Beru 2017 will not be recalled as a favourite year but it is one I shall never forget!
I do feel strongly that all overseas Commonwealth ops who do any cw should make an effort to get on air that weekend.
I had personal business at my alternative address where I do not have a stn so I took along a 6 band Butternut antenna which has not been put to use for a number of years. Friday afternoon I started to assemble it and found damage either caused in storage or in transit. The 40/80m ceramic capacitors and mounting bracket were kaput, the 40m tuning wire disintegrated as I unwrapped it. The handbook did not show any length for that wire, nor for the length of a 75 ohm piece of coax which the 50 ohm feeder cable terminates into, which i had forgotten about and didn’t have with me. Tuning the antenna would have had to wait until Saturday morning anyway because the power company decided to erect a couple of poles just over the road and we were without power from 8.00am  until 10pm would you believe? I guess that must have been cheaper than paying the overtime for Saturday working  and a Saturday power cut was the last thing I needed
I decided that any work on the Butternut would not be fruitful and a waste of time. I had wire with me for the Butternut radials so decided it would have to be Dipole antennas. Between the showers I got 3 cut and ready for 10/20 & 40m by darkness. The intention was for an inverted vee fan composition. In my early licence days back in Cornwall I used such a system for 10/15/20m which got out fairly well.
Saturday morning keen and ready start the antenna work at 7.00am. The plan was to use the first 16′ of the butternut as the support mast and lash it to the rails of a balcony which was about 10′ above ground. That would not have been my choice for the vertical butternut  but now it was the only choice, Far from ideal as the structure of the building blocked off one side of the dipoles and the tie off points meant a N/S broadside take off and I needed NW/SE as there are no eligible stns to work in Russia and few in Africa!
You will have read the wx reports here in Cyprus from Mike & Steve over in Paphos at C4I, they might have wondered if the Pilot had landed them in the right country. Equinoctial gales are not rare here, in fact the Cypriots have given them names for each approx date, but the combination of electric storms is not usual plus the fact they normally last at most a couple of days whereas they commenced on Thursday last until last night (Wed) one full week and may not be finished yet.
Beru starts at 12 noon local time which gave me 5 hours to complete the work. In the event it was in and out managing maybe 20 minutes at a time before needing to seek refuge. Also it was quite apparent that single handed raising and lashing the support butternut mast with 6  wires was not going to be an option as it would have needed a step ladder to reach the 10m d/p wires first even though I could reach the other two d/p wires without need of the ladder , which would have been dangerous in that wind, so it was off to the hardware store for a pulley.
I was then able to erect and lash the mast and raise the rope a little at a time tying off the wires starting with the shortest and finishing with the longest, I needed to tie a string plus spanner to each wire in turn as , due to the wind the wires tangled plus snagging on obstacles, lots of to and fro up and down the stairs. I spent so much time sorting those out,it was a nightmare.
Got to the operating table at last, switched on the TS570, testing tx on 20mtrs and dismayed to see the SWR meter at end stop. I had tested the coax PL259’s earlier during one of the rain showers and needed to replace a plug so knew it wasn’t that. Once more into the elements – I used a ‘T’ bone connector with the 259 socket for the common dipole connections. The weather really was so foul that I was not going to get out the MFJ to check impedances , there waan’t time to look for solutions anyway, so  I disconnected the   10 & 40m connectors, at least the ‘T’ bone does have securing holes to wrap the wires around which takes the strain from the connectors so I would be later able to change to one of the other dipoles. On raising the wires once more I saw that the wind had again tangled the wires. Eventually getting back to the rigI found that the SWR was now showing just over 3, no way was I going back out there to alter the wire lengths, so my nominal 100 watt rig was putting out a miserly 25 watts but that would have to do.
Finally on air, my first cq was on 20m and is answered by Quinn G3WRR, the time is 14.22z –  almost four and  a half hours late but the saga isn’t finished as I then had an unexpected visitor, even though my patience had entirely evaporated my sense of politeness had not.
Back at the rig and first cq is answered by Dave G3TBK followed for the next couple of hours with a good run as I was ‘fresh meat, the band closed  here just after 17.00z, I had intended to swap over to the 40m d/p, I had my  little elastic pull-on headlight ready but the weather had not abated  and I had had enough.
Sunday morning the first qso, shortly before 06.00z was VK4CT. the next contact was Nigel in 3B was not until  07.31, I had been looking for him but he found me,  that’s how good the band was (not).  Strange though was the absence of signals, even from EU, yet for all of some 3 hours i was hearing VK4CT followed by 9G5X until the end. both were S7. even 9H, ZB2 & UK were down in the mire for much of the time. No ZL’s even heard, just one other VK (6LW) worked, best dx to the west was VE5. Gottaways were ZF2, 9V1 AT, never even heard Bob in 8P or Ian in V3. I had to smile at the 439 report I got from Brian down in 9J – that just about says it all about cndx, he got it right.
I wish I could say it was fun but it wasn’t, it was certainly a step change going from the usual X7 beam + 40m add on up 50′ plua a full size  80m d/p to an inefficient 20m d/p at 26′, took me back quite a number of years and i have no wish to swap back!
I also wish I could say that the above issues were the end of my troubles but not quite – there was nowhere within 30’ of my operating position where I could connect the rig to earth so I had to do without. That caused multiple RF problems to my laptop and MK11 keyer causing ‘SD’ logger to malfunction, sticking in tx mode after i sent a message causing loss of audio and all of, or the first part of a respondents call or exchange. To restore logging I had to press the minus or Esc key which removed the callers c/s from the window so I needed repeats, also the electronic  keyer malfunctioning adding extra dots – my apologies if you were one of those stns who had to endure that.
Contest Summary.
Restricted section – Unassisted – 12hr category 20m single band8 hrs operating 153 qso – Bonus 25 (wowee)Total pts – around 1500 (my logger seems not to have scored the UK G80 stns)
73  Brian 5B4AIZ / C4Z..