER reporting station but eventually finances came into play and we ceased to offer the service.


K urgess
16th August 2007, 13:59
I must stir the grey matter more often.
I can't remember ever sending an OBS to Portishead. Probably because I was never told you could! Mostly I was a lazy tyke and considered OBS a pain in the proverbial.

I knew AMVER stood for something like that. Best guesses by me are usually way off the mark.[=P]

That was something else I can't remember sending to GKL. Sent TRs to coast stations on M/F in passing through their area but AMVERs only to US if going that way. 'Course it is a long time ago and one's mind tends to blank out things it considers unimportant without consulting one.

I only ever knew the weather ships by their callsigns and I seem to have contacted Alpha through to Echo but can't find any record of a Foxtrot.
I've got Charlie, Delta and Echo in a line running northeast from VRT (Bermuda) with Bravo stuck out in the middle on what would be a great circle course from Newfoundland to Liverpool. Can't find Alpha at the moment.


16th August 2007, 14:32

I actually had one mad moment when I thought I might apply to the met office for their radio side. It did not last long when I thought of being out on one of the wx ships. Saw some pictures one time with them streaming sea anchors - if that is the term and riding the waves. Feel sick thinking about it!.

Neville - Hawkey01(POP)

K urgess
16th August 2007, 15:13
Having experienced a few North Atlantic blows they would've had to drag me aboard screaming and kicking, Neville.

The idea of sitting around waiting for the weather to come to you instead of going to the weather didn't and doesn't appeal.

Did spend a couple/three days going backwards in that general vicinity once.
That makes me feel ill remembering.[=P]

Sea anchors seems about right. Seem to remember something about big canvas/ sail cloth bags in the shape of cones.


16th August 2007, 21:40
did anyone use amsterdam island to send an obs?

anyone who didnt may like to take time to use google to locate it.

there was an 8 hour radio watch on m.f. morse (few hundred miles range only)

and the obs sent there were particularly prized for obvious reasons, whith respect to its location.

i always spared a thought for the operator there.

K urgess
16th August 2007, 21:49
Passed that way a few times but don't appear to have QSO'd.
Do you remember the call sign and was it one of Cable Wireless's stations?

Definitely a bit of a lonely post.

16th August 2007, 22:34
sorry marconi........

cant find the c/s.......but ill keep looking.
the amateur radio people prize amsterdam island most highly , of course, in the qsl card collection stakes.
apparantly, there is someone on dx all year round, on an amateur basis.there is
some connection with environmental studies.....ecology etc: as the location is ideal to monitor variations in environmental parameters.....and keen ham dx'ers volunteer to locate themselves there.

must be bloody keen...............

20th August 2007, 17:09
has anyone still got the met office atlas he was given for assiduously sending in obs messages?

and has anyone got a blue and white amver pennant? liberated from a ship sent for scrap perhaps?

its all history now, this stuff

Hi Sparkie 2182 and everyone else on this thread.
I got a nice Atlas (which I still have) and funny thing is, the 2nd mate guaranteed me I'd get one. After several years of sending OBs with no thank's, I joined a ship with a keen 3/O and 2/O who decided we would set out to get prizes. This meant extra efforts, such as photographing birds that landed on board, estimating the glides of flying fish. etc. The data was always prepared on time and I would have the TX tuned up ready. As you ex RO's know, the OBS times co-incided with the BBC world news on the even hour. On one occasion, the old man ordered me to stop sending as he was trying to hear the news, this lead to an entry in the OBS log by the 3/O that read "OBS not sent, R/O in a huff". It upsets me now to think the om got a barometer!
One advantage of being an OBS ship was that when trading with Japan as we did a lot, you would get a priority turn number with JCS for your QTC's if you also had an OBS to send.
I think you were more likely to get a prize, if you were reporting from some of the more obscure bits of the world, were reporting was "thin" than if you were reporting from say, the north Atlantic were there were many reporting ships.
I remember the AMVER scheme very well. Some cinics on our ships thought it was a method of the CIA knowing the positon of all foriegn ships during that cold war period!

Best wishes

K urgess
20th August 2007, 18:18
Attached just found in the Marconi Mariner, Marconi Marine house magazine, for May/June, 1963.

19th June 2013, 14:56
I still have my atlas. I occasionally try to get rid of it as several of the maps are now out of date and I have newer and bigger atlases, (not meaning to show off!) but when I see the award sticker bearing my name I get sentimental and keep it. I also still have the dictionary they sent me a year later.

Ian Beattie
20th June 2013, 16:13
I was on the weather boats, known as the Ocean Weather Service, for around four and a half years till 1974. I sailed on both the Weather Reporter and the Weather Adviser. These were refurbished Castle class frigates of WW2 the Reporter was ex Oakham Castle and Adviser ex Amberley Castle. There was no such thing as sea anchors you either bobbed about or steamed into the weather if it was really bad. 4ya is between greenland/Iceland 4yi abt 59n 19w and 4yj abt 52.30n 20w 4yk was manned by French and in a line out from Bay of Biscay 4ym was manned by Scowegian and north of north cape. 4yc was mid Atlantic and American but then it was manned by Russians as the yanks got no value from met stuff as it had already done its thing on the states anyway. These stations no longer exist and the weather boats are all razor blades now think the Adviser was MYDN. We sailed from Greenock and spent 24 days on station and lay to to conserve fuel for a quick dash to home port.
Cheers Ian

Ian Beattie
20th June 2013, 16:32
As a post script to the above the other two british weather boats MEDE and MEDD weather surveyor and ?? observer used to relieve the reporter and us, there was also a dutch weather boat that used to do relieving for everyone. we had 6 operators on station working 4 up 8 down on rotation every 5 days - so everyone did a stint on all the shifts. One doing morse the other voice with aircraft and Shanwick FIR then swop the next day so you dont get in a rut.
Cheers Ian

20th June 2013, 16:43
Out of interest Ian..............How was your pay rate w.r.t. a foreign going R/O?

Ian Beattie
20th June 2013, 16:56
The OWS was classified as Civil Service so all my pension was transferred from the Merch and I became established then similar when I left to go to GCHQ. The pay wasn't a lot less and we got extra hard lying and odds and sods so it was almost the same when we were at sea but if you were on shore the pay was not too clever. But merch sea time counted on the pay scale ladder if you follow so I was luckier than most. the usual CS pay for Radio Officers plus
Cheers Ian

20th June 2013, 17:29
Yes, all history now, but I still have my Cassell's English Dictionary, Phillips University Atlas, The Violent Earth, Savage Seas, The Oceans, Ship in the Wilderness, Pole to Pole and Readers Digest Book of Facts.

On the subject of AMVER pennants, I managed a gold one.



20th June 2013, 18:10
Thanks Ian.


20th June 2013, 18:42
I remember sending the weather obs on the Alinda(1976) I think the Capt thought it would be good practice both for myself and the 3/O. I didn't realize people were thanked and rewarded for doing it.

Re some asking about radio room Atlas, books etc

I don't have any radio room books except the Handbook for Radio operators I had for college but Abe books do list some. Some horribly expensive like the 1942/ 1943 English Channel handbook (restricted) full of charts (I paid 2 for mine at a boat shop which has secondhand book stall) while some on Abe books quote 75). Some eg the R/Os bible are only on a couple of pounds on Abe books. Might be worth looking there.

Paul Braxton
20th June 2013, 23:30
Interesting to think back on those days, sending OBS and doing wx charts for the N. Atlantic after taking down the 1130 GKA synopsis. I used to pity the poor 3/0 on my first ship doing those, so eventually I told him I'd have a go at it. Found it quite an interesting and strangely satisfying thing to do. Seems absolutely ridiculous in these modern times of everything being at the touch of a button.

As for the sending of the OBS msgs, well I don't think I ever sent a CQ one. I used to think of it as something of a challenge at times, finding a station who would take them, esp. in the South Pacific, where I used to send to ZLB or NBA in Panama, if my memory serves me well. Used to like calling up obscure MF coast stations with them, like Easter Island or something, then having a chat with the operator about all sorts of things of interest. Sometimes another ship would come up on 500 kc/s for a chat after hearing you, sometimes very close by, ships you wouldn't have known were even about if you hadn't gone on air.

KFS/KPH were always good for OBS msg's, even when a long way out. KOK/Los Angeles was good too. Then there was... well the list goes on and on.

At the risk of sounding a bit priggish, for some reason on the ships I sailed on, (especially with Shaw Savill on the Pacific run, even the older boats like Canopic) the doing of the weather reporting stuff was considered a bit of an art. There was a bit of competition between the mates as to who could do the best and most accurate job, right down to filling in the remarks column in the met log. I was always interested in art, even then, and would happily draw specimens of things seen or collected for the logbook. It was a bit of a buzz in a strange way, but even now I can understand the zeal we had for it.

Because of all this, we had the satisfaction of seeing our names in the back column of the Marine Observer. I managed 5 excellent awards, though the merit for this came from the observers, mainly, tho' I did my bit as mentioned. Got a University Atlas, a Pears Enycyclopaedia, a National Trust book, a John Le Carre "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" collection and a Cassells English Dictionary, all of which I still have. Interestingly, for the last award they rang me up and asked me what I would like! It seemed they had run out of ideas. Still have the whole lot, all with their Met Off. stickers inside the cover. They serve as a bit of a reminder of those far off days whenever I haul them out.

I salute those dedicated guys who trolled out in savage weather, hanging over the bridge wing with long lines attached to buckets for sea temps, or struggled out in the teeth of a gale to record wet and dry bulb temps, a nice hot cup of char going cold in the wheelhouse while they did so. Good guys, them, really great guys.

Used to love reading through old copies of the Marine Observer Journal, seeing how dedicated other ships' observing crews were at reporting things, especially the odd occurrences like ball lightning or unique phenomena like those huge whirling phosphorescence wheels in the sea and so forth.

I think the key was in the element of competition, a sort of seeing who could do the thing best. Might be thought of as a bit infantile, perhaps, but the same sort of drive, in obviously a much grander way, got us to the Moon, unbelievably at the time, and still today. Perhaps there's a lesson in all that somewhere for modern times.

Great days, those. Loved it all, right down to getting on to places like TUA/Abidjan in West Africa, or even the dreaded ELC, although places like that were a bit dire sometimes.

20th June 2013, 23:33
I was on one BP ship (cant recall which) which did met reports. I rather enjoyed doing them but until I read this thread I dont think I had ever given a thought to the poor sparks sending the stuff. But other comments are right, it was a fact that the Met Office did value the reports and also the written record books that were eventually sent in. You could write anything in there, say about the bioluminescence or whatever.

On that topic, it is the one regret of my seafaring that I never saw the rotating cartwheel type of bioluminescence and never saw the northern lights.

21st June 2013, 06:55
In Bluies I always made an effort to send the OBS and still have the atlas and a Pears Encyclopaedia from the Met Office in appreciation. While still Sparkie in my early years in Jardines I did the same - usually clearing all four daily, even the night ones at off-watch times if I was awake. Have a bound certificate from the Hong Kong met office to show for it. Of course our part depended on the Mates also being keen on it. Later, as Lecky, I liked to show the mates how to clear obs and amver themselves by ssb or nbdp through the US coastguard stations. Don't think anyone has the time to waste these days - most ships do amver etc. by e-mail or inmarsat-c.

Ron Stringer
21st June 2013, 08:50
I sailed on 2 or 3 observing ships and never failed to clear every OBS message. Never had to send one 'CQ' and never received a thing in return, other than the satisfaction that I had done my job properly.

Mind you I didn't appreciate the occasional mate who insisted that the readings had to be taken exactly at the hour (to the minute) with the result that the 0600 or 1800 GMT messages always arrived after the R/O had gone off watch on a single-operator ship. Meant that the R/O either stayed on watch to send it (which could take up to an hour or more in difficult areas) or left it to wait for him in the radio room until the next watch, to be sent then or to be put in the rosie. Several R/Os have told me that they took the latter approach.

Always seemed somewhat contrary that some mates claimed that the exact timing was essential (for the accuracy of the forecasts that were generated ashore from compilations of all the ships' observations). They argued that taking the readings at 0530 or 1730 would wreck the whole scheme of things, ignoring the inaccuracy in the reported position of the ship (which was probably not known within a 25 mile radius) or that other ships did not stick to the exact times. Some coast stations refused to accept messages more than a couple of hours old, so those that turned up late would be rejected and it would be necessary to try other stations in order to clear the OBS message.

Most observers tried to get the OBS message to me before the hour, so that I could clear it and still get off watch, but there was always the odd one who wouldn't. Over a voyage lasting several months that could become tedious.

21st June 2013, 09:45
Apart from a couple of coasters, every ship I sailed on was a weather reporting ship. I can't get over how some folk only did a few trips of reporting.

I never sent any OBS messages to "CQ", can't imagine a bigger waste of time. I didn'tchuck any in the rosie either, but I wouldn't mind betting that some of the coast stations did. The Met men told me that they didn't care if the reports
were "old", the data was entered into the record and still helped with the big picture. it didn't take me long to stopdoing overtime for OBS messages, but I did send them all.

John T

Ron Stringer
21st June 2013, 11:29
The Met men told me that they didn't care if the reports were "old", the data was entered into the record and still helped with the big picture. John T

I was told that too, John, when I complained (about the unwillingness of some station to accept delayed OBS traffic) to a visiting man from the Bracknell Met Office. Sadly I now can't remember the details but I am sure that it involved stations in the USA. There was definitely a different attitude between the USCG stations and the commercial US coast stations. I suspect it was the USCG stations that declined 'old' messages, since logic tends to support the idea that the commercial stations would hardly refuse any traffic from which they could make money.

Alternatively, I remember that the US authorities were keen to direct all OBS/AMVER traffic through the USCG, so they might have declined to pay for 'old' OBS messages routed via commercial stations. It was over half a century ago and the specific 'responsibilities' have faded, even if the events are still fresh. My excuse is that I am getting older and we were in an era prior to that of the 'blame' society that has developed over the past 30 years.

21st June 2013, 12:19
I found the US coast guard stations pretty good. From memory the American commercial stations didn't accept OBS, but, as you say, it's a long time ago.

I've mentioned before that I was pretty peeved about not getting a Met Office award, mainly because of those non-contributing Old Men getting their Golden Barographs. However I just found one that I did receive - Pi**head of the Month at some bar in Tamano, Japan. Must stick her head back on some time.

John T

21st June 2013, 12:44
Apart from a couple of coasters, every ship I sailed on was a weather reporting ship. I can't get over how some folk only did a few trips of reporting.

I never sent any OBS messages to "CQ", can't imagine a bigger waste of time. I didn'tchuck any in the rosie either, but I wouldn't mind betting that some of the coast stations did. The Met men told me that they didn't care if the reports
were "old", the data was entered into the record and still helped with the big picture. it didn't take me long to stopdoing overtime for OBS messages, but I did send them all.

John T

Me too. I never got any award/diploma/atlas etc. but every one was sent. As for 'overtime'; staying on watch for a bit longer never bothered me.....

Ian Beattie
21st June 2013, 17:10
Like most of you guys I seem to remember that apart from coasters all the vessels were OBS ships and I like the rest of you guys took personal pride in always sending them to a coast station. It never entered my head to send them to CQ as that would be admitting defeat. I did get a met office atlas when I was on the Donaldson Black N Atlantic run to Canada still have it too. I remember being asked by the South African met office to send a shred met to Capetown every 3 hours when on the Roybank traversing the southern Atlantic to trade up the west coast of S America just a message of thanks from them but it passed tghe time on that run and at least they did say TA.
Cheers Ian

21st June 2013, 17:44
I used to love banging the OBS off to SPE as fast as my bug would go !
Also used them to get priority at GKA so didn't have to wait for ages for my traffic especially on M call sign ships.(Maybe Hawkeye didn't but others did)
I got a book as a prize after the 2/0 & I held the Met Man hostage on the bridge in Angle Bay. The O/M had been given a barometer or something for doing b***er all, and we said we did all the work so shortly after that we both received "Somebodys Dictionery of Phrase & Fable - still got it in the bookcase !
Happy Daze !

21st June 2013, 21:28
Nice work Chris. I tried the same thing on a couple of Met Men, but got nowhere, apart from the pleasure seeing a couple of grown men nearly burst into tears when I told them I was withdrawing my voluntary service. Those boys loved their cold fronts. Needless to say, I did keep sending them in.

Who was SPE? Poland?

John T

29th June 2013, 19:34
Spe - Stettin Radio

Ron Stringer
29th June 2013, 21:48
Spe - Stettin Radio

Bloody nuisance of a station, since on 8MHz it operated very close to GKL on 8558kHz. From the Caribbean and Eastern Med/Red Sea at night it was often almost impossible to read GKL's response to calls.

30th June 2013, 14:43
USCG never had Orions or Neptunes. Grumman Albatross, C-130 Hercules and the occasional Falcon Jet, yes. The anti-submarine-warfare aircraft were under the control of the USN, USAF and often the National Guard.

Furthermore, the USCG units, including 4Y's, loved to accept and forward OBS and AMVER traffic. There were instances, though, where a poor-fisted Merchant CW op might get shunned. CW forever!

30th June 2013, 20:31
Spe - Stettin Radio

Thanks Chris, I see you took the soft option with the old German name, instead of the Polish Scze .... Szce..... er ...ok Stettin.

John T

PS Maybe Polish ROs thought GKA was a bloody nuisance for interfering with SPE.

30th June 2013, 20:42
Welcome ZUT444. I always found the USCG stations efficient and friendly. Remember on one occasion, we found a lifeboat drifting in the Atlantic. Our Old Man had visions of pottering about his local waterways in it, but, despite some dodgy location info, it took the CG about 30 minutes to identify it and pass instructions on what to do with it.

John T

Ron Stringer
30th June 2013, 23:20
Maybe Polish ROs thought GKA was a bloody nuisance for interfering with SPE.

How can you speak of GKL like that? Go wash your mouth out with red Lifebuoy soap!