Terry remembers monitoring an eventful Sydney to Hobart yacht race

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Terry Cominos, who shred the following story following our recent post about the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Terry writes:

Here is my story…

It must have been 20 plus years ago whilst monitoring the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on my AOR AR3000.

Around midnight the yacht “Mem” announced a man was lost overboard. They were turning back to find him. The Captain of the oil tanker “Ampol Serel” on his way to Sydney declared he was turning back to assist in the search.

It was a long night with several yachts searching and the “Young Endeavour” providing radio relay support.

More than an hour passed before the “Ampol Serel” arrived on the scene with its powerful search light.

The search was hampered by a swell yet before first light “Ampol Serel” picked up a reflected flash off a life vest.

The sailor was eventually found by a competing yacht and taken on board where he was examined and treated for hypothermia by a doctor onboard.

Several years later I visited the Australian Maritime Museum where the life vest is on display.

That morning I learned a lot about the sea, radio and human nature…

Thank you for sharing this, Terry, and reminding us  that those of us who monitor radio sometimes have a front row seat to events as they unfold.

Source: OneTubeRadio.com

I recall this 1957 Hallicrafter ad from Boy’s Life magazine which of course implies that we may even be in a position to help.

The thought of hearing or assisting–remote as it may have been–certainly had an influence on me when I first started exploring the shortwave bands from my bedroom with a Zenith Transoceanic some forty years ago.

Thanks again for sharing, Terry.

Post readers: Have you ever been witness to events as they unfolded on the air?  Please share your story!

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4 thoughts on “Terry remembers monitoring an eventful Sydney to Hobart yacht race

  1. Neil

    Since you asked specifically, I will re-iterate my recording of the tragic 1998 Sydney to Hobart reply that I put on the original STH post 🙂

    In 1998 this race was decimated by massive seas and storms, which sunk 5 boats and tragically lives were lost. I happened to be recording frequency of the Race controller. After almost losing the recording , I posted it to Youtube back in 2011 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh7VsG_CpqU – It is interesting ( and harrowing) listening.
    They still use HF , but after the 1998 debacle, when they found they had little idea of actual positions for S&R, they introduced regular scheds.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Yes, Neil, actually I’ve yours on the list to publish as well. If you don’t mind, I might put the recording on the Shortwave Archive too.


  2. John

    Over the summer I witnessed in real time over my scanner a few incidents as they unfolded, the scanner was running in the background and was alerted by some unusual traffic beyond the usual “domestics”, “noise complaints” etc.

    One of them was a mom that had reported her seven-year old son was missing and that he had a fascination with the river. This was late afternoon and it was impressive to hear all the different units coordinate with each other as they tried to locate the boy.

    This went on for ages, it was getting dark and things were beginning to look real serious. They had the canine unit out, the dogs had been given his scent and were trying to track him, they were out on the river and had divers ready. Medical units were on standby. Everything was being coordinated, different departments were all working together efficiently and it was impressive to monitor the search. Time passed, it had been dark for a while and still there was no sign of the boy, things were beginning to look real serious. Then a voice came over the scanner, “boy located, he’s fine, he’s okay”.

    As the various units were winding down someone asked if any medical attention was required. The response; “no, the boy’s fine, but the mom does”. Can only imagine what his mom had just been through those past few hours.


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