Time for some more photos from Radio Seagull’s recent spell offshore. This time it’s the people shots.
This is by no means everyone who was on board during the week, just a mixture of some of the Radio Seagull and Radio Waddenzee presenters who came and went during the two weeks I was there.
OK, this one is for the more technically minded radio enthusiasts.
Out here on board the former lightship Jenni Baynton, our engineer Walter Gralle has been building a copy of one of the old-fashioned high-power AM transmitters as used on the offshore stations of the past. This is similar, apparently, to a transmitter used on the Caroline ship Mi Amigo in the 60s.
Below are some photos of this magnificent piece of valve- driven transmitting equipment, which is nearing completion.
Click on any picture for a bigger version.
If you’re wondering where the studio, tx and people shots are . . . they’re coming later in the week.
As I write this, the sun has just set over the Frisian harbour town of Harlingen, in The Netherlands.
I’m staying the night in a delightful hotel in the centre of town, and the view out my window is the one above, gently winking navigation lights on the little entry into the harbour, and sailing ships everywhere. Early tomorrow I will take a supply boat out to the Radio Waddenzee / Radio Seagull ship, Jenni Baynton, anchored 10km off the coast in the centre of the Waddenzee, an area of the North Sea partly protected by a string of islands. I’ll try to blog regularly while on board, but as always this is dependent on mobile signal and everything working well, so it may be patchy.
I’ve had an unusually leisurely trip this time round, giving myself an extra day, which allowed me to fly at a civilised hour, and take the time to enjoy Harlingen before rushing out to sea. And it is a beautiful place, and very thought-provoking.
The first thing that strikes me is how utterly central to the town the sea and boats are. Unlike Ireland, where marinas are generally away from the town, and often semi-private and exclusive, here the waterways are part of the fabric of the town, everywhere you look there are boats old and new, and the people . . they are old and new too.
There are just as many teenagers afloat as adults, and normal families and grizzled old men in beat-up cars rub shoulders with the more well off. The boat, in Harlingen, is classless and timeless.
And it’s so busy.
Looking out to sea as the sun fell boats were dotted along the safe channel out of Harlingen like cars on a motorway, the swing and lift bridges in the centre of town are constantly moving, and groups of people are sitting and socialising in large numbers on many boats.
We’re a strange animal.
We have a unique capacity to get enjoyment from things whose original designed purpose was not enjoyment. Boats were built as a mode of transporting people and goods over water, a simple functional solution to an engineering and logistical problem, yet which one of us does not feel a glow of . . specialness . . when we set foot on a boat?
What is it about being on a floating object that inspires so much passion, and gives so much enjoyment to the human?
I remember once hearing an analysis of a poem written about the beach at Dover that talked about our love of zones of intersection – where the water meets the land, where the sky meets the sea, where the inner meets the outer, where the male meets the female.
I think there is a lot to be said for this, and perhaps the magic of boats and the sea is that you can not only experience the boundary of water and land, but in a way transgress it . . be beyond the limit, beyond the edge of land, on the water, but not in it.
And then there is the horizon, the boundary of sky and earth towards which every explorer has been driven. Nowhere can you better see the horizon, in all its clarity, than at sea.
To stand, at the highest point on the top of a ship’s bridge, or up its mast, is to see the wholly perfect horizon around you in full 360 degrees, with your own self at the perfect centre of it.
Confirmation that you are the centre of the world? Perhaps that is what is so alluring . .
I sail at dawn for my own horizon. We shall talk again!
That time of year has come around again – the annual excursion by the Dutch broadcaster Radio Seagull when it puts out to sea for a month on the former lightship which acts as a studio and transmission base for both Seagull and its sister station Radio Waddenzee.
The Jenni Baynton will be anchored 8 miles offshore from the coastal town of Harlingen and transmitting on 1602Khz AM, with the usual internet feeds.
I will be living on board from June 2nd to 13th, a longer period than last year, and I’m really looking forward to getting the chance to indulge in my love of all things maritime, and rubbing shoulders and exchanging musical ideas with the other Seagull and Waddenzee staff, which will hopefully result in some fine programmes. The ship itself will be offshore until the end of the month, including some time spent located at the island of Terschelling for a local festival.
For the duration of my stay on the ship, I will be on air nightly at 7-10pm local time (6-9pm Irish/UK time), every day except Friday 3rd.
I’ll blog regularly from the ship when mobile reception permits, and I’m also hoping the peaceful atmosphere on board will lend itself to some quality writing time also, as I’m way behind on my second book.
Further details next week.
A collection of some of the milestones in my life, some important, some quirky!
First memory . . in a cot in my parents room, playing cars by driving my fingers around the blanket . . into transport and machinery even before I could walk!
First (earliest) memory that I can specifically date: the night before my third birthday, travelling down to Mitchelstown in our old Ford 100E sitting on my mother’s lap. The alternator/dynamo was failing and the car lights were dimming . . I remember being carried up the boreen to my great grandfathers farmhouse at midnight after we had broken down just short of our destination. Then I remember my third birthday itself, and my Great Uncle Billy telling me I was a “big boy” and giving me a toy tractor to play with.
First book read. . Can’t remember what was first, but I was an avid reader. I was really into Greek mythology as a child, and had read the Illiad and Odyssey by the age of 8.
First girlfriend . . When I was only about 6 I had a thing for Laura from down the road. Start as you mean to go on!
First time on TV . . There exists in the RTE Archives some footage of a nine-year-old me wandering through a field in Kerry picking blackberries, as part of a “Landmark” special on farmhouse holidays.
First record bought . . Jeff Wayne “Forever Autumn” from War of the Worlds, in 1978.
First Kiss . . Maggie from New Cross, where are you?
First dance . . some very kind Co. Clare woman took pity on me when I was all alone at the disco on our school trip to The Burren, and whisked me around the floor to the envy of my classmates. I can still remember the smell of her hair . .
First proper job . . (excluding working in the family business), my first actual job was a week as a door to door salesman in 1982. I must have have knocked on half the doors in Dublin, and made only £13 in commission before giving it up.
First car . . A lovely Fiat 500 passed down from my mother. If cars could talk, it would have a tale or two to tell!
First heartbreak . . Yes, it’s Maggie from New Cross again. If you want to know what went wrong, see pages 11/12 of Shiprocked, Life On The Waves With Radio Caroline. It’s true, I really was that innocent!
First record I played on the radio . . Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation” (on South East Sound, July 1985)
First record I played on Radio Caroline . . Percy Sledge – “When A Man Loves A Woman”
First time abroad . . England for the 1966 World Cup. (actually it was my Dad who went for the football, I was just a toddler).
First words written to start writing the book (that became Shiprocked) . . “The call came at the worst possible time . .” (Later I realised that I needed more background about what had happened leading up to my joining Caroline, so that first line written is now many pages into the finished version).
First Draft (of Shiprocked) . . 225,000 words. Redrafted on my own account to 176,000 words to tighten up. But then cut down to 90,000 words for publication . . that was tough!
First (of many!) rejection letters . . 1993 from an agent in London. It would be another 15 years and many more rejections before I came across Seven Towers Agency, who have been utterly brilliant in supporting me, and in refusing to take no for an answer.
First interview as a published author . . The day Shiprocked was published, I was interviewed by Sinead Ni Mhordha on Phantom’s Access All Areas show. I was used to hearing Sinead interview great rock bands, and was just blown away that she was interviewing me. Forget TV3 forget The irish Times, it was sitting across the desk from Sinead that I really felt like I’d arrived!
First show on Phantom . . November 2000, the breakfast show. I started with a news bulletin, so my very first words on air were to inform the world that George W Bush had just been confirmed president following the final court hearing into vote counts. My first record was Greenday – “Minority” – as good a musicical start as any!
That’s it for now – let’s hope I have many more “firsts” still to come.
(March 17th 2011)
After 11 very happy and eventful years with the Dublin Indie-rock station Phantom, I presented my last show on St. Patricks Day. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Phantom, but increasing time pressures from my other activities mean that I have had to make some choices about what to focus my energies on.
(edit: see the “On-Air” tab on this site for details of where to find me on the radio these days)
I have very many happy memories from my 11 years with Phantom, and I will post some of them here over the next little while.
For now I’d like to thank everyone from all of the eras of Phantom, pirate to temporary to commercial, for making me so welcome, and to wish the great team charged with taking the station into the future all the success in the world.
I’ll leave you with a little memory from my early days with the station, when we broadcast from a secret base above Whelans of Wexford Street, and an “unexpected splash of colour” on the breakfast show:
Phantom Breakfast – Aug 2001 (click to play – format: mp3)
Those were the days my friend . . .