Press Cuttings

March 20th 1980

In London, both the Evening Standard and the Evening News splashed the news of the Mi Amigo's demise across their front pages: "Pop Pirate Caroline is Sunk," led the Standard, while the News opened with, "Storm Sinks Pop Pirate Caroline." Both papers gave dramatic accounts of the 12-hour rescue operation: "The hairiest rescue I've ever done," exclaimed lifeboat Coxswain Charlie Bowry. DJ Stevie Gordon was quoted: "The sea was a boiling cauldron. We had made the decision to leave very reluctantly, but the pumps were no match for the water coming in." The ship's canary got a look in too - Evening Standard: "One of the (Mi Amigo) crewmen begged, 'Can we bring our canary?' There was an anxious moment as the canary - in its cage - was pulled to safety. 'It's eyes were popping out,' said coxswain Mr Bowry." There was speculation that this was the end for Radio Caroline although a spokesman for the station said that they hoped Caroline could continue despite the loss of the ship. Coastguards were relieved that the Mi Amigo had gone without loss of life: "She was only kept afloat by her pumps," one said.

The sinking was given full coverage on the BBC TV evening news, including an airing of Stevie and Tom Anderson's parting words: "For the safety of those on board we are going off with the lifeboat. Don't worry, we are all OK..."

The national dailies featured the drama prominently the following morning: "Plop radio!" jested the Mirror on it's front page. The paper then gave a full account of the rescue and a brief overview of the station's past trials and tribulations. There were tributes from 60's pirate DJs and the Mirror noted that Caroline had 1 million listeners in the UK. In contrast, the London Times stated that Caroline had 500,000 listeners (Some surveys had put the figure at around 4 million.) and mentioned that severe storms had been the only real threat to the station's existence.

With Caroline off the air, reliable news about the station's future plans was hard to come by. John Blake's "Ad Lib" column in the London Evening Standard sometimes offered a few titbits. From August 3rd, 1981: "Caroline Sails Back - Radio Caroline's bosses have bought a new pirate ship and they are secretly fitting it out to begin broadcasting next month." The article named the new ship as the 1000-ton, 70 metres long "Imagine." Unfortunately it was to be a further two years before Caroline could return to the airwaves.

The MV Mi Amigo in 1979
The MV Mi Amigo in 1979

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