Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 2 Friday August 16 – The big storm hits

In the morning at my sunrise there was simply no propagation on 40m phone/digital or 30m digital. I wasn’t too concerned about this because the conditions to Europe on 20m were a better option anyway.

I decided not to put up the 15m vertical dipole because if the storm hit with the forecasted gale force winds and destroyed the 20m and 15m vertical dipoles then the DXpedition would be a complete failure. The troublesome HF9V was still OK for 15m with its SWR and so I decided to leave the second 12m Spiderbeam fibreglass pole on the ground until the storms passed in a couple of days.

I can’t describe how lucky I was to fly in yesterday because there were terrible winds today and the forecast was for the worst of them to be occurring over the next couple of days and so I would have ended up having a 3 day DXpedition instead of 7 days.

The severe weather warning was spot on and massive seas and winds hit the island. The HF9V was the first victim, while it stayed vertical, the radials were a tangled mess of seaweed stuck in the rocks and the coax was damaged. I tried fixing it and got 40m working again. There was one point where a rogue wave hit me and I almost got swept onto some nasty rocks. After that experience I figured that the risk wasn’t worth the reward for 40m.  

Power on the island comes from solar panels and a large wind turbine that charge batteries which then go into an inverter for 240V AC. Unfortunately the wind was so strong that the wind turbine alarm was going off and the island resident said this might occur and so I needed to disarm the wind turbine to prevent it from taken off and flying into the Eyre Peninsula. There was obviously no sunshine and so now I had to be conscious of power conservation as there’d be no power charging over the next few days of the storm. Despite this I still operated the amplifier with 400 watts.

My operating position looked out over the beautiful water of the bay short path to North America sweeping to the right to long path Europe. Right in from on me was the 20m
vertical dipole and it wasn’t happy. The top guy rope for the 20m vertical dipole was at the balun so that the coax could run along one of the guys. This meant there was no guy rope for 5m from the thin fibreglass tip at the top of the 12m mark down to the balun at the 7m mark. This section was really under duress and we can thank the Germans for making a quality product to survive the hours and hours of gale force winds – well done Spiderbeam!

I commenced operating today at 0400 UTC on 20m and the European pile up was massive until 0830 UTC and this included the occasional request to wait for North America to squeeze in some of the west coast USA stations. By 0830 UTC the band started to close to Europe and a fun mix of JA, Europe, North and South America occurred over the next hour. In the 0930-1100 UTC period I tried on 40m and 30m to no avail. It was too noisy with the storm. After a break for dinner I headed back to 20m at 1100 UTC to look for North America. Conditions weren’t as good but there was a slow trickle of East Coast and Central North Americans going into the log.

At 1430 UTC it was now midnight local and time for bed. I was up and at the dials at 2030 UTC (6:00am local) before my local sunrise to try 30m. There were some European signals on the digital modes but they couldn’t hear me, my CQ’s only resulted in a tiny run of JA’s. 

No comments:

Post a Comment