Isle of Wight summits

The weather forecast looks promising, so I’ve booked a ferry crossing for Sunday 15th to re-activate SE-008/012 on the Isle of Wight. Building on my success from the two French summits, I’m hoping to provide QRO again, making 80m an attractive option for the UK and France. It will be an early start, at least for the first one, but I’m reliant on available ferry space.

Should the weather or environment dictate, I will have to resort to a more conventional QRP operation, primarily on 40m CW, but I am hopeful of a trouble-free day with a lot of chasers in the log. There are, of course, time constraints for my booked return, but there may be other bands/modes available if possible.

Have fun chasing these fairly rare summits.

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to G3VQO:
OK Les, j’espère que les conditions seront bonnes. Good Luck !
73 UFT QRO, Andy F5AKL

In reply to G3VQO:

Hope to activate them myself in early June. Dont wear out the locals hihi

In reply to G3VQO:
Hello Les, very nice project, y hope to copy you, and the other OM in island of Wight
thanks also for your activations in french SOTA, if you are near Argentan in Normandy
send me à mail !
best regards
f5nep Lionel

The weather forecast was promising the warmest day of the year so far, but when I set off at 0445 it was dark, cool and foggy. It was an uneventful drive to Portsmouth where I joined a handful of cars, one Tesco truck and a lone cyclist on the 0630 ferry. The forty-minute crossing was as smooth as a millpond, but visibility was only about 200 metres all the way across – thank God for radar! At least it was daylight when we arrived, and I set off along quiet roads for my first summit. Just north of Ventnor I turned onto the steep road to the summit of …

G/SE-008 St Boniface Down. The highest point of this long, flat hill is occupied by the Radar Station. Actually this is a misnomer. It was an RAF radar site during WW2, and was subsequently used as such by civil ATC until the 1990s, but now the extensive site is mostly derelict with just ATC VHF/UHF TX/RX sites in use. There is, however, a large vertical mast which may be a commercial medium wave station – more of that later! This is a wonderful hill for dog-walking, so I drove to the very end of the track to keep away from most of them. By now there was bright sunshine, at least on the summit, but the view was totally obscured by low-lying fog banks. As I had a fortnight earlier in France, I made several journeys a short distance away to set up a high-power station. There are no trees, so I draped the antenna across some gorse bushes. In fact it was actually along the ground in places, as it’s very difficult to attach anything to gorse without serious physical pain! The ground is solid chalk, and extremely dry, so it was almost impossible to hammer in the earth spike to a meaningful depth. Undaunted, I set up and switched on. There was a lot of noise around 3561 with apparent SSB QRM. The FT-847 is not a good rig in strong-signal conditions, and I’m guessing that it was cross-modulation from the MW transmitter some half-mile away. The auto-tuner struggled to find a match with such an ineffective earth, but eventually it decided to settle, so I called CQ. My first taker was Roy as G4SSH/A (presumably in Cornwall?) for a very difficult QSO, but then I was hit by quite a pile-up. By the time I heard silence again I had eighteen 80m CW stations in the log. I then moved up to try SSB on 3760 where I found another five chasers. Moving to 7032 I logged another seventeen callsigns in spite of the deep QSB that took signals from S9 into the noise quite rapidly. I had been warned by John GW4BVE that 5MHz was likely to be difficult as foF2 was too low, but I gave it a shot. An incomplete QSO with Alistair GW0VMZ was followed by a success with M0VEY, but there were no further callers. So it was time to pack up and get back on the road to …

G/SE-012 Brightstone Down. This summit is in the west of the island, and is more remote. There is a car-park on the Brightstone to Calbourne road from where a track leads east towards the summit. The track is in fact a by-way, so it is legal to drive along, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a 4x4 (or a company car!!). Never wishing to miss an opportunity to practice my limited off-roading skills(?), I proceeded up the hill and parked at the edge of the wood in which the actual summit can be found. This time the setting-up was much easier, with trees to support the antenna and softer ground for the earth spike. On switching on I found the location so quiet that I had to double-check that everything was really connected – band noise a genuine S0. I made a few CQ calls on 3561 but found no takers, so I moved to 7032.5 where a suitable gap enabled me to catch thirty-one callers including an s2s with DJ5AA/P. A return to 3561 found three chasers, but I wanted a fourth (to officially activate the summit on 80m CW) so I moved LF and found a Belgian station calling CQ – job done. Then it was a chance for the SSB chasers on 3760. I caught a few late-risers but I was rather surprised that only eight found me despite the spot. So much for the constant complaints that those who only use 5MHz are depriving non-NoV holders of opportunity – the 80m chasers were all 5MHz regulars! Phil G4OBK kindly advised me that DF2GN/P had just been spotted on 7032, so I moved back to catch my second s2s of the day. Finally it was time to try 5MHz. By this time the foF2 had risen sufficiently to make it viable, and six chasers were added to the log, including G1INK/P on Kinder Scout (and I thought the name referred to a chocolate egg with a toy!!). By this time the temperature had risen to around 20C, and the hill was busy with mountain-bikers and walkers without dogs, so it was back to the ferry and home in time to watch the football.

My thanks to all who worked me. Hopefully the Isle of Wight summits have dropped well down the “needed” list. The cost of the ferry ticket (mile-for mile, this is officially the world’s most expensive stretch of water to cross) makes it an infrequent target, so I won’t be back in the near future.

73 de Les, G3VQO

In reply to G3VQO
Hi Les
Good going OM, and mni tnx for 2 new ones!
73 de CRIS

In reply to G3VQO:

Thanks for the two new ones Les, you were solid on 80m cw on the first one but very iffy with qsb on 60m ssb on the second summit, poor condx all day on 60m.
Well done.

vy 73 Mike