This spring we decided to go on a short cruise. Because I have just taken over another company, I could not afford to be away for too long, so we booked a cruise from Southampton to Portugal. It would take in Vigo (Spain), Lisbon, Porto and Cherbourg and include two ‘sea days’.
As the cruise was so short, I was not going through all the rigmarole of getting the HF radio on the shop like I did for the Caribbean on the Ventura, as I did not plan on operating on the ship.
I just packed the trusty MD380 and also a selection of codeplugs that I had on my laptop. It was all very last minute and I had not researched any of the repeaters that might be in range at any of the destinations, this would however not stop me from having a bit of fun!
Arriving at Vigo (feeling a bit woozy after the P&O Azura crashed through 6m swells in the Bay of Biscay), I tried every channel I had on the radio & could not connect with anything, so left the radio on the ship. All was not lost though as Vigo was celebrating the expulsion of Napoleons armies from the city in 1809. much fine local food, drink and music was on offer in the old town, as the locals came out to play (while the rest of the shops were all closed!).
I was back on the ship for our next stop, Lisbon, where the CT codeplug I brought with was duly loaded on the MD380. This was a much more successful affair with a number of repeaters opening up when interrogated. During a lull in the sightseeing I took advantage of a quiet moment to shatter the peace and tranquility with some CQ calls on the Worldwide Channel (See Photo above), using the call CT7/M0MBD/P. First response was a chap in Maine USA! Our taxi driver was mightily impressed with the American drawl emanating from my tiny radio and asked if the other station was really in America! Whilst the rest of the family took photo’s of a fine aqueduct (and me) I was deep in conversation relaying weather conditions and a description of the visa to my new buddy in Maine. The problem was I did not have a pen and paper to record the callsign and personal details of my American contact, but you will have to just trust me that I was not talking to myself in the photo!
Back to the ship and it was all on deck for the leaving party. I cheekily went up on the sun deck out of the way and had pit out a quick call as CT7/M0MBD/MM and was inundated with calls, once again from America. I worked about 4 stations as we steamed under the 25 De Abril Bridge (formally know as Ponte Salazar), with contacts on both the East and West coasts of the USA, including some chap in Yellowstone Park! One remarked that they could hear the wind, which was indeed getting up as we approached the mouth of the river Tigus and back into the North Atlantic Sea, so I beat a hasty retreat downstairs and got ready for dinner.
The visit to Oporto was uneventful radio wise as the codeplug did not feature any repeaters that were in range at this location, so the radio stayed n the ship and I concentrated on more important mattes, like visiting the wine cellar of my favourite Port manufacturer, Taylors! The weather was also highly changeable and we gave up walking around the centre of Oporto when we got drenched in a downpour!
A day at sea ensued where we were once again battered by ship ploughing through swells of 6m again at a speed of over 20 Knots! The jarring of the bow coming down into waves was so fierce that equipment from the roof over the main stage parted company with it’s fitting, crashed to the stage and narrowly missing someone, causing some of the shows to be cancelled for safety reasons. It also made for a weird experience trying to sleep at night as your body weight appeared to fluctuated +/- a few Stone with the rise and fall of the ship. Our location of our stateroom, near the bow of the ship did not help matters.
The last stop of the cruise in Cherbourg was more of shopping trip with our party stocking up on French bread and cheese! I got called back to the ship on business and had to attend to some work online, but managed to get off the ship again in the afternoon to have a look around the Nuclear Submarine ‘Le Redoubtable’ which is open to the public as part of a Maritime exhibition next to the cruise terminal. I well recommend visiting this attraction, it is well worth the time & money.
So That was this years ‘Radio on Holiday’ so far! Just a few short contacts from Portugal on DMR, but even then it a too many for my family. It is perhaps just as well I did not take the HF station with me on this trip then!
(Reprinted in part from the website www.m0mbd.co.uk with permission of the author)