I have been active as a Chaser since the beginning of 2011 but not had the opportunity to be an Activator. I was due to have a week’s holiday in Cornwall and, although my wife and I had a busy itinerary, I hoped to squeeze in an Activation, possibly two. I chose Watch Croft G/DC-007 for its famed glorious views.
The weather report said it would be drizzly in the morning but should brighten up in the afternoon so all looked good. We visited a garden near to Falmouth and by 2pm it had brightened up just as the forecast predicted, great! However, as we drove towards Watch Croft the WX worsened with low mist. By the time we parked up at SW415347 the visibility was low and there was a slight drizzle. I asked Nickie whether she still wanted to go for it or not. She said ‘yes’ so we proceeded down the gravel track following Richard, G4ERP’s instructions. We found the path through the bracken and gorse and proceeded up to the summit.
I set the link dipole for 40M and hoisted up and secured the fishing pole. I turned the FT857D on set to 5W and powered by a 5AH LIPO and tuned to 7033. There was already a SOTA station on just 300Hz down. This was LA1ENA/P operating from LA/TM-018. I decided to start off with a S2S and called him. We exchanged reports so a great start! I then self spotted for 7034 using my Android phone. I called CQ and almost immediately got a reply from G0BPU. There then followed a steady stream of Chasers.
Sending CW from my comfortable operating position at home is easy peasy. Sending CW from a cramped and awkward operating position on a summit is a different story altogether I found out. In retrospect I should have spent more time sorting a comfortable operation position, I guess I was too eager to get started! I completely mucked up replying to Roy, G4SSH where suddenly the keyer seemed to have a life of its own - sorry Roy!
When the 40M CW contacts dried up I decided to switch to 60M and self spotted for 5403.5. Again my short CQ got a quick reply from Don, G0RQL. I was told that Martin, M1MAJ/P was also on 60M two channels down operating from G/LD-021. So I switched to his channel for another S2S contact. Martin told me he had snapped his pole in the very windy condx there and so his antenna was only 2M AGL. Nevertheless he was putting out a cracking signal to me. I then switched back to my channel to pick up more Chasers.
It then started raining and I looked at Nickie who wasn’t looking happy. I decided it was time to pull the plug. By the time I had packed away it was raining quite badly and the visibility was even worse. Richard, G4ERP states that the ascent path is difficult to locate on return. We climbed over the short stone wall just below the trig point and, yes, we couldn’t find the path! We went on regardless in roughly the right direction but for a while the going was difficult. Magically we stumbled across a path, which was much better than the ascent path. We followed this path back towards where we parked the car and this eventually intersected a marked OS path, which then took us back to the gravel path. Maybe this might be a better ascent route if we come back to Watch Croft. By the time we got back to the car both Nickie and I were completely soaked and unfortunately we hadn’t got a change of clothing in the car. This meant a change of plan for the evening meal. We now needed to head back to the holiday cottage ASAP! However, we went to a local establishment where we enjoyed a yummie meal and nice glass of wine.
So my first activation didn’t go as planned and we were both disappointed not to have enjoyed the views from Watch Croft. However, I achieved 24 contacts on 40M CW, including one S2S, and 12 contacts on 60M, including another S2S. So not too shabby.
Next year we hope to holiday in Wales and Nickie is up for more SOTA activations. There are not too many SOTA hills near my home QTH but maybe you will hear me operating from G/SE-00n before the end of 2011.