New boat with Yasme Foundation, new start and new everything and more

While in the process of finishing the Yasme III purchase, it was reasonable to show up on the air from Bahamas as VP7VB, just to keep the DX community fully alert. With those 850 VP7VB QSOs, Danny reported that the operation was a great ragchew undertaking with the DX community.

Yasme III, M/S Sun Regret ready to sail out to the horizon (from YASME News, September 1959, volume 1)

Upon his return, as always, some voices in the DX community along with a bitter W6 ham operator of the Anguilla fame, were sensitive to some issues and some critical comments were noticed. Some of these issues were about the “business-like” approach of the Yasme QSL policy. There was also an attempt to cancel the Colonial call sign VP2VB on the basis of “flagrant abuse of amateur privileges!” KV4AA finally met with the troublesome W6 ham operator and these issues were sorted out satisfactorily.

On May 1, 1960 Yasme III with Danny and Dave, ZL1AV, on board left Tampa for their first operation together, bound for Kingston, Jamaica, licensed as VP5VB. It was not a rare spot but a good “shakedown” cruise to test all the details for the upcoming Pacific odyssey. Some 3200 QSOS were made during the operation.

In the meantime KV4AA was working hard to come up with a totally new one: Bajo Nuevo Island, part of the Colombian territory. The local HK-hams were all for it and the callsign HKØAA was issued.

Not many details were available on Bajo Nuevo Island itself other than some sporadic data from fisherman. With a low sandbar profile Bajo Nuevo was not easy to find and so the search took two days. But finally Danny was able to make a landing on the island after few “dunkings” in the 10-foot surf. First they got the beam and the tent up and only the next day they moved the radio gear ashore.

Finding the island and getting ashore was not easy and Danny had doubts if there will ever be another expedition to this place. The main island or the “sandspit” as he called it was only 1600 feet by 60 feet and the average height was no more than two to three feet. In the early DX days it was expected that these “sandbar” DXCC counters, such as Aves and Bajo Nuevo, would soon wear out and disappear as they often did in stormy seas. But to everyone’s surprise Mother Nature always “builds them up again” and as of today they still exist!

The duo operated for six days until the weather worsened and the operation was cut short with only 2600 QSOs made. Unfortunately Colombia did not give permission to activate Malpelo Island as their own HKØTU operation was already being planned for 1961.

So from Bajo Nuevo waters, Danny and Dave set sail to return to Rodman Naval base, Balboa, Canal Zone and get Yasme III well fit for the upcoming long Pacific voyages ahead. A troublesome leak had been found and patched, and new radio gear located and installed. Originally, only the Hallicrafters HT-32 transmitter was on board.

There were several events that happened at Balboa and they certainly affected the DXpedition in many ways. The first was when the Hallicrafters representative walked to the vessel in Tampa, terminated their support, and took away the HT-37 and the SX-111. It was a major loss for Danny, as Bill Halligan, W9AC was part of the Yasme Board and had a major stake in all Yasme operations up to this point. Gladly Hal, K5JLQ came to rescue and loaned Yasme an HT-32 and a SX-101 as well as another Globe King radio.

Danny Weil, VP2VB and Bill Halligan, W9AC, president of Hallicrafters (from Yasme book/K1TN page 110)

The next bomb was when Danny Weil made a complaint to the Canal Zone Police, who then arrested the 22-year-old New Zealander, ZL1AV, for the attempted theft of clothing and equipment from the vessel. Dave was charged with attempting to steal a sport shirt and trousers worth USD $8.50 from Weil and radio tubes and relays worth USD $71.75.

This is one of the saddest parts of the Yasme’s early history and remains a total mystery because ZL1AV was indeed planning to continue with Yasme III and make it his home for the voyage. One would rarely steal from one’s bunk and end up being arrested because of his trusted partner. Was it because, as stated before, Danny preferred solo sailing and the first outing together with ZL1AV was not at all to his liking? We’ll never know.

But there was one more bomb yet to come that will make Yasme III into another love boat of those days…

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