On Monday morning we drove to Lars and together we went to Störby, where we meet Bruno, the skipper of the chartered boat "Merit". The wooden boat was about 10 meters long and very suitable for this trip. All equipment was loaded in about half an hour and off we went. The weather was still not favorable and waves were rather high, so a successful landing was not guaranteed.
We passed by a small island where the Coast Guard was stationed and Kee told us that if we would not be successful in a the landing, we would return back to the Coast Guard station for shelter. There was a 50% chance for a good landing, according to Kee. It should be noted that Kee has lived on Market Reef for a number of years and traveled every three weeks from the island to the main land and thus knows the area and conditions as no one else.
After about two hours we arrived at Market Reef and Kee concluded that a landing on the north side would be impossible under the current ciscumstances. After some discussion, Lars, Bruno and Kee decided to make a landing attempt at the South side, which was quit unusual. The boat was anchored about 50 meters from the rock because at that point the sea was only 2 meters deep and the boat couldn't get closer.
The next thing was to collect a small dinghy from the lighthouse which could be used for the transport of all equipment from the boat to the rock. Lars offered to carry out this unpleasant job. He got the key of the lighthouse and went down in the very cold water and swum to the rock. Once the dinghy was available we started to off load all equipment which was a very delicate operation because we had to avoid any piece of equipment dropping in the sea as this could jeopardize the whole DXpedition. Imagine how to transport 5 meter long tower sections on a 2.5 meter long dinghy! After all equipment was ashore, the "Merit" left us alone and went back to the Aland Islands to return at the end of the operation.
Now all equipment had to be carried up the stairs into the various rooms of the lighthouse. The next but most important job had to be carried out by Kee himself. He needed to start the diesel generator that would provide the necessary power for our equipment. Kee seems to be the only person that knows how to treat the engine and to get them started. Also this time he succeeded and the building up of the stations could be started. The TH3Mk3 and dipoles were erected and two stations were assembled each in a different room. Station one was in the basement of the lighthouse itself and station two was in a storage room, located on top of the room with acetylene cylinders, next to the lighthouse building.
Station I was equipped with a FT-902DM and a SB230 amplifier. Station II was equipped with a Drake-line and NRL2000 amplifier. Later, a second position was assembled in station II, which was equipped with a TR7 and Aplha 374 amplifier and was used for RTTY.
Between the two stations, were ran coax cables to allow any kind of combination of antenna and equipment. However, care had to be taken when switching antennas, because a wrong combination could line up an amplifier with a received with serious damage.
Operation had started and Lars and Kee operated as OJ0MA, Steve used G3JVG/OH0/OJ0 and I used PA0GAM/OH0/OJ0 which is the longest call sign ever used (at taht time) especially on CW. The operating schedule was based on the transmission schedule of the weather station of the lighthouse. Every 3 hours, the weather station transmits its data to the mainland via a VHF radio system. During this transmission, that takes 15 minutes, we were not allowed to operate our radios.
The second day on the island, we fixed the 15 meter tower to the rock and erected the 40 meter beam. We were all exhausted when the job was done but also happy to have that impressive beam in the air. It worked great. We had moderate conditions but were able to work around the clock with stations in all continents.
- Our boat Our boat
- Heading for OJ0 Heading for OJ0
- Market coming close Market coming close
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