The 1985 voyage across the Atlantic

Mike Lloyd writes:
"It was late in the year 1984 that I was 'resting' (unemployed and broke!) when a friend told me of the forthcoming 'Voyage of the Godspeed' re-enactment and suggested that I may be able to offer some assistance. I remember 2 interviews followed with John Mossesson (then owner of Otley Hall, former residence of Bartholomew Gosnold) and then a rather less formal chat (I'm sure it involved a couple of pints of local Abbot Ale) with Howard Hull the overall UK coordinator of the project. It was agreed that I would do my bit in East Anglia whilst Howard looked after the London events, sponsorship (mainly Willis Faber) etc. At that time I met up with Randall Bevan who was then Director of Recreation and Tourism (or something similar) at Ipswich Borough Council. Using his contacts and boundless enthusiasm and my sales and marketing expertise (plus a pretty neat line in begging!) we set about getting the show on the road.

In a fairly short time I managed to acquire a sponsored Mercedes G-Wagon form our local dealer, an office ( a portakabin with a dreadful gas heater that managed to produce seemingly gallons of condensation on a daily basis), a disused warehouse which was cleaned up and used for live performances and receptions, alcoholic beverages in some quantity (used of course only for formal receptions (?!)), merchandise was produced and franchised and all the myriad of items required to 'put on the show' were begged and borrowed from very generous local businesses and authorities.

Having been educated as a scientist my knowledge of Anglo-American history was limited to a bunch of idiots throwing tea bags at each other in Boston...Oh, and a bit about the Alamo (great movie!).. so I found I had to do a bit of work and reading just to find out what all the excitement was about.
Godspeed Mobile Unit
So, early in 1985 we had most of the infrastructure in place, all we needed was the star of the show and and a gang of reckless souls who apparently intended to sail this little vessel all the way back to America. One fine day I found myself meeting this aforesaid gang with support staff at Ipswich Station and transferring them to a house in Ipswich which had kindly been lent by Willis Faber. I remember meeting Neil Tanner the radio operator, Jack Greer the cook (whose ability to beg borrow and otherwise acquire provisions and stores left me as a rank amateur) Peter Meekins the sailing master (Peter and his wife Caddy have remained firm friends from that day forward). Last but by no means least I met up with Allan Libby who was doing my job (but better!)  on behalf of the American end of the project. We hit it off on day one and have also remained firm friends to this day.... still with threats of getting together again one day to relive the experience (with a small gin and tonic included). I remember many others but regret the effects of Anno Domini havetaken their toll on the old grey matter, so apologies to everyone else, they were all great fun to be with.
House in Ipswich
On a cold wet day in (sorry can't remember the date) we found ourselves on the dockside at Felixstowe  where a large container ship had arrived and nestling between thousands of large boxes was our baby, looking ridiculously small and obviously totally unable to sail to America! Unloading took place and she was finally popped into the water and with the help of local tugs was carefully taken round and moored in the old Felixstowe dock basin. There then ensued a ridiculously busy time as it seemed the whole world descended on the Godspeed to get her ready, rigged, provisioned, equipped etc.  She became a local star and with local media involved, offers of help came thick and fast.... any job that needed doing, someone could do..or knew someone that could. Great help was given by the Felixstowe Dock company and many of the staff became unpaid, unofficial helpers.
Mike Lloyd
Lots more work, lots of functions later we had the pleasure of sea trials, a few adjustments and then the time I had been building up to... her arrival in Ipswich wet dock where she was to be on show for a couple of weeks. A civic reception, a fly past, the crew all dressed up in their authentic costumes followed by live events in the warehouse, corporate events on board and in the Neptune Inn thousands and thousands of local visitors, informal gatherings in the Malt Kiln; Allan and I staffing the office all day and being involved in either work or entertainment every evening. Sleep was put on hold for a while!!

After a hugely successful period in Ipswich the next stop was a civic reception in Harwich (home I believe of Christopher Newport... historic knowledge beyond that...zilch!). As a thank you to me from the crew, my wife and children (then aged 11 and 9) were smuggled on board early on the day of departure and had the privilege of sailing the Godspeed down the River Orwell to Harwich for the reception there. I believe my son Rob took the helm for quite a way (being 9 he was able to see under the square sails quite happily so was ideal for the job!  Allegedly a speed in excess of 10 knots was achieved (maybe just hearsay!) on the way to Harwich. On arrival the town had turned out in numbers and the crew and local officials were paraded through the streets on way to the reception. Afterwards, my family and I made our way to the point where the River Orwell meets the North Sea as our 'baby' sailed past en route to London, taking with her my job, but leaving me memories of probably the happiest 6 months of my life. 

I only have limited knowledge of the London part of the programme as apart from a couple of visits I was busy
unwinding things in Ipswich. We did attend the departure on 30th April ( The Duke of Edinburgh came too!).... lots of sadness as she sailed off on her journey carrying my new friends into the wild blue yonder.... Godspeed!


Chuck Fikes, W5CLE writes about the Amateur Radio support:

About the Jamestown station: 1. the transceiver, linear, and beam antenna were loaned by members of the Richmond Ham Club(s). 2. The Williamsburg Ham club supplied most of the station operators.  Claude Feigley was the primary op and Gil Frey was a principal. Larry Boellhoff was also a part as he was good at CW also.  Gil called on me to debug the RFI problems (classic floating ground fix done by me) and Claude and I figured out that the beam antenna was "off" by about 30 degrees (pointing too far South) because the guys who installed the beam forgot that the steel in the Jamestown building roof influences magnetic compasses. A check with my compass on the ground didn't agree with the pointing of the antenna. Claude had to "sweep" to get the strongest signal and not trust the beam indicator meter. So we made the correction and got good signal results! The linear ampl was mismatched to the transceiver so only the 100 watt HF transceiver was used with their beam antenna (3-Element, 3-band)

The Richmond Club might have photos of the station setup.  This was the key station during the daytime and they were pleased to be in.  There was a filming for a newscast by a TV station (Ch 3 ?) while the Godspeed was under way. I don't know about the Jamestown Foundation collection.   
HF Station at Jamestown
Night time HF contacts were by the Williamsburg Ham club members.  Hayden Ross-Clunis (he might have names) did the nighttime contacts from their home and used the Wmsbg club's 2-meter station to link themselves to find your signal on 40 M.  I got in on both as I was making propagation forecasts.  I insisted that we have two scheduled times a day as I did the HF commuications for Army's coastal going watercraft based at Ft. Eustis, VA for about 8 years; they went as far as the Panama Canal so I had that to help us.  We really needed that second oppportunity for daily contacts! 

The Godspeed system.  The Williamsburg club wanted to do that. The only radio available was a kit donated by Heathkit. And we were short of time; 30 days until the Oct. deadline to get it on the Godspeed. I had experience building a Heathkit HF transceiver and doing wire-antenna experiments for 80 M through 15 M so I volunteered myself into the postition of chief builder of the transceiver and antenna  for the Godspeed.  Heath Co. gave us a kit transceiver with power supply and antenna tuner. 
Radio used during most of the trip

Building the 3 kits.  Gil (Dentist and Ham)and his wife built the power supply, Randy Harris (Nasa Engineer and Ham) built the Antenna Tuner, and I built the transceiver.  My experience with aircraft and ocean going watercraft electronics in the Navy, in Dallas' Vought Navy jet aircraft (Crusader) testing,  TI, and Collins Radio aircraft applications paid off because I saw and modified the 3 units with extra cable tying, gluing, fastenings to make them more survivable for a sea voyage. I enjoyed that work even though we were stressed to deliver. The HF unit was all digital synthesis so it was very stable and expected to be good for CW and SSB.  I was glad that I had been an active Ham since 1953; W5CLE starting at US Navy Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, HI so that I could better understand your potential ocean voyage problems.

The Godspeed's main HF antenna. You and I settled on the design of the insulated wire (no. 10 stranded copper) loop antenna and its attachment to the Godspeed's rigging and masts as esthetically pleasing,  promised HF signal benefits and safety from RF burns to crew aloft. Also you had access to a 250 ft. roll of that wire.  About 150 ft. of that wire was used to make the rectangular, vertical loop. 
Sketch of proposed loop antenna
I had been doing vertical loop experiments and Gil had been doing horizontal loop experiments and as a result so did the Wmsbg Club station that used the horizontal loop for Field Days and got great results. So we had great hopes for multi-band HF communications on the voyage of the Godspeed II.  Dick McNutt was the pioneer of loops in 2-meters.
Final antenna design
The initial try out of the Loop antenna-Antenna Tuner on the Godspeed (at the Gloucester anchorage) made a big impression on Hayden/Ross so I felt confident we had a winner of an antenna system. Remember Jas. Town people didn't want any antenna to detract from the Ship's looks.  The Antenna being a closed loop and insulated promised to be crew friendly and it could cancel out the Russian "Woodpecker" radar that often strayed into our Ham bands. Ross and his son climbed the rigging and tied the wire as they climbed; some aerial acrobats! 

While the Godspeed was at the Glouster anchorage we got some directional tests (15 M station in the Caribbean) as the ship was being turned about 180 degrees. The loop seemed to have a null of about 10 db. Such a null could help. The loop theoretically had 6 db gain and would be a low noise antenna compared to a dipole antenna.  Looking great for an antenna!

The power supply for the HF system:  Marine batteries, a type well proved by our Ham club's Field day experience; Gil Frey as the Guru.  The charging systems candidates: a used NASA thermocouple (propane powered) seemed to be too dangerous, I would have settled for a 500 Watt portable, but was delighted that one or two of the crew decided to invest in a diesel powered generator. The diesel technology was supportable anywhere on the voyage route. So glad you had a member bring a beacon that could send a rescue signal to the MARISAT (?) Maritime satellite! I was delighted to hear that could be a part of the electronics package!

After your voyage some amazing news!  Locally such a high percentage of daily contacts and so many were amazed at the ability to communicate with CW and later with SSB. 

Davenport, Iowa.  I was there for gun testing for the Army labs.  I met a Ham who said he made contact ( on 15 M ?) with the Godspeed. He had a rotatable loop (tall tower mounted) which he showed me.  That may be in your log book. About a 1,000 more miles to your signal.

Also, during the voyage you said the loop was more reliable than the commercial vertical that got installed late in the voyage (for a commercial radio).  The loop was the preferred HF antenna, the vertical had a lot of signal dropouts.  When our MARS station in W. Germany used a triangle loop for its digital commo.  it proved to be almost a 24/7 workhorse at 80 M linking the W. German MARS stations (1988-1991). The Triangle loop fed by a length of coax. One of my helps for our Soldiers as an active Army MARS member while I was an engineer there (1986-1991).  I had used our VA loop experiences again. 

The area newspaper Daily Press gave daily coverage of the voyage.   That was really a team effort!  Too bad George Salley's radio was so erratic but I think it got doused with a lot of sea water during the voyage.  I was hoping the Heathkit could be used from the start of the Voyage.  You men did such a great job! Ham Radio and sailing!  Amazing radio excepts "well sometimes you have to East to go West."  I think that one was when you were off the Africa coast.  Quite  a saga! So glad you didn't try to sail in the Hurricane season from the Caribbean to VA.

By the way,  this Summer, I found that my paternal grand mother, Rebecca Pace was a descendant of the Richard Pace of the Jamestown Settlement.  Another nice connection for us to the Jamestown Settlement.  The family mystery was finally solved by research published on the Internet. 

Gordon Kendrick writes:

"In Late 1984 I made a wood bowl and cup for the Godspeed. It was later presented to Captain Salley at a ceremony by Gov. Robs daughters (Pres. Johnsons granddaughters). Another artist and I went on to make 100 wood commemorative cups that were to be given away along the voyage."

Please visit "Old Ways Wood Works"
(the two photos above were provided by G. Kendrick)

  This site is still on the ways.

   If you were part of the crew, email to: wa4chq(at)netscape.net

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