As a young man, I was a CW Radio Operator aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (CastleRock/NBZF), I was thrilled everyday to go on watch. It led to me getting a ham ticket in 1955 and thereafter, enjoying the hobby. I always stayed a “CW” operator and never enjoyed the 2-meter FM “thing” as it seemed more like CB to me!
Later in life I got the opportunity to work on Merchant Marine vessels, and after some 30 years, with the exception of Telex, not much had changed.. CW was still alive and well, though many of the shore stations began closing down (i.e. WCC, WSL, KPH, etc.).
The writing was in the wall when more and more ships traffic went Telex.. Frankly, because of the length of a majority of these messages, including ship food stores and engine room parts, my keyer would have blown up!
Then not long after, they brought cell phones aboard — the beginning of the end for the ship’s Radio Officers. In 1999, most of the remaining Coast Guard and commercial Maritime stations went silent.
All I can tell you is that while it lasted , it was a great job. But it’s hard to call something a job when you have loved it all your life.
I am very concerned about our hobby these days: no CW requirement. Why would today’s generation want to study for a test when all they have to do is get online and they can communicate all over the world with no QRM, QRN, QSB etc.?
I can see the increase in FM 2-meter and 450 MHz FM for emergency help and that is great, but on the other hand is it actually “hamming” or “quasi police work?”
This is the trouble we older hams have, we live in the past trying to eek out a weak CW signal from some far off country.
With my 100 watts and dipole antenna, I had nightly CW QSO’S with ZL2LI from Christchurch, NZ while I was in Cleveland, Ohio. We could barely hear each other on some nights pushing the “cans” closer to my ears. But it was a thrill each and every time. Will the kids of today ever experience that?
On 7035 kHz., every night we had high speed CW ops from the “CFO” required minimum speeds of 45 WPM and nomination came from at least 2 CFO operators. This club was started by Jim Ricks. W9TO who had invented the famous Hallicrafters “TO” keyer. There are over 1,500 members.
But most of the ops like me are aging.. We need new young blood to keep the organization going.
The fact of the matter is we need new young ops in our most wonderful hobby to learn and use CW So that this art is NEVER lost.