First trip - first QSO .....

Moulder
1st April 2008, 13:12
I wonder if many RO members recall their first QSO on their first trip.
It was probably common practice on most ships for the Chief to have the Junior RO double bank for a while, until he got an idea of how he or she was adapting to the real world at sea before he would let him/her loose on 500 kHz or HF.
I remember my first trip on mv Benhope in July 1971 - my Chief - George Dickson - intended to have me double banking for the outward bound voyage then I could go solo and we would keep H16 on the homward bound leg. I could see that I wasn't going to get a shot on the key for at least a couple of days.
Well - I was having none of that - so 12 hours into the channel I worded an SLT to a mate at home and told my boss I wanted to send it myself. He agreed and my first live WT QSO was with GNI.
Must have impressed the Chief 'cos we went on H16 after Capetown outward bound.

Cheers,

Steve.
(Thumb)

Tai Pan
2nd April 2008, 16:28
1st trip. southampton-Jersey BR Mail boats. Chief R/O tommy stubbs, said , we sail at 11pm, you are on till we get to jersey, dont forget the TR to GNI, report to GUG (Guernsey Radio) when passing casquetts, the went to his bunk. that was that.

Trevorw
2nd April 2008, 17:45
First trip, Avonmouth to West Indies on a banana boat, "Ariguani/GMBL". 1st R/O, Ivor Sydney Humphreys, stood over me and watched me send the TR to GRL. After that he handled all the traffic and taught me to type so I could take down the GTZZ Press at 1am.
2nd trip, I was allowed to send Tr's and OBS messages and again, take down the Press.
3rd trip, let me work VPO (Barbados) with real traffic! After that I did most of it!

mikeg
2nd April 2008, 17:58
My first trip made me wonder just what I'd got into - the Ch R/O was truly a miserable s*d, he didn't want or ask for a junior R/O so because of that wouldn't let me do anything in the radio room!! Luckily he paid off after 6 weeks and the next R/O couldn't have been more different. He let me take tfc lists, navs and send/recv traffic as soon as we sailed - he stayed around to see if I got on okay then spent much of his time on the Monkey Island getting a bronzy with instruction to call him if I had any problems - life was then really good. On later trips I was fortunate enough to have a total of six trainees and from my experience I was determined to treat them well.

Mike

Bill Greig
7th April 2008, 17:01
First trip - M.V. Sussex/MAEF, sent TR to Anglesey Radio whilst leaving Liverpool bound for Panama Canal,January 1975. Remember thinking how fast it all happened compared to college. My chief Mike Hill from I.O.W. first class bloke, wonder where he is now?

K urgess
7th April 2008, 17:18
Although I kept a diary at the time I've got nothing that tells me about my first QSO on Baron Wemyss/GCQE.
I think it was pretty soon after sailing because the first radio station on my list of QSOs is GKL then GNF and since we sailed from Tilbury it must've been within the first 48 hours.
I seem to remember being allowed to send TRs straight away and then the odd message by the time we reached Tampa.
We went on to 16 hour watches after about two and a half months.
Like Bill I wish I knew what became of my boss who was Ian Low from Montrose. A great guy and not much older than me.
I met him once a year or so later when passing through Montrose on holiday but haven't seen him since.

Gordon L Smeaton
7th April 2008, 17:51
Sailing Isle of Grain TR to Northforeland followed by first msg to Britankol LondonEC2 text three five letter codes, basically to say we had sailed and ETA Port Said, November 1966, must have been OK as was granted dispensation after 2 months and 23 days to go solo on the ss British Hussar/GHVX the start of my long career, leaving my last vessel the Acergy Eagle/ELUB4 today in approximately 3 hours time, going to try retirement for the second time.

What the Fug
7th April 2008, 17:55
Ignorant person type question

What is a QSO?

trotterdotpom
7th April 2008, 18:01
Sailing Isle of Grain TR to Northforeland followed by first msg to Britankol LondonEC2 text three five letter codes, basically to say we had sailed and ETA Port Said, November 1966, must have been OK as was granted dispensation after 2 months and 23 days to go solo on the ss British Hussar/GHVX the start of my long career, leaving my last vessel the Acergy Eagle/ELUB4 today in approximately 3 hours time, going to try retirement for the second time.

Wow, Gordon - you must have done something right! Congratulations and all the best for the future.

John T.

trotterdotpom
7th April 2008, 18:04
Ignorant person type question

What is a QSO?

Sorry, What the..., QSO is one of the Q codes used in radio telegraphy to shorten communications. QSO? means "Can you communicate with.....?" The term became a general name for a radio communication via telegraphy.

John T.

gwzm
7th April 2008, 18:30
There were many such Q codes.
QSO xxx? Means "Are you able to communicate with?"
QSO xxx (without the question mark) means "I am able to communicate with"
The idea was that you could communicate in Morse code using a kind of shorthand that was universally understood by R/Os, e.g.

QRA? What is the name of your station?
QRB? Approximately how far away are you from my station?
QRC? Who settles the accounts for your station?

and so on.

The one I'd love to have had the chance to use was QUQ? Shall I train my searchlight nearly vertical on a cloud, occulting if possible and, if your aircraft is seen, deflect the beam upwind and on the water (or land) to facilitate your landing?

You can see how a lot could be said using three letter codes, particularly if the person on the other end of the radio contact couldn't use English. The codes were international although their meaning might be expressed in a language other than English.

I can well remember my first QSO (radio contact) on a live key. We left London late at night and the Burrah Marconi Sahib (Chief R/O) set me up to send the opening TR (Transit Report) to GNF (Northforeland Radio) to let them know that we had left London and were outward bound for Port Said. I had made contact with GNF on 500 kc/s (the distress and calling frequency) and arranged to move off to our respective working frequencies. When I tried to call GNF on the working frequency there was nothing - the main transmitter had broken down and GNF was calling us but getting no reply. The Chief R/O quickly fired up the emergency transmitter and I managed to send the TR although my hand was shaking. Fortunately the fault wasn't serious and we were able to quickly fix it before turning in for the night.
The following morning, the Chief R/O got me started on the first watch and left me to my own devices, listening to the bedlam that was 500kc/s in the English Channel. I'd only been on my own for a few minutes when there was an SOS. Fortunately, the casualty was in the Baltic and we didn't need to get involved.
Things settled down quickly after that. I learned a lot from that Chief R/O, Harry Jefferson, who was well known to the ex-Brocklebank (GWZM) R/Os on this site.
Happy days,

John/gwzm

jaydeeare
8th April 2008, 00:05
List of Q codes HERE (http://www.kloth.net/radio/qcodes.php)

I remember trying to lean these at college for my PMG! What a nightmare - especially for someone with a memory like a sieve!

sparkie2182
8th April 2008, 00:27
"Harry Jefferson, who was well known to the ex-Brocklebank (GWZM) R/Os on this site."

Harry was the best.............

R651400
8th April 2008, 07:23
Simple TR

GPK de GPVP TR Laomedon QTO Glasgow bnd Liverpool QSX area 1A AR K

As I was handling the situation quite well the 1st R/0 beggared off probably for a g&t and left me to it..

What happened next?

GPVP de GPK dih........................daaaaaaaah dih TU then nowt.

I was gobsmacked! What the hell is this E.....N??

I sent a couple of QSL imi's on the working QRG and still got nowt.

Thinking this is one of the most important moments in my life, beggar this, went back on 5 ton and asked GPK QSL TR imi

Back came GPVP de GPK Q.....S......L VA. you could almost hear yawn yawn!

What the Fug
8th April 2008, 11:44
Sorry, What the..., QSO is one of the Q codes used in radio telegraphy to shorten communications. QSO? means "Can you communicate with.....?" The term became a general name for a radio communication via telegraphy.

John T.


Thanks for the info, the only morse I know is G & T for some reason

Ron Stringer
8th April 2008, 12:21
[QUOTE=R651400;206539]Simple TR GPK de GPVP TR Laomedon QTO Glasgow bnd Liverpool QSX area 1A AR K[QUOTE]

As far as I can remember (and that is probably not too far these days) when we were coasting we never watched GKA or any of the Area stations, just the UK and continental MF coast stations. The GPO shore/ship service (I think under the auspices of Burnham) routed traffic to you in accordance with the TRs that you had sent as you moved from the coverage of one MF station to another. On the coast, I only remember sending TRs to Portisheadradio when we left the UK to go foreign or arrived back from deep sea.

freddythefrog
8th April 2008, 13:13
1st qso with gka to send TR bound PGulf----shaking like a leaf i was.
not quite the same as in college sending to your mate across the room.
Then 5ton, the din, oh!my god i thought what have i let myself in for,
after a few days and a bit of sending on 5ton was settling down ok.
nerves then gone and was ok.ftf

aselador
8th April 2008, 13:39
My first time on the key was a TR to GNF leaving Tilbury bound for Hamburg, around December 1980, very nerve racking. I seem to remember 500 khz being extremely busy at the time, I was petrified of making a mistake.

R651400
8th April 2008, 19:46
As far as I can remember (and that is probably not too far these days) when we were coasting we never watched GKA or any of the Area stations, just the UK and continental MF coast stations..

My GKA operational time was short but I do remember the boring job sorting worldwide TR's and those automatically QSP'd from UK coast stations.
Not sure if this was a IoWT reg or not but in GTZB each 1A tfc list at the beginning of a 2 hr watch was logged completely, coastal waters or deepsea.
Coasting I've received tfc via GKU before it came via any coast station, probably because the TR had QSX 1A.

gwzm
8th April 2008, 23:00
Hi Sparkie 2182,

I agree that Harry Jefferson was the best. Tommy Williams came a close second. I sailed with one other Burrah Marconi Sahib in GWZM who was an also ran in comparison. That said, I'm sure he was an exception.

With the gift of hindsight, I learned so much with GWZM that has stood me in good stead in the things that I've done after my (short) sea-going career.

Happy days indeed and an experience that I wouldn't have missed.

John/gwzm

sparkie2182
8th April 2008, 23:45
hello john......

i sailed with two other s/r/o........

one saw life through the bottle of a whisky bottle.........

the other wasnt a drinker, but may as well have been, to be honest.

neither were fit to adjust Harrys morse key.

73's

sparkie2182

Ron Stringer
9th April 2008, 09:38
neither were fit to adjust Harrys morse key. sparkie2182

Sorry to go off-thread a little but Sparkie's comment reminded me of an occasion when sent to an RFA tanker refitting on the Tyne. She carried (I think) four R/Os and the Chief R/O had submitted a very long list of jobs that were to be carried out on the commercial radio station (rented from Marconi) under the maintenance contract. Marconi's Newcastle office sent me down to do the work. As I worked through the list I came to one item

"Replace the contacts on the 365 Morse Key."

Couldn't believe my eyes. The contacts were screw-in items, carried in the spares kit and would have taken less than a minute to replace at any time during the previous voyage. The sparks on the least tramp or collier would have done it without a thought. But with 4 R/Os and all the facilities on board, this RFA ship still needed a shore technician to do the work! One of them subsequently rose to a high position in the RFA.

King Ratt
9th April 2008, 11:25
It wasnae me!!!!

King Ratt
9th April 2008, 11:30
For Ron Stringer.
Did you work with the famous "Percy" from Marconi Newcastle? I did a load of RFA ship refits Tyneside with both Percy and another younger Geordie tech who's name evades me at the moment.

athinai
9th April 2008, 12:06
With the Drunk still in His bunk, I crept into the Radio Room, switched on the Oceanspan VI and called GNF., QTO Thames etc etc.,

Some hours later when he did a Lazarus, he said ''Dont forget the TR'' etc.,
And that was the beginning of the longest 2months 21 days in my life. Hope he still has the DT's (The F****R)

Ron Stringer
9th April 2008, 14:09
It wasnae me!!!!

No, I regret to say that, like me, he was a Lancastrian but that didn't stop him rising to the top in RFA radio/electronics affairs.

BA204259
9th April 2008, 14:18
It isn't always what you know Ron, its who you know..:)

Ron Stringer
9th April 2008, 14:19
For Ron Stringer.
Did you work with the famous "Percy" from Marconi Newcastle? I did a load of RFA ship refits Tyneside with both Percy and another younger Geordie tech who's name evades me at the moment.

No, Rattie, I was there (and left) before Percy Oyston arrived. My mentor on things RFA was the late, much lamented, Tommy Ross. Apart from refits, Tommy did the installations on the Hawthorn-Leslie logistics ships at Hebburn. Other than that he was he mainstay of Marconi's Sunderland base.

Tai Pan
9th April 2008, 16:36
Ref my original, here I was on a mail boat (thats before they called them cross channel ferries) leaving southampton for Guernsey/Jersey, regular as clockwork. The op at GNI must have thought, here we go again, new lad, my TR was pukka, GNI GNI GNI de gggg gggg gggg QSW and QSY etc, then the full monty, considering we could nearly see GNI , his groans must have be quite loud. Later on it was just one quick GNI de gggg QTO, all on 500

King Ratt
9th April 2008, 22:02
For Ron Stringer: VMT for your reply, Ron, Tommy Ross I don't remember though.. different refits.different times.

Mimcoman
25th May 2008, 06:26
1966: Sailed from Hull on the trawler Ross Orion, into a force 8, bound for the White Sea. (Trawlers didn't have juniors as such, you got one 21-day trip to learn and then next trip, you were on your own.) After I had stopped shouting on Hughie (4 days), I was given the honour of sending an OBS (what else) to Tromso/LGT on MF W/T. I still have the original, which I purloined from the message pile and substituted with a copy.

When a trawler started fishing, the Sparks was busy helping the skipper on the bridge when hauling, monitoring the intership RT channels for info as to what the other trawlers were doing, keeping skeds and monitoring 2182 and GKR (never used GKA much), so occasionally he was too busy for actual hand-on training - and anyway it took a long time to read into the intership chat as to what was actually going on. But occasionally, Sparkie could get his head down and let his learner have hands-on experience. So one day, "my" Sparkie was below when GKR's tfc list had our callsign (GHZH) on it. I woke up the Sparkie and told him, whereupon I received a short and pithy instruction followed by "you get it - it's what you went to school for!" I still remember that day. First time I'd gone above IF channels, first HF morse QSO, and I was a real radio operator at last.