Sunday was a calmer day here in the Bahamas so I decided to get going early in order to try to work Europe on 10m. My previous QTH has a small hill in the way and I wanted to give Europe the best shot I could.
In retrospect, I didn’t get going early enough but more of that later.
I decided to go to the tip of Stocking Island on a cliff that has an uninterrupted takeoff for Europe. I had already scoped out the site on no walk. The terrain was not to steep but it turned out to be quite challenging to set up the spiderpole even although the wind was very light.
The problem is that the rock is eroded limestone and extremely rough and jagged. That meant that no matter how carefully I laid out the guy lines, they always seemed to catch on something when the pole was almost up. So I had to put it up and down maybe 5 or 6 times before I managed to get it vertical without snagging at least one of the guy lines. Eventually, I got it up to my satisfaction, connected the rig and battery and selected 10m only to find S8 noise 😦 Perhaps this wasn’t going to work out too well….
After a while I managed to work some of the strongest European stations, a selection of Caribbean stations, ZA and my friend Michael, 9H5DX from Malta. All in all, 87 QSOs in 95 minutes but it was quite hard work.
In retrospect, I learned a few lessons.
1. Start early – you don’t want to miss a band opening by not being ready. The struggle with the antenna cost me 1/2 an hour of operating.
2. Take plenty of water and some headache tablets. I had perspired way more than I had planned when putting up the antenna. I had a bottle of water with me but not nearly enough. The result was that I had a bad headache after about 45 minutes of operating and deteriorating conditions at the 90 minute point coupled with the pounding head forced me to go QRT.
3. Spiderpoles hold water. The spiderpole is a well finished piece of gear but it has a few downsides that are common to poles in general. In sub-tropical regions, the wind is salt-laden. The salt ends up on the pole. That’s fine until the pole has been up for a few days and you take it down and store it. When you take it out again, you start to extend it and find that it’s soaking wet – the salt has attracted moisture which has drained to the bottom of the pole. If, like me you have taped the bottom cup onto the pole, you decide to drain the pole and find there’s a cup of water in the bottom. Worse still, you now need to dry the pole with your Tshirt or the tape that holds the antenna won’t stick.
Well, that’s enough for now. It was still a fun morning on the radio and nice to work some friends, old and new.
73 for now!