“Is this frequency in use please? Is this frequency in use please?”
That was the voice of VE7 Papa Tango, Peter Thomas, as you waited by your radio for your “sched” with Peter.
Position report, course, speed, along with weather trends were the first order of business. Only then was there time for casual chit-chat. Business and formalities were high priority for Peter, who was always punctual, reliable, and correct as to ham radio etiquette and procedure. Peter learned his skills in the Navy, and there was only one way to operate a ham radio: according to rules and procedure.
Peter loved to travel the world vicariously aboard small vessels, as they crossed oceans and explored many corners of the planet; many flying burgees of the Bluewater Cruising Association. He was given a well-deserved BCA Honorary membership in 1996.
Peter helped me hone my radio skills when he invited me to join his small group of Navy veterans on the White Ensign Net 7077khz. They met every morning to check in with each other, wish each other a good day, and use their beloved radios.
Most long range cruisers remember Peter when he was net control of the DDD net, 14115 khz on the 20 meter band. Contact with a voice from home as well as contact with each other is so important to vessels on long passages, and Peter epitomized that responsibility.
You can see Peter’s obituary in the Times Colonist. A celebration of life will take place on Sept. 30th at 1400 hrs. at St. Michael and all Angels Church, with a reception to follow in the Parish hall. The address is: 4733 West Saanich Rd., Victoria, BC.
Here are some testimonials from Peter’s friends:
Greg Soroka from Alcidae III, Victoria, BC writes…
“I had the pleasure of Peter Thomas’s (VE7 PT) ‘company’ during 3 offshore voyages. I first met Peter on the radio after the DDD net one night in 1995, while moored in Pedder Bay. That year I made my first offshore voyage to French Polynesia and return, during which I spoke with Peter essentially every night. The second voyage, also a year in length, saw Hawaii, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Aleutian Islands and return via Dixon Entrance, and again the pleasure of Peter’s company almost daily. The third voyage lasted 9 years and saw Alcidae III circumnavigate, including 4 of the 5 great Southern Capes, into the Antarctic convergence and back via the Aleutians and Bering Sea. I lost radio contact with Peter when out of the Pacific Ocean, but we did keep contact via email.
My last radio contact with Peter was during my 2013, three week passage from the Andreanoff Group in the Aleutians to Ucluelet. Peter’s reassuring voice and kind personality will remain in my mind.”
Christine and Hugh Richards from Demelza write…
“We became acquainted with Peter in 1992 when getting our Vancouver 32 Demelza ready for an around the world cruise. Among the preparations for our trip, Christine decided to become a ham radio operator. She was introduced to Peter, who kindly offered to help her with hands-on radio experience in his shack. During those years, Peter was running the DDD net on frequency 14115 at 0400 hrs UTC. He had many boaters on his books, who relied on his always being there to take their longitude and latitude positions in the various oceans. His calm and kind voice was a huge pleasure to hear daily as each boater checked into the net. We were able to talk with Peter almost daily for 6 ½ years of sailing. When we were too far away and unable to hear him, he arranged for relays from New Zealand and later South Africa, until Demelza crossed the equator, heading Northward in the Atlantic, when we heard ‘VE7PT’ calling. Then once again, we were able to hear news of home and send messages to our family.
The few BCA Victoria meetings I attended with Peter were a highlight of his day, as many members came by to give their regards.
My last few radio contacts I had with Peter, I sensed the act of holding the mike was a challenge, but his mind was sharp to the end, as was his enthusiasm for his radio.
I remember Peter closing with the words and I quote:
“Nothing further on my end David, so I will give it back to you for a final and you can tie the ribbons on it. This is VE7 Papa Tango and I am clear.”
The voice of Peter Thomas is silent: another silent key and we owe a great deal of gratitude to VE7PT (Papa Tango)