The family liked Croatia so much last year that we returned to Trilj for another 2 week holiday, during which time I managed to scout DH-011 for future activation, activate 2 summits - DH-090 and DH-050, and in between the two succesful activations had a painful failure on DH-089. Pre-trip planning was greatly assisted by info and advice from Ivica 9A6CW and Neno 9A6ZE.
Unlike last year, when the weather was baking hot all the time, Croatia was having unusually wet weather with heavy thunderstorms, which restricted things a bit.
Tovarnica, DH-011 scout trip
On the first good wx day, the family came with me to check out DH-011 (8pts) which I hoped to activate later in the holiday. As things turned out, that didn’t happen, so one for next time. Its a really nice hill, with great views into Bosnia. We took the waymarked route as shown by 9A6CW in Sot.las, which wanders across meadowland and requires a bit of scouting around to find the red/white waymark dots and while more scenic, I think that when I eventually get to activate this hill I will just follow the ATV tracks which wind round the base to the point where you have to follow the dots again up to the top. There is plenty of set-up room at the top, which overlooks Bosnia to the North and a windfarm to the South.
Looking into Bosnia
Wind turbine close by
Cucin DH-090 9th June 2023
We spent 3 days away from our main holiday base in Trilj, to visit the Peljesac peninsula, which has a LOT of wineries. Prior to the building of a new bridge(which looks a lot like the new Queensferry Crossing in Scotland), you had to drive through a little piece of Bosnia-Herzegovina to get to Peljesac, but that is no longer required.
Peljesac Bridge from Cucin
On the advice of Neno, 9A6ZE, I targeted Cucin DH-090 (2pts)
This has a waymarked (red/white dots again) trail which starts just off a dirt track near the village of Pijavicino. There is room to park near an old cross dated 1595
The route up starts a little way up the track to the SW, just past a small quarried area and is marked by a red/white dot and red arrow on a boulder.
For most of the way, there is a single track path, but this peters out close to the top and even the red/white dots become a bit elusive. Just below the summit there are signs of habitation, with a shack and chimney and a concrete water cistern
Walk up took about 1.5 hours. Views from the top are excellent
While I was setting up, a young couple with dog arrived, but they were the only people I saw all day.
Equipment: 857d, 12Ah 153.6Wh battery, Sotabeams Tactical 7000hds mast, wire delta loops for 17/15/12m, Sotabeams linked dipole 40/20m and 10/6m wire moxons based on the design shown by Colin, MM0OPX on his Youtube channel Cheap Effective Moxon Beam Antenna for 10, 11 or 12m Bands #hamradio #hamr - YouTube
Started on 40m at 0953 UTC with a run of 10; conditions were not great.
Moved to 20m where there was more activity and got 46 EU in the log including 3 S2S, starting with M0JKS/P on G/NP-007.
17m produced 19 EU chasers, with good signals from G/GM/GW.
15m seemed to have mostly short skip signals and EA2DT called in for a second chase of the day, then a S2S with GM0OSB/P on GM/SS-129 was immediately followed by a chase from WA8Y, then shortly after by LW2DO for best DX of the day.
Checked 6m and heard a few weak beacons, so I put up the Moxon and a spot. I immediately heard 2E0FEH calling me but unfortunately he faded out. Some CQs brought silence until Damian, M0BKV called - great to get a G-land chase on 6m. More CQs just brought 2 more qsos with “local” Italian stations.
With the moxon up, I swapped the 6m wire for the 10m and put out a spot on a very quiet band. It was a very nice surprise to get a second chase from Horacio LW2DO. No other contacts though after a lot of CQs, and I went QRT at 1342 utc with 90 in the log.
Pometeno Brdo DH-089 - a bloody failure
During the next wx window I decided to go for DH-089 (2pts) rather than the higher DH-011, as high winds were forecast in the latter area. DH-089 has a relatively easy approach up a grassy track and has a wind farm at the top. I lost the track a short way below the top and was making my way towards a wind-turbine platform when disaster happened. I lost my balance and pitched face-first into a rock. I had no time to adjust my walking poles and just enough time to think “this is going to hurt”. Regaining my feet, I could see from the amount of blood that this was not going to be cured by a sticking plaster. After completely saturating a handkerchief several times, trying to stem the flow, I made for the wind-turbine platform where I had seen a maintenance crew working. They jumped up from their tea-break on seeing me - I think the amount of blood shocked them. Anyway, they were brilliant. They sat me down, produced a large medical kit bag and patched me up enough to stop the bleeding.
Their considered advice was that my nose was broken and I needed to go to A&E in Split to get stitched up - local doctors or hospitals would not suffice. This was a drive of about 30 minutes. Denis, the crew chief, very kindly offered to drive me to hospital - I had thought about driving myself but decided that was inadvisable as I had had a blow to the head.
Denis shepherded me to A&E, who directed us to the ENT dept and then Denis headed back to work. I left my backpack in A&E reception. After about 45m I was cleaned up, stitched (5) and had my nose re-aligned (that was painful!).
I was then sent to get some X-rays to check my neck. After 2 more hours I got the all-clear, paid the bill (€258, which I think was a bargain), got an Uber back to my car and drove home.
Me with my hospital plasters
This was a very sobering event, which could have been much worse and I was very lucky that Denis and his crew were on location. Needless to say, it provoked some serious family discussions, mainly focused on the weight of my backpack. While this had not been the cause of my fall, it certainly didn’t help.
Not surprisingly, I took it easy for the next few days, just monitoring the bands from the garden in Trilj. I had some fun on 6m, working HZ1LG and OD5TX. I’d actually worked OD5TX a couple of weeks ago from Aboyne, so it was great to get him again on the Magic Band.
After a couple of days of rain and thunderstorms, the wx cleared and my nose was feeling a lot better. A local GP had inspected it and my plasters were no longer needed. My XYL Rachel agreed to accompany me up another hill, DH-050. This had a decent track up most of the way, with just a short “hunt the red/white dots” section near the top. The starting point is in the village of Gornje Postinje where we found a parking spot next to a house, kindly indicated by a lady who spoke pretty good English.
The track up is not signposted and at the start was a bit overgrown. It is a waymarked path for 3/4 of the way up and apart from a few sections which were a bit overgrown, is straightforward. Eventually the path flattens and and starts to descend. This is where the final ascent is signposted, for a “follow the dots” route to the top.
During the walk-up, Ivica 9A6CW, texted me to say that Ante, 9A8RA, was already at the top. I had met Ante with Ivica last year.
Sure enough, as we neared the top, Ante came into view. He had managed 23 QSOs during his activation which had unfortunately been cut short by a faulty coax.
Ante helped me set up my mast and the linked dipole, sat in on my 40m session and then headed for home. It was really nice to meet him again.
Views from the top
Operating position - shaded by small bushes
At lunch, Rachel surprised me by producing 2 beers - very welcome
The summit is very rocky and uneven, with a lot of bushes, so guying my mast took a bit of time. Switching antennas was also a bit laborious, having to take a lot of care moving over the rocky terrain.
There was also a large population of friendly flying beetles (c 2cm long) which got easily caught in your hair. 5 minutes into the drive home, I found one which must have been under my hat all the way down from the top
The bands were in poorer shape compared to my previous activation, but there was quite a lot of SOTA activity with the HB9 Sota weekend.
40m brought 17 QSOs including 6 S2S
20m another 18 EU with 1 more S2S and best DX SV9TAP
17m 11 QSOs with best DX of the day 4X4MN/M by the beach near Tel Aviv. Carolyn G6WRW/P on G/WB-004 was very strong and MM7MOX/P a nice S2S with Scotland.
15m was dead.
10m just had a few Italian contesters audible, so I checked 6m and heard a Portuguese beacon. By the time I got the moxon up, I found the band quite busy, but with the IARU 50 Mhz contest. Nobody was interested in SOTA, so I gave out a few serial numbers, with best DX EB3EPR and called it a day at 1430 utc with 51 in the log.
Thanks to all chasers and fellow activators on this eventful trip, and thanks again to Ivica, Ante and Neno for their help. An even bigger thank you to Denis and his crew, the staff at Split hospital, and our hosts Ivana and Nikola who introduced me to their GP in Trilj to get my bandages changed and checked (he incidentally didn’t charge a cent - the paperwork would have been too much for a relatively small charge). Croatia is full of really nice people!