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The Hollamby Portable Radar unit

Following my comment about the Hollamby Portable Radar unit in my post Camaret to L’Aber Wrac’h, I see Kim Hollamby has posted a comment about his invention.

I found the comment so exciting (I love technology) that I had to reproduce the comment as a post, here.

The Hollamby Portable Radar – PLIRA

(Reproduced with the kind permission of Kim Hollamby)

The PLIRA had an advanced plasma screen
click to enlarge

Ah yes, the portable radar.

You are of course referring to the (in)famous Motor Boats Monthly April Fool joke of (I think) 1988.

To put this in context you have to remember this was the time when the very first GPS handhelds were emerging. Like mobile phones of the same era they were large by modern standards but had everyone very excited about portable electronics. I had a Sony GPS that looked like it had a small satellite dish at the top and a Vodafone lead acid cell handbag mobile that fully developed the arm muscles.

Which was probably why we decided to ‘create’ the PLIRA radar – a handheld radar. What followed was a whole page of elaborate explanation about the technologies involved including (from rusty memory) a plasma display which was pretty forward thinking on our part.

Advanced screen technology

In reality it was one of the very early LCD televisions that we ‘connected’ to an inverted enamel dog bowl by means of a redundant curly phone cable. The word PLIRA was very professionally letrosetted around the dog bowl and the illusion was complete.

The PLIRA was mostly the invention of the magazine’s then Technical Editor Mik Chinery but with some finessing at the subbing stage by yours truly.

By the time the whole article was ready for press I was slightly alarmed at how convincing the thing was, despite its name PLIRA offering a clue.

So I printed my office number at the foot in case we had a load of readers randomly calling all and sundry to place an order.

Which was a major personal mistake of close on biblical proportions.

What I discovered, within hours of publication, is there is clearly nothing so dangerous as the damaged ego of a boat owner who has been thoroughly taken in. Of which there were quite a high number.

St Peter Port, Guernsey

The only pleasant conversation I recall was from the Deputy Harbourmaster at St Peter Port. He had gathered quite a crowd of boat owners at the dock head who were variously sceptical and taken in and wanted to know who was right. Perhaps they were even running a side bet or two. Anyhow when I imparted the news I could hear much jollity on the other end of the line so perhaps the good folk of Guernsey simply have a better sense of humour than mainlanders.

We really stayed well away from April Fools after that. Once bitten…

Given my Honda CR-V has a radar hidden under its radiator grill badge I’m sure a handheld radar would be possible now – except of course Elf ‘n Safety wouldn’t allow it.

Happy days.

PS – it’s all a bit of a shame in a way as we secretly hoped the PLIRA would climb in the charts to be seen as being as notorious as the polyestermite (a worm that attacks GRP) – a creation of Bill Beauvis that caused widespread genuine panic when it appeared in Motor Boat and Yachting a few years before.

Kim Hollamby

2 comments to The Hollamby Portable Radar unit

  • Dave Birch

    Hey Folks,
    Seems such a long time ago that you strayed out of Beaucette to go off on summer hols! Not far from home now, when do you anticipate barging your way through the marina entrance?
    Dave

    • Hi Dave. So good to hear from you – we are really missing our Beaucette friends. We will be taking the first weather window from Jersey on or after 25 Sept.

      Meanwhile we are in Roscoff, leaving today for Treguier, then Paimpol, Binic, St Helier and Beaucette.

      Really looking forward to being back home. How are the troops? Piers and Lin

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