New beginning, new Yasme, new countries and new hope
On late August 1957, exactly three-years after his original departure, Danny flew back to England with new enthusiasm and lots of experience on each and every front. At this point one can ask the question which interest was his driving force – sailing around the world solo or taking up a new fame that he had definitely discovered through amateur radio while in the United States.
Danny wrote to his mother: “I have been published in every top paper in Chicago, been in two top TV programs and there are many more lined up. I am surrounded by cameras, Hallicrafters have allocated their publicity man who stay with me all the time, all except to sleep with me.” The first serious DXpeditioner’s name was indeed on everyone’s lips.
The local UK newspaper reported, “Danny Weil, who narrowly escaped death when his boat was wrecked on a coral reef in the Pacific, may soon be embarking again on the second chapter of his saga. And his new boat, successor to the ill-fated Yasme, will again come from Christchurch, England.”
Only a week or so later there was another news bit, stating: “An Around-the-World yachtsman was catapulted high in the air when his 40-foot sloop blew up from underneath into the sea, about 5 feet from his yacht, the Yasme II, lying now in Holyhead harbor.” It was reported that the accident happened while refueling the new boat in a Scottish port. The boat was a total loss, but was covered by insurance.
Only two months later Danny was delighted with the purchase of another 50-foot boat, this one a yawl, made entirely of teakwood and built in 1912; it had two new masts, a lead keel of seven tons and the latest hydraulic deck winch. Studying the original documentation we can see that the 1kW diesel generator cost USD $105 in those days – calculated to today’s value that would be about USD $1000 and would estimate the boat purchase to be around USD $12,000 which equals to USD $120,000 as of today’s value. There is no specific notice on how this was specifically financed as Yasme Foundation was not yet formally operational.
At this point Gus Browning, W4BPD, entered the scene and much of the press turned to him because of Danny’s absence from the scene.
Instead of going to complicated destinations such as Navassa, Galapagos, and the Clipperton Islands, Dick, KV4AA, was zooming into Aves Island, YVØ which became a DXCC entity on November 1, 1956 and since then it had only been activated for a handful of contacts.
Conditions at the time, just like today, are that only with involvement of Venezuelans can one obtain an YVØ license. And that was the approach taken. The YVØAA/YVØAB team was soon on its way with Danny; Jules, KP4AIO; Falke, YV5GO; and Julio, YV3BS.
Danny spent little time in St. Thomas, stowing the Hallicrafters radio gear aboard and sailing off, bound to Aves Island, a deserted sandbar destination with no people. KV4AA had spent several days constructing a completely self-contained cabinet that would house the HT-32, HT-33 and SX-101, could be bolted to a prepared spot on Yasme, and then taken ashore.
Reading the December 1958 issue of QST magazine, this looked like another successful and well-documented adventure. With four men on board and a lot to carry ashore, Danny worried about the group and their comfort at sea. Take the drinking water for example: “My tank only holds 30 gallons, so a general roundup was made here for spare bottles to augment the supply. My main tank also is a little rusty inside and every cup of water is flavored with ¼ cup of rust. I didn’t mind it, but the other guys complained – some people are never satisfied.” Danny had to stay on the boat most of the time because of the rough and ever changing sea conditions. They were anchored in 20 feet of water and for the sake of safety he had let out 60 feet of anchor chain. Danny was in charge of it all from landing, the boat itself, and transferring the bulky gear and the generator back and forth. Were the landlubbers satisfied of 2346 QSOs made for the stay of two weekends?
Not at all. There were attempts to disqualify the entire operation by the Venezuelan operators for reasons that had nothing to do with making radio contacts. The accusations were too many to list but indeed, an early statement made by Danny became more valid than ever: being alone on a sailing trip brings you conflict with no one but yourself. In public, the QST article by Danny indicated none!
Salvation for Danny came in the form of a new DXCC rule. Nearly a dozen Caribbean Islands had initially been considered as just two DXCC entities: the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands. As England loosened its grip on most of the British colonies, the DXCC rules required a reconsideration.
On June 1, 1958, only five days after Danny had just arrived from the Aves Island DXpedition, the Caribbean DXpedition of Yasme II was announced as a warm-up for the ambitious Pacific trip to follow thereafter.
The first new one was VP2V itself. This is the only time Danny used his own call sign, VP2VB, now from privately owned Buck Island, a mile away from the main town of Tortola. Dick had invited four talented hams and close Yasme associates to accompany Danny at his home port: Joe, W2HQL (now W1JR); Rudy, W3CXX; his son Fred, W3BSF; and Doc, W5PQA.
Asking Joe, W1JR today (January 2021) about Danny, he remembers him with many fond memories:
“Danny allowed the rest of the gang to operate most of the time while he remained alone at aboard Yasme. He was seemingly preferring the loneliness while on the other end, he was a shameless woman chaser.
“For our meals we had to shuttle to Yasme using a dingy. He introduced me to tongue (ugh!). Even though I was thrilled about the prospect of accompanying Danny to the Seven Seas, the more I thought about it, and all things considered, I have decided that I would be better off at home, a decision which later proved to be right.”
VP2VB was probably the finest and best conducted Danny Weil DXpedition of all times, resulting in more than 5000 QSOs. This was obviously a multi-man show from a comfortable environment, ending in style with a reception given at the British Governors mansion in the town of Tortola.
But the show must go on as those new Caribbean VP2-DXCC counters were only barely active by local operators. Danny continued on a roll, handing out those to the Deserving.
First, St. Kitts with 2300 QSOs, next Antigua, VP2AY with 3400 QSOs, followed by Monserrat, VP2MX with another 1950 QSOs. Then Anguilla as VP2KFA and celebrating Christmas 1958 in Dominica, VP2DW with 2400 QSOs, then St. Lucia with 2750 QSOs. Finally, VP2SW, St. Vincent with 2800 QSOs. Danny was on a roll and it looked like there was a need for 2500 to 3000 QSOs from each entity, to satisfy the demand.
Things went fine for the most part. During those early days the Aves Island type of DX jealousy was noted on Anguilla Island where the local US expatriate resident VPØRT tried to protect what he thought was his and his only.
In April 1959, QST magazine reported that Danny’s round-the-world DX marathon struck a snag on Union Island, part of St Vincent, and became rockbound en route to Grenada. Unfortunately it was much worse than that as Yasme II was destroyed and Danny sustained painful lacerations.
Danny reported: “The whole truth of the matter is, I went to sleep instead of being on watch. It is unnecessary for me to tell you I was tired. I have been over-tired for some time, and should have stayed over in St. Vincent for a few days of relaxation. I chose to move on. Call it what you wish – over enthusiasm – or just bloody stupidity – the fact still remains that I had no right to be sailing Yasme with so much at stake!”
Yasme was on the rocks and the hole in its hull of about 10 ft. by 3 ft. was enlarging and Danny’s foot injury was preventing any further salvage efforts: “I only wish I had a salvage expert available here as speed is essential and if I cannot get something done soon Yasme will be lost.” The same fate was awaiting the radio gear, some other necessities and the typewriter all piled up together with injured Danny laying on the narrow beach, in Grenadines, which was about the most primitive of the entire West Indies Islands.
But Danny was a brilliant reporter and writer and indeed his Remington typewriter was very productive along the way. Note his wording on a somewhat non-relevant issue: “Just can’t figure why my Remington won’t do the same after all, it’s only been in the sea for a couple of weeks. It surely needed a new ribbon! Stuck it in a barrel of fresh water to wash the salt out then stuck it in the sand to dry out. After this, a pint of lube oil worked wonders except the carriage wouldn’t move. The darn spring had broken!”
Danny’s survival on this episode is well written out and would easily make a book out of itself… “The left leg gave out and I fell down with a thump. Needless to say my language at that time would not be found in any dictionary, but it helped my feeling but not my confounded leg.”
He was found by the natives and the story goes: “There were several natives standing in there and I did finally managed to convey to this guy that it would be a bright idea if he shone his flashlight in any place other than in my eyes!”
Yasme II was history but Danny carried on his travels with other available transport: Another 1300 QSOs from Grenada, VP2GDW followed by 400 QSOs from VP4TW, Trinidad.READ ON > Here the Yasme Foundation comes with a strong hand to rescue a DX world in need
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