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Well here we are again commemorating the sinking of the Radio Caroline ship, the MV Mi Amigo in March 1980. I was listening to the radio that night, but fell asleep just before midnight, around 2345 I believe. So I missed the final closedown.

Listening to the recordings again brings it all back to me, to a distant time two generations ago when I was a young listener of about 16!! Wah!! I wasn't even pub age!! On the recording you can hear the top of the hour ann at 11pm. I remember hearing this, and also recall hearing "The Show Must Go On", and "Dancing Queen". I used to listen until closedown at 12 and then retune to RTE2 and Dave Fanning's rock show. By March though they were back on 24 hour service I believe. I would have the receiver on till the wee sma' hours normally falling asleep with Caroline 319. But that night I remember I had a wee head cold, and must have fallen asleep earier than normal, around quarter to twelve.

In the morning, I never thought any more about it. The station was gone, but that was normal daytime at that distance from the ship. My old pal Ian rang from his work place in Edinburgh, where he was working away on a contract or something for his electrical company. He asked if I had heard the last broadcast, which I had, but he had heard the last announcement. Around this time I had a shout from the living room that it was on the the lunchtime news, where full reports were given!!!! The unbelievable had happened. The Mi Amigo was gone.

After the Mi Amigo sank, it was a great loss. Night time radio was non existant. The bulk of the Irish pirates were only listenable in the daytime in those days. There was no Sunshine or Nova by this stage, and listening apart from general MW/ SW dxing, would have been to stations like Radio Dublin, Big D, Radio Carousel, Southside Radio, Boyneside, Radio City etc. A sad miss.

Nick Richards was one of the three English DJs on board that were rescued, and a Dutch member of staff was also taken off.

Nick recollected these memories the other day in an email to my old pal Ian. Nick is OK with the use of the text on line, so I thought I would take the opportunity to remember..... Happy days....

Nick starts by talking about the recording of the last broadcast from the Mi Amigo, see link below. I think it is a nice touch to leave in the part when he is talking about his son, Harry, which brings home the kind of a personal touch. Nick is still in the radio business, and works in Cork in Ireland. There are some other memories from Nick which I shall endeavour to piece together as one in due course.


........... I've heard the recording a few times alright but it does bring the whole thing home. I'm doing prep for tomorrow in the kitchen and ironing Harry's school uniform, but the memories from that night in 1980 are still very strong. I have visions of Tom Anderson and I drinking coffee in the kitchen (Galley) at around 6pm, the ship had a cold dark atmosphere to it, whether we thought that it might be the final few hours or not I'm entirely sure, but I think we felt that it was more serious that previous drama's. To be afloat and the fact that the office must be aware of what was happening from the code numbers, made us feel that help would be on its way by dawn.

I've heard from other people who dealt with the on-shore part of the organisation that Ronan often "Got a kick out of the danger the ships experiences". If this was or is true his pulse must have been racing on that night.

Had the lifeboat not have been standing by, there was no way the ending would have been as happy as it was. Although we had an inflatable that would have helped for a time, we were very close to a shipping channel and you can only imagine what the chances of survival in the dark, on a now rough North Sea would have been.

All I kept doing was checking the engine room for water entering the weakest part of the hull. Then drink coffee and check with whoever was on the bridge, talking to the coastguard.

I've just got to the part on the recording where I read the weather and numbers at 11pm and put on Van Gellis "Spiral". I played it because it gave me time to rewind the big tape of continuous music but also because it summed up the feeling on board at the time. Melancholic, sadness, approaching a final conclusion.

I can't actually remember eating at all that day. From being woken at lunchtime, through the afternoon into the evening. It was probably only when we sat in the police station on land that hunger got the better of me and I was ready to eat anything but all there was on offer was tea and coffee.

After questioning by the Home Office, we were released and Tom Hardy Johnny Lewis etc collected us and took us to a motorway services in Kent.

Thank's for sending on this recording Ian. You know I have regret at not taking pictures of the rescue but at the hight of the sinking, it seemed inappropriate.

At the top of the stairs here, I have two pictures of the ship, side by side, one of them afloat the other, the day after the sinking. I see them every day of my life and it does fill me with pride that I was able to fullfill a dream to have worked on the station and that ship, but also that it nearly cost my life.

Harry often asks little questions about the pictures, I would hope that one day when he can fully understand the entire thing, that he is proud of what I did and how I come to live in Ireland and why he was born where he was is because of the ship in the pictures.

Ah, nearly at the end now, and the moment when I left the transmitter on for a few moments before flicking the switch to power down the 10k at the bottom of the stairs in the transmitter room.

Happy Days ..... Sad End

Nick Richards March 2013




(I have only caught part of it I guess while tuning past, as I wasn't a Radio 1 listener at that time.)





A silly joke in the Scottish Sunday Mail

Mi-Amigo at sea, Image sent by Brian Ruth of Caroline Movement


The Caroline 319 studio, and Steven Bishop / aka Johnny Lewis on the Mi Amigo - 1979


A few links below are worth a listen if anyone is genuinely interested in memories of the Mi Amigo. You can download the final broadcast here; Caroline-19800319-2240-0010-LaatsteUitzending



DJs Remember The Mi Amigo at Radio Day 2008: (I was at that radio day, and what a superb weekend of fun and nostalgia.)


http://www.radioday.nl/2008/pages/DSC_6381.htm (Nick Richards)

(Quote / Unquote.... If you haven't already done so, these recordings of the Caroline panel that day in Amsterdam are well worth downloading.)

Part 1: http://www.mediafire.com/?oc0dgdxn4yr

Part 2: http://www.mediafire.com/?kpom0ixxysq


A couple of other web sites which include great images of the Mi Amigo.




Below is a great link to a historical page dating back to the early days of experimenal wireless.


I was once asked about the signals in my part of the world, on the wrong side of the country and the wrong end of the country, many miles from the ship, and way out of the target area. Well the recording below was taped by myself one Sunday night when they had the 50kW txer on air. I have no idea the power it was running, but it was more than normal. There are more of these recordings in the downloads area of this site.