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
- ILLW Reference: UK0176
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:
Overall however, we felt the location was viable provided that:
- We could get agreement and approval from the Cabot Cruising Club to operate there over the ILLW weekend; and
- 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.
A Brief History of 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;
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 multi-mode 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
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.
The event proved popular with the members and we were lucky enough to see a steady 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).
|Date (UTC)||Time (UTC)||Station Worked||Band or Frequency||Mode||RST||Operators Name||QTH||Notes|
|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||13:50||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||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||10:47||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||11:35||M0DDXT/P||40m||LSB||59||59||Bill||Cumbria||UK0152 – Maryport|
|18/08/13||11:44||2E0NOC||40m||LSB||59||59||Colin||Ashford West London|
|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||12:05||TM0LHG||40m||LSB||51||58||Peter||FR0002 – Petit-Fort-Phillippe (Gravelines)|
|18/08/13||12:10||GB5PSL||40m||LSB||57||59||Phil||6m Nth Blackpool||UK018 – Polver Scar Lighthouse|
|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||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||14:41||9VDG7MM||40m||LSB||59||59||Maritime Mobile @ Artic Circle|
|18/08/13||14:44||G3YUN||40m||LSB||55||59||Ian||Wigan||QRP running 9W|
|18/08/13||14:57||EI3JM||40m||LSB||57||51||Westport Co. Mayo Northern Ireland|
|18/08/13||15:10||GB0NHL||40m||LSB||59||57||Rian||UK0039 – Noss Head Lighthouse|
|18/08/13||15:13||PA4JV||40m||LSB||59||59||Jack||North Sea Coast|
|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||15:24||MI0MVP||40m||LSB||59+||59+||Alex||Tandraee Nr Belfast|
|Total Stations Worked||104||Total Number of Lighthouses/Lightships Worked||31||30%|