Stories of the Australian Coastal Radio Service


This yarn from Port Moresby Radio concerns a small tug being delivered from somewhere on the eastern coast of Australia to the north coast of PNG.

He called in using "Mayday" to say that he was hopelessly lost as he hadn't seen the sun or sky for about 3 days due to heavy overcast. He had no compass or other navigation gear onboard and had been sailing over open ocean by dead reckoning !!!! He had no idea if he was heading North, East, South or West.. We asked him if he had a portable radio onboard so that he could perhaps get a null from 9PA in Port Moresby.

This would at least enable him to determine which of two directions the station was from him, then knowing which side of his vessel the sky had lightened that morning he'd have an idea which direction land would be, but no, no portable radio. (One wonders at the naievity of some people)..

We scratched our heads and had discussions with the Superintendant of Marine, Port moresby and decided that we'd have to call in someone who could assist in getting fixes on his signal.

Army couldn't help, Navy couldn't help, Airforce couldn't help, none had Radio Direction Finding equipment available so, as a last resort we contacted some Amateur Radio operators, one in Rabaul, one in Port Moreby and I forget where the third one was located.

They used their beam antennas to give us approx. bearings of the tug. From that information, the Supt Marine was able to direct an aircraft into the resultant cocked hat area and the tug was located.

Assistance was sent out to guide him on his way. He was found to be near some unidentified reef. Oh yes, he hadn't seen another vessel in the previous three days so couldn't get any help from that source. That was quite an interesting exercise.

Ted Bastow

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