By Gus Browning, printed in 73 Magazines in 1966-07 reprint by PA0ABM Gus Browning story, Part 13 India The operation in Monaco was a success and everyone knew I was on my way. Even had a FB QSO with Harvey Brain VQUUB to let him know I was on my way to the Seychelles and to have the man who owned the boat have it all shipshape to depart when I arrived there. I made a few stops along the way between Monaco and Bombay, Met some of my old friends in Cairo, Beirut, Aden^ a few others. Finally arriving in Bombay a few days before the S,S. Kampala was to depart for VQ9 land. The usual way to get to VQ9 land is by way of Mombasa, Kenya. This is a little cheaper than by way of Bombay, but I tried to get reservations on one of the boats six months in advance and was informed that all reservations were filled up for over a year in advance. It seemed that every VU2 that was living in Africa was on a one way trip back to VU2 land. Apparently they were of the opinion that things were not going to be good for them in Africa anj' more and they were going back to their mother country. Passage was arranged very easily from Bombay to the Seychelles. In fact the boat seemed to be about only half filled. Remember the day I departed from Idlewild we shipped a number of items via air freight to Bombay for reshipment to VQ9 land on the SS Kampala along with me. It was good I got in Bombay a few days before sailing day because there was nothing at the airline offices for me at all. Mind you I had been delayed in arriving in Bombay about twelve days and I arrived about four days before departure date for the Seychelles. Even with all this extra allowance for air freight shipment delays, etc, nothing had as yet arrived in Bombay, I could not possibly depart on that boat unless I saw my power plant and the other material on the ship. It would have done me no good to arrive on the island without at least the power plant which I was going to use at Aldabra. It took a lot of DX telephone calls to finally locate tbe air freight shipment. It somehow had been offloaded in Karachi and was just laying there for some strange reason. To be truthful every experience I have ever had with air freight shipments were always like this. The shipment arrived in Bombay one day before sailing day to the Seychelles and on toj) of that it was a legal holiday. Now you try getting something from Indian Customs on one of their holidays when customs are closed up. Then I had to pay extra for a customs guard to come along with the shipment to be sure it was put on the ship and that it did not end up in India. You don't fool these Indian customs fellows, they trust no one at anytime under any condition. Now all of this monkey business cost quite a few extra rupees, I was the one who ended up paying all this of course and also the DX phone calls too. I tell you these unexpected costs will eat a big hole in your pocketbook. Trying to keep an exact account of such expenses are a real headache and I suppose I have lost quite a good sized sum of money in tiding to keep a record of exX)en8es. You have the extra trouble of trying to keep your records in dollars and spending rupees, and every time you move those hands are out for backshee (tips), and these people are real professionals when it comes to extracting the last rupee from you, I was lucky in Bombay to have met Dady VU2MD, Tipi VU2TP, VU2RX and VU2CQ,. They took very good care of me with transportation all the time to wherever I wanted to go, and they knew all the shortcuts in dealing with their people or I suppose I would have ended up spending a lots more than I did. These VU2 boys were very wonderful to me and knew how to roll out the Red Carpet. Later on I found that every one of the Indian Radio amateurs was the same way. They will do anything in the world for a fellow ham. After spending a few days in Bombay I could easily see where the expression the "masses of India" came from. You cannot picture in your mind the amount of human beings you see on the sheets of Bombay. Later on I found that Calcutta was like Bombay only multiply what you see by about 3 and you have some idea what a tremendous amount of people there were on the streets, I soon found out to not give any rupees to the beggars on the street because before you can bat your eyes there are a hundred where they came from. About the best way, at least with me, when the beggars approached you were to look straight ahead and not ever even let them know that you see or hear them. Trying to overcome the giving of backshee to them is a very difficult thing to do. It's sort of like trying to plug up a dike made of screen wire with a few toothpicks the little relief you give is so insignificant you may as well not even bother. At least that's how it seemed to me. You want service in a restaurant, just go to an Indian restaurant, there are usually more servants than there are tables iind when you get ready to leave it seems like everyone oi them waited on you. I mean when you see all the hands sticking out for their tips. The Airlines Hotel in Bombay is a pretty good place to stay when you are there, their prices are fair and, boy, you do get service. The day to depart from Bombay arrived and the usual rush down at the boat took place, customs was cleared, everything that was shipped by air freight was placed in my cabin, everyone was paid off, I shook hands with the VU2 fellows, the anchor was lifted and we were away for the Seychelles, At that time the fare was aronnd $120.00 for one way passage from Bombay to VQ9 land. This was tourist class, the cabins were very clean and the service fine. I met a man from Zanzibar who had gone back to Pakistan to see some of his relatives along with his family. He had a brand new Mercury car that he was taking back to Zanzibar on board the ship, I told liim that I might get back to Zanzibar and he insisted that I make his home my home when I arrived in Zanzibar. He was In the ivory business and from what I saw of him and his family he was very successful. I still have his address and telephone niunber in my little white book. But since reading all about what happened down in Zanzibar the past few years I guess he is not there any more. Maybe he was lucky enough to have escaped the fate of some of the others that I read about, I often find myself wondering about him and his very nice family. If any Americans ever get back into that country to do any operating I will be very' much surprised. That is not unless there is a big change in their attitude from what it seems to be at this time. When I was in Zanzibar a few years before things were so peaceful and quiet, and everyone seemed to be doing such a fine business. Maybe some day I will get another chance to go there if for no reason other than to see if there has been many changes from what it was when I was there. For the benefit of any of you fellows who have never made an ocean voyage on a large ship, let me tell you that you have missed some of the most pleasant things in this world. The meals on these ships are out of this world. Three or four different kinds of meat for every meal and everything else that goes towards making some of the finest eating you will ever have. You know when you pay them the $120.00 for the boat passage you are also paying for all the food for the entire trip. If time is not a pressing matter with you I cannot over emphasize or over- recommend that you take a boat trip the next time you go overseas. Setting up there on the sun deck watching the flying fish sail away when the ship approached them, and occasionally seeing a whale blow in the distance, or just watching the sea gulls following the boat makes things so peaceful and restful. Every morning usually you could see any number of porpoises parading along with the boat usually in schools of three or four. The trip from Bombay to the Seychelles took five and one half days and I must say they certainly were very restful days. Every night there was a movie and afterwards there was dancing with the orchestra. They even played some twist music and this did liven up things a bit. Everyone played many different games all during the day. All I can say is "take yourself an ocean trip by boat." Remember the only way to get to VQ9 is by boat either from Bombay, Karachi, or Mombasa. Ships sail about once per month and occasionally during certain months twice per month. I tried talking the wireless operator into letting me do some "maritime mobile" but could never get to first base. The fellow that the boys from Kansas City and I met before either was not working on the ship any more or was on leave. I even talked to the captain about it and he just could not understand why a fellow wnuld want to operate from a ship out in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I finally gave up on this and fust acted like all thr fjther passengers on board. I sat back in the deck chairs, drank my tea twice daily, was first in the dining room when they rang the bell, went to bed each night early and read a lot of books from the ship's library. The trip was enjoyable and I arrived at VQ9 in a very rested up condition. But I would have preferred it a lot more if I could have been operating W4BPD/MM. I am sure. I was busy getting my logs in order, writing a few letters, and sort of going over the equipment. I wanted everything to be "go" when I arrived at VQ9 and was hoping that Harvey and Jake (the owner of the boat) would have everything ready to go also. Early in the morning of the fifth day, Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles group was sighted off in the distance, first as a sort of long mountain peak sticking up out of the water with a few of the other smaller islands nearby as smaller mountain peaks. As the ship drew closer the mountain gradually changed into the general shape of an island. A little later on the palm trees and then the beaches could be seen with the breakers breaking on the beaches. The Kampala being a fairly large ship always anchored out in the deep channel about one mile away from the end of the long pier. Many of the island boats alvva\s come out to meet the ships when they anchor in the channel. Some pick up the passengers that are leaving the sliip at Mahe, and also the ship passengers who want to come ashore to do a little shopping and sight seeing. The ship alwa\s stands at anchor for six or eight hours giving ever>'one plenty of time to come ashore and get back on board to continue on their way to Mombasa, The little passenger launch picked up the few that was leaving the ship, T think there were only about four on this stop, When the passenger launch stopped to drop us off at the customs and immigration office on the long pier^ good old Haivey was there as usual waiting for me. To me each moment was a little bit more exciting then the one before, knowing that all the DXers back home were scanning the bands for my signal. It has always been a thrill to me to know T had so manv friends and let's call them "Gus Watchers" like W6ISQ (I love them dots) wrote about some time ago in QST. This fact never leaves my mind when I get overseas, and I try my darndest to appear on the bands as often as possible because T don't want to let them down. I remember the many hours I have spent hack at W4BPD waiting for some rare DX station to appear. Many times of com so I have been disappointed because some of the stations on these DXpeditions just were not dependable when it came time for them to appear on the bands, I very badly wanted by reputation to be one that could be depended upon to be on the air especially when skip was at its peak, both before and after the peak had come and gone. You DXers remember when I am on DXpedition I am actually more anxious to work you then you are to work me. I have lots more at stake than any one station has. I always remember that lots of money has been spent getting me to these rare spots and I want everyone to feel that they have not spent their money uselessly. Immigration and customs were no trouble at all as is usual in VQ9 land. They did check my things a little bit closer this Ume^ wanting to know how long I was going to stay there, where and the purpose of the trip. My usual answer to most questions are a Hat statement that I was a "tourist" and radio was my hobby. At least those were my answers in VQ9 land. You know they like tourists down there. Oh yes this is one of the few places left in the world that is not overrun with tourists and tourist traps with the usual boosting of prices to take in the tourists. Someone told me the ratio of ladies to men on the Seychelles are something like nine to one— Thai's a very high SWR and it does make life very interesting down there, I think this ratio is not quite true, but it's still pretty high. Their only town is Port Victoria with that town clock that strikes twice on each hour. The entire population of Mahe is about 40,000 and the island is about 35 miles long and some 3% miles wide. The color of the people are anywhere from jet black to 100% white. There is no predominating color there, everyone there lives very peacefully with every other one. No one seems to take life very seriously there, and no one seemed to me to be working very hard. They all really take it easy and no one ever seemed to be in a hurry to do anything. Every morning at about ten there is that tea break and of course at four in the afternoon I hey have their tea break again. This is one thing that everyone does. The stores all close at about twelve noon and open up again at three. Port Victoria is the only seaport town on the island and this is where all the ships come to. They have two piers, one called the long pier which is about 1,000 foot long, extending out towards the deep channel where the big boats anchor. Along this pier you will find a few ship repair shops, Customs and immigration offices, and also the turtle pond where they put the live turtles they bring back from Aldabra Island, They keep the turtles there until they are sold. Then there is the short pier which runs parallel with the long pier, it extends out about 500 feet I would estimate and is about 500 feet away from the long pier. This is the pier where Harvey keeps his boat, and others with small boats anchor. Haivey and I walked over to the short pier and out near its end I saw his boat at anchor in the same place it was when the Kansas City boys and I departed from the islands about two years from the date I arrived there. I was introduced to the owner of the small boat that was to carry us to VQ7 land— a fellow named Jake. The boat was named the Lua Lua. This was a very fine boat, 36 ft. Iong and about 8 foot wide, made out of 1/16 inch steel plate. There is a good story behind this boat and its owner, Jake and his family had been living in Northern Rhodesia for a number of years, just across the border from the Katanga province of the Congo, Jake was in the auto and truck body business. He was from Austria and had been down in Africa a long time. The Congo trouble had finally spilled out of the borders of the Congo and a number of houses very near their little town had been burned and a number of people had even been killed by the Congolese. Apparently they did not know exactly where their border stopped or maybe they did not care. Anyhow Jake and his family decided their days in Africa were numbered and they wanted out. He found a description of the boat in some magazine, maybe Popular Mechanics or something like that. He had lots of sheet steel on hand for building truck bodies and a fully equipped metal shop, and he had the will to undertake the construction of the boat right there in Northern Rhodesia a very long way from any ocean. He even ordered a second hand sextant and instructions as to how to use it. Mind von he had never in his life been at sea before. After about six months of hard work the boat was finished. He used every inch on the boat for some useful purpose. Practically each inside wall was covered with metal built cabinets to hold various items. The diesel fuel tank was built in and the fresh water tank built in. There was a place for each item and each item was in its place. The boat was hauled by trailer overland from northwestern Northern Rhodesia all the way to the Indian ocean, placed in the water and Jake by himself sailed it all the way to the Seychelles. His family (wife and daughter) went by ocean liner from Mombasa. Maybe they did not trust Jake and his navigation with that second hand sextant, or maybe they did not trust the boat, or maybe it was a case of not trusting both. Well here was Jake in his boat in VQ9 land safe and sound. The boat was basically a sail boat with the small diesel engine used for docking purposes mostly. The mast I would estimate was something hke 60 foot high and the leaded keel was very deep also to compensate for that extra high mast. The boat looked good to me and T was very sorry that Lee Bergren W0AIW and the boys from Kansas City were not there with me to look it over. I am sure they yould have fallen in love with the little ship. Everything was so ship-shape, everything freshly painted, the engine purred like a kitten. It was not like other boats I had seen before in and around VQ9 land, not by a long shot. The nicest part of it all was Jake was ready to go when I arrived there. Alter the usual preliminaries and customs were attended to, the owner of the Aldabras consulted, and this letter of introduction given me we were ready to go. Away we went down to "Temolgees" store and bought all the supplie we would need, a 50 gallon drum of gasoline, lots of Bully Beef I think Harley's favorit food), cans of soda crackers, plenty of tea, sugar canned cream, and a lot of other items. Harvey knows what you will need and he did a good job in chosing the right amount of food, fuel, etc. A ll of this took about three days, during this time I checked into the Hotel de Seychelles and did some operating. The bands as usual from VQ9 kind were very FB, I told the fellows that Aldabra would soon be on the air. I suppose the fellows back in the USA were already thinking of their excuses to tell the places they worked at why they would not be at work in a week or so. The Hotel de Seychelles is one of the nicest Hotels in VQ9. It consists of a long row of thatched huts on the beach. Each thatched hut is a hotel room. In about their middle is a larger thatched hut which is the dining room, reading room, and recreation get-together place when there is some social activity. They gave me the hut on the very end after I explain ud to them that I would be ruiniing my putt-putt all during the night and I did not want to keep anyone awake with its noise. This putt-putt I had was one of those very loud ones with a very small muffler which did not do to much muffling. Things on the beach in front of my room were very interesting, especially after sundown. On the nights of the full moon they have a real ball on the beach there with a lots of capers going on practically all night all up and down the beach and under the palm trees that lined the beach. That beach is a very busy place on these full moon nights. There are very few recreational activities around the island but they find plenty to do after sundown, especially on full moon nights. Well you know how it is when a bunch of boys and girls get together^ they will find something to do. If there is any chaperoning down there I never saw or heard of them. Oh yes the rates of the hotel when I was down there was only $22.00 per week and this included room and board. The food is very fine, and no one ever complained about anything there. If you want to go on a very fine vacation I highly recommend that you go to the Seychelles. I have a lots more to tell you all next month Gus

Gus Browning, W4BPD

Hams - W4BPD - Gus Brwning 02
VQ9HB, Harvey Brown, first licence of  VQ9 Vasant, VU2RX, qrv in 1949 Tipi, VU2TP SS Kampala - Bombay-Mombassa Mahé, a mountaintop in the Seychelles Port Victoria, Seyshelles Republic capital Marine sextant