Sunday, July 13, 2014

EJ7NET 2014 - Cape Clear IOTA dxpedition day one

This is my second expedition with the Westnet DX Group. In May of 2013, we went to Inis Mór on the Aran Islands (EU-006). This year, Cape Clear island (EU-121), off the coast of County Cork, was the target. It's the most southerly piece of Ireland. You cannot get further south.

I had a 5.30am start, in order to do a final check on what I had packed for the trip, have a shower and breakfast, and get to Declan Craig EI6FR's house in Dublin by 7.30am. As it happens, I arrived there at 7.15am. We left at 7.30am with a four-hour drive ahead of us to Baltimore, Cork, from where we would catch a boat to Cape Clear. There's motorway all the way from Dublin to Cork these days, but not from Cork to Baltimore! We passed through Clonakilty and Skibbereen on the way down.

The rugged cliffs of Cape Clear Island.
At Baltimore, we met Rolf HB9DGV and Bernie HB9ASZ, and it wasn't too long before the other dxpedition members arrived - Liam EI7DSB and Tony EI3HA (our chef). The boat trip was unremarkable. It was a bit choppy in a couple of places but generally a fine trip across through murky weather. It had rained in Baltimore. We got off the boat and loaded our gear into a big van taxi and soon we were at the house, unloading all the stuff again. It's a fantastic QTH. The house is beautiful. There are enough beds for all six of us, although Bernie in true style maintains that an IOTA dxpedition is not a proper dxpedition unless you are sleeping in a tent, and so proceeded last night to set up his tent, in which he actually did sleep!

The M0CVO dipole supported by a 12-metre Spiderpole,
with the full moon rising last night
The first job was antenna installation. We put up two Hari trap wire verticals, one covering 30, 17 and 12m and the other for 40, 20, 15 and 10m. They were taped to two Sota Poles. We also erected an off-centre fed dipole, made by M0CVO. This one covers 40m through to 6m. Antenna analysis by Liam EI7DSB showed some little problems, and after some adjustment, everything was fine. The Diamond HB9CV 2-element beam for 6m was then assembled and installed. We have a dedicated 6m station which we will use to monitor that band for the entire time we are here. Three of the stations are in the sitting room, while a fourth has been installed in the shebeen - a little outhouse with its own bar.

With the IARU HF Championships and the WRTC contests on, it was impossible to find action on the main bands, so the first QSOs were made on 17 metres and then 30 metres. Tony EI3HA made the very first QSO of the activation with another IOTA station on Orkney Island EU-009. I sat on 17m SSB for an hour and enjoyed some fantastic short skip conditions into Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

Tony EI3HA serving dinner.
With only two stations on air, there was an opportunity for some of us to go and explore.I took an opportunity to walk a couple of kilometres down to some ancient standing stones, which I believe constitute Ireland's most southerly stone row! Dinner consisting of chicken curry and rice, helped down with a glass of red wine, was served by our fantastic chef Tony

Today, we are hoping to hit the HF bands in a big way after the contests are finished at 1pm. So keep an ear out for us - hopefully you will get us in your log.

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