During the time I lived in Sudan, I normally spend the holidays in my home country The Netherlands. In 1989 however, I extended my regular holidays by making a side trip to Sierra Leone to enjoy another part of Africa and to carry out some radio operation as well. I made sure via a colleague in Sierra Leone that the license application and accommodation was secured.
I packed a TS-440S, PS-430 and the Windom FD-4 antenna with coax in my suitcases and the Butternut HF6V in a carton box and headed for Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. I arrived on Thursday evening, July 6 by KLM. My luggage was checked at customs without any problem and flew by helicopter from the airport to “Solar Village” at the other side of the town and close to the beach.
The next morning I went to the P&T office to collect my radio license for which I applied some weeks in advance. I was welcomed by Mrs. Cassandra Davies, 9L1YL and had started to have a pleasant conversation about our hobby. She showed me all kind of QSL-cards at the wall where I quickly discovered also the card of Baldur, DJ6SI. Next thing was to look after my license.
However, due to the absence of the director, the license was not available or even accessible. Mrs. Cassandra luckily enough understood that without a license I could not operate until Monday, as that was the first day the director would be back. So she suggested me to use the club station until I would have my personal license. In the meantime she also filled my personal license so it only needed to be signed on Monday. But just by the time she finished this, we were surprised by the director arriving at the office.
Only due to the kind assistance of Mrs.Cassandra, I could manage to get my license signed before the director left the office again. So on Friday afternoon I left the P&T office with the PA0GAM/9L license on hand and ready to enjoy a week long operation.
I had a room at the top floor of a three story apartment building, close to the Atlantic Ocean. I started to erect the Butternut HF6V vertical antenna and fixed it to a metal construction on the rooftop. From this point I had an excellent view over the ocean and had clear space to all directions as there were no high buildings in the area. After installing the radio, I made my first QSO with SM0CCM on July t at 19:40 GMT.
Unfortunately the power supply in Freetown was very bad and especially “Solar Village” had long power outages. When the city had frequent power cuts, my apartment had no power at all! During power outage, the electricity service in my apartment was from 6 PM till 10 AM which was generated by a nearby hotel. This all limited my operation quite substantially. Some times, as an extra service, they switched on the generator also during lunch time. This extra opportunity to operate made me rather busy during lunch time as I had to operate and do my cooking at the same time (could only do electric cooking in the apartment).
Although my operating time was very limited and conditions were not very favorable, I made 3500 contacts and my last QSO was with KA1DE on July 13 on 15 meters.
During the days, when I was unable to operate, I used my time exploring Freetown and visited the local market and shops for shopping and buying food. I had rented a car with a driver to visit also some nice places outside Freetown. I really enjoyed the nice white beaches and meeting the lovely people of Sierra Leone. At the time of my visit to Sierra Leone, there were only 28 licensed amateurs of which only a few were really active. Before leaving Sierra Leone, I went back to Mrs. Cassandra and donated the Windom FD-4 to the club station on behalf of the NCDXF.