I set out to activate G/DC-007 Watchcroft on Sunday afternoon: it had been a lovely sunny morning but the weather was clearly going downhill, and I arrived at the summit to be greeted by a brisk wind and a splatter of rain. Well, I make no bones about being a fine weather activator, but I hadn’t travelled 280 miles to give up (actually, I had travelled 280 miles for beer, mead, sun, and some coasteering, in that order!) so I decided, rather unwisely as it turned out, to operate from the rather wobbly stone shelter. The roach pole fitted nicely into the trig point, but the pile of boulders that does duty for a summit was very unstable so it took a good fifteen minutes of teetering about to set up. I sat down on a badly upholstered granite lump and started to tune up on 5 megs. At this point the G8ADD curse struck! A gust of wind moved the wire antenna and dislodged a badly balanced stone from the rim of the wall…they don’t build 'em like they used to, but the curses work just fine - the rock struck and smashed the output socket on the tuner. Dammit! There was no way that I could operate on the DC bands this holiday, so I wearily packed up the HF gear and set up the 2 metre antenna.
Frankly, from West Penwith you are on a hiding to nothing on 2 metres, but with point-hungry contest stations roaming the band I thought I was in with a chance. My heart sank when I tuned the band, just a paltry few distant mutterings in the noise. I called CQ on 144.300. Nothing. Several calls later I realised that the contest stations up country were probably wallowing in QRM and splatter so I called on several different frequencies. Nothing. Time for a bit of hunt-and-pounce! Wonderful - there was M0GMG/P on DC-001! Several calls later I penetrated his pile-up and got number one and an S2S. Shortly after I got G0ROC/P in IO83VQ, then after some more futile CQing I found G3RCV/P in JO01DH, and a final CQ netted G3WKF/P just up the road in IO70KA, and the qualification. At this point the rain became more noticeable, and being nervous about all those little holes in the FT857D I decided to call it a day. Over an hour of operating with 50 watts for a bare qualification, a snail-paced smash-and-grab!
I think it is true what they say, people don’t beam to the southwest! Two decently long distance contacts showed that it could be done, and no doubt a bit more antenna gain to add to the 50 watts might have netted perhaps a half dozen more contacts, but it would still be hard work.
The moral? Use the DC bands and have an armour-plated tuner!
PS There are two tracks to the summit from the old mine road. Of the two, the one from by the houses is more uneven and bedevilled with gorse than the one that goes up from by the ruined engine house, so I recommend that one until a convenient fire clears up the summit again!