The Intercontinental Amateur Traffic Net
by Ruth Hoffman N4LMC
On or about 8 a Sunday morning July 13 2003 a MAYDAY was heard by K4KNO John, making contact with one calling MAYDAY (AD4MZ) on his ship, he reported a ship lying upside down in the Atlantic Ocean. Clyde immediately reported it to the Regional Coast Guard who, intern, reported it to the Chesapeake Coast Guard.
- At this time, several of our net controls came to relay and help ascertain the problem.
- The Chesapeake Coast Guard informed us that this particular ship had already been investigated and was abandoned.
- When all was clear the Coast Guard returned to the net and praised the fellows for the expedient way the situation was handled.
- Special thanks and tipping of our hats go to K4KNO, K8STL, KA1AAJ, K1UFO and KG4VBR and any others that lent a helping hand.
The Following is a short review of the ham calling the SOS (KD4MZ):
- My oldest hobby has been ham radio. I got started at the age of 12 listening to a Zenith SW radio that belonged to my buddy’s father back in 1962. Novice license in 1963 as WN4MQW. Conditional license later the same year as WA4MQW.
- Advanced license in 1980 and extra license in 1981 still as WA4MQW. Decided to get a new call in 1991 and became AD4MZ. CW is my favorite mode and enjoy checking into the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club CW Net. Enjoy qrp and am an active in the Adventure Radio Society.
- Love sailing and cruising. Like to hike and ride bicycles. 73, Bob
To The Intercontinental Amateur Traffic Net:
First of all, I want to thank you and all the men and women who run and participate in your nets. In the past two months we have been actively involved in and/or assisted in several situations that have demonstrated how invaluable your service is.
First, a little background. My husband, Doug (KF6YZL), and I (W6ATM) are both relatively newly licensed amateur radio operators and full time cruisers on our vessel Spirit Quest. Before we set out on a cruising life we became hams primarily to have access to the multitude of nets available to cruisers. My father, Keith Carr, was W6ATM from the early 1950’s (I believe) until his untimely death in January 2001. He had wanted me to take his call sign after he died and although it was sooner than we expected, or I would have liked, I was proud to keep his call sign on the air.
I grew up listening to him on the radio, talking that “strange language” and apparently “hearing” things on his rig that seldom made sense to me. Being on the air was a passion of his and he was involved in clubs and organizations and relaying messages and doing all that “hams” would do. I got my license a couple of years ago but never got on the air because I was too intimidated and didn’t want to sound “stupid”. My only regret is that I never did talk with my dad on the air.
In January of this year we spent 6 weeks cruising the remote Revillagigedo Islands of San Benedicto and Socorro 320 miles off the west coast of Mexico. There are no towns or people on the islands except for a Mexican Navy base; nobody else is allowed to set foot on land. Barbara Campbell (KB0RIZ) on S/V Blue Chablis (the only other boat at Socorro) encouraged me to participate in the regional nets for cruisers in Mexico and helped me get my 1st phone patch.
With the help of the very friendly hams it was painless and easy and never once was I made to feel inadequate about my lack of experience. As we have 5 married children and 6 grandchildren I found the patches were fun and invaluable. Shortly thereafter my mother had a serious stroke and 2 other friends had family emergencies and deaths that we were able to respond to because I have my license and took those first steps to get on the air. I searched around and began to monitor and to check into the various nets on 143000 and 14313 in particular. Everybody was friendly, courteous and always ready and willing to help.
One night while tuning into the Pacific Seafarers Net to get a patch home I heard Bob Botik (K5SIV) talking to a boat that happened to be at San Benedicto 35 miles away (we were currently anchored off Socorro). Marsha Stone (KF6TIQ) aboard the S/V She Wolf with Rick Greene and Lynne Stevens, was experiencing symptoms of severe decompression illness (the bends). Marsha had no oxygen (the 1st treatment given until hyperbaric treatment can be reached) nor medical supplies onboard her boat and the closest treatment facility was 48 hours away by their boat.
Bob had connected Marsha to DAN (Diver’s Alert Network) to get help diagnosing her condition and getting advice. I was able to break in and advise them that we were relatively close, my husband is a physician and we had oxygen and other medical supplies. From then on Bob K5SIV and I used ham frequencies to coordinate the boats, DAN and the Mexican government to get the emergency medical evacuation team to airlift Marsha out.
Bob and I with the help of numerous other amateur operators remained on frequency from that first contact at approximately 0230 UTC on Jan 30 to 2300UTC on Jan 31 when Marsha was air evacuated off to Cabo San Lucas. My husband provided emergency medical treatment for Marsha when she arrived at Soccoro at 0930 UTC; Barbara Campbell (a former nurse) helped. Barb’s husband, Steve, had the best Spanish of the group and interpreted with the Local Naval Base when it was time to transport Marsha to the airstrip on the island (an airstrip which is essentially no longer used).
I was impressed with the “professionalism” of Bob K5SIV with whom I had most contact and with every other operator who helped keep the frequency open and provide support during this entire situation (to name only a few I was able to write down: ZL1RD, N6GLF, WP2F, KK7MT, K1UFO and the net controllers on those days). Two days later I picked up another emergency on the Inter-Continental Traffic Net involving a boat (S/V Mokisha) off Mexico that was in danger and I was able to assist getting help for that boat. Since both these emergencies took place over the course of many hours, all the nets throughout the day were involved.
I have fallen in love with all the men and women whom I have had the privilege talking with in the emergency situations, when I have just checked in to say “hi” and to get relays with our children and my family in our own emergency. In a short time I learned to use my radio and improved my skills from zilch to adequate and have had a wonderful time. To all the people who give their time and their energy I give my heartfelt thanks and I salute them and the outstanding job they do. The Nets are providing a service that few are aware of or understand.
I have done my best to educate cruisers and encourage them to participate, to become informed, to give back by helping others, to get licensed if they aren’t and set their own boats up with adequate equipment. It has been fun, educational, inspiring and an honor and a privilege to work with the group of people known as hams (where did that term come from anyway?).
Warmly, Others I want to mention that have been helpful through these nets W3ZU, W8LK,KN6RM, WA5EZW, KA6CLX, WA6KLL,W6MEI, KC4LCD, KC7HU, WK7O, KD6TO, K6GIT, KA4BPR, K1LMC.