Ian Anderson was on board the mv Mi Amigo in October 1973 when the aerial mast collapsed. He took these photos which he has very kindly shared with The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame. He has also written about the incident, see below, describing what can be seen in the photographs and pointing out a few differences between the pictures and how engineer Bob Noakes recalled the incident in his book Last of the Pirates.
The end of the Mi Amigo's 1973 triangular mast
Between January and July 1973 the Mi Amigo's triangular mast was built in stages, as funds and weather allowed, with the first section bolted to a red painted base section resting on three base insulators.
After the triangular mast collapsed above the first section (on 1st October), broadcasting continued by extending the antenna length to the rear mast with up to four wires from the remaining first section (which had been damaged at the top of its front edge).
I was on board at a time that overlapped with Bob Noakes and the eventful couple of weeks that he recounted in his book Last of the Pirates. Over that time I took some photographs which were the last films to go through an Ilford Sportsman camera I was given in 1959.
At the beginning of the chapter ‘The Ship with No Lights’, Bob Noakes states that “one of the strain insulators which steadied what remained of the mast had cracked in two” and “there was nothing to do but remove it”.
An “oxy-acetylene cutter” was used and Bob writes that the insulator “swung away and hit the deck with a thud”. However my picture 1 (above) shows that it remained in mid-air, still attached to the cut-away strain wire which was attached to a ball-and-socket system.
On the 18th of October 1973, at about 09:30, there was a loud crash as the base section of the mast came off its three base insulators.
Bob Noakes went out on deck and my picture 2 shows him, dressed in jacket and trousers and black leather shoes but no socks on the port side (left), the opposite side from the transmitter room door (starboard), staring at the now leaning mast. Bob states in his book that he had “got into a pair of trousers and shoes”.
Some debris from the now part-shattered base insulators can be seen in picture 3 and picture 4. In picture 3, on the left, the starboard-side round bottom of the base section can be seen now resting on the square metal plinth. In picture 4, bottom-centre, the port-side round bottom and the square plinth have separated and the round bottom is at a different level.
Picture 4 also shows part of the effort by the crew to stabilise the leaning mast, including fixing the port strain wire to the side of the vessel removing it from the ball and socket, as on the starboard side, seen in picture 1.
Picture 4 and picture 5 show the sections of the first of two intended replacement masts on top of the deckhouse, or boat deck, but neither was used. Picture 5 also shows the angle of the existing mast and confirms that it was leaning to port. The wires to the rear mast had been removed by this time.
It is interesting to compare the sea state visible in four of the pictures taken over this period with that referred to in Bob's book.
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