I went all in over the weekend on a new island qualification. I’ll detail the trip, the methods, and the results!
View from the shore!
The island: Deer Island
Deer Island is a beautiful, extremely small island in the center of Lake Granby, CO. I was originally going to swim, but water temps measured 40 degrees (and I forgot my wetsuit in NY). I was looking to qualify Harvey Island as well, but encountered some problems and stayed on Deer the whole time instead.
Here’s my usual equipment list:
- An Elecraft KX2 with standard CW paddle
- A 5.2 Ah lithium-ion battery
- An APRS-enabled TH-D72a (forgot I had the extremely low power option enabled)
- My favorite antenna tuner
- A linked end-fed
- A linked dipole for 10m,20m,40m
- 1L water, warm clothes, and gloves
- A notebook/pen for CW
- Several (40) feet of paracord in different lengths
My nautical supplies:
- Inflatable kayak
The pack weighed probably about 12lbs. I crammed my radios into a ziploc bag, then a dry bag.
I parked along the road somewhere and threw my gear down to the bay. I pushed off and kept rowing!
I arrived at the island and tried to set up my end-fed as usual. I quickly realized I was not alone! The island was home to American kestrels and Canadian geese. They both were not a fan of me being there. Because of this, I decided not to throw my antenna extremely high into the trees - probably to my demise.
Image of the beach head
With my rational fear of geese and eagles, the extreme winds, and lack of suitable height, I kept my dipole at only 10-15 feet. This was probably extremely low for any propagation - it showed. There was also the CW WW contest going on where I struggled to find a clear frequency not being used by 1.5 kW CW operators. Additionally, my dipole ripped somehow - so I was restricted to 20M.
As a combination of these factors, I was surprised to squeak out the contacts I did. I got my minimum and left neglected Harvey island - maybe another weekend.
Antenna in the low trees Equipment on the island
I high-tailed it out of there as soon as I got my minimum. The temperatures dropped, the winds increased to over 15MPH, and whitecaps were visible on the water!
I steadily got in my inflatable dingy and had some points on my mind:
- Don’t fall in
- Stay relaxed
- Stay as still as possible
- Don’t get the radio equipment wet!
So I took one paddle every 5 or so seconds, and let the winds push me to shore. It worked well and I didn’t fall in.
This was overall a great event. I never knew ham radio could be so extreme! It also highlighted some issues with my antenna setup - I never get good radiation out of the end-fed and should have improved my linked dipole. I am looking for better configurations for the two, so if you have any suggestions shoot them my way.
This is the first step in a long journey of US islands. Stay tuned for the Hudson River Radio Relay on June 12th when I qualify Constitution Island!