A Radio 270
ngineer's memoires of Life on Board
the radio ship Oceaan 7
Food on board
The DJ's often moaned about having to eat frozen food & bread so on one tender, the Managing Director, Wilf Proudfoot, sent out lots of fishing rods. His typical Yorkshire logic and frugality arose and he said "They are sat on millions of fresh fish, let them catch some and have really fresh food. Much healthier! Champion!" He was always practical and down to earth was Wilf.
The next step was having a weekly fishing contest top see who could catch the biggest fish, or the wierdest species, and there are some very strange fish in the North Sea, as well as cod and haddock. Some of the tallies were quite impressive - after all, the Oceaan 7 had been a fishing boat when she sailed out of Scheveningen!
At times, the recreational fishing became a necessity for our survival and comfort. It was not unknown for us to spend a long time at sea and not be able to make the harbour for supplies. I later worked at other radio stations and I don't think there was another pirate station as cheeky as we were and put into harbour for fresh supplies, fuel and water when needed.
The accommodation aboard was very basic and cramped with so many of us on board for the launch of Radio 270.
There was a central mess room that had been fitted out by a Yorkshire caravan manufacturers; it had bunk beds around the outside walls of the messroom with curtains that could be pulled across for privacy. It could be very difficult to sleep though as there was always something going on.
Even after the end of the day's transmissions the DJs would be busy with commercial production and other work in the studio. Some DJs just couldn't handle it, living in such close confined quarters. It certainly sorted out the men from the boys!
We made a lot of adverts, edited our jingles and producing program inserts on the Oceaan 7. The vessel was very small and had one studio, so production had to be done after close down at night.
The news room (next door to the main studio) had to double as a production office and recording booth.There was always things going on throughout the night and those in the mess room who were trying to get some sleep had a hard time.So too did those who worked through the night who tried to get sleep during the day. At times things could get quite interesting in such a small tight place!
The messroom really was small, with the table in the middle seating just five or six. It was so small that it was possible to lay in a bunk, and reach out through the curtains and take someone's food from their plate if they looked the other way, indeed there are some who did just that!
We seemed to go have a quite regular turnover of cooks on the boat, they never seemed to last very long. There wear often complaints abbot the food: soggy corn flakes and stewed tea being the biggest complaints. In rough seas the cooks would hve to put damp tea cloths on the tables to stop the crockery rolling off onto your lap as the little wooden ruim around the table was little use in the very rough weather we experienced from time to time.
If your bunk was at the end of the mess it was quite likely to have someone's breakfast shoot into your bunk! You didn't always enjoy this unique way of getting breakfast in bed if you had just come off a night shift and had been doing transmitter maintenance.
At the time the national bakery workers were going on strike. Radio 270 helped the houseives out by having our ship's cook give bread making recipes and instructions on the baking of bread, on the air. It brough in lots of mail that spot.
Radio 270 was always trying to be helpful. we often put programs together at short notice to cover events as they happened. We were Yorkshire's first real local community radio station and gave local small businesses a chance that they hadn't had before to grow and prosper.
You can see one of Radio 270's best known cooks, Norman, dancing on deck in the Radio 270 Souvenir Video.
on Radio 270
While I am talking about our life aboard the Oceaan 7 I think it would be usefull to mention some of the recreational activities we got up to, apart from sun bathing in the summer and waving at the nice young ladies in the passing trip boats that came out almost hourly from Scarborough and Bridlington. Oh, the fun of being young free and single; the problem was that that you could look but couldn't touch (unless you fancied a swim!
There was a well used dart board that used to swing from side to side, and outwards, on its wall mounting. It made fore a very interesting game of darts in rough weather as it didn't seem to follow the boat's motion as it was much lighter. There were two metal supports that came through the decks that helped when we played darts. If you stood between these and wedged your feet between them as it gave you something to steady yourself against when you threw your arrows and gave you a better chance of hitting the swinging dart board. Friday night was the ship's games night with a regular dart's match that became something of a ritual on board.
Then there wear the ghost stories told by the Dutch crew, who made an ouija board and used an upturned glass. It made for some very creepy moments but could be great entertainment.
Dennis The Menace in action on darts night
with some DJs bunks behind.
One of several Radio 270 cooks in the Oceaan7 Galley
ore of Stephen's
emories of 1966
We left St Samson's harbour in Guernsey with a high sea running with quite a high swell. As we steamed past the Alderney race the weather was developing in to a major storm and many of us hadn't yet got our sea legs. It was really lively and the 168 ft folded cage dipole antenna did not add much to the smoothness of the ride, even though tons of extra concrete ballast had been added to help with stability.
The Oceaan 7 was a converted Dutch fishing vessel, formerly sailing out of Scheveningen, with the usual configuration of a mizzen sail rigged aft. This steadied the vessel, effectively making her bows point into the wind. Avoiding having the wind beam on helped tremendously to cut down rolling and other side to side movement, for which we were very grateful. We were often to face rough weather off the Yorkshire coast; unlike the Thames Estuary, there are no offshore sandbanks to hide behind near Scarborough - you are exposed to the onslaught of the sea and northerly and easterly winds which can fetch up very heavy seas.
We rendezvoused with one of Bill Pashby's fishing cobble's as we got close to Scarborough and that transferred the team of DJ-presenters, records and some commissioning engineers from RCA. They hadn't been to sea before and they had to leap on to the boat as the waves lifted their vessel level with us. It was very stormy weather, the fishermen said it was one of worst storm's in living memory. They were not happy bunnies, having to hang on and leap for their dear lives!
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