Islands Expeditions

In 1985 the society was celebrating its tenth anniversary –  how to celebrate this was debated for quite a while. It was decided to activate an island, the excitement mounted on which island it would be. Because it seemed relatively close Lundy Island was chosen, how would we get there was the big question ideas ranged from the obvious , by sea to the outlandish by helicopter from Tredegar Park, yes stupidity had set in by now.

The trip to the island was eventful, four members went on an old boat called the Polar Bear with all the gear and the remaining eleven went on the island motor boat from Clovelly. All started off well until the open sea was reached. The Polar Bear rolled and wallowed and one member was physically ill. The group from Clovelly were a bit disturbed when asked to put on water proofs supplied to them. That the boat spent more time in the air than on the water would be a fair description. Members of that group were sat on lockers ad the first time the boat took off so did the bodies sat on the lockers, what goes up must come down, yes on the hands that were holding tightly to the lockers , a few choice words followed.

Radio wise we used the club rig and a members amplifier into a three element beam,  pile-ups were the norm  and even an emergency call was made to Germany via Mexico . There had been a large earthquake in Mexico and the skip would not allow contact between Germany and Mexico, we were a good signal into Mexico and we were asked to contact a station in Germany which we were able to do. During the week we contacted close to 1000 stations which we considered a great success being the first trip we had done.

Following the success of the trip to Lundy, the “island trip” became a bi-annual event and carried on over the next fourteen years. The islands visited were The Welsh Islands; we stayed on Scokholm Island and visited Skomer and Grassholm Island, Raasay Island, Islay, Alderney, Colonsay and the Isle of Eigg. Lundy and Islay were visited twice. The Welsh Islands were next, the weather that week was outstanding.  We scaled up the equipment for this trip to three rigs which we ran together in what was called the laboratory and NO headphones. The pile ups were unbelievable , we were catered for our food on this trip so we had set mealtimes, as mealtimes were approaching we told the stations calling us that we would be QRT for a while, when we returned  half an hour later the pile up was waiting for us it was amazing .  Highlight of the week was the arrival of a sea king helicopter bringing sand and gravel for building work and a bag of muesli, the problem came when they were all wrapped in the same bags and we had to find it. The downdraught from the helicopter caused the water butt tops to be blown off with all the binoculars as well. The trips to Skomer and Grassholm were also successful with a net controller left on Stockholm

Raasay, Islay  and Eigg being in Scotland presented a logistical headache but we overcame these, stopping overnight in Stirling and putting the scaffold poles for the tower on the roof of a Landover along with the beam all the rest of the gear was inside. A mini bus was hired for the main party to travel in. On Raasay we stayed in Raasay House an old rambling house that was an outward bound centre, it took us almost a week to find our way around it. Conditions were again excellent and the rig was hardly turned off working stateside through the night and moving around to VK land in the morning.  Islay was next and again conditions were great, the bonus on this island was the wildlife and the nine whisky distilleries, yes we visited each one! We also suffered from the angel’s share which is the whiskey that is evaporated. We had difficulty stringing a sensible sentence together. A good time was had y all.  Eigg was also different, we could not take cars to Eigg so no beam, but the contacts were again excellent. It was a bit dodgy getting off the big ferry onto the small boat to land on Eigg. We had three dogs with us and they had to be thrown across (no animal was injured on this trip).