The 75th anniversary of the WW-II rescue of thousands of British and allied soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches by a flotilla of little ships provided a unique opportunity for another Special Event station. One of these little ships, Medway Queen, was berthed in Ramsgate harbour adjacent to the RNLI station. This vessel was built in 1924 as an excursion paddle steamer but during the war she was manned by the Royal Navy.
On Thursday at lunchtime the two Ians, M6WFI and G0PDZ met up with Kevin G0PEK and his daughter Lauren M6HLR, aged 10,on board MQ for the first time. We set about erecting an antenna;
A halyard up the smoke stack held up the centre of an off centre fed dipole, with the legs going fore and aft disguised by bunting hung from stem to stern. The station was quickly put together and initial CQâ€™s sent. Nothing was heard above the noise. We swopped the OCF for a 40m dipole. Result: far lower noise floor and plenty of stations clearly audible. A short period of operating put 36 stations in the log, with many in northern Europe, longer than usual skip for the time of day. Saturday the two Ians were first on board. The G0PDZ FT897D was installed and a quick tune around 40m revealed plenty of activity with good signals and a reasonable noise level. As soon as Kevin arrived GB75MQ was on the air. A good range of stations were worked both local and a smattering of European DX. The callsign was proving attractive. The team rotated through the chairs, logger and operator, including the junior operator M6HLR, Lauren aged 10. Laurenâ€™s age belies her confidence and competence, working the stations like a seasoned pro even managing the pile-ups with panache. Many compliments were made in her direction and more than a few complaints made by stations who had heard her and were disappointed to work GB75MQ when one of the men were on the mic. When not operating we were kept busy dealing with the public who were constantly filing past our operating position in the port side forward sponson. Many were amazed by what we could achieve. A few, mainly young people were brave enough to send a greetings message. Sunday and Monday followed in similar vein, with the Monday being particularly busy with visitors. Once on Sunday we had to shut down sharpishly as the rain outside became rain inside! The deck head was proving less than watertight so the radios were powered off and packed.
Of particular note was the visit by Chris Cook, the great-grandson of the Captain of the MQ during the Dunkirk evacuation. It was a privilege to facilitate him sending a greetings message from GB75MQ, linking family, vessel and history with our activity. All in all we made 359 contacts on 40m over the four operating sessions, a good effort for a modest station under less than good band conditions with very relaxed rag-chew rather than contest style of operating.
The BRATS and Kevin in particular, were very grateful for the support shown by members of the Hilderstone Club who turned up in numbers over each day of operation. We gave a good impression of the club and represented Amateur Radio rather well. We have had several expressions of interest from members of the public and a few lapsed amateurs, so we may see new faces at the club. So, my thanks to all who supported this event, even by just attending for a short time. But, special thanks to Ian, M6WFI who assisted with set up, transport and operating duties and will see to QSLing. Thanks to all for your support.