Thursday, September 22, 2022

My Very First Dx-Pedition (2017)

 Every summer my family took a sailing trip to the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada. The Gulf Islands seem less crowded than the San Juan Islands of Washington state. The islands are beautiful, and the anchorages are peaceful. Also, my daughter really loves Thetis Island, and every year we made it a point to spend at least 3 -5 days at Telegraph Harbor Marina

I was first licensed in 2016 and jumped into the hobby headfirst. By early 2017 I made my first portable Parks On The Air (POTA) activation from Blake Island (K-3161), and now I was heading up to Canada for summer vacation with the family. It would be the perfect opportunity to put my newly acquired CW skills to the test, give my portable kit another trial staging my portable setup from the sailboat, and most importantly operate a DX station instead of chasing DX from the home shack!

Our route to Telegraph harbor always had us sailing past the Sandstone Rocks islets just off the southern tip of Tent Island. These 2 islets are very small sandstone rocks (hence the name) that rise about 3 meters above the high-water line. The larger of the 2 islets has a small beach to land a dinghy, some scrub brush, and a very small Cyprus tree that is barely clinging to life. This I thought would be a perfect location to once again test deploying my kit from the sailboat into a dinghy, and landing on a beach and setting up a portable station in some remote spot. This was all a precursor for my planned 2019 departure to sail across the Pacific Ocean and activate various islands. 

So, in August of 2017 we arrived in Telegraph Harbor and got settled in for the evening. The next morning, I loaded my complete kit into my Northface XL Base Camp Duffle bag, put the bag into the dinghy and headed out of the harbor towards the islets. About 30 minutes later I arrived at the islets and slowly approached the beach on the southeastern side of the larger islet. Landing was a bit delayed because I didn't want to startle the seals which had taken up slumber positions on the rocky ledges. Some slipped back into the water and raised their heads in curiosity, others just lifted their heads momentarily and laid back down and closed their eyes. 

Once on the beach, I secured the dinghy and strapped the duffle bag on my back to begin the short climb to the top of the rock. Fortunately, the top of the islet was reasonably flat. How grass and trees grew there was beyond me as the soil was not more than 2-3 cm deep. I erected my Buddipole dipole antenna and secured the guy lines to the small Cyprus tree, a rock, and a piece of driftwood that I recovered from the beach area. Next, I setup my Helinox Table One Hard Top Camping Table  and Helinox One chair (which I love because they pack up small and are extremely light weight), then setup my Elecraft K2 and KAT 100 tuner, got out my Vibroplex Vibrokeyer and RadioSport headset and settled back in the chair and began calling "CQ de WA7WJR/VE7/P."

I made 20 QSOs from those islets during 3 hours of operation. I took a break to walk around the islet a bit, stare back at the seals, and watch a myriad of boats pass by on their way to Telegraph Harbor or points further north. I operated a few more times but this was certainly a high point.

For Americans operating in Canada is very easy since the US and Canada have automatic reciprocal license privileges. This means a US citizen only needs his/her FCC license, passport (or government issued ID), and append the Canadian call area to his/her call sign. However, the band plan in Canada is slightly different than the US band plan. See Radio Amateurs of Canada Band Plan for details.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Very First Dx-Pedition (2017)

  Every summer my family took a sailing trip to the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada. The Gulf Islands seem less crowded than the Sa...