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Activity reports

GB0SH 2006

GB0SH Strumble Head Lighthouse

Lighthouse Number: WAL-029 A-5274 - IARU Locator: IO72LA
WAB Area: SM-84 – IOTA Ref: EU-005

19 – 20 August 2006 International Lighthouse Weekend

Team: MW0JZE Ant , MW0RLJ Rob, G1VDP Chris, M1DCV Marti, MW3SDO Oliver & M3SDE Tim.
Written by M3SDE Tim Beaumont.

Strumble Head Lighthouse stands imposingly on Ynysmeicl (St Michael’s Island) an isletcruel_sea_2 to the west of Fishguard Pembrokeshire, Wales , separated from the mainland by a very narrow gap through which the sea boils and froths in stormy water. The lighthouse was built in 1908, the tower is 17m high and stands 45m above mean high tide. Its one million candle power intensity is visible up to 26 miles.

This year was the second activation that our team has made from inside the lighthouse, this year was not as easy to organise as the first. Permission had to be granted from Trinity House, owners of the lighthouse. Our contact at Trinity House had left the company and we had to explain again to Trinity House what we wanted to do and why it was so important to transmit from inside the lighthouse. In 2005 they did not charge us for the use of the property although we did pay the caretaker for his time opening up and locking up after us, but this year they said that we would be charged £50 to cover costs, we decided to pay and continue our plans. We had previously booked the lighthouse from 8am to mid afternoon on the Sunday. Then we were told that we could not stay on the Island overnight and neither could we stop after Sunday morning. The team’s morale was quickly dwindling but we still remained determined to carry on.

Our revised plan then was to operate four stations simultaneously from 08:00z until 23:00z on Saturday and from 08:00z on Sunday for as long as permission was granted.

Friday 19th August – Strumble Head is a long way from the Midlands where three of the team live, M1DCV Marti and myself Tim M3SDE live in Coventry and left the city at 6pm to pick up Chris G1VDP from Nuneaton . Our first destination was the home of the team leader Ant hony MW0JZE in Llanelli, Wales . The car was crammed with communications equipment poles wires and antennas. We arrived at Ant ’s house at 10pm just in time for a take away and some beers and a lot of catching up with the latest gossip until the early hours of the morning.

lighthouse_14Saturday 20th August – We were all up at 6am, and regretting staying up so late. We had about 70 miles to drive from Llanelli, the last few miles were winding, narrow, with blind corners and high banks slowing down the team. We arrived at Strumble Head Lighthouse dead on 8am, where we were met by MW0RLJ Rob, and Jeff the caretaker of the lighthouse.

This is where the really hard work begins, to get the equipment into the lighthouse is a feat of endurance and hard, back breaking labour, there are 20 steep steps down to a bridge taking us onto St Michael’s Island , then a very steep climb and about another 30 steep slippery steps to the buildings. The first trip is exhausting carrying the radios, poles and PSU’s, but the second and third trips become physically very painful and a mental battle of the mind. We all either had to rest half way up or collapsed at the top or both.

Quickly the team set about setting up the four stations, putting up 2 x Carolina Windom’s, an inverted V and a dipole antenna. We used three rooms of the lighthouse to site the operations. At this point our last member of the team arrived (MW3SDO Oliver) after a 200 mile drive from North Wales . Operating began at 10am, conditions at first appeared to be good with 20m contacts quick and constant, but all other bands were poor with openings on 40m changing constantly andlighthouse_13 this meant that every few minutes another station from a completely different area was calling CQ on the same frequency, forcing us to change our 40m operating frequency regularly. It wasn’t until early evening that conditions improved on 40m while 80m was almost silent. Contacts were made to dozens of other lighthouse stations around the world and on 20m contacts made to Asiatic Russia, Uruguay and to all areas of the USA and Canada , and also to South Africa . We decided to close down the fourth station due to cross station breakthrough. St Michaels Island is only 60 metes wide by 100 meters long and having so many antennas in close proximity will inevitably cause problems. At close of transmission at 23:00z we had 800 entries in the log.

We were to stay overnight a short drive away at the farm owned by MW0RLJ Rob and his wife Pat. Again this was a great excuse for catching up with the past and for drinking lots more beer.

Sunday 21st August – The team woke up at 7am, I looked out of the window to see one of the most beautiful views from a house I have ever seen, at the back of the farmhouse is a field and at the bottom of the field is the sea. If only I could wake up to that scenery every day. After a quick breakfast and a drive back to the lighthouse, GB0SH was back on air with an agreement from the lighthouse keeper to leave the lighthouse at 12 noon. Although 20m was once martti_m1dcv_2again busy with QSO’s across the world, 40m was still unstable with very changeable conditions. In an effort to get the 80m antenna back on air the team managed to break one of the support poles for the Windom so we decided just to concentrate of 20m and 40m. The station was closed down at 11:15z after 17 hours of transmission 1005 log entries (1 QSO per minute, not bad for a SES) into 57 DXCC entities worked.

Continents worked:
Europe – 15m 17m 20m 40m 80m
Asia – 15m 20m 40m
North America – 17m 20m 40m
South America – 20m
Africa – 20m

Breaking the station down and transporting it all back to the mainland was again a hard physical endurance. A good team effort and everything was back loaded in the cars by 12:15z.

Thanks to Jeff from Trinity Lighthouse Team for working with us. Thanks also to Rob and Pat for your hospitality at the farmhouse at the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. Thanks also to Ant and Laura for the hospitality on the Friday night. Also to you guys for calling us.

A drive of 5 hours back to the midlands to nurse our aching bodies!