Yours truly in the radio room of the M.V.Taupo (GRNH) circa 1977.
If you wish to see an enlargement of this particular picture, then please click on it.
Having seen some of the things I used to do off watch, this is what I did on
watch. (But I had to put me clothes back on, obviously!). This
was the 1970s version of a mobile phone, all 8000 tonnes of it.
Now it may suprise our younger viewers, but there was a time before
the Internet and PCs. But that didn't mean we achieved intercontinental communication by hiring Ian Paisley to stand on a
ladder with a megaphone to shout loud. No, we had short-wave radio communication via the ionosphere, and this was how
we did it. (The internet then took all the fun out of DXing).
Catch the morse key I'm using? ASCII code is for wimps. Real men use morse!
Did you know that the first trans-national electronic messages were sent and received using it as long ago as 1840? It ceased
as an official means of communication only in 1999! All those hours I spent sending IS SHE ISIS and BEST BEEF ESSENCES, down
the pan! (My morse speed still 20 wpm. Like riding a bicycle. Once learnt, never forgotten.)
It's all Marconi gear, as some of you can probably tell. I found
their radio gear quite good. A bit big and chunky, and perhaps not quite at the cutting edge of the technology available at
the time, but pretty reliable and built to last. The communication receiver you can see partly obscured by my back (an 'Atalanta'
receiver) was designed in the early 1950s, all valve and a beautiful piece of gear. The same could not be said for their radars
however. The hours I used to spend trying to keep a 'Raymarc 12' radar working you would not believe! It was advertised as
the only marine radar you could buy for under £1000. Yes, and we all know how they managed that. It was a pile of junk! "Marconi"
and "good radar" didn't go together, rather like "Microsoft" and "secure operating system". (I see they've already had to
put a patch on their new "XP" system - here we go again!). It came as no suprise to me when the govt cancelled the "Nimrod"
early warning airborne radar surveillance system (designed by Marconi) some years ago when they found it didn't bloody work.
£900 million of taxpayers money down the pan!
Everthing in this photo is now a museum piece, including me! Gone too are all
those wonderful shore-based morse radio stations that serviced the maritime fleet, each with their own distinctive sound on
'500', such as OST, PCH, GLD, GNF, FFB, and not, of course, forgetting the hf station, Portishead Radio GKA/B. All replaced
by satellite telephony, the telecommunications world - and me! - much the poorer. Still, I've got no real cause for complaint
- technology created my job in the first place. Technology is a strange and unforgiving employer - both a creator and a destroyer.
If you lock yourself in to technology based industries, you'll get a hair-raising ride, that's for sure!
The 'TAUPO' itself did a regular UK/NZ and Polynesian islands run, via Panama.
Mainly farm machinery out, frozen lamb on the way back. I probably spent more time ashore in New Zealand than anywhere else,
and I often boast I know New Zealand better than the UK. It's without doubt the most beautiful country in the world, (and
I've seen many) with by far the largest variety of scenery. If one bit doesn't appeal to you, move 50 miles somewhere else.
If any of my schoolmates managed to emigrate there, here's one guy green with envy! The Banks Peninsular is the
most beautiful part of it - that pimple half way down the right hand side of the South Island. (Seem to recall went skinny-dipping
round there one Boxing Day!). Go visit it, 'Pakeha'! And then do yourself a favour - don't come back!