Serious leak
Not long into the New year, the MV Mi Amigo developed a serious leak. With a shortage of diesel and the generators not working, the intake of water soon became dangerous. A "Mayday" call was broadcast on 19th January, on the international distress frequency of 2182 kHz.

It was answered by Thames coastguard, and at 15:09 the Harwich lifeboat was launched. Three other ships stood by, the May Crest, the Sand Serin (a sand dredger) and the Cambrai. At 18:20 five people were taken off the ship - Tony Allan, Marcel Aykman, Frank Brooks, Bernard Gratz, Brian Johnson, and Wilson the canary. They were taken to Harwich Police station and interviewed by Customs and Immigration officials. This was the first time the Mi Amigo had been abandoned while in open seas. On the 20th January 1979, Peter Chicago went out to the Mi Amigo on a small trawler and managed to jump aboard. Later a salvage crew made up of "free radio supporters" boarded the ship and start to pump out the water.

We're back
Radio Caroline returned on 18th March 1979 at 04:22 in the morning. Test broadcasts were aired on 539 Metres for nearly nine hours. After careful tuning, the maximum effective output power was only 40 kW, and it was not considered worthwhile to use this frequency. At 09:36 on 15th April, a test broadcast started on 963 kHz / 319 Metres. At 11:00 Tony Allan announced the return of Radio Caroline, the first record played was "Fool if you think it's over" by Chris Rea. Caroline's own Dutch service took over at 11:36, confirming rumours that Radio Mi Amigo had left the ship. The close down for the night took place at 00:27. Due to large quantities of Dutch letters arriving at the Gerona address, a new address was established for the Dutch audience - Radio Caroline, Alta Mira, Avenue Ansol, Marbella, Spain.

At 18:15 on 1st August, Tony Allan interviewed Peter Wilkinson of Greenpeace. The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior had called in on the Mi Amigo, before heading for Iceland, to try and minimise the slaughter of the whales.

With the income from broadcasting religious programmes, Radio Caroline was able to resume broadcasting at her full power of 50 kilowatts on 30th August. However at 09:30 on 14th September, the 50 kW transmitter broke down, and spares had to be ordered from America. The next day, the10 kW transmitter was back in service.

On 17th September, the ships canary Wilson died, and was buried at sea. Wilson had been named after British Prime minister - Harold Wilson, who'd introduced the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act in 1967, that had outlawed Caroline.

Mi Amigo


Roger Matthews, Tony Allen and Tom Hardy

Mi Amigo

Tony Allen

Tony Allen


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Caroline Greenpeace

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