[amsat-bb] Re: UT1FG/MM Welland Canal

w4upd updwrb at bristor-assoc.com
Tue Apr 10 10:04:37 PDT 2012

Kind of cool and sounds like a lot of fun. I decided to try Yuri's 
movements on a marine traffic URL. The chart can be be found at:


You can put in the name of the ship. In this case just the Barnacle 
works. At this email writing, the chart shows him at: N46. 31', 01.62", 
W072, 12'53.89" or
46.5171, 072.2150
Of course by the time this email gets out he'll be a different location. 
This program is neat and I use ti to track passenger ships as well.

Again, sounds like a really neat experience that most of us would envy.

Reid, W4UPD

On 4/10/2012 12:07 PM, John Papay wrote:
> Yuri, UT1FG/MM, left Thunder Bay Ontario on Lake Superior
> a few days ago with a cargo of Oats and Wheat destined for
> San Juan Puerto Rico. He had gone through the Welland Canal
> which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie on the way to
> Thunder Bay and would come back through on his way out. The
> Welland Canal is very long, has 8 locks and takes the boat from
> a water elevation of 572' in Lake Erie to 246' in Lake Ontario.
> On the way in it took him about 8 hours to go through.
> My thought was to drive up there and watch him go through and hope
> we could get within shouting distance of one another. But where you
> do go to get close and how do you find your way around in unfamiliar
> territory? You may have heard VE3RCN on the birds, sometimes from
> different grids and sometimes on the warship Haida. Kevin is in the
> Royal Canadian Navy (hence the callsign) and makes his home in Welland!
> After some email exchanges and some research on Kevin's part he offered
> to host my time in the area. That took all of the stress out of the
> situation. He knew everything about the canal.
> Yuri sailed out of the Detroit River on Saturday night and into Lake
> Erie. I was able to contact him on 144.200 sideband where we chatted
> for almost an hour, much different than the quick grid square exchange
> on the birds. He estimated being at Lock 8 in the Welland Canal around
> 8am. After 4 hours of sleep and a quick shower I was on the road at 
> 3:15am.
> After a few questions by Canadian Customs (they know what to ask to 
> determine
> if you are telling the truth), I was in Canada. About 15 minutes out of
> Port Colborne, the entrance to the canal, Yuri called on 146.52 to say he
> was about 15 miles out. Fifteen miles later I was at Tim Horton's (the
> Canadian Starbucks equivalent) where I was to meet Kevin, VE3RCN/VA3OR.
> He arrived their shortly after me and we were off to the Lake Erie shore
> to catch a glimpse of the MV Barnacle. And there she was off in the 
> distance.
> It was all coming together. The Lake was calm, the sun was shining, it 
> was
> about 32 degrees but there was no wind. The fish were jumping.
> After the ship started moving closer to the channel we got into position
> to watch it come in. As it rounded the bend and we could see the bridge,
> Yuri spotted us immediately and was waving. He seemed as excited as we
> were. As he got closer we were able to shout back and forth. At Lock
> 8, the first lock, we were able to talk back and forth; we were very 
> close.
> There are places on the canal where you can stand on the bank and put 
> your
> hand on the ship going by. The clearance may only be six inches.
> After that we went to get some breakfast; then we lost track of where 
> Yuri
> was. Kevin made a quick call to his xyl Donna, VE3WIZ, and she was able
> to relay his position so we could catch up with him again. We waited for
> him to pass over the highway at Thorold. The road actually goes under the
> canal! Next stop, Lock 7.
> We were waiting for Yuri at Lock 7 where the Canal Pilot changes. We were
> standing at the fence when things started to come together. The 
> invitation
> to come on board was given and before I knew it I was ushered over the 
> lock
> to the other side of the ship and boarded as the ship lowered to the dock
> level. A minute later I was on the bridge with Captain Yuri UT1FG. 
> Finally
> I was able to meet a guy that I've been working on the satellites in
> hundreds of water grids since April 2009! At that point Kevin went back
> home to get Donna and they then followed us down the canal, waving and
> watching us at every highway crossing and vantage point.
> An experienced Canal Pilot takes command of the ship through the 
> locks. He
> stands on the port or starboard side of the bridge so he can see the 
> ship's
> hull with respect to the edge of the canal. There may be only inches to
> spare so it is a tedious effort. The Pilot calls out the commands 
> (Starboard
> 20, Port 10, Slow Ahead etc) and the first officer carries out the 
> orders.
> Yuri is usually with the Pilot and helps relay the commands etc. There is
> very little time for anything else except when you are actually 
> stopped in
> the lock. It's one thing to see the ship going through the locks from
> land but quite another to experience the change of level from inside the
> lock itself. It truly was an experience of a lifetime.
> Yuri took me to his cabin one level below the bridge. His quarters are
> quite nice and private. This is where he operates with his IC706, 
> manually
> tuning the radio and doing a great job at that! The power supply from 
> sat on the table in the corner and a computer running Orbitron is on 
> the other
> side. Yuri now has an ELK antenna installed (thanks to the efforts of
> Rick, WA4NVM). It is mounted on a manually rotatable mast that goes up
> from the bridge, starboard side, directly above his cabin. The ELK is
> tilted up at 15 degrees and was just installed on the way back from
> Thunder Bay. The CJU antenna is mounted on the crossboom next to the ELK.
> A vertical for 2 meters is on a separate mast above those antennas. Until
> this season Yuri only used the 2 meter vertical for transmit and receive.
> It is amazing that he was able to make any contacts with just that 
> antenna.
> The CJU improved things greatly and the ELK takes it to a new level. He
> worked PV8DX right at his horizon on FO-29 with it. Yuri has SatPC32 but
> has not installed it yet due to time constraints. When he is out in the
> Ocean again, he will install it and get his radio interfaced. This will
> make it much easier for him to stay on frequency and focus on operating.
> Yuri also has a 6 meter rotatable dipole and a end fed long wire that 
> goes
> from the bridge to the top of the first two cranes.
> The MV Barnacle is a sister ship to the Mottler, the ship that he 
> captained
> last season. It was also built in 2009 and is owned by a Canadian company
> based in Montreal. The engine room boasts a 10,000 horsepower plant and
> is controlled by state of the art electronics. I was able to 
> experience an
> excellent meal on the ship in addition to touring the ship with the Chief
> Engineer.
> Time passes quickly and soon we were at Lock 2 where it was decided I
> should depart. Kevin and Donna were waiting there for me; we were 30
> miles away from where my car was parked. We stopped at McDonald's to
> demonstrate my remote control setup but the wifi failed so we couldn't
> do that. After a nice drive and some good conversation we were back at
> Tim Horton's in Port Colborne. At the US border crossing the agent
> questioned me as to why I would drive all that way on Easter Sunday just
> to see a ship go through the canal. After I explained that the captain
> was a ham radio operator that I had talked with around the world but
> never met he handed back my passport and said "GO!"
> I want to thank Kevin VA3OR/VE3RCN and his wife Donna, VE3WIZ, for 
> spending
> their Easter Sunday hosting my visit to the Canal. I'm sure they had
> better things to do but they decided to take me all around and make my
> visit a memorable one. I hope they enjoyed the day as much as I did.
> And a big thanks to Master Yuri Bodrov and his crew for their 
> hospitality.
> And also to the Canal Pilot who guided this massive ship through the 
> locks
> with great precision. It was an experience that very few will ever have.
> Yuri is headed down the seaway and should be traveling through new water
> grids on the way to San Juan PR. He is due there on 4/20. He will stay
> on until at least the end of May. He does not know where he will go after
> San Juan. He has truly made operating the birds exciting. QSL to his 
> manager
> UX0FY (on qrz.com). He has ordered 5000 more qsl cards which should
> arrive shortly.
> 73,
> John K8YSE
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