My own New Year Fun Day - Tuesday 1st January 2013 - began with a morning watching the first DVD from the BBC Olympics box set, a Christmas present from my wife Marianne. Next up was watching Macclesfield Town go 2-0 down with a man sent off before half-time - not fun. The second half was more fun as the ten men outplayed the eleven of Southport and battle back to a 2-2 draw.
Oh yes, then the bit that involves SOTA. It was off up to The Cloud for a UK activity contest night with a difference. It was mainly dry, but horribly windy on the summit, and it was difficult to operate. Turning the antenna was a chore, and the pole was taking a lot of strain in the wind. The bothy bag, when deployed during occasional periods of light rain, made an absolute racket when being battered around by the wind, and listening to signals even in the headphones was hard work.
I was ten minutes late starting in the 144MHz UK activity contest, because it took me so long to get the SB5 antenna up. A further delay hit after 19 contacts when the wind blew my pole and antenna over, pulling a guyed peg clean out of the ground. Spirits were low and I considered abandoning as I was straightening out the bent elements of the SB5.
That’s not like me though (although it has been known), and I got back on with things 15 minutes later. The band was rather busy with good activity. Several, including myself, had anticipated a low turnout with it being New Year’s Day, but the entire two and a half hours was busy with radio traffic.
I finished with 68 QSOs, all on 2m SSB with 11 multipliers - IO81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 90, 91, 92, 93, JO01, 02. I also worked ON5AEN in JO10, which was my ODX at 476km. However, at the time of writing, fellow SOTA activator Carolyn G6WRW is ahead of me, as is Brian 2W0HRO. I have never quite worked out where exactly Brian’s site is in IO72XX, but it certainly works for him. Carolyn, I assume, was somewhere on Titterstone Clee Hill but not within the AZ or with SOTA-qualifying working conditions.
That was not the end of the activation though. I spent a little time enjoying my small flask of coffee, then set about taking down the SB5. In its place went the feedpoint of the 80m dipole, and back up went the pole. I followed the legs of the dipole by torchlight, and used a walking pole to raise each end.
Although it was not raining, I could now make use of the warmer conditions from operating inside the bothy bag, as antenna rotation was not now a concern. I called CQ on 80m CW, and was soon picked up by a skimmer in Germany. However, there was no response from SOTA chasers, so I answered a CQ call from Dix DJ6CB and enjoyed a 15 minute CW ragchew with him.
Persisting on CW, I got spotted by a skimmer in Ireland, and then did manage to get some replies to my CQ SOTA calls - two, to be precise, GM4WZG and PA0SKP. Moving up to SSB and self-spotting then brought in Vic GI4ONL and Damian M0BKV, and we had an enjoyable natter until midnight.
And so 0000 UTC on Wednesday 2nd January 2013 brought an ascent-free second activation of 2013. Vic GI4ONL and Damian M0BKV were straight in for a new point for the new day on 80m SSB. A switch to 80m CW then brought in Roy G4SSH, Vic GI4ONL again, and Peter G4ISJ. No further callers, so I finished my coffee and began the pack-away.
With everything loaded onto my rucksack on my back, I did the usual and made a speculative 2m FM call from the handie before descening. Paul GW0WTT was worked, but nearer to 1am than midnight, it seemed he was the only radio amateur still to go to bed.
After descending and driving home, I felt unusually alert, so I poured a glass of sparkling wine, cut a generous slab of Christmas cake, took my blood pressure tablets and painkillers, and settled down to my Skybox recording of that night’s Match of the Day.
New Year Fun Day? You bet!