Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Bluenose Radio Op Identified

Last February I posted a story about sailing on the regular ferry run from Bar Harbour Maine to Yarmouth Nova Scotia. I visited the radio room aboard the ship and couldn’t remember the operators name or even what ship it was.

Last week an anonymous poster left a comment identifying the operator as David Vail, VE1GM of Yarmouth. A few days later David left a comment:

“Hello, Bob - I am the R/O in your photo of the radio room on the M.V. "Bluenose" registered in Nassau, Bahamas with the call sign C6DZ. She was the second Yarmouth to Bar Harbor ferry named M.V. "Bluenose" and your other ship photo shows the original M.V. "Bluenose," registered in Canada, with the call sign VDND. I served on both ships and 2 others in the Yarmouth to New England ferry service for a total of 34 years.

If you look up VE1GM on you'll see the radio room clock from C6DZ mounted above my ham station desk.

73...Dave Vail VE1GM”

David Vail VE1GM c1985 aboard the Bluenose

Very nice indeed to have David write in about that blog entry many months ago. I wrote David and asked him a few more questions about his career aboard ship and his other postings. Here’s what he wrote back along with a photo taken a few days ago.VE1GM_sm

“OK Bob, here's a photo taken a couple of days ago, about 25 years after the one you took.  There's a computer monitor in your photo and we received that in 1985 and used the computer to run a maintenance management system for the entire ship.  It fell to the R/O to look after that program.  25 years later I'm 20 pounds heavier and down to almost no hair! (You should see me Dave! – VE3MPG)

Take a look at to see a photo of my largest and smallest Morse keys.

73...Dave Vail – VE1GM”

“I was born in Charlottetown, PEI. I left home at age 17 to take a commercial radio operator’s course in Saint John, NB and graduated in December 1956 with a Second Class Certificate of Proficiency In Radio which was upgraded to First Class in 1977.

I then went to Moncton, N.B. airport for a couple of months of training as a surface weather observer, then posted to Yarmouth, NS Aeradio (CYQI) as radio operator/weather observer. This was a 2-man station open 24/7.

I was transferred from Yarmouth airport to Yarmouth Marine Radio (VAU) then to the LURCHER lightship (VGA) anchored 17 miles offshore. Then it was back to VAU where I was transferred to Seal Island Radio Beacon (VGY), a 1-man station for 14 months. It was back to VAU then transferred to the Canadian Government Ship “C.D. Howe” (CGSS) for the 1959 Eastern Arctic Patrol, a 3-month voyage.

Returning to the Maritimes, I was stationed to Fredericton Aeradio as r/o and weather observer. All these transfers and postings happened over a 3-year period. When a permanent position on the M.V. “Bluenose” (VDND) became open I applied for it and was accepted. I joined that ship on Boxing Day in 1959 and remained in that service until early retirement in 1993.

In the Yarmouth-New England ferry service I served on VDND, on the M.V. “Marine Cruiser” (GSOC), the M.V. “Marine Evangeline” (C6CA) and later VCQK and finally on the second “Bluenose” (C6DZ). The “Marine Evangeline” had two call signs because she changed from Bahamian to Canadian registry.

In the spring of 1957 I joined the Yarmouth ARC where I'm still a member and have helped train many new hams over the years. When I.C. instituted the Delegated Examiner program in the early 1990s, I became an examiner for the various amateur qualifications. In the late 1970s, our club took in our first “White Caner” who was later followed by about 10 others, some of whom are now silent keys.

Nowadays I work a bit of HF, mostly 80 and 20 meters some CW and some SSB. Still take part in Field Day and a couple of local HF contests. Living on a small lot I could only put up a G5RV and a 2-meter vertical, so no powerhouse operation from this QTH.”


VE3WDM said...

Very interesting how all this worked out and came together.

Bob Baillargeon VE3MPG said...

Sure is, it's a nice story even after all of this time. Thanks for reading the blog Mike.

PE4BAS, Bas said...

Very nice story with nice photos taken 25 years apart. 73, Bas

Bob Baillargeon VE3MPG said...

Thanks for the nice comment Bas!

VE3CLQ said...

Great post Bob. Really enjoyed the read.