Last day on the Outer Hebrides

Well, this is it I suppose. Tomorrow we leave Lewis & Harris and set sail for Skye and work our way down home.

Yesterday, we camped at the most western point of Lewis, were the famous 12 th century Lewis Chess pieces were found in the 19th century. We visited the accompanying museum, quite impressive. Nobody can figure out why even the King of Lewis needed 4 sets of Chess pieces for at any given time.

Anyway, in the morning we tried to make some QSO’s from our tent (EU-010) but when the rain came in we decided to pack before everything got soaking wet. During the night it was mostly dry but very windy. Earlier that day we witnessed a fellow camper’s tent going completely flat in the gusts, we were warned! The west coast of Lewis has some dramatic scenery. When I’m home I’ll put pictures on the website (There is a different meaning for the word ‘broadband’ on the Hebrides as what we are used to in Belgium 🙂 ).

Today we visited the Butt of Lewis in pouring rain. A petty, our boatsman offered us a ride to the Shiants yesterday evening, obviously weather dependent. It did not materialize… unfortunately.

Well, we made the most of our objectives come true. We managed to get to St.Kilda, we spent two nights out of the four we planned on Hirta, the weather on Kilda was out-stan-ding, we made QSO’s from Kilda, in CW, in Phone and in PSK, we send- and received mail via Pactor, we sent out position reports, we updated our blog over the Pactor network. Gert activated a SOTA summit (GM/SI-098) and made 24 QSO’s from the highest point of Hirta. Gert even dared to take a swim in the Atlantic ice cold waters. We also managed to see some of the beautiful nature on- and around St.Kilda (e.g. pictures of stack Lee are forever in my memory…) and we managed to exchange some address data with newly acquired friendships!

We had some timeless moments, as Nick Crane would call them.

Thanks to all who worked and/or supported us, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll go to some exotic place again next year!

73, Jan MM/OS5A/P

Strong Winds

Before we left the St. Kilda archipelago our skipper took us on a trip around and between the magnificent and giant sea stacs. What we saw cannot be described by words. Did you know remains of 2000BC settlement activity is still visible on Bororay?

Because we were required to leave the island sooner, we had no sleeping arrangements taken care of. In the end, we managed to find a bunk in the Leverburgh bunkhouse/hostel, HI. Today (13 July 2017) we continued our trip on to the Isle of Lewis where we are currently facing rain, 11 degr C, clouds and strong winds. We decided to set up shop in the middle of nowhere where the process unfolds of tent, mast, antenna, radio gear,… Ever tried to pitch a tent in strong winds?

We will be QRV on 10MHz with 5 Watts in CW and maybe SSB. But first we need to take pictures of the 180 degree rainbow which is appearing in front of our tent window as I am writing this. We managed to tune the antenna for 10MHz Pactor operation, let’s see if this message gets received by the HB9AK Winlink RMS.

73 and Good DX, Gert ON4GS

—– At 13/07/2017 19:53 UTC the position of ON4CO & ON4GS was 58°11.16’N 007°01.37’W

Last day on St. Kilda

Again a day with full-on sun on St. Kilda. We could not resist to take a morning hike and marvel at the beauty of this place in the Atlantic. There is also bad news, after a meeting update with our skipper, we decided we need to scramble, pack up and leave the archipelago due to weather conditions. The time window for good sailing weather is too narrow in the next days. This will be our final HF/Winlink transmission from the island. Special thanks to the wonderful people of the National Trust for Scotland and our skipper, Angus.

73 de Gert ON4GS —– At 12/07/2017 06:50 UTC the position of ON4CO & ON4GS was 57°48.72’N 008°33.93’W

second day on Hirta

Finally found the error.. apparently our automatic antenna tuner has some unknown error. Although it looks ok, I think that it eats all the power … even S9 + 20dB Signals that we receive don’t seem to hear us. We had a spare one, just installed it, so we are now able to use the vertical. Hope it works well tonight:)
Radio operation from St.Kilda is not easy. The only place that we are allowed to erect antenna’s is on the campsite. There is a reasonable take off in the direction of mainland Europe, all the rest is blocked by high mountains. Well, high… 300 some meters. High for me, I climbed one today 🙂
Jan, ON4CO
PS: The weather is not ok for Kilda… temperature looks and feels like 20 degrees or so.
:stop —– At 11/07/2017 06:50 UTC the position of ON4CO & ON4GS was 57°48.72’N 008°33.93’W

We landed on St.Kilda!

Boy, what an epic sea trip this was (10 July 2017). First Boraraigh and then Hirta doomed up over the horizon. Gannets flying in formation on a fishing trip, HI. Never seen sea stacs… Here we are at St.Kilda updating our blog over Winlink HF. Currently, CW and SSB QSO’s in the log. We need to keep monitoring WX conditions should we need to scramble sooner then anticipated.
Gert, ON4GS

A given day…

I believe this was one of the rare days one could experience in the Outer Hebrides. My wife thought I was having a vacation in the Caribbean, HI. Just to be sure, today, we double checked our food stove was working well, after all the most important item we take along with us, not?

Oh… by the way, the skipper gave a green light for St. Kilda at the crack of dawn! This is happening…

Gert, ON4GS

A new milestone

Jan and I reached a new milestone today by arriving in Leverburgh on the island of Harris. A road trip through the magnificent valley of Glen Coe, passing the Ben Nevis, crossing the Isle of Skye brought us to yet another ferry to embark on. Peeking at the available SOTA summits got me thinking how much climbing and radio fun you can have here. It was quite special landing on the Outer Hebrides and driving through never seen scenery.

The idea is to set up our pro-verbial camp here for a day, re-group, consult latest weather forecasts, check equipment and supplies. Tomorrow, the decision will be made on whether we initiate our last stretch and sail for St. Kilda on Monday morning… Excited indeed, this can go either way!

Gert, ON4GS

Glen Coe

Isle of Skye

SOTA Summits

Island of Harris – the Atlantic

On Scottish soil

Yes, mission control, we made the overnight sea voyage from Ijmuiden in the Netherlands towards Newcastle, England. After waking up with a view on nearly flat seas, it felt comfortable knowing we travelled half-way the UK while sleeping… Well, not all of us were fully rested. Something with youngsters, noise and a lack of attenuation.

Driving up Scotland passing Edinburgh was a delight considering the superb weather conditions of today. I was amazed by the drop-dead beauty of the lochs and surrounding hills. It is a pitty we are only passing here, drawn by the elusive visit to St. Kilda. I promised myself to come back one day…

Gert, ON4GS

The night before…

So this is it. My final post before our departure. Tomorrow morning we leave home, heading for a 3 day trip to Leverburg. I do not watch the weather reports anymore, they change faster than I can read them.. so we will take it as it comes I guess…

Meanwhile all the radio gear is packed. See picture. And indeed, our tents, underwear and toothbrushes are not even in there… My car is too small. Have to ask Angus whether he has a towing device on his boat, so I can bring the trailer 🙂


73, ON4CO

T-7 days and counting

Today in 1 week from now we hope to set foot on Hirta.
However, the forecast does not look good. Not good at all. I do not believe for a minute that Angus will set sail with the 37 mph gusts and accompanying 3 meter waves that are currently forecasted. So we are now looking into the alternatives.
Being it the Shiant Islands or some other ‘downwind’ location. If everything else fails, I’ll guess we will have a wet and windy holiday on the Outer Hebrides.
So be it. It is what it is, it will be what it will be .

May the weather gods be with us ! Now that I think of it, I’ll send Him a text-message right away 🙂