SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME NET
ASSISTED BY DAVINA ZS5GC
The Net was started on 26th October 1979, when Alistair made contact with two yachts coming from Mauritius. The next day another two joined in and a sked was arranged for 06h30z the following morning when [...]
more yachts came on frequency and, following a request for weather information, a twice daily Net was set up at 06h30 z and 11h30 z.
In the beginning weather information was obtained from TV and the SABC. Alistair then contacted Durban Radio and we copied their daily weather broadcasts for shipping. Gradually our equipment became more sophisticated and today the internet enables us to get good, up to date information.
We have also helped our yachting visitors by giving them information about the harbors they will be entering, places to find shelter along our coast and general local knowledge, which they find most useful.
Over the years we have had help from many other Hams without whom it would have been extremely difficult, and at times impossible, to run an efficient maritime net. We have also liaised with other Nets particularly the Travelers’ Net in Australia, Art, VK6ART and Roy, VK6BO, and at one time with the Net run by the late 5Z4FZ, Tony, in Kilifi.
When Alistair suffered a heart attack in 1995 and a stroke in 2005 the Net continued due to the unfailing support of our fellow Net members, particularly Graham, ZS2ABK.
We have experienced tragedy, comedy, and romance. We have shared in the excitement of new babies, weddings, birthday celebrations and new yacht launches, have grieved over the loss of Net members and with our yachties over the loss of their dear ones, despaired when nothing could be done to save a yacht or a “man overboard” and rejoiced at successful rescues.
Over the years we have got to know the MRCC (Marine Rescue Co-coordinating Center) very well and have built a trusting relationship with them which means that when we call for help for a yacht in distress they know that the information we pass to them is the latest and most accurate we can obtain. They in turn often contact Alistair, or Graham, for help in finding yachts or yachties.
During the first two British Oxygen Company (BOC) Around Alone Yacht Races we assisted with communications and were hosted by Afrox in Cape Town when the yachts were in harbor there.
Friendships made over the years with yachties and fellow Hams who have been part of our Net have brought so much pleasure and added an invaluable dimension to Ham radio as a hobby. We enjoyed a wonderful holiday to the Cape organized and hosted by our Net members who gave us such a heart-warming welcome. We have had the joy of entertaining so many delightful and interesting people from all around the World, which has greatly enriched our lives.
Of course one does not look for recognition but it is always so rewarding when someone, somewhere, particularly one’s fellow hobbyists, pays tribute. Alistair received a Service Award from the American Seven Seas Association, a communications award from the BOC, an award from The Royal Cape Yacht Club and the Cruising Association of South Africa for his part in the amateur communications for the BOC race, The SARL Icom Excellence Award, the SARL Amateur Radio Community Service Award and a certificate of Achievement from the Durban Amateur Radio Club. These awards are sincerely appreciated and treasured.