Location

Former TRINITY LIGHT VESSEL 55, the 'John Sebastian', is moored in Bathurst Basin in the centre of Bristol and has her own postal address, namely: 'The John Sebastian, Bathurst Basin, Bristol BS1 4RL'. However, there are some specific details that will be of interest to radio hams:

  • Lat/Long: 51.446579°,-2.595022°
  • IARU: IO81qk
  • IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
  • WAB: ST57 – England

Google Map of Bathurst Basin

Introduction

This was to be our first foray into this particular special event, and although we are reasonably well versed in temporary operations from our activities at Saltford for Mills on the Air, Midsomer Norton for Railways on the Air and naturally VHF National Field Day each event holds its own particular challenges and problems that need to be overcome. For us therefore 2013 was to be something of a "proof of concept" undertaking with the hope that we would be able to add this to our calendar of regular events.

Our first problem to overcome was to locate a suitable venue. Naturally given the event this meant we had to find a local lighthouse or lightship. Surprisingly, given our coastal location and Bristols maritime heritage, the number of potential venues was thin on the ground and those that were within a suitable travel radius often were bereft of any kind of facilities such as: power, sanitation etc.

We were on the verge of dropping this as a possible event when Don G0NQJ (sk) chanced upon someone at the Cabot Cruising Club in Bathurst Basin in the centre of Bristol.

The Cabot Cruising Club own and maintain the Former Light Vessel 55 as their Clubhouse, although it is now called the 'John Sebastian' in honour of Bristols famous mariners.

Full details of its history and how the vessel came to be in the hands of the Cabot Cruising Club can be found on the Cabot Cruising Club website, but in summary Light Vessel 55 (aka the 'John Sebastian') entered service in 1885 and served for 68 years before being sold for scrap by Trinity House in 1953. She was stationed on Newarp Station, Swarte Bank Station, Owers Station and finally was stationed on the East and West Grounds Station in the Bristol Channel from 1939 to 1953 except for a period of overhaul and storage from 1942 – 1947.

She is believed to one of, if not, the oldest wooden hulled Lightship still afloat although there are a couple of other vessels challenging for this title.

This venue had a number of advantages but also its own share of disadvantages as follows:

Pros Cons
  1. Central Location
  2. Power
  3. Sanitary facilities both in the Club House and on the shore
  4. Lanyards to assist with hanging HF antennas
  5. Parking (all be it limited)
  6. High profile deck location with cover
  7. Wi-Fi and Mobile 'phone coverage
  1. Low elevation
  2. City centre with possibility of significant QRM
  3. No free parking outside of Cruising Clubs Car Park
  4. Limited take off where basin is hemmed in with buildings

Overall however, we felt the location was viable provided that:

  1. We could get agreement and approval from the Cabot Crusing Club to operate there over the ILLW weekend; and
  2. The ILLW organisers were prepared to accept the former Light Vessel 55 as a valid location given its present use as a Club House

Fortunately we were lucky in both cases: The Cruising Club were more than willing to let us operate and went out of their way to accommodate us, and the ILLW organisers recognised the former Light Vessel allocating her the unique reference within their system of UK0176. See the 2013 entrants list in the ILLW website and look for GX4WAW/a.

A Brief History of Light Vessel 55

Light Vessel 55

  • Trinity House Light Vessel No. 55;
  • Built in 1885 Builder's Tonnage 274tons;
  • Length 103ft Beam 24ft;
  • Sold out of Trinty House Service 1953;
  • On Newarp Stations October 14th – December 15th 1914;
  • On Swarte Bank Station 1922 temporarily, during November of which she withstood terrible gales, and, in the Master’s own words "shipped a terrific green 'un, filled herself to the rail, flooded the engine room, carried away skylights, ladders and everything else on deck, and strained her back, so that when moved to Cross Sand Station off the Norfolk Coast soon after (where she was for a very long time) had to be pumped out night and morning";
  • Moved to Owers Station (off Selsey Bill) on 15th March 1937 until 17th May 1939;
  • Put on East and West Grounds Station in Bristol Channel on 14th July 1939 where she was until 18th January 1942;
  • Then taken to Milford Haven for overhaul and lay in Holyhead Harbour as a spare until 18th March 1947;
  • Put back on East and West Grounds until 1st September 1953 when she was sold out of the service to breakers;

Radio Operations

Equipment

Don G0NQJ Operating with Tom M3TWJ LoggingYaesu FT 840 and MFJ 934

We took along the clubs equipment, this having proven its worth in Special Events such as Railways on the Air, namely:

  • Yaesu FT 840 100W HF Transceiver
  • MFJ 934 Manual ATU
  • Manson EP-925 25Amp PSU
  • Club laptop running Ham Radio Deluxe for logging only
  • Half Size G5RV Antenna
  • Don G0NQJ brought an iPad which thanks to the Cabot Cruising Clubs Wi-Fi allowed us to use the ILLW on-line entrants list to confirm details of other Lighthouse/Lightship stations
Setup

The John Sebastian (former Light vessel 55)Antenna fixed to FlagpoleThe John Sebastian (former Light vessel 55)

The operating position towards the bow of the ship placed us more or less directly beneath the mid point of our half size G5RV which was attached at one end to the Cabot Cruising Clubs Lanyards fixed to the light and at the other end to a flagpole fixed to a drive on car mount in the car park.

On the Saturday we noticed that there was quite a lot of force causing the flagpole to bend so on the Sunday we tied it back to the trees on the far side of the car park.

Quite by chance the antenna was setup more or less east-west giving us best propagation to the north and south.

Operating

Tom M3TWJ Operating with Julian M6JCE Recording Worked Stations and David G7BYN Entering the Backlog into the Computer Log. Obsevers are Henryk M0HTB and Don G0NQJ2 Foundation Licensees: Tom M3TWJ Operating with Julian M6JCE Logging

The event proved popular with the members and we were lucky enough to see a stedy trickle of people who took turns at operating, logging, chatting and drinking tea.

We feel this event was a successful outing for the club and a very definite "Proof of Concept". Assuming that the Cabot Cruising Club will allow us back in 2014 we plan to get involved in the ILLW again perhaps this time using a Special Event Callsign such as GB0JSB (John Sebastian Bristol) or GB0CCC (Cabot Cruising Club).

Club Members Around the Operating DeskClose Up of Foundation Licensee Tom M3TWJ OperatingTom M3TWJ Operating with Julian M6JCE Recording Worked Stations and David G7BYN Entering the Backlog into the Computer Log

Logbook

Date Time (UTC) Station Worked Band or Freq'cy Mode RST Name QTH Notes
Sent Rec'd
17/08/13 09:43 DK0RZ 40m LSB 59 59     DE0024 – Pellworm
17/08/13 09:49 DL4ABB 40m LSB 59 59     DE0098 – Buesum
17/08/13 10:06 GB0NHL 40m LSB 59 59     UK0039 – Noss Head Lighthouse
17/08/13 10:10 EI0LHL 40m LSB 59 59     IE0009 – Loop Head Lighthouse
17/08/13 10:15 GS0IYP 40m LSB 59 59     UK0151 – Tarbatness Lighthouse
17/08/13 10:18 GB2TLG 40m LSB 59 59     UK0093 – Tynemouth North Pier
17/08/13 10:28 GB2LBN 40m LSB 59 59     UK0034 – Barnes Ness
17/08/13 10:38 GB4FL 40m LSB 59 57     UK0006 – Flamborough Head
17/08/13 11:16 GB4WIL 40m LSB 59 59+     UK0160 – Walney Island Lighthouse
17/08/13 11:43 DL0SY/P 20m LSB   59     DE0102 – List Ost
17/08/13 12:29 II1L 20m USB 57 57 Mario   IT0005 – La Lanterna
17/08/13 13:09 ON4OS/LH 40m LSB 59 57 Chris   BE0008 – Lange Nelle
17/08/13 13:17 GB0THL 40m LSB 59   Dave Tiumpan Head UK0171 – Tiumpan Head
17/08/13 13:30 M0HEM 40m LSB 57 59 John    
17/08/13 13:47 M0BGS 40m LSB 59 59      
17/08/13 13:50 G0WKN 40m LSB 59 59 Ken Lutton South Linconshire  
17/08/13 13:59 M0XVF 40m LSB 59 59+ Jeremy Durham N E England  
17/08/13 14:03 OO7EH 40m LSB 55 56      
17/08/13 14:05 DL5MU 40m LSB 59 57      
17/08/13 14:08 F4VPL 40m LSB 59 57 Dave South Brittany  
17/08/13 14:09 M3AOC 40m LSB 58 59 Derek Redcar  
17/08/13 14:13 DL8AAM 40m LSB 53   Tom    
17/08/13 14:26 DL6ABN 40m LSB 59 58 Mike    
17/08/13 14:27 OZ3FS 40m LSB 55 56      
17/08/13 14:31 FG4IWO/P 40m LSB 57 57      
17/08/13 14:34 PA0CAH 40m LSB 59 58 Ad    
17/08/13 15:15 GM4GRC/P 40m LSB 59 59 Bill E. Coast of Scotland UK0155 – Elie Ness
18/08/13 09:51 GB4FCL 40m LSB 59 59 Mick Flamborough Chalk & Head Lights UK0005 – Flamborough Chalk and Head Lights
18/08/13 10:06 GB0REL 40m LSB 59 59+ John Rathlin East High (Altacarry Head) UK0055 – Rathlin East High (Alatacarry Head)
18/08/13 10:15 GB0TBW 40m LSB 59 59 John   UK0030 – Trinity Buoy Wharf
18/08/13 10:22 GB2LK 40m LSB 59 59 Ellis Killantringan Scotland UK0164 – Killantringan
18/08/13 10:31 GW100RSGB 40m LSB 59 59 Bob North Wales  
18/08/13 10:47 GB2SBL 40m LSB 57 59 Steve (G7IZZ)   British Legion Special Event
18/08/13 10:52 GC4BRS 40m LSB 59 59 Paul Nash Point Lighthouse (Low) UK0072 – Nash Point Low
18/08/13 11:25 G4LGX 40m LSB 59 57 John Haringate North Yorkshire  
18/08/13 11:29 MN0VFW 40m LSB 56 57     UK0114 – Haulbowline
18/08/13 11:31 2E0DRU 40m LSB          
18/08/13 11:33 G0CAM 40m LSB 59+ 59 Cam Cornwall  
18/08/13 11:35 M0DDXT/P 40m LSB 59 59 Bill Cumbria UK0152 – Maryport
18/08/13 11:37 2E0BNI 40m LSB 59+        
18/08/13 11:38 MM0DNX 40m LSB 59 59 Dennis Glasgow  
18/08/13 11:40 G3VCG 40m LSB 59 59 Don Chelmsford Essex  
18/08/13 11:42 G0FUO/P 40m LSB 59 59 Darrel S Yorkshire  
18/08/13 11:44 2E0NOC 40m LSB 59 59 Colin Ashford West London  
18/08/13 11:46 M0XDX 40m LSB 59 57 Paul Mablethorp  
18/08/13 11:47 M0WMO 40m LSB 59 59 Doug    
18/08/13 11:49 G8XTJ 40m LSB 57 58   High Wickham  
18/08/13 11:50 G7BGA 40m LSB 58   Geoff Shrewsbury  
18/08/13 11:52 GM4NNH 40m LSB 59   Jim    
18/08/13 11:54 OO7TWA/M 40m LSB 55 57 Gert    
18/08/13 11:56 G3MDM 40m LSB 59 59+ Steve Windsor  
18/08/13 11:58 GN0LIX/P 40m LSB 58 59 Andy Co Antrim UK0033 – Chaine Memorial Tower
18/08/13 12:00 2E0FPC 40m LSB 59+ 59 Paul Stoke on Trent  
18/08/13 12:02 G0CIW 40m LSB 53 58 Dennis Epsom Downd  
18/08/13 12:05 TM0LHG 40m LSB 51 58 Peter   FR0002 – Petit-Fort-Phillippe (Gravelines)
18/08/13 12:06 G0HXT 40m LSB 57 59+ Andy Godlming  
18/08/13 12:08 G0FDU 40m LSB 58 58 Ray Dartford Kent  
18/08/13 12:10 GB5PSL 40m LSB 57 59 Phil 6m Nth Blackpool UK018 – Polver Scar Lighthouse
18/08/13 12:12 M6NOJ 40m LSB 59 59 Clive Cumbria  
18/08/13 12:13 G6LKB 40m LSB 58 57 David Ulverston  
18/08/13 12:15 F5PTI 40m LSB 55 58 Domi Cognac  
18/08/13 12:33 YU/IZ1VUC 20m USB 57 59   Tamis River West
18/08/13 12:47 DL0HGW 20m USB 55 55   Cape Arkona DE0123 – Cape Arkona (Old)
18/08/13 12:54 S51LGT 20m LSB 59 59 Milos Cape Madona SI0001 – Cape Madona Lighthouse Piran
18/08/13 13:04 GB2AL 20m LSB 59 58 Fred Ardnamurchan Lighthouse UK0117 – Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
18/08/13 13:51 EI1NC/P 40m LSB       Roche's Point IE0010 – Roche's Point
18/08/13 13:59 GB2MYA 40m LSB 59 59 Terry Lanchishire  
18/08/13 14:16 G4ROJ/P 40m LSB 59   Rodger   Kite Antenna
18/08/13 14:23 G0GNI 40m LSB 59 59 Mike Isle of White  
18/08/13 14:28 GB0NLH 40m LSB 59 59 Malcolm Isle of White UK0067 – The Needles Isle of Wight
18/08/13 14:33 M3ZLI 40m LSB 59 59 Paul    
18/08/13 14:36 G0IIQ 40m LSB 59 59 Dave Grimsby  
18/08/13 14:38 M1EYA 40m LSB 43 59 Richard    
18/08/13 14:39 M0ZAE 40m LSB 57 57 Henry    
18/08/13 14:41 9VDG7MM 40m LSB 59 59     Maritime Mobile @ Artic Circle
18/08/13 14:43 G4YOH 40m LSB 57 57   Essex  
18/08/13 14:44 G3YUN 40m LSB 55 59 Ian Wigan QRP running 9W
18/08/13 14:46 GM3YBQ 40m LSB 57 59 Ken   100 W
18/08/13 14:49 PI4DX 40m LSB 59 59 Erik    
18/08/13 14:50 GM7ESM/P 40m LSB 59 59 Howard Aberdeen  
18/08/13 14:57 EI3JM 40m LSB 57 51   Westport Co. Mayo Northern Ireland  
18/08/13 15:07 MI6NID 40m LSB 59 59 Peter    
18/08/13 15:08 GI0SSA 40m LSB   59+ Kieth    
18/08/13 15:08 PA0AKN 40m LSB 59 59 Don    
18/08/13 15:10 GB0NHL 40m LSB 59 57 Rian   UK0039 – Noss Head Lighthouse
18/08/13 15:11 G3VCN 40m LSB 59 58 Paul Plymouth  
18/08/13 15:11 DJ7PI 40m LSB 59 59      
18/08/13 15:13 PA4JV 40m LSB 59 59 Jack North Sea Coast  
18/08/13 15:14 M0XLD 40m LSB 59+ 59 Kevin Yorkshire  
18/08/13 15:15 F8DVD 40m LSB 59 59+ Frank Macon East France  
18/08/13 15:16 G0ABY 40m LSB 55 59 Phil Stockton on Tees  
18/08/13 15:17 M3AOC 40m LSB 59 59+ Derek Redcar  
18/08/13 15:19 G0TRB 40m LSB 58 59 Roger    
18/08/13 15:21 EI3HBB 40m LSB 59+ 59+ Chris Cork  
18/08/13 15:22 G3XMM 40m LSB 59+ 59 Tom Gloucester  
18/08/13 15:24 MI0MVP 40m LSB 59+ 59+ Alex Tandraee Nr Belfast  
18/08/13 15:25 M6KVJ 40m LSB 59+ 59+ David Sydmouth  
18/08/13 15:26 M6DWE 40m LSB 57 59+ David TL16  
18/08/13 15:28 GW0MHK 40m LSB 59 59 Len Nth Wales  
18/08/13 15:29 G4PZW 40m LSB 59+ 57   Ely Cambridge  
18/08/13 15:31 G8HXT 40m LSB 59 57 Paul    
18/08/13 15:32 G0WWD 40m LSB 59 59 David SW UK  
18/08/13 15:33 GW1DPL 40m LSB 59 59 Martin Swansea  
Total Stations Worked 104 Total Number of Lighthouses/Lightships Worked 31 30%