40 Years Serving Tasmanian Mariners
(Friday 14 July 2016)
This month Tas Maritime Radio celebrates its 40th Birthday. That's 40 years, as Tas Maritime Radio's motto says, of volunteers providing safety services for Tasmanian mariners.
From modest beginnings in 1976 as the Tasmanian Smallcraft Marine Radio Group (TSMRG) and later as Tasmar Radio covering the southeastern waterways the group then morphed into Coast Radio Hobart with VHF coverage of the east coast from Flinders Island to Maatsuyker Island and HF coverage further afield and more recently into Tas Maritime Radio covering the entire Tasmanian coastline with our colleague Mary Kay of Smithton Radio in the northwest.
Back in 1976 Apple was founded (on April Fools' Day) and the world's first supercomputer, the Cray-1 was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Barry McCann and a few mates went crayfishing on the seaward side of Bruny Island.
Well, the motor broke down, didn't it, and Barry and Co had to fall back on manual methods of propulsion until they reached a beach where they stayed (overnight) until they were able to hail a passing vessel which brought them back home. Without a radio and before mobile phones there was no way they could call for assistance or to let families know where they were.
Barry thought then how useful it would be if small boats had radios and there was a shore station in the area to record where vessels were going and when they could be expected back home. That gave rise to TSMRG. The 1977 Operations space is shown at the right.
Forty years on and Tas Maritime Radio is still serving mariners in small vessels. The volunteers have changed as has the equipment which is now one of the most sophisticated coast radio setups in the country.