VEflag

Well, I’m not out of the wood yet as there are two snow-laden storms
heading towards PEI, but there are a couple of hours before any decision on
exit arrangements need to be made, so here goes!

This year I had a most welcome invitation from Jeff and Miriam (ZM) to
visit their amazing villa on the NW coast of beautiful PEI. Not to operate
Jeff’s legendary station you understand but to deploy a DIY Restricted
station on the shoreline and be royally entertained before, during and
after the event. Something not to be missed! The Briggs villa is
something to be experienced. They spend much of the 9 month long PEI
winter either in their Charlottetown condo or back at K1ZM, which is still
Jeff’s Cape Cod “home” station. There are therefore three separate heating
systems in a mutual back-up arrangement, including heat pumps, an oil-fired
furnace and bottled gas. It turned out that the heat pumps generated some
noise on 15 and 20 and so we reverted to the furnace for the BERU weekend.

Enough of the background – the plan was to transport as much of the G3LET
station (also used twice at 9H3ET) as possible to create an independent
facility, which still benefitted from Jeff’s extraordinary cliff-top NW
take-off. This consisted of K3, P3 and a new acquisition – an I-Pro Home
vertical dipole – together with a local reproduction of my base coupler
tuned 250 ft sloper for 80m, which was expected to provide a good
proportion of the weekend’s activity. In the end, Jeff and I also erected
a centre hung dipole cut for 40m, which also served pretty well on 15,
during the short flashes when it opened. Now you may ask how an I-Pro
vertical with it’s vertical radiator and horizontal loading sections all of
2.5m fits into a fishing bag. The answer was to cut them all into 3 pieces
of 0.85m or thereabouts and fashion slotted joining pieces with
appropriately sized hose clamps to tie everything together. Packed into
cardboard tubes, all of this just fitted diagonally into my largest
suitcase.

As it was going to be impossible to bring the sloper into Jeff’s basement
where the operation was set up, a CG3000 coupler, also used in NFD, was
brought along. This made QSYs between 40 and 80 a little cumbersome but
at least it was reliable and provided alternative directlvity for the HF
bands on occasion. After some feeder mix-up which directed the Bias-Tee
power for the tuner into the I-Pro feed balun for a day or so, all worked
well and I was in business by Thursday afternoon. With such fleeting
openings on critical bands, the P3 proved a real time-saver in identifying
open bands and the location of any occupants. In order to tune the I-Pro
and be in a position to switch automatically between antennas, my KAT-500
tuner also came along.

After poking around on Thursday and Friday, I was resigned to a really hard
time. Nothing north of I andS5 had appeared on 15m and even Ron YDX had
projected a very modest signal on 80m. So it was with some trepidation
that I arose early (at 0500 local) on Saturday to see what was about. Not
so bad, some VKs and ZLs already checking out 80m at workable levels. The
big VE’s didn’t appear until an hour later for the start, but of course
they were HUGE. Not a lot of point in trying to run of course with 100w
but several of the VK/ZLs were coming back and the first couple of hours
were quite productive of bonuses. 20 was in full swing by midday GMT and
so I ventured a peek at 15m. Both Nigel and Iain were doing well there and
there was even a whisper from Don at G3BJ. Was a miracle about to happen?
Not exactly, because there wasn’t really the prospect of runs as in
previous years, but there was enough going on to hang on as long as I could
before reverting to 20m, which was OK but not wonderful.

BERU really opened up at 1900 when 40m opened up big time to the UK and
Jeff’s cliff-top location really came into its own. OK, the St. Lawrence
seaway is jam-packed with pack ice in March but there must be some salty
stuff underneath and that really worked! I moved straight on to 80m when
40m thinned out and the whole process was repeated for another hour or
more. I was amazed to find that I had nearly caught up with Nigel’s
numbers. In fact he was one of the surprises of the event, with wonderful
signals on all of the 4 open bands. In fact, easier to raise on 80m than
on 15m. Iain of course was huge everywhere and came back first or second
call each time as he was more or less in line with the favoured direction
of my sloper. Not a sign of a VU or 9V1 of course, but I was eventually
delighted by a call from ZD8RH on 40m, having heard him calling some big
runners earlier and failed to attract his attention.

So, not a wonderful bonus tally of course, but those 40m and 80m runs did
wonders for the QSO total. Despite absolutely no QSOs at all during the
past two hours (just 80m open with VKs and ZLs worked the first morning),
it proved a really enjoyable weekend, albeit hard work for most of the
time. Being rather a long way north, I had anticipated being left out of a
lot of the action, but the general lack of HF action seemed to work to my
advantage to some extent.

Visitors to Jeff’s patch are often pointed out the small white and red
lights visible (with good eyesight) from the headland. The white one is
the nav light from a cruise liner off the coast of France. The red one (of
course!) is on top of GM3POI’s tower. Be that as it may, it was a
wonderful trip and the hospitality of Jeff and Miriam is something to be
experienced – very many thanks to both of them.

Finally, to the totals. SD worked faultlessly in scoring all valid QSOs
and provided welcome real-time feedback on how I was doing, but it does not
facilitate display of a copiable summary. So apologies if the formatting
doesn’t work too well.

Gross QSOs 657, net of dupes, 645

80m 40m 20m 15m 10m
QSOs 189 239 172 45 0
Dupes 2 6 3 1 0
Bonuses 47 68 42 18 0

Total claimed points 6,725

Thanks to all who called and responded, especially all the HQ stations, who
really did an amazing job and made all the difference under the present
indifferent propagation.

73, Peter G3LET, VY2GQ

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