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Subject: Conclusion St. Paul Island Dx-pediton
I could feel the time slipping away and knew that soon we would have to leave the island. The number of people calling was far above my expectations. Many times you could not even get one letter. A few times I just guessed at a letter to reduce the calling stations! It was an exciting time. The adrenaline really flowed and it seemed like I hardly needed any sleep at all. I operated about 15 hours a day.
The terrain on St. Paul is very rugged. It is just like the Artic Tundra in the NWT of Canada. The highest point is about 400 ft. and there are two large lakes and the one pond near where we were. The best water streams were east of our spot and on the other side at Atlantic Cove. The trees are stunted and a tangled mess where they occur. It is impossible to walk through them very far which out having a terrible time and getting all scratched up if you can do it. It is very rocky and you don't find a lot of soil and when you do it is shallow. There are also a lot of loose rock laying around.
Conditions were not as good as the 4th but we still worked a lot of people. I did do some more RTTY and now were over 1000 contacts on RTTY. The pileups were tough, sometimes it was difficult to get even one letter. Toward night you could tell it was the week end. We were well over our goal of 10,000 contacts and personally I was over 6000 contacts.
Worked a lot of JA's on 20 meters , tried call areas and they were very, very bad, ie did not listen! Really the only time I lost my cool and gave the boys a lecture. Worked a lot of 17 and 15 and had some success on 10 and 12. Now over 12,000 and personal contacts now over 8000 so very, very pleased. We are getting all kinds of compliments on the operation. Really please that we have had the amplifer since Wednesday running 800 watts plus which has really helped and the HEX beam and verticals are working great. We got fantastic reports on 30 and 40 meters so the verticals with radials were doing well!
I really only forget three things, one to install the USB to Serial converter program on the one compuer, had it on the other, but worked around it no problem, paper for scratch which I don't need as I log on the computer but the crew the first couple of days needed it, but Holly had some extra so got covered on that. We both forgot containers to change oil but come up with a food carton and once we got oil jugs empty we used them and also found a plastic milk jug on the beach. Everything else I remembered so all the months and month of planning paid off. To bad the amplifier gave us trouble but at least we got it working after a couple of days and after Bill and Duane left we soon got it working full time. Really thankful that we finally got it to work. It really helped!
Late in the day we received word we were going to have to leave the island at 1300z on Sunday. Someone mentioned there was a note on the DX spot page that W3KXR our pilot station wanted to get ahold of us. The fellow that told us put a message on the spot page where we were and W3KXR came up and passed the traffic from Robert the boat Captain who had called. We later got confirmation of this from Duane via E-mail. We started packing up and tearing down. We tore down the Hex beam and left the verticals Started tearing down in earnest at daylight. Very tired operating 40 meters. Very good signal reports! Just before dark we tore down the Hex Beam. It served us well! It was a continual process of tearing things down. It was a real concern how 5 of us, 3 guys and 2 gals were going to do what 7 of us did to get everything set up but as always things tear down easier than they go up. We were going down hill and not up and down the cliff and not up. It weas still a "KILLER" but it was cooler and more wind so the black flies were nothing like they were setting up!
We operated on 30 and 40 and right after dawn we shut down and started the final tear down in earnest. It was a very big job getting everything else packed up and down to the cliff. Started raining, Holly hauled a lot of stuff, the gals really, really worked, both carrying or handling some major league stuff. Likely weighing 60 lbs. or more. Edith used her head more and worked on packing and not walking so much. We had a lot of stuff on the beach when the boat arrived. It was great to have Bill's help in getting the heavy stuff down the cliff.
Wet going down the cliff as by now it had started to rain steady. It really was slippery. We had to keep the boat out a little farther as there were some waves. They brought a new dingy that did not leak so bad. Jim had fixed the old one so it was a lot better. Crew on the boat really got the stuff up over the edge and into the boat in a hurry and put it down in the hatch. Kind of made you flinch when they hoisted a $2,500 ampilfier out of the rocking boat and the dingy would move away from the big boat and you wondered if they would lose their grip and into the ocean it would go! Edith had some trouble getting out of the small boat and into the big boat as it was quite a step up and was wet and slippery but they hoisted her in the boat. She got by good with her knees and hips and was not hurting from the return, tear down. She was more careful than on the landing where she was really hurting from over doing it walking while carrying heavy things.
Ride in was rough but by Cabot Strait standards not bad, boat captain Robert signed paper certifing we were on the island for documentation.
Things really got unloaded from the boat quickly at the dock at the Bay of St. Lawrence. When we got to Bill's we Staightened things out, got Holly ready to go on Monday. We ended up with quite a bit of gas so we had filled Holly's vehicle and left the rest with the boat Captain at the dock. We took the empties and gave some to Bill and Jim and tied the rest on top of the Expedition. I will get my half when we get home. We all took Bill and Audrey out to supper for all they had done for us. We found out the documentation for the landing permit had arrived but needed to be signed and returned. We though we were pretty well unpacked on Sunday. It turned out on Monday I discovered we had a lot to re-do. It took all day Monday to get things straightened out. We had a great night as Arliss was still there. We had a great supper and visit! We also got two big pictures of St. Paul from Bill and a small on for our QSL, proof of contact card we will send to all those who want confirmation for their country award called DXCC for working us.
So in conclusion we were fortunate in putting together 7 people of which 3 of them we had never met before to be able to work together and keep our cool under very difficult conditions of terribly hard work. The paper work was much more difficult than I had ever imagined. I was prepared for rugged conditions. It was about as expected other than the waves were absolutely not a problem but they could of been. The cliff was higher than I expected. The number of stations calling were far greater than expected. We did very well into Japan and the far east. From what I can tell the best ever from St. Paul and we were a new country for many 1000's in that part of the world. The logistics were worse than I expected. It is really difficult to haul things 1000's of miles and keep things organized!!!
Of all the adventures and challenging things we have done since retirement this has to rank as Number 1 by far! I will also say Edith handled this very well, indeed and when you talk to her you can congratulate her as she had ample opportunity to freak out and did not even come close!!! There will be some photo's on the web this fall you won't want to miss!
Ed and Edith
[MID: 1423_W0SD Sent Via: KB6YNO Date: 2002/07/20 20:51:58]