Part Two: Mutiny on the high seas

The loss of the aerial mast on 13th November 1972 had put a temporary stop to the test broadcasts but these resumed on 30th November using a newly rigged make-shift antenna, transmitting on 1187 kHz. Reception reports were requested to be sent to Gerard van Dam's post office box (P.O Box 2448, The Hague, Holland) and, despite the low power of the transmitter, some 1000 reports were received. Correspondent Ian Godfrey remembers: “The next time I heard anything on 1187kHz was 1st December. As far as I remember it was the first time I heard an anouncement, from Chris Cary, who I only knew as Spangles at that time: ‘You're listening to a test transmission on 1187 kilocycles ...’ and a similar one from CSJ later in the day.”

Crispian St.John

Crispian St.John (in shirt) on his way out to the Mi Amigo in late 1972. Photo by Andy Longhurst kindly provided by Johnny Lewis's Rounds And Sounds website.
click to hear audio Spangles Muldoon on an early test transmission from the Mi Amigo. Clip from Jumbo Records' Radio Caroline Story (duration 25 seconds)
click to hear audio Crispian St.John on a test transmission for the as yet unnamed station on 1st December 1972. Recording kindly provided by Hans Knot (duration 1 minute 50 seconds)

More tests went out the next day but then silence prevailed for a couple of weeks. When the transmitter was next switched on, on 17th December, it was tuned to a different frequency, around 1520 kHz, 197 metres (referred to, as ever, as “199”). Reception in Britain at night was not good, partly because the station was broadcasting off channel and there was interference from a Czech transmitter. The station was, at last, identified but it was not as Radio Caroline as had been expected, but as Radio 199. The idea was that this would be a Dutch language station for The Hague and west of Holland. Due to the delays in repairing the mast, the ship was not yet up to operating two services.

click to hear audio Crispian again, testing for the now-named Radio 199 and revealing a bit more about the station on 18th December 1972. Edited from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum (duration 3 minutes 14 seconds)

After just a few days of Radio 199, there was a change of plan. As the signal was just about audible in the UK and running two services still looked a long way off, it was decided to open up as Radio Caroline in time for Christmas. So on 22nd December Radio Caroline replaced Radio 199.

Schedule varied from day to day. Examples:
23rd December 1972 24th December 1972
6.00am Andy Archer
9.00 Lion Keezer
11.00 Mike Storm
2.00pm Jeremy Bender
5.00 Gerard van der Zee
6.00 Crispian St.John
8.00 Andy Archer
10.00 Chicago
All times GMT.
Information from Monitor magazine.

1.00am Mike Storm
4.00 Theo
6.00 Crispian St. John
8.00 Andy Archer
10.00 Gerard van der Zee
1.00pm Mike Storm
4.00 Andy Archer
7.00 Crispian St.John
10.00 Gerard van der Zee
11.00 Christmas Party
11.30 Mike Storm
click to hear audio Tuning the dial between the two English-speaking offshore stations just before 4am on 25th December 1972, the guys on both RNI and Caroline are full of Christmas cheer as they transmit festive greetings to each other. The clip opens with Robb Eden and Brian McKenzie on Radio Northsea followed by Andy Archer and Crispian St.John on Caroline. This is part of a longer recording available from (duration 6 minutes 25 seconds)

Caroline was back - but it was a different Caroline from the one listeners remembered from the sixties. In the previous decade it had all been about pop singles but times had changed. LPs were now out-selling 7" vinyl and Caroline was ready to embrace the modern world. It became Europe's first album station.

click to hear audio Andy Archer on Radio Caroline on Boxing Day afternoon, 26th December 1972. Mike Bass, who he mentions, was a transmitter engineer. The clip also includes an advert for the Ronan O'Rahilly-produced film Gold, featuring the voice of Tony Allan. Recording courtesy of The Offshore Radio Archive (duration 3 minutes 11 seconds)

Daily Telegraph cutting

Cutting from ‘The Daily Telegraph’, 29th December 1972, courtesy of Phil Matthews. Click to magnify.

At the end of December Caroline was back in the news when a mutiny took place. The exact reason for the revolt was a matter of some dispute. A Dutch newspaper reported Mi Amigo Captain van der Kamp as blaming the trouble on the two English DJs and the engineer on board (Andy Archer, Crispian St.John and Peter Chicago). He said that the six Dutch crew members and the Dutch representative of the management, Gerard van Dam, had left the ship on the night of the 27th to go ashore. This left him as the only Dutchman aboard and he claimed that the Englishmen had tried to take over his ship. Andy and Peter denied that they had threatened the Captain. They said that there had been a quarrel with the Dutch after an engineer had tampered with an oil pipe to the generator.

click to hear audio Crispian closing Radio Caroline on the evening of 27th December due to lack of fuel and opening it again an hour later, followed by an explanation from Peter Chicago. Edited from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum (duration 3 minutes 31 seconds)

On the afternoon of 28th December Andy Archer, hosting the 1-4pm GMT show, announced “We've got guests and I'm going up on deck. See you later.” After a record he was back to say that a Dutch naval vessel was 200 yards away and a small launch had come alongside. Also nearby, he said, was the press boat Seanews. A bit later: “We're having a lot of trouble out here. There's a fight starting on the deck over something so we may have to go off the air. We'll continue with music until then”. Halfway through the next record the transmitter went dead. The station returned to the air two hours later.

click to hear audio Andy Archer on Radio Caroline during the afternoon of 28th December 1972. This is an edited version of a recording available from (duration 1 minute 4 seconds)

The dispute was over money. Caroline did not have much of it. This did not seem to worry the English radio men who were working for something in which they believed but it was a matter of great concern to the professional seamen who made up the Dutch crew. They had not received any salary since September and did not see why they should stay aboard if they were not being paid. The crew were reassured that they would get their money and, for now, order appeared to have been restored. Caroline continued.

click to hear audio Andy Archer with Hans Verbaan of the Free Radio Campaign and new Dutch DJ Ron Dolman during the evening of 29th December 1973, announcing that Caroline will soon be changing wavelength. Edited from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum (duration 2 minutes 48 seconds)

The mv Mi Amigo is towed into IJmuiden harbour

The mv Mi Amigo is towed into IJmuiden harbour. Photo from ‘Caroline - A Story In Photos’, published by Threemaster Productions.

Then, in the early hours of 30th December, the RNI tender Eurotrip arrived with the Mi Amigo's master, Captain van der Kamp on board. He had gone ashore earlier in the day. He had brought reinforcements with him and they proceeded to cut the Mi Amigo's anchor chain. The ship was towed into land. After trying to dock at IJmuiden, but finding no free berth, the two vessels went on to Amsterdam (see photos). There the Dutch authorities inspected the Mi Amigo and declared her unseaworthy. A wreck. They demanded a number of major repairs if she was to return to sea. To make matters worse the Captain and crew were granted an injunction to impound the ship unless their wages were forthcoming - some £4,000. A few of the repairs were carried out but by no means all of them when, at 5pm on New Years Day, the radio ship slipped out of harbour and headed back to sea. On the way to the coast the Mi Amigo was stopped by two IJmuiden harbour vessels and, again, the ship was inspected. More repairs were deemed necessary and the crew given two hours in which to complete them. Fortunately it was a holiday weekend. No officials were on duty and station owner O'Rahilly had found an investor, boutique-owner Carl Boem, to pay the crew's back-pay. The money changed hands and, before the authorities knew what was happening, the ship was back at sea, safely outside the territorial limit and outside the clutches of the law.

click to hear audio Radio Caroline founder, Ronan O'Rahilly, being interviewed by a Dutch reporter about the mutiny. This recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum (duration 3 minutes 56 seconds)

Andy Archer

Andy Archer. Photo from ‘Deejay & Radio Monthly’.

At 2.08 pm GMT on 2nd January 1973 the station was back on the air, this time on 1187 kHz, announced as “259 metres”. With no crew, the broadcasters and engineers now ran the ship under the leadership of Captain Dick Palmer. Programmes continued in Dutch during the day, English at night. Slowly advertising began to build up, but not at the expense of the established RNI or Veronica. Caroline was tapping a different market. With the cheapest rates by far, small companies could afford to advertise - local bars, restaurants and shops. Time was also made available for the programmes of Dutch evangelist Johan Maasbach. Some new DJ voices were heard on air around this time, including those of Tony Allan, Norman Barrington (or “Barrington-Smythe” as Andy re-named him) and Steve England.

click to hear audio Tony Allan, from his first show on Radio Caroline, on the station's first day back on the air after the towing incident, 2nd January 1973. This is an edited version of a recording available from Our thanks to Ray Robinson for the Azanorak clips on this page (duration 4 minutes 59 seconds)
click to hear audio Andy Archer and a mystery guest referred to as “the 21st Century Schizoid Man” (actually RNI's Robb Eden) later that night. Edited from a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum (duration 3 minutes 2 seconds)

On 18th January Caroline had to broadcast a Mayday distress call when a fire started in the engine room. Writing about the incident on Facebook many years later Norman Barrington remembered: “There was smoke filling the studio as I spoke (on air). The flames were not just in the engine room but all along the bilge under our cabins, record library and transmitter room because diesel was floating on the bilge water. Totally inaccessible ... Obviously there was never risk of an explosion because diesel is not volatile but the superstructure could have caught and we would have had to abandon ship. In the event I do not think the crew put the fire out. It just used up the oxygen (and was extinguished). I thought I should play what might be Caroline's last record but did not want the obvious Fortunes so chose the best I could find in the studio with me, You've Got A Friend, the Carole King version.”

click to hear audio Tony Allan, Norman Barrington and Andy Archer appealing for help after a fire breaks out on Radio Caroline, 18th January 1973. This is an edited version of a recording posted on The Offshore Radio Club Forum. Our thanks to Harm Koenders for the all the clips from the Forum used on this page (duration 2 minutes 51 seconds)

Generator trouble also caused problems and the station was off the air for several days at the end of January.

Back to part one.
Part three over the page.

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