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I call it a QSO


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  • Ionosphere

Even thought it wasn't an "official" QSO by ham radio standards, it is one of my most memorable contacts.  It was last year.

We were scuba diving about 15 miles off the coast.  We had done our first dive and were hanging out on deck during the surface interval BSing around and gassing off for the next dive.  The Marine VHF is always on VHF 16 and since I'm a ham I pay more attention to it than the average guy I guess.   It came over as a mayday, emergency call.  So I listened.  After several calls of mayday over the span of several minutes it became obvious to me that no one was responding to the guy so I grabbed the mic and answered him.  He was in a recreational boat his power had failed so his engine wouldn't start and his bilge pumps wouldn't pump and he was taking on water.  I contacted USCG Fort Macon on VHF 16 and advised them.  They called him and he responded, but his signal was so weak they couldn't hear him but he could hear them.  I could tell because even though he was answering their questions, they kept repeating the questions over and over as if they weren't getting a reply.  But I could hear him.  I scanned the horizon and didn't see any vessels so he was out of sight but close enough that a handheld could reach me.  I assumed he was on a handheld since if his vessel power had failed a hard-wired VHF probably wouldn't work.

I advised USCG that he could hear them but they couldn't hear him.  They gave a # and told him to call on his cell phone.  The guy responded that he didn't have a cell signal.  So for the next 15 minutes I was "relay" for him.  USCG would transmit (he could hear them) and he'd reply and I'd relay his reply to USCG.  Eventually he got rescued when USCG diverted a USCG vessel in the area close enough that they could hear him, then they took over the como.   Never found out who he was or where he was though.

During the mele though, I made the unforgivable sin of giving my ham radio call sign "KD3Y" to the USCG when they asked me to identify myself, so the Ham Radio FCC experts on QRZ roasted me alive for being such a miserable worthless failure in life.  A few even commenting that I had "broken the law" and was going to be fined by the FCC.

I think that is the most rewarding and most memorable radio contact I ever made.  I think it spoiled me though because now when I'm on the water I listen to VHF 16 hoping a mayday call will come again and I can relay.   It's such a let down when I hear a mayday now and USCG responds.  LOL

Edited by KD3Y
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