International Lighthouse / Lightship Weekend 2017

GB4EUL – East Usk Lighthouse, Newport

LH number : UK0159
WAB : ST38
Locator : IO81mm

3rd Full Weekend in August since 1998
00.01UTC 19 August to 2400UTC 20 August 2017 (48 hours)

August seems to have become the international weekend for lighthouses. Countries all over the world have become involved in one form or another of lighthouse activity. Some years ago the United States Congress declared August 7th as their National Lighthouse Day and during that first week in August amateur radio operators in America set up portable stations at lighthouses and endeavour to make contact with each other. This event is known as the US National Lighthouse Week.

In Britain the Association of Lighthouse Keepers, conducts International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend on the 3rd full weekend in August. Their objective is to encourage Lighthouse managers, keepers and owners to open their lighthouse or lightstation and related visitors centres to the public with a view to raising the profile of lighthouses, lightvessels and other navigational aids, and preserving our maritime heritage.

The club has operated from the East Usk Lighthouse, Newport for many years, and this year was no exception. Unfortunately 2016 was cancelled due to bad weather, a hurricane remnant if memory serves. This year, another hurricane remnant was due to pass through, but we were determined to get the station on air this year.

We arrived around 8:30am (bst) and set about building the station. The 10m push up mast attached to the railing around the ‘stubby’ lighthouse, and the 40m dipole set up accordingly. The feeder was run into the gazebo and connected to the radio with power being supplied via a Honda generator some distance away.

We had planned to run on 40m ssb, with some datamode activity on other bands. However, for some reason we had some issues with noise when connecting the laptop to the Kenwood TS-570D radio. We swapped over to the Icom 7100 and the issues seemed to vanish. It might be related to a bad USB/serial cable or something.

Alan’s people carrier proved to be a perfect point to attach the gazebo in the breeze. However due to the exposed location and the fact that the winds started to pick up during the day, we had to eventually de-camp the gazebo before it headed off into the RSPB reserve. We operated through the day, thankfully dodging the odd rain cloud (a couple of spots felt at one point).

Contacts were very few and far between due to the band conditions. 40m at times sounding completely dead with us scratching our heads and looking over at the aerial to see if was still there !!!!  At the end of the day we recorded something like 25 or so contacts, a very sparse activity indeed. Next year we will hopefully run a multiband antenna so we can move with the propagation (if it exists !). There is also the possibility of using a box trailer/van so that we wont get blown away.

We had a number of visitors from the public who were interested in what we were doing.  A quick explanation of the activity was followed by some general chit chat. It was great to see Bob, Margaret and Carol who popped down to see how we were getting on. You can see Ross here struggling with conditions with Steve smiling in the background.

Just before we pulled the plug, somewhere around 3:30pm we quickly jumped on a datamode FT8 and put out some CQ’s using a very short vertical, and in no short order we had a contact with a station in Italy. Perhaps next year we will run a dedicated datamode station as well.

A very enjoyable day, if somewhat wind swept. Fingers crossed for better HF conditions next year. Until then, 73 !


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