Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time to call it a day and retire from SOTA. No, not me but my 5m fishing pole!
It was probably sometime around 2002-2004 that the fibreglass fishing rods appeared as very cheap antenna supports. They may have been available earlier but that’s when there suddenly seemed to be lots of them in the radio press. Anyway my chum Brian G4ZRP bought 3x 5m poles from a garden shop on the way from a rally. I picked it up mine when I next went back down to England. They were Shakespeare 5M poles (5 section) and cost the princely sum of £5 each.
Mine saw little use till my SOTAing started in October 2006 and since then it has been the pole of choice for my activations. It is light and strong. In my case it has only supported 2m/70cms Yagis on a handful of occasions, most of the time it has supported wire dipoles or verticals for HF. It has been brilliant at that role. Even when it started to look tired and it collapsed all the time, simply dismantling and carefully cleaning the joints resulted in a complete fix.
I did some maths on my 533 activations. I’ve done 27 non-UK activations using a 5m travel pole identified by Carolyn G6WRW. I’ve done 3 activations using an 8m pole (heavy) a few just with the handy and a good handful using my other full-sized 5m pole and I’m happy that this pole has been used in at least 490 activations, maybe more.
So why retire it? Well yesterday I noticed that the bottom (large) section has developed some fine cracks where the next section would fit tight. End-on, the top of the bottom section now looks oval. A well appiled layer or two of duct tape would fix her up for possibly for more activations. How many more? Well at least one and maybe a hundred. However, should it fail at these cracks then it would be catastrophic. So I think it is time to retire this pole from full time service as I think I have had my money’s worth with it costing about 1p per activation!
So this Shakespeare pole will now enter the “Sunny Summits Home for Retired SOTA Poles” and my reserve pole will be promoted. It will be a pseudo retirement as I will fix it and take it as a spare until I buy another 5m pole, only then will it sit in a cupboard.
I could find another of these Shakespeare poles then I’d buy it at once.
So does anyone have a trusty SOTA pole that has anything near 500 activations?