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My long lasting relationship with Caroline

I first heard Radio Caroline at Easter in 1966. At the time I was in the army stationed in Germany and was home on leave on board a coach. Caroline was broadcasting live from the MV Mi Amigo, anchored three miles off Frinton in Essex.

MV Mi Amigo 1Back then the BBC had a monopoly on music in this country and the chances of hearing any rock music were severely restricted. Caroline changed all that. Broadcasting on 199 metres Medium Wave, millions of listeners tuned in from all around Britain and Europe suddenly able to hear pop music 24 hours a day. Operating from a ship in the North Sea naturally presented a multitude of problems but the listening public got quite used to finding their favourite radio station off the air for short periods due to extreme weather or to supply or engineering problems.

The British government soon moved against the pirates, as they were known. They made life as difficult as possible preventing supplies reaching the ship, banning any British staff from working on board or, more critically, stopping any company based in this country from advertising. But against all the odds, Caroline continued to broadcast from a ship battered by bad weather, just forty metres long and with an aerial array that rose up forty three metres above the deck. She really rocked and rolled in gale force winds.

MV Mi Amigo 2In the mid Seventies Caroline broke her mooring chains in a gale and drifted on shore and sank. The news hit all the papers and news programmes and I am sure, like millions of others, I felt Caroline was finished. But how wrong we were! In the early 80s an ex-Icelandic trawler named Ross Revenge, once owned by Ross Foods, steamed from Ireland where she had been fitted out as the new Radio Caroline. She broadcast all the way back to an anchorage off the Thames Estuary. The Lady, as she was known, was back !

At the time it was so difficult to find out anything about Radio Caroline but today hours and hours of film and information are available on YouTube. So if you're interested in finding out just why Caroline is the best known radio station in the world take a look.

While I love my Lyme Regis mackerel fishing and Lyme Regis deep sea fishing trips, I would have given anything to have been a DJ on board MV Mi Amigo in those days.

Published on 26/03/2013.

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