Sassy is back afloat…

Since 9:00AM today (May 27, 2017), “Sassy” is moored back at her slip in the marina of the Nepean Sailing Club:

IMG_0466

The floating docks at the ramp had been installed the day before. Nevertheless, she was launched without making use of them, by a crew of two – the same one that sailed Vándor upriver sixteen years ago : https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/sail-cruising-the-ottawa-river-between-lac-deschenes-and-chat-falls-in-the-early-2000s/.

 

 

“QRP x 1” #101 SKCC Award (with All-band x2 and 40M Endorsements)

This posting reports the announcement of the 101th “QRP x 1 Award” of the Straight Key Century Club (SKCC) (http://www.skccgroup.com/operating_awards/qrp_awards/qrp_x1_roster.php)

On June 2, 2006, immediately after the ARRL Straight Key Night, Tom KC9ECI created the Straight Key Century Club (http://www.skccgroup.com/member_services/club_history/). To date the Club has assigned over 17.000 membership numbers.

The SKCC is not exclusively QRP. However, it does include the opportunity for members to participate using different levels of power. VE3DTI became a member in August 2010 and started participating in SKCC sprints in 2013. Since then 680 QSOs were made with SKCC members, 662 of which were operating QRP. Of these, 252 were duplicate QSOs (i.e., same member contacted in the same band) leaving a total of 410 QRP QSOs with different members in a giving band.

The SKCC rewards QRP participation with two QRP Awards: “QRP x 1 Award” and “QRP x 2 Award” (http://www.skccgroup.com/operating_awards/qrp_awards/). For the QRP x 1 Award only the applicant member ought to have operated with an output of 5 watts or less, while for the QRP x 2 Award both members must have been using QRP power. These awards are based on points, given to each QSO according to the band used for the contact: 160m: 4 points, 80m & 10m: 3 points, 60m, 40m & 30m: 2 points, 20m, 17m, 15m & 12m: 1 point and 6m & 2m: 0.5 point.

The QRP x 1 Award requires a minimum of 300 points collected in QRP QSOs with unique SKCC members in any given band. Having sent the corresponding documentation to the QRP x 1/x 2 Awards Manager: Fred VE3FAL, he promptly announced VE3DTI as “QRP x 1 #101 x2 Award (with QRP x 1 Endorsement 40M x2”) and made available the corresponding certificate:

VE3DTI

Thank you Fred, and all the SKCC members who struggled to decode my QRP Straight Key CW signal!

Ramp Launching in High Waters: Solo or With a Crew of Two?

It is mid-May and “Sassy” is still in the yard.

Recently, I visited Dick Bell Park to check on the ramp that gives direct access to the marina. Water levels are still very high but the ramp is accessible and it would be possible to use it to launch the SunCat. However, not likely single-handed.

Usually, I launch “Sassy” by myself. A smooth and quick solo-launch requires that at least one of two floating docks be attached at the end of the ramp. This dock is needed to leave the boat moored while removing the trailer from the ramp and then being able to board the boat, start the outboard and undock towards the slip.

Installation of these docks is prevented in high waters by the fact that the ramp structures that support the tilting planks giving access to each dock are several feet under water. Also, anchoring the far end of each dock in waters this deep would require longer chain rodes, which would cause the ramps to drift away from position once the waters subside.

Hence, the docks remain near-by in front of the ramp, floating out of reach – so close and yet so far:

IMG_0413 (1)

A third possibility, albeit more time consuming, would be to back the boat to the ramp up to the point where it starts to float on its own while still on the trailer. Then row the tender to the stern of the boat and board it. Drop down the outboard, start it and back the boat from the trailer and anchor it near-by while the trailer is still at the ramp. Then row the tender back to the ramp, drive the trailer away and park it. Walk back to the ramp and row the tender to the boat. Weigh anchor and take her to her slip. Definitely a possibility provided that the ramp is not busy.

Alternatively, the launching may need to be conducted by a crew of two: one sailor launches inside the cockpit of the boat while the other backs the trailer to the ramp. I do know of a sailor who could be perfectly entrusted with either of these responsibilities: the same adventure companion of sixteen years ago (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/sail-cruising-the-ottawa-river-between-lac-deschenes-and-chat-falls-in-the-early-2000s/). However, he is now a successful professional with a very busy life and work schedule.

Hence, more likely, launching would have to wait until water levels return to normal and those small floating docks are properly installed at both sides of the ramp. The water level at the Britannia Station is still 7 feet above datum. However, last week it dropped 2 feet, which means that in three more weeks the docks may be already attached to the ramp.

Here is a picture of that same ramp taken exactly three years ago, with one of the docks in position and “Sassy” on her way to her slip – hopefully an image that will soon repeat itself :

IMG_1475

Brave Ottawa River Valley

The height of the water in the Ottawa River is monitored in several stations along the river. One of them is at Britannia. The average low level at Britannia used by the Canadian Hydrographic Service as vertical datum for the development of nautical charts of the area is of 57.9 meters. On May 7, 2017 at 9:35 AM EDT the level in Britannia reached a maximum record measured at 60.52m (2.62m or 8.60 feet above datum), 28 cm. above its historical maximum of 60.24m in May 1979 (http://www.ottawariver.ca/ottawa-river-britannia.php)

On August 22, 2015 I rowed a Sevylor Rio from the little beach at the end of Massey Lane off Blair Road, to Upper Duck Island where I operated QRP/portable and made the required radio contacts to successfully “qualify” it as “ON-296” for the VE-Islanders’ Canada Islands Activators program (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/upper-duck-island-on-296/). On that occasion, after arrival to the ramp I took a picture of the Jeep parked near the launching site with the Sevylor still inside its bag (see first picture of the composite). The level of the water at Britannia then was around 57.8 meters.

Yesterday (May 10, 2017) at 1:00 PM EDT, albeit from a different angle and from a position further removed from the shore, my friend and colleague Bob VA3QV took another picture of the same beach (see second picture of the composite). The water level at that time in Britannia was of 60.34m (2.54m above what it had been when the first picture was taken).

In spite of the nearly 2-year period between both pictures and the different vertical and horizontal angles and resulting parallax errors, the trees on the left of both pictures may have preserved enough their shape and characteristics as to permit a rough and tentative superposition of both images (see bottom picture in the composite). By the time one corrects for the different vertical angles and imagines both horizons at the same level, the Jeep becomes totally submerged, as would have been the photographer while taking the first picture.

Blair Ramp 3

Here is the same composite with yellow lines indicating on each picture the level of the water at the trees on May 10, 2017:

Blair Ramp 6

The tree seen in the distance slightly towards the right at the center of the picture marks the submerged western tip of Upper Duck Island and was used in August 2015 to support the PAR EndFedZ tribander antenna.

This blog salutes the brave individuals and communities that struggled and continue to do so against the high water levels that recently flooded parts of Canada, and in particular those in the Ottawa River Valley.

QRP ‘Spell’ of “FLORIDA SUN” 45.37º N

The weekend at 45.37ºN (& 075.60ºW) was cold and wet, quite appropriate for a few hours of shack-time contacting stations in warmer, sunnier latitudes. Propagation conditions were poor, but early in the afternoon the 20m band did open enough for even a challenged QRP signal to be heard from the Gulf of Mexico. Coincidentally, the Florida QSO Party (FQP) (http://floridaqsoparty.org) was taking place during the weekend, and they were celebrating their 20th anniversary. With the Icom 703 at 5W and the 50+ Ft. end-fed wire, VA3PCJ tried to participate S&P as Single-OP MIXED QRP (non-assisted). In the end, 26 QSO’s were logged (19 CW, 7 SSB) with 22 Multipliers (15 CW, 7 SSB):

flqp-2017 (1)

It was a better result than last year, when VE3DTI, as Single-OP MIXED LOW (with the Icom 706MKIIG) logged a similar number of contacts.

But the FQP has an additional twist: the “FQP Spelling Bee Special Event” – a number of Florida stations participate with special callsigns with single-letter suffixes with which to spell “FLORIDA SUN” and receive a colourful certificate. This is VE3DTI’s from last year:

SWEEPS 962

As for this year, VA3PCJ almost spelled it twice:

Table

New Tank Fittings at Hose’s End

Although Sassy is still in the yard and under a tarp, her 4-stroke 4HP Tohatsu long-shaft MFS4BL (2010) auxilliary is ready to go… and I am happy to report that, after much aggraviation in past seasons (see , “Overnight Afloat at Pinhey Point“, ” July 29 – An eventful sail upriver – the engine dies (again!)…“), the original Moeller/Scepter NPT Fuel Fitting at the 12L portable fuel tank, and its corresponding female counterpart at the fuel-hose end, are no more…

They have been replaced by another kind of fittings/connectors, hopefully less prone to let air into the fuel line: a Honda Tank Outlet – L1272 and its matching counterpart at the tank end of the fuel line: a Honda Tank End Hose Connector – L1276:

zzztohatsu
Extensive testing of the Tohatsu in the water tank seems encouraging… but final evidence will become available only as the season progresses – will keep you posted…

 

A Recent QRP (2W) DX QSO with the KX1 and the Alexloop Indoors

It is not the first time that VE3DTI manages a CW DX QSO with the Alexloop indoors – all contacts as SM5/VE3DTI and DL/VE3DTI were made in this manner. However, those were made in November-December 2015 (when HF propagation was significantly better than it is right now) and with the Elecraft KX3 operating at 5 Watts.

Instead, the QSO with Duc F5UQE was logged a couple of days ago using the home-assembled KX1 (see “Shack in a Pelican“) at 2.0 Watts (as reported by the KX1 ATU function). The Alexloop was on a camera tripod inside the living room of VE3DTI son’s house in Rockland, Ontario (FN25im). The contact was not easy (as shown by the RST’s: Rx 319, Tx 339), but, with some effort, reports, names, QTH’s and even SKCC Tribune numbers were successfully exchanged.

The distance between Grid Loc’s JO10is and FN25im is of 3,444 miles (http://www.w7ce.com/cgi-bin/gridcalc), which places this QSO well over the 1K mile-per-watt mark.

The QSO has since been confirmed both in eQSL and LoTW:

ZZZQSO4

Un gran merci et 73, Duc!