Day 104 The man behind the voice on the ham radio 14/12/13


Alek Petkovic

Alek Petkovic ham radio operator in Binningup, Western Australia

Meet Alek Petkovic, the man behind the voice Glenn hears over his ham radio every day while he’s in the Indian Ocean.  Alek and Glenn have a rather extraordinary relationship. They consider each other good friends, yet they’ve never met. Here’s Alek’s story.

Glenn and I were destined to become friends. Many years ago, as a member of my local radio club in Perth, I helped organize a ham radio special event, where we commemorated the opening of the East West Telegraph, between Adelaide and Perth. We set up a station with the call sign VI6EWT and members of the club, along with members of the Morsecodian Society, a group of ex Post Office telegraphers, travelled to Eucla, on the border with South Australia. Eucla was the site of one of the telegraph repeater stations. A re-enactment of the first telegram between Adelaide, in South Australia and Fremantle, in Western Australia was performed, as well as ham radio contacts all over the world, from the VI6EWT ham station.

As fate or luck would have it, I didn’t go on that trip with my club. Many years later, I learned how unfortunate that really was. Glenn and his family were travelling in Australia at that time. In fact, they were driving across the continent and they were there in Eucla on that weekend when the ham radio event took place.They stopped in and talked with the members of my club, who were running the show.

I found this out shortly after I was introduced to Glenn, on ham radio when he was sailing around the world the first time, in Kim Chow. My great friend Barry, VK6WF, convinced me to come on the air each day and talk with this crazy guy sailing across the Great Australian Bight at the time. What ensued is history but through those daily contacts, Glenn and I became very close friends. During our daily contacts, Glenn told me about that weekend in Eucla. We had both enjoyed the daily contacts so much, that on the day we decided that he was sailing out of radio range and he was being picked up by the hams in South Africa, I remember both of us crying at the prospect of not talking to each other any more.

My first contact with Glenn aboard West Wind II some weeks ago was a delight beyond words. Glenn sounded quite pleased as well. I reckon we will make the most of each other’s on air company again on this trip, because we both know, that in a few short weeks, he will be around the next cape and out of range. When that day comes, the tears are gonna flow at both ends of the microphone. 

There are just two things that would delight me more than anything in my life right now. One is to be magically transported to the middle of the Indian Ocean and dropped onto the deck of West Wind II. To sail just a few miles with him on board that ship until I feel the seasickness overwhelm me, would be the absolute best. The second is not such an impossible dream. To be there, on the dock, cheering and waving, as we watch Glenn struggle to get his balance as he takes the first steps back on dry land in Victoria BC. That would be the absolute ultimate dream come true for me.

We were destined to become friends and I know, that we are destined to meet, face to face. I don’t know where or when but I know that it is something I am really looking forward to. Win, lose or draw Glenn, it’s gonna happen mate. 

Alek's mobile ham radio station

Alek sometimes takes his mobile ham radio station to the beach to chat with Glenn

I’m 59 years young and self employed, running my own installation contracting business. I install split system air conditioners and all domestic gas appliances. I keep people cool in the summer and warm in the winter. As it’s my own business, I’m lucky to be able to choose how many days in the year that I want to work. I like that idea. Its not a luxurious lifestyle but comfortable enough. I love the work as I am able to do what I like best and that is, use my hands.

I’ve been a ham since 1985 and being an ex telecommunications technician, working 25 years in the construction field, I find the construction of radio related projects a lot of fun. The other facet of the hobby I really enjoy, is “DXing” (DX stands for long distance in ham radio jargon). There are some 340 different entities in the world where ham radio is allowed and I have had confirmed contacts with hams in 338 of those entities. I just need two more to have them all. They are Annobon Island, off West Africa and South Orkney Islands, in the Antarctic. 

At present, my ham station is very basic because of the impending changes to our place. When it’s all finished, I’ll have a new mast with high gain, rotatable, directional antennas and a nice radio shack underneath the house which is marked as a ‘Cellar’ on the house plans, so that it passes the local authority’s building code more easily. As basic as the station is, at present, I’m still able to have good reliable communications with Glenn in the Indian Ocean and I expect to be with him, well beyond the “4th Cape” in South Africa.


  1. Great to see Glenn making good progress. Good luck! I hope that continues and the pain goes away! What’s Alek’s call sign? Looks as though Glenn could well enjoy a warm Christmas. He should enjoy that! All best wishes to you both – Glenn and Marylou – for a happy Christmas and back together in B.C. on West Wind in the New Year. Jeanne, KC2IOV/VE0JSJ

    • MaryLou Wakefield says

      Nice to hear from you Jeanne. I’ll pass your message on to Glenn. He’s really enjoying the balmy weather with an ever watchful eye out for rain squalls which he needs at the moment. He has a few nice fixings for Christmas and we made sure he has some presents to unwrap. I know his ham radio guys will keep him company on the radio which he’ll love. I’ll send Alek’s info in an email. Cheers and happy Christmas to you and your family Jeanne.

  2. Georgina and Lawrence says

    Now I feel like we know Alek, and it’s comforting to know that Glenn has had him as company for some of this great journey. Perhaps we’ll be at the dock together when West Wind II returns to Victoria.

    • MaryLou Wakefield says

      Alek is a lovely guy with a big heart, a generous spirit, and a wicked sense of humour. As he’s often said, if he can do one small thing to help Glenn realize his dream, he’s there. We’re counting on you being there when he sails in. 250,000 people showed up for Sir Francis Chichester. Just saying…

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