Monday 19 October 2015
An unexpected opportunity arose to go on an activation but as always the question was where? Having gone across to South Wales for the past 3 activations I was getting a little tired of the M4, so it was time to look else where. It was my XYL who commented that I only needed 4 more summits in Southern England (SE) to complete the region and as the 2 in Kent are virtually drive on tops they could be done on a day out with her, that left the 2 summits on the Isle of Wight, St Boniface Down and Brighstone Down. So ticket booked and planning completed it was off to Southampton for the 7am sailing to the Isle of Wight. The trip across to the Isle of Wight takes an hour and was a very pleasant journey. I sailed with Red Funnel who tend to be the cheapest however, if you are planning to make the journey google ‘isle of Wight ferry discounts’ and you can get at least 10% off vouchers to reduce the cost of the trip.
FT-817 5 Watts, 4.2Ah LiFePO4, 60m/40m/20m linked dipole, 7m sotapole and a palm paddle, VX-170 plus RSS 2M dipole.
Brighstone Down G/SE-012
The journey from the ferry terminal to the car park at Brighstone Down takes about 30 minutes and there is plenty of parking at SZ 419845. Come out of the par park and turn right along the road for about 20 metres to an obvious hardcore track on the left. Follow this track to the junction on the left then head north-east for about 150 metres and take the second track on the left, heading approximately NNW. At the brow of the hill there is a small but clear path on the right which leads for 50 metres to the trig point. If you are planning to do HF you will need to be inventive or be prepared to do battle with the gorse. Although the trig point is in a clearing, the ‘clear’ area is no bigger than the average room in a house! Distance walked 1.2 miles, ascent 290 feet, time taken 25 minutes.
Once set up I self spotted for 60m and called for about 10 minutes with no reply. A change to 7-ssb was self spotted and within 10 minutes I had 5 stations in the log before the calls dried up Four of the five were European stations however, the last was Karl M3FEH whom I could barely hear.
Switching to 7-cw was a major improvement staring off with a S2S with Paul HB9DST/P on HB/SG-064. QSYing from him QRG I called and started my own ‘pile-up’ working 16 stations in 25 minutes. When the calls stopped a return to 7-ssb bagged a further 6 stations, though unlike 30 minutes earlier were all G’s with good signal reports. Strange how quickly the bands were changing.
A change to 14-ssb resulted in 6 QSO’s including my second S2S of the morning with Dinos SV3IEG/P on SV/PL-158. A further 3 stations were worked on 14-cw before it was time to pack up and move on to St Boniface Down. At various times throughout the activation I called on 2-fm but received absolutely no replies. I am not surprised at this as the trig is in the middle of the Brighstone Forest.
St Boniface Down G/SE-008
The drive from Brighstone Down to St Boniface Down takes about 30 minutes and is a very pleasant drive along the south-west coast of the island. This is a ‘drive-on’ summit and once on the top of the down a short drive brings you to the car park next to the radio towers where the trig point is. A short walk from here I found a suitable, secluded location the set of the station within the SOTA & WAB Trig AZ.
Following a self spot I opened up on 7-ssb and almost immediately started getting calls. Unlike this morning when the majority of the stations were from Europe, this afternoon the majority were G stations. 19 stations were worked in about 15 minutes before the pile-up dried up. Switching to 7-cw the pile-up started again and this time managed 17 QSO’s in 15 minutes the vast majority with good signal reports.
Using the opportunity to stretch my legs, I changed the links on the dipole and switched to 14-ssb. 11 stations were added to the log book the best DX being with George N1GB in Vermont. Finally a change to 14-cw only brought in a further 2 QSO’s before the band started to go quiet.
Throughout the whole activation I was keeping an eye on Sotawatch to see if anyone was available for S2S but unfortunately the only other stations on the air were all on 10-cw and I don’t have a link in my dipole for this band – time to think about a rebuild. With the bands starting to go quiet is was a good opportunity to pack up and start to make my way back to the ferry terminal in East Cowes. Whilst having a some lunch back at the car I was stopped by 2 guys in a car asking if I was portable on 40M! It transpired that they were WABers and had just arrived on St Boniface Down to activate a few squares. We chatted for a short while mainly answering questions about SOTA and how we could be purely portable on HF with just a 30L rucksack to carry the kit!! Two more re-educated amateurs made their way along the down to their desired square before pumping up a telescopic tower attached to the back of the car – that’s their version of portable – everyone to their own.
If, like me you find you have arrived back at the terminal a little too early for your crossing check with the board office to see if you can bring your crossing forward. During the quieter times of the day and year you can move up at no extra charge if there are spaces available. This allowed my to get home an hour earlier than planned and beat most of the Southampton rush hour traffic.
Thanks to all the chasers, I enjoyed your company today it greater numbers that usual.
73 Glyn G4CFS