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The Marine Amateur Radio Flag
by Ron Drinkwater (VE7AIX) 2014
Marine Amateur Radio Flag (Photo from the Drinkwater collection. )
There is an interesting flag to be seen flying above the waters of the Pacific Northwest and over many oceans of the world. It identifies the waterborne amateur radio operators in much the same way as the call letter license plates identify the motoring ham ashore. I conceived and designed it and it was first offered to members of the British Columbia Amateur Radio Boaters Net.
The idea of the boaters flag caught on immediately and requests for the flag came from far and wide. To date it is flying in 15 countries of the world 33 U.S. States and nine Canadian provinces. So far over 650 flags have been sent to marine amateurs from the east coast of the U.S. Baja Mexico, the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand and the Mediterranean.
The flag is unique in the world and readily recognizable. Flown from the mast of a ship, it quickly identifies the presence of an on–board ham.
Ham radio, as it is usually called, gradually developed into a worldwide hobby and allowed operators around the world to establish contact. As equipment improved voice communication became possible, compact transceivers were installed on yachts and Marine Amateur Radio became very popular. The use of Very High Frequency (VHF) radios and linked repeater stations greatly increased the range of communications. In the 1990s when I designed the Marine Amateur Radio Flag there were dozens of boats calling in to the VHF British Columbia Boaters Net held each summer afternoon at 5 pm. The Net is a meeting place for boats cruising coastal waters from Washington State to areas beyond northern Vancouver Island via, linked repeaters. With the increase in Cell Phone coverage most of the inner south coast the interest in Ham radio has diminished. Today there might be a dozen or so still taking advantage of the Boater’s Net but I doubt if there are any vessels still flying the Marine Amateur Radio Flag.
This amateur radio flag was flown aboard H.M.C.S. Haida during the time when the ship had an active amateur radio station aboard. (Photo from the Drinkwater collection. )
There is an amateur radio station on board. When it is operated it brings on–air attention to the vessel and her purpose.
This used to be the QSL card sent out by VE3CGJ while it was an active station. (Photo from the Drinkwater collection. )
Editor’s Note: Amateur radio stations successfully contacting the station on board HMCS Haida received a confirmation of the exchange afterwards as a souvenir. Parks Canada permits a special events station once or twice a year. Any confirmation certificate developed for a special event is the responsibility of the sponsor for the special event. VE3CGJ is the current call sign for H.M.C.S. Haida and Jerry Proc is the current licence holder.
To quote from this article please cite:
Drinkwater, Ron (2014) The Marine Amateur Radio Flag. Nauticapedia.ca 2014. http://nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Flag_Amateur_Radio.php
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