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Subject: Part III Dx-pedition to St. Paul Island
Coontinuing the St. Paul Island Travelogue
We drove down to the Bay of St. Lawerence in the dark and arrived at 3 am. The boat Captian Robert showed up and we began unloading. He smokes like mad and I had been giving him a bad time, not so much in jest that we were going to take his cigarettes and matches away until we got on the island. We had 160 gallons of gas in the back of the boat in 32 five gallon containers. I that ever caught on fire we would all be DEAD! The things went into the boat amazingly fast with all the help. We all got on the boat and were off in the dark. I had two boxes that were made out of 3/4 inch plywood, caulked so they would take in water in case the landing was rough with waves breaking over the boat or over the boxes as they were being hauled on shore. The boat had GPS and we could see our course to the island. My prayers were answered as the Captain just could not believe how calm it was. He said it is NEVER LIKE THIS. It was starting to get light as we approached the island and Bill got the Captain to take a swing around the island so we went down the east side and seen Atlantic Cove, well first the house and light house on the south end. Bill told us the names as we went by. We definitely seen we did not want to go to Govenors(Atlantic) Cove. We then went through the tickle and seen the north island and buildings and light house and headed south on the east side. It was perfectly calm so we know we were going to have a good landing. Now the question was how high would the bank be at Petries Cove. As we came into Peteries Cove we could see the bank was pretty high, probably about 30 feet but looked like we could do it. There was a rope down at what seemed the best spot. We put the dingy over the side and Bill rowed in and climbed up the bank and said it would work. The Captain got the Greyhound II very close since it was so calm so the row back and forth and eventually the rope pulling the dingy back and forth was a short trip. The dingy leaked bad so we had to dump it all the time. Edith and Holly made it to shore in good shape. Arliss and Bill were the first and unloaded the dingy. When I got in I helped Holly and Edith move things off the beach and over to the cliff to get up above.
Before we got to far we went up on Peteries point to look for the operating spot. We checked out the pond(area we talked about before hand) but it was to far and to tough to get to with the trees. Arliss picked out a high spot and about 200 yards below I picked out a spot for HF. We put Edith and the cook/sleeping tent down closer to the ocean for less carrying. The operating spots were about 125 feet and 150 feet above the ocean with a great shot to the USA , Pacific, Asia and northern Europe. It was good to southern Europe and poor to Aftrica , the Atlantic and South America as that shot through the hills on the island that were quite close and high. Especially to the latter two directions.
It was a killer job getting the stuff up the cliff. The hardest were the heavy boxes, ie four of them and the two generators. We tied a rope on and have people standing on the side of the cliff and handed the item up while holding with the rope so it did not get away. A number of times rocks were kicked lose and we yelled at those below to watch out. It was rugged. I was thankful for my 4 miles running every day as my physical condition held up very well.
It was a long haul and we cut a path through the first trees which made it a lot easier. It was about 3/8 of a mile and a hard climb so it was hard work! It was warm and the bugs were bad and we sweat a lot and got bit a lot. Some of the guys got tired of hauling and pretty much disappeared but Arliss, Holly, Edith and I kept at it. Jim hung in there pretty good. You could see that Bill, Arliss and I were in the best shape. Bill was a work horse until he just did not see the point of hauling things so far. They have what are called black flies and the are about 1/16 inch long and they bite and they hurt and you swell up from them where they bite. It seemed just as you had to hold on to something they would bite you right at the cap line on the forehead and you would have to indure the pain as you could not let loose of what you were lifting or carrying. There were also mosquitoes but the black flies were the worst. They would hang around you like knats, go in your ears, eyes, and nose but the worst was the bites. They think bug spray is ice cream. I did eventually use a head net for awhile but it was a nusiance under the cliff conditions and carrying the stuff through the trees. It blocks your vision. The only solution to the black flies is wind or be in the tent!
We eventually got everything to the operating sites by mid-afternoon and started setting up. We got the hex beam up and the six meter beam up and tried getting on the air on HF. I ran into some difficulty. I had a little cockpit trouble in getting split frequency figured out but that came around. I could not use rig control as the new computer did not have support for the USB to serial, forgot to install it and did not have the disk so had to move rig control to the com port and the amplifier did not work. I got them on the air barefoot after what seemed like forever but likely was just 30 minutes. I operated a little that night but was very tired and had to get some sleep. In hind sight I think some of the problem was only having two hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and all the physical work of the last 8 hours or so. One is not as sharp as you think you are under those conditions. Edith over did it and her knees and hips were really hurting!
That night we had rain and terrible wind and water got off the rain fly and into the tent and got some of our stuff wet. We tarped the tent to hold it down and keep the water out. I also put some ropes around and over to help hold it down. It is a good thing as the wind really blew toward evening. You had to be exhausted to sleep as the 30 mph winds just whipped our sleeping tent and made a terrible racket. Bill's tent got very wet and blew down. He had a mess! One thing we did not expect were all the bats at night. They made quite a racket! Bill said at the there house by the south light house they had them all the time. Of course in the winter they go south.
got the 40 vertical up, tried to get the amp going based on info gotten over the air. I spent time straightening things out. The other 3 operated 40 that night I did not operate at all as I knew I would get my chance the rest of the week when Bill and Duane left the island on Tuesday moring. I put up the e-mail antenna and also helped with 2 meter antenna and put up 10 meter antenna. Late in day we moved the cook tent and our sleeping tent up by the 6 meter tent and had access to the generator and could heat water with the electric pot and Edith would not have to walk as she was really hurting. This really helped her out.
Did get the amp going for a little while but shut it off and it would not work again. Took lots of pictures as it was a nice sunny day. Got 30 meter antenna up. Checked out a new water source on the island as the other had a lot of plant coloration in it and did not look good. The new water source was great! The water purifier was to small. We decided the only practical means was to boil it on the gas stove our use the small electic pot. The small electric pot off the generator was used a lot as the wind was very high starting the second day making the camp stove tough to use.. At times it appeared the cook/sleeping tent was going to blow away even being tarped down Jim, Duane and Bill were doing all the operating. I did not operate at all. Moved e-Mail over by our tent which worked out great. It was to crowed in the six meter tent. Showed Holly how to do it and we got an E-mail off to Herb and others and got several ourselves . KB6YNO in ME on 30 meters worked great for e-mail and Holly was able to do it in great fashon. The HF station seemed to be doing well barefoot but I was disappointed that sometimes no one was operating.
The e-mail worked great and was a very valuable asset!
Edith was in great pain and we got some pills from Jim and Arliss figured out what she could take. It took about a day and she got better. She was really hurting on Monday night and Tuesday. Jim and I operated in shifts and things were going well. Bill and Duane left the island when Robert came by checking has crab traps. Highlight was RTTY pileup on 15 meters was 33 khz wide. We had a good night with lots of contacts on 30 and 40 meters. My rate during the day on RTTY was good and we were off to a great start Amplifier did not work but toward evening I got a chance to do some work with it. We used it on 30 and 40 that night. Jim and I operated starting Tuesday morning 24 hours a day. We shut down for a couple of minutes every 24 hours to put in oil and once for about 10 minutes while we changed oil.
Jim and I had a good day.Highlight was pileup on 17 meters and JA's went out of the top end of the band to work me. We still were having trouble with the amplifier. The solution seemed to not shut it off which meant gasing up the generator while it was running. At one point the amplifier would not work using the procedure of removing JP4, running it through the time sequence and then do it with JP4 hooked up. Arliss tried a new tube and no luck, we worked with the wire to the sceen on JP4 and cut out the varistor and also previously seemed like if we left the cover screws out it would work. Anyway we got it going again for which I am eternally greatful and used it for the duration of the operation. About every 24 hours the generator would shut down due to the low oil protection. At first we had to do the JP4 procedure but toward the end we did not have to do that. It may have been because the amp was on continuously and it may of been a heat related thing.
We did change the oil on Wednesday morning when the low oil protection shut down. We definitely were going to have enough gas. We did talk to Bill and Duane on 20 meters and Jim sat up a sked with Duane on the County Hunters net.
The best day for conditions, made nearly 2000 contacts and even made some on 10 and 12. Arliss had worked 4 people in Europe so that was good news but over all the conditions were terrible on Six but the best HF day of the expedition! I operated most in the day and Jim mostly at night. I started again about 3 am and jim operated a few hours in the afternoon and then I went to about 11 pm. For the complete time Jim and I kept the rig going 24 hours a day from the time we started until the time we shut down. We did our own logging on the computer.
After dark we started hearing thunder and the wind started coming up and we seen some lightening. We started to get precipitation static and loud static crashes and seeing the lightening we shut down. Then it hit. WOW! The Alaskan Guide Cabella's tent was worth every penny we paid for them. The winds blew at least 50 mph plus and it rained in bucket fulls. It just poured and the thunder and lightening was really bad. The tent fabric really popped but stood firm! We are 125 feet above the ocean on rock and we do have ground stakes a few inches in the ground but it is not a good situation. We had a strike that absolutely lite up the tent like daylight and the horrible loud thunder bang was immediate. I mean lightning and thunder virtually at the same time. It was close, very close. I tell you what we all were laying on the floor of the tent as far away from the equipment and we could and low to the rocks. The rain was coming right out of the south and hit the door, ie the only place not covered with the rain fly so we got a little water in but other than that I can not say enough good about the tent!!!! A vestabule(spelling) on the front would of been a good investment after all. When I bought it I could not see why I needed one for our use!!! Murphy's Law that the wind and rain would come on the door side.
The WORST of this whole deal was Edith was by herself up in our sleeping tent which is not nearly as good a tent as what we were and she was higher on the hill but back a little farther from the cliff looking out over the ocean and a little closer to some small trees. I was concerned the tent would come down on top of her and that would not be fun. The tarp was over the top of it and it was roped down but not sure if water would come in from under-neath or if it would colapse. When it let up we ran up to check and the tent was standing and she was not shook at all. Now let me tell you there would of been plenty of opportunity to get shook! Fortunately with the wind from the south and the rain blowing horizontal from the south it was not into the front of this tent so it handled it OK and did not take in water. The tent is one where you can stand in the middle. Edith said during the high wind gusts the fiberglass poles flattened down to about 4 feet high where she sat in the middle of the tent.
The weather on St Paul is wicked!!!
Next, The Conclusion
Ed and Edith
[MID: 1422_W0SD Sent Via: KB6YNO Date: 2002/07/19 20:45:55]