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Activity reports

GB0SH 2005

GB0SH - Strumble Head Lighthouse 20 August 2005
Written by Tim Beaumont M0URX

WAB SM 84 Locator IO72la.

Strumble Head lighthouse stands imposingly on St Michaels Island, an islet separated from the mainland of Pembrokeshire, Wales by a narrow gap through which the sea boils and froths in stormy weather. The lighthouse tower is 17 metres high and the height of the light above mean high water is 45 metres.
The team of GB0SH consisted of MW0JZE Anthony (Squadron Leader), MW0RLJ Rob, G5XW Russell (He's only 38), M3SDE Tim, MW3SDO Oliver & M1DCV Marti. About one year ago Anthony and Rob started making enquiries to Trinity House, owners of the lighthouse to celebrate the Lighthouse On The Air weekend of 20-21 August 2005. We had good communication throughout and as Rob owns a farm just on the headland close to the lighthouse we found it easy to make all the arrangements necessary to gain access and install our equipment inside the lighthouse for the event.

Friday 19th August - Marti M1DCV and myself Tim M3SDE had a long way to travel from Coventry, we arranged to stay at Anthony's house MW0JZE tonight and leave early in the morning. We were joined by Oli MW3SDO arrived from North Wales, and Russell G5XW from Dorchester. Time was marching on… already 1am and we had an early start.
Saturday 20th August - 5.30am We had 3 cars to load up with antennas, radio's, masts and cables. At 6am we were ready to drive to MW0RLJ Rob's farm then on to Strumble Head. The drive approaching the lighthouse was several miles of narrow twisting lanes, hemmed in by high banks, across farm tracks and finally out on to the headland. It is a wild and bleak setting with high rugged cliffs. I am sure Anthony thought he was driving in the Rally of Wales along those tight lanes.

We had arranged to meet the Lighthouse Caretaker at 8.30am. The lighthouse is not open to the public due to the dangerous rugged cliffs of St Michaels Island. A small footbridge spans the open gap to the island and then a long, very steep path with a lot of steps leads to the top of the 45 metres cliff where the lighthouse station sits proudly guarding Fishguard Bay & Harbour. Carrying the equipment to the station took two trips each and was quite a physical endurance exercise and we all felt exhausted as we reached the summit.

Jeff the caretaker took us on a tour round the lighthouse and we were given quite a history lesson around the Island. We were advised to set up our antennas on the Helipad at the front of the building away from the instrument area of the lighthouse at the back. We had several antennas Comet H-422 V Dipole (Sponsored by Nevada) Spiderbeam (Sponsored by Spiderbeam) An inverted V wire and a 40m / 80m Vertical. All antennas and stations were set up in one hour. We also had 2 x Yaesu FT 920's, Yaesu FT-857 and a Alinco DX 70. Despite having 4 stations up and running we were surprised that we had no cross station breakthrough. We had Dunestar band pass filters with us but didn't need them so that was a bonus. Conditions were extremely dire Russell called endlessly all day on 40m but the band was silent for many hours today. 15m was also quiet with a few QSO's far between. 17m was holding up well with quite a number of calls logged. We attempted to call friends on our cell phones to see if conditions were as bad elsewhere, but we had difficulty in getting a signal on the phones unless we stood on one leg with our arm above our heads on the helipad, just as you get signal it goes.

We were very lucky with the weather, a chilly early breeze in the morning gave way to beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine that made some quite stunning photographs as the evening drew nearer. At last the bands began to open up with great pile ups on 20m and Inter G and Central Europe on 40m from about 6pm some of the stations logged were HC2/KG4CIJ in Ecuador, YI9DKE in Iraq and several stations from Asiatic Russia. We continued at quite a pace until we had to close with 450 QSO's at 23:45 UTC. As the lighthouse had to be alarmed and closed at midnight UTC. We climbed down the steps to the footbridge carrying some of the equipment, as we head back to Rob's farmhouse for some well deserved beers! In fact it was 3am before we decided to call it a night. At 10am we drove back to the lighthouse once again to meet Jeff and pack up all the antennas. In discussions with Jeff we agreed that next year we would like to be there from the Friday night until Sunday evening. A tent would have to be set up next year as we are not able to be inside the lighthouse at night for insurance reasons. Plans continue!!

We all thoroughly enjoyed the GB0SH activity and you will be hearing our team active next from Alderney Island from 12 - 19 October 2005.

Kind Regards from MW0JZE Ant, MW0RLJ Rob, G5XW Russell, M3SDE Tim, MW3SDO Oliver & M1DCV Marti

Team Members 2005
Anthony MW0JZE (me)
Our OM Russell G5XW (he's only 38!)
Marti M1DCV
Oliver MW3SDO
Tim M3SDE.