A QSO that sticks in your memory.....

Moulder
19th March 2008, 22:45
Ever had a QSO that has stuck in your memory?
Was it with a particular coast station or operator or do you recall particular operators that you have worked?

Bet there are some interesting accounts out there.

Regards,

Steve.
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Ron Stringer
19th March 2008, 23:26
Not exciting but one that stays in the memory (even the callsign).

Early in 1961 we were somewhere near Trinidad on our normal outward-bound route from the UK to Kingston, Jamaica via Bridgetown, Barbados and Port of Spain, Trinidad. I had heard the Santa Maria/CSAL a Portuguese passenger liner nearby on 500 kHz, working YVG (or YVL) several times during the day. That evening, while clearing traffic through WCC, I noted that there was traffic there for CSAL.

So, being a know-all, trainee sparks, on watch in the evening with little to do while waiting until the GTZZ Press broadcast came up, I proceeded to teach Granny (a passenger ship) how to suck eggs by telling the R/O on watch that WCC had traffic for him. I called several times but got no response and eventually gave up.

The following day NMA (and possibly other USCG stations) broadcast a message asking for anyone that had contact with the Santa Maria/CSAL to let them know. When I sent in the OBS message later, I reported that I had heard the vessel and called her but received no response. I got a request for our position, the signal strength of signals received from CSAL and so on. I was asked to make contact with her and inform them that NMA had important traffic for the vessel.

I and the other R/Os tried several times to make contact with CSAL but without any success, although when we were out of range of our Oceanspan, we occasionally heard her on 500 kHz.

When we got back to the UK we found that the ship, her passengers and crew, had been hijacked by some Portuguese dissidents opposed to Salazar and was at sea for several days before they surrendered to the authorities in Recife, Brazil. Apparently the intention had been to sail the ship to Angola and start a revolution there but it all proved too difficult and they gave up after a week or so at sea.

That was the first hijacking that I had ever heard of, and I was almost, nearly, partly, involved on the periphery!

tunatownshipwreck
20th March 2008, 00:55
A story to remember. Thank you.

Moulder
20th March 2008, 14:43
Does anyone remember the operator on R/T at Niton who answered with an absolute monotone voice during the mid to late 70s?
I remember, when returning from a deep-sea voyage - we would enter the channel via the South West Approaches and it usually worked out that we got within range of Niton early next day - thats when the phone calls were made.
That operator was so distinctive that he became part and parcel of the homeward bound 'channel experience' - the no-nonsense tones of GLD GNI and GNF on W/T and this chap on R/T - would never forget his voice.

Regards,

Steve.
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mikeg
21st March 2008, 01:17
Yes, I remember him all too well. I'm very embarassed to say that once I did mimic him during a R/T call - once I'd started I had to continue until the end of the QSO. My radio room audience enjoyed it and to my relief he made no comment!
If he's reading this now..my sincere and belated apologies.

Mike

Moulder
21st March 2008, 12:16
Mike,

I'm sure he won't mind - he is a really nice chap.

In the early 80s I was on a training course at Bletchley Park - sitting in the cafeteria having a coffee and chat with another ex-Merch R/O. On adjacent tables were others from a new course just started - above the buzz of conversation I heard this monotone voice - looked at my colleague and we both said "Niton Radio!!" - it was him.

A few years later I helped him remove several cactus needles from his scalp as he'd headbutted one on a walk down to the beach on Ascension Island. We nicknamed him 'Cactus Jack' - don't know where he is now but if he's reading this - 'Wotcha Rodney!' (Wave)

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sparkie2182
21st March 2008, 21:46
i did a short spell at Blechley Park, Moulder.

was very run down when i was there, and its history was still "behind the veil"

gwzm
22nd March 2008, 18:55
Trying to get hold of Aden Radio, ZNR, whilst sailing down the Red Sea in the middle of a ferocious electrical storm. I eventually did manage to clear the traffic and heaved a sigh of relief. When I got back to the UK there was citation from the FCC ( USA radio regulatory authority, for the non-Sparks) that on such and such a date, at such and such a time, on whatever frequency I did send more than 20 call signs within a 3 minute period in contravention of some regulation or another. Had to make a copy log and submit it with an explanation of my criminal behaviour. I never did hear any more about it.

They obviously never experienced the kind of static and lightning storms that you get in that part of the world.

John/gwzm

tunatownshipwreck
22nd March 2008, 20:24
The FCC tried to fine an operator out of their jurisdiction? That is too odd.

mikeg
22nd March 2008, 20:41
The FCC tried to fine an operator out of their jurisdiction? That is too odd.

I got a letter once originating from Grand Island Nebraska saying that I'd contravened regulations by overcalling. (Smoke)

Mike

BA204259
22nd March 2008, 21:13
The FCC tried to fine an operator out of their jurisdiction? That is too odd.

Far be it from me to put words in gwzm's mouth but I don't think he meant it as you've interpreted it. You could be reported for transgressing the calling regs and you would be reported to your own home regulatory body. They could bring down horrendous punishments on persistent malefactors such as burning at the stake, being hanged, drawn and quartered etc. I was reported by a Canadian monitoring station (can't remember which one) for overcalling GKG on 12 mc/s. I was irritated because he was 5/5, bending the signal strength meter needle on the stop and I couldn't get through. Reason of course was congestion - not him refusing to answer me. The letter I got quoted all my calls in great detail, I was surprised. They reported me to either my employers or the Post Office, can't remember which and I had to assure them it was a one-off aberration and would not be repeated. I think persistent offenders could have their tickets withdrawn.

trotterdotpom
22nd March 2008, 21:33
I received three infringement notices but they all came via the company from that international crowd in Geneva (forget the name).

The only direct contact I had was with an Icelandic copper in Isafjord, Iceland, who came on board and asked me to "desist in transmitting". I think his name was Olaf the Destroyer and there was no way that I wasn't going to do as I was told!

I heard later that in those days, radiotelephone was used for long distance calls in Iceland and assume I was interfering with the system. Not sure if that's true or not.

John T.

K urgess
22nd March 2008, 21:46
Do you mean one of these?
All it takes is one call when jobsworthy is listening.
Not very readable but that's exactly how it was when I got it.
Copy of a copy of a copy of a copy by the looks of it.
My initial response is unprintable.
I can't find my grovelling reply to MIMCo. [=P]

gwzm
22nd March 2008, 21:58
Hi Folks,

Lots of the fine details are lost in the mists of time - 'twas in 1965! I vaguely recall the Radio Super. giving it to me when he came on board in Liverpool to do the end of voyage inspection. There was , I think, a note from the GPO requesting an explanation, log copy etc. and a pink (?) sheet from the FCC. There was no mention of any monetary penalty.

All the best,

John/gwzm

PS I don't know about other countries, but the Authority to Operate page in my PMG Certificate was perforated so that it could be easliy torn out thus rendering the certificate invalid.

Ron Stringer
23rd March 2008, 00:32
The process was that the monitoring stations reported infringements to their own national telecomms authorities. They passed on the report to the ITU in Geneva, who in turn passed it on the the flag state authority responsible for licensing the ship. Finally, that authority passed it on to the organisation responsible for operating the radio station aboard the ship (the shipowners or a radio company such as Marconi's, SAIT or AWA.)

They either threw it away or passed it on to the R/O concerned, accompanied by a request for a written explanation. When received, this was passed back up the chain, thereby guaranteeing employment for a lot of people sitting in comfortable offices, who were home every night and were paid far more than the R/O concerned.

I had two such complaints, while serving on different ships but both from the same Canadian monitoring station on the Atlantic coast. One concerned my disgraceful action in calling on 500 kHZ a whole 3 seconds before the end of a silence period. The other concerned the same offence but this time I was guilty of calling 5 seconds after the start of a silence period. Although these offences were separated by many months, my response was the same - when shipowners supplied radio room clocks that could be guaranteed within 5 seconds per day, I would ensure that I observed the silence periods within the same limits. Never heard any more.

BA204259
23rd March 2008, 05:05
Ron

Thanks for clarifying that, must have been '63 when I was reported so the finer details are missing. Doubtless the same Canadian monitoring station as we were in the Atlantic somewhere at the time.

BA204259
23rd March 2008, 05:09
..... I think his name was Olaf the Destroyer and there was no way that I wasn't going to do as I was told!

John T.

I suspect that he had an ulterior motive in that he'd heard rumours of how you looked in your nurse's uniform. [=P] (EEK)

R651400
23rd March 2008, 06:54
The process was that the monitoring stations reported infringements to their own national telecomms authorities.

I've mentioned somewhere else that I expected a "skin" from Landsend/GLD for trying to raise Seaforth/GLV when I was still in GLD's territory. After a lot of worry, nothing transpired.
On joining the GPO we were told only serious infractions should be reported and they had to be serious. Loss of ticket was mentioned as the penalty.
"Skins" were internal GPO missives from the station OiC to staff who infringed station rules/ regs. Taken very seriously and into consideration for such things as promotion.
One poor chap at GKL received a skin almost on a regular basis, it was said he was learning the job by correspondence course.

tunatownshipwreck
23rd March 2008, 07:17
I never knew the FCC kept such a close watch on international radio traffic then. I learn so much here.

trotterdotpom
23rd March 2008, 07:56
Ron, thanks, ITU was the organisation I was trying to think of. One of mine was for transmitting a second or so inside the silence period - I replied that it was due to the oblique angle of viewing the radio room clock from the operating position.

BA... that explains a lot. I knew that reporter from the Reykjavik Gazette couldn't keep his mouth shut!

John T.

Tai Pan
23rd March 2008, 11:34
The only bolloking I ever got was from MIMC for being 2 old pennies wrong in my account on Esso Bedford.

mikeg
23rd March 2008, 12:44
The only bolloking I ever got was from MIMC for being 2 old pennies wrong in my account on Esso Bedford.

You got away lightly. A severe reprimand, cashiered and your Authority to Operate shredded.
Just my 2p's worth.
(==D)

Tony Selman
24th March 2008, 22:06
John/GWZM.

It might seem odd that the FCC picked you up when you were in the Red Sea trying to contact Aden Radio, presumably either on M/F or low frequency H/F, but the reason is that the FCC had a big station based in Eritrea. The only reason I know this is that during one visit to Massawa I met someone who worked at the station. He was American and did not say much about what it did but I presume it was some form of covert monitoring station for the CIA or the like and I was also told by someone else it was a relay station for the VOA. You would have thought they would have had something more exciting to monitor than a poor old Brock's man struggling against the QRM, soldiering on and doing his best. Presuming you were on Manaar you must have been pumping all of 60 or 70 watts into the main aerial and totally wrecking the airwaves!

Tony Selman
24th March 2008, 22:08
The only bolloking I ever got was from MIMC for being 2 old pennies wrong in my account on Esso Bedford.

And this man is now Treasurer of the Radio Officers' Association. (EEK)

sparkie2182
24th March 2008, 22:16
the Red Sea region was always crawling with Soviet navy.
if there wasnt C.I.A. monitoring there i would have been surprised.

andysk
25th March 2008, 22:25
.......... but the reason is that the FCC had a big station based in Eritrea. The only reason I know this is that during one visit to Massawa I met someone who worked at the station. He was American and did not say much about what it did but I presume it was some form of covert monitoring station for the CIA or the like and I was also told by someone else it was a relay station for the VOA.............

There is quite a lot about this place called Kagnew Station in Michela Wong's book about Eritrea "I Didn't Do It For You" (How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation) published in 2005 by Harper. Chapters 9 & 10 are the relevant ones, but the whole book is worth a read.

Due to it's height above sea level, position near the equator and the magnetic conditions, it was apparently the best place for setting up a Transmitting and receiving (monitoring) station.

gwzm
25th March 2008, 22:38
Tony,

You've triggered an odd memory: I think it was in Massawa(??) in the early 60s, I recall meeting an American who said he worked at some kind of radio station up-country in Eritrea. It was odd because a) he was a lone American, and b) he was a real egg-head both in appearance and in his mannerisms. I wonder if that is the same place that you were referring to. In any event, it was all a very long time ago now and a lot of water has passed under the keel.

All the best,

John/gwzm

hawkey01
26th March 2008, 13:12
I seem to remember that the station in Eritrea was a US Naval station, plus other uses I am sure. I used to copy the met broadcasts as they covered a very wide area of the Indian Ocean - Red Sea. I do also recall that the speed of said broadcasts was well into top 20's per min. Great practice!! Fortunately I could type!!

Hawkey01

Moulder
29th March 2008, 14:26
Was anchored off Poland in a cold and icy Baltic waiting orders to proceed to Swinoujscie and made a couple of RT calls to the office back in the UK via GKU.

After finishing traffic the op at Portishead gave me the call duration and asked "Are you busy old man?" - "Not too busy" I replied.

I was then asked if I could help out with a Post Office presentation at the Birmingham Boat Show - apparently the PO had a stand at the Boat Show that was rigged up as a radio room with all the equipment etc. However, rather than live signals being radiated, they simply had a telephone landline coming out of a convenient loudspeaker. It was time for a demonstration with a 'real ship at sea' and we were it!

I was asked to give a brief description of our vessel and where we were to the gathered throng - the 'operator' at the Boat Show then gave the mike to a young lad who asked - "What have you got for dinner tonight?"

I'll never forget that - we were having 'Oxtail Jardinaire' !!!!!!

Steve.
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aselador
8th April 2008, 14:02
I remember about to enter VIM early one morning and to my great distress discovered that we had appeared on the GKA traffic list. It could only be a telegram from the 3rd mates dolly as all company MSG's were sent via VIS when in this part of the world. I managed to get hold of GKA on 8Mhz and was immediately sent up to a working frequency. By the time I had retuned GKA had become almost unworkable, the operator heard my first call, I could barely make him out through static and fading, I just said to him QTH VIM QSA1. As it turned out it was an urgent message for one of the stewards of about 12 words, GKA send each word twice at about 12 wpm and I was able to get the message, I do not recall GKA always being so accomodating.