First Minima Blues…

Our Sun is slowly drifting towards its new minimum following its meager 24th cycle. These minima occur roughly 11-year apart and greatly affect HF propagation in the higher bands. I did not recall experiencing a solar minimum before, so I decided to go back to my records to find out how I had fared through the previous solar minimum in 2006-2008. It turns out that since December 30, 2006 (after the 2006 RAC Winter Day) I had not logged a single QSO for three-and-a-half years. Work-related travel explains the lack of radio activity in 2008, 2009 and the beginning of 2010, when I started operating QRP. However, I fail to recall why not a single QSO was logged in 2007. It is possible that the solar minimum may have had a bearing in this regard. However, my boat at that time was “Vándor” (the last “Alberg 22” hull ever to leave Alan Nye Scott’s yard in Bloomfield, Prince Edward County), which since the Summer of 2005 had been moored in Collings Bay Marina, west of Kingston, Ontario, and I was driving to Kingston on weekends to sail her in Lake Ontario, which would explain the lack of weekend-radio activity during the Summer of 2007. Then, as I prepared to retire from the Public Service, I sold Vándor and in the Fall moved to Vancouver, B.C. with only a 2-meter handy. I was not to return to HF until May 2010 when, already fully retired, I bought the Icom 703+. Hence, I cannot say to have experienced a real solar minimum, until now…

BTW, this was the actual picture I left outside the door of my office after my last day at work in the government of Canada (September 17, 2007):


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This very evocative ink drawing – a couple of fishermen dozing in a spritz-sail and boom rigged wooden dory running on port tack while surfing down a passing wave at an angle – is signed “B. SmitH, 76”. The sea, the wave, the point of sail, the movement of the boat, the half-cloud and the sailboat heeling on the horizon at the center make one “feel” the breeze… And how confident must be the sailor sitting to port on the ability of the helmsman to avoid an accidental gybe…! I have been unable to identify the author further. If anyone knows more about him or her, please let me know.