A New Name for Sassy’s Tender: “Cue-Ar-Pee” Because It Does More With Less…

Several previous postings have made reference to Sassy’s small, cute and very able dingy, but until now it has been only referred to by the name of its design: “Sportyak II”. But today being the day of the Autumn Equinox, it seemed appropriate for the faithful Sportyak to officially receive its own proper name. Hence as the tender returned to the water to be brought to its winter quarters, it received a brand-new name: “Cue-Ar-Pee” (“QRP” among friends), which is very appropriate since it is a very small tender that definitely “does more with less”…

QRP spends most of the boating season cradled inside Sassy’s cockpit. It is just inches too long to fit under the tiller, but has an almost perfect fit when turned upside down on the settees with its stern against the hatch door and its bow just under the gallows. There it rests secured by the double mainsheet, which once tight prevents its bow from lifting up.

The manoeuvre to launch it, which has to take place before every undocking, can be performed single-handed: loosen the mainsheet to port and bring it above the gallows, then pull up from the painter at the bow and slowly rotate the bow outside Sassy’s port gunnel and bring QRP on the dock alongside Sassy. Flip it sideways. Add the seat and the safety gear and don’t forget the oars, and glide it backwards into the water. QRP is amazingly stable for its size and displacement. However, almost 200 lbs. suddenly shifting hesitantly inside it with an elevated center of gravity might end with a sudden discharge of the excess weight overboard into the water. Hence, I prefer instead to bring QRP stern first to Sassy’s starboard stern corner and secure QRP to Sassy starboard stern cleat (with a line through QRP’s stern oarlock used for sculling) and then climb down into it backwards while grabbing the top of Sassy’s gallows or even her mainsheet. Then while kneeing on the stern of the dinghy, undo the stern line from Sassy’s cleat and use the same line to ease my humanity backwards onto QRP’s seat (which yes, it is an IKEA stool). Once comfortably seated, the oars can go on their locks and QRP is free to go. However, today it did not go too far: just to the dock beside the ramp some 100 meters from Sassy’s stern. There it was brought on the dock, lifted sideways and carried to the grass behind the Jeep, which waited patiently in the nearby parking lot. QRP was then pushed up the rack on the roof of the Jeep where it was tightly fastened using its own painter (without a single time threading the line through, but looping it around the ends of the bars of the rack, which makes for a very quick and elegant unfastening). Eventually the Jeep made it back home and QRP is already in its storage place inside the garage.

Boarding the dinghy in the “high seas” is a similar manoeuvre, though in the event of waves Sassy and QRP are likely to move up and down asynchronously, a condition that required extra care and attention.

The following composite shows most of the stages described above:

QRP

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Overnight Up-River, Hiking, Gunkholing and a Quick-and-Dirty Result

Two weeks had passed without the dock lines having been casted off… two weeks in which many Hobo, Orb Weaver, Tetragnathidae and Woolf Lycosidae would have made Sassy their home… Hence, time for some dusting off.

Sassy casted-off late Friday afternoon knowing that she had to be back early Saturday. For a short while she sailed in light winds, but then deployed her “iron-spinnaker” and motor-sailed the rest of the way, anchoring in Horaceville’s cove on time to admire the sunset through the trees and for her skipper to enjoy a light dinner onboard. The night was very quiet with no wind and almost no waves. But the actual highlight was next morning: the Sun had just risen above the Quebec shore looking like a Moonrise, as it remained shielded behind the thick morning mist; then its rays slowly started to work their way through the fog until in a few instants the low cloud dissipated and the Sun could not longer be looked at.

IMG_6083

There was not much time for radio, but I wanted to conduct a “quick and dirty” “experiment”: the PAR EndFedZ and the W3EDP Jr. have almost the same length. Given the success I had in using the W3EDP Jr. up the rigging of the boat I wanted to try the PAR EndFedZ in that same configuration. A previous attempt had not been too conclusive but this time the result seemed more definitive: it might have been the conditions for HF propagation, but the PAR EndFedZ seems to hate the proximity of the boat rigging while the W3EDP Jr. doesn’t seem to care that much…

A quick hike on land followed by some dinghy gunkholing provided for some encounters with late blooming flowers (see following composite picture): a lonely blossom of white water lily (Nymphaea odorata), a couple shafts of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) – feral and invasive but nonetheless beautiful and still not overwhelmingly abundant in this area, a whole patch of the very native Azure Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense), and a side-by-side sight of the two main characters – the real culprit and the wrongly blamed suspect – of a common late-summer drama (i.e., hay fever): Artemisia (i.e., Ragweed, in the foreground) and Solidago (i.e., Goldenrod, in the background).

Late summer flowers

The return to port was uneventful with the possible exception of occasional encounters with cresting waves created by careless motor-boaters and the occurrence of crowded traffic by vessels simultaneously entering and leaving port with some not observing the Colregs (http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/C.R.C.,_c._1416.pdf) or even old and plain universal good manners.

IMG_6114

Over Half a Sweep

Last November, operating CW QRP, VE3DTI hoped to have managed “over half a sweep” in the venerable (88 years old this year) “ARRL November Sweepstakes (CW)” (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2016/11/09/a-qrp-cw-sweep-over-one-half-clean/).

In the end, VE3DTI was awarded 102 QSOs in 42/83 ARRL sections, thus confirming the “over half a sweep” (barely…). These were VE3DTI’s final results in the SOQRP category: 77th out of 119 overall, 3rd. out of 9 in Canada, 2nd. out of 6 in Ontario and 1st. out of 2 in Ontario East.

And if that was not enough, last week the mail brought this:

ARRL Sweepstakes CW 2016

Sassy Goes Live on TV and Contributes to Two Radio Publications

Last August 8 2017 Sassy was live on TV. She had just spent the night at the Pinhey Point’s cove swinging at her anchor when the CTV crew showed up in the park for some footage for the “Morning Live” program. The broadcast included several instances of panning the cove with Sassy in the foreground. The full video is available here:

http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/video?binId=1.1905867#1180762

CTV Morning Live2

The following are the times into the video of the segments that focussed on Pinhey Point and those followed by an asterisk are the ones showing Sassy and Woodpecker, who had sailed upriver together:

  • 0:55:20 – 0:59:20
  • 1:21:25 – 1:25:12
  • 2:08:54 – 2:12:40
  • 2:24:40 – 2:23:50 *
  • 2:36:17 – 2:36-36 *
  • 2:40:00 – 2:42:46 *
  • 2:53:00 – 2:53:50 *

More recently, Sassy Gaffer has made it into two major radio publications.

One is a scientific publication by Michel VE3EMB reporting the successful use of weak sound signals for underwater communications at a distance over 2.5 kilometers, for which Sassy literally had to whisper (actually, “WSPR”) underwater. Here are the reference and the link:

“Weak Signal Underwater Communications in the Ultra Low Frequency Band” In: Proceedings of the 7th GNU Radio Conference, Vol 2, No 1, San Diego, CA, September 11-15, 2017.

Available at: https://pubs.gnuradio.org/index.php/grcon/article/view/20/14

GNURadio2

The second is an account of Sassy’s contributions towards bringing together Amateur Radio and small-boat inland water sailing, and more precisely of the success she had as a “1C ONE” Field Day station after warming the ionosphere via a “W3EDP Jr.” tangled up her standing rigging:

“Portable Afloat: Bringing Together Amateur Radio and Small-Boat Inland-Water Sailing” In: The Canadian Amateur (TCA Magazine): Vol.45, Num.5, pp.48-50, September-October, 2017 (http://wp.rac.ca/wp-content/plugins/s2member-files/2017/07/July2017_eTCA.pdf).

Way to go Sassy! You are on your way to become the most famous SunCat 17 ever… Oh, sorry, you already are… Well, then the Red Carpet is waiting (er… the Red River…?).

 

 

A Visit to a Land of Mallards and Royal Swans

Clifford Allen Island is the largest island in a tiny archipelago, a couple of kilometers downstream Hog’s Back Falls, in a bend of Rideau River, within the Billings Bridge Neighbourhood of the Capital Ward in the City of Ottawa. The island appears to have been part of the original estate of the Billings family in the 1800s.

These are alluvial islands and as such they have changed in shape and size over the years. In addition, human activity has also contributed to shape their current appearance: the lands bordering this section of the river were frequently flooded due to big ice jams, which in 1930 prompted City Council to undertake the “levelling” of some of these islands. However, Clifford Allen Island seems to have been spared (https://www.oldottawasouth.ca/stories/item/3833-islands-of-work). In an aerial picture taken in April 1947, during one of the worst floods of the region, it can be seen partially submerged together with the “Nordic Circle” development – now a park area – facing its south shore (https://www.oldottawasouth.ca/stories/item/5744-the-years-of-the-great-floods). The island is also seen in other historic aerial pictures (http://www.historynerd.ca/2016/06/30/from-the-nordic-circle-to-the-rideaus-waters-this-flood-was-made-for-you-and-me/). The tip of the island can be seen in a 1922 painting by Robert Wickenden, (1861-1931), “Rideau River, Summer Afternoon”, in the National Gallery of Canada (http://www.bytown.net/billingsbridgesettlement.htm).

Cliffor Allen Island - Google Maps copy (1)

Clifford Allen Island is named in the page in Wikipedia that lists the islands of Ontario (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_islands_of_Ontario#Rideau_River) and its name is showing in Google Maps, though not in the Canadian Hydrographic Chart of the area (CHS 1512). The origin of the name is not readily apparent, but it was likely chosen to honour a prominent person or family from the area. In Ottawa there is also a “Clifford Allen Park” not far from the intersection of Walkley Rd. and Bank St. (http://ottawa.cdncompanies.com/park/clifford-allen-park-ottawa/).

It would also appear that Clifford Allen Island was never laboured or inhabited or in any way used by humans other than the occasional visitor to its shores in a kayak, canoe or paddleboard (http://naturallyottawa.com/tag/canoeing/).

I decided I wanted to give this island a chance to appear in the database of the Canadian Islands Activators (CIA) program (veislandactivators.blogspot.ca). After having to postpone the “qualifying” once due to rainy weather, I had almost dismissed the idea of being able to do it this summer. However, last Saturday, the family planned an afternoon at Brewer Park, a stone-throw away from the island. So, I loaded the radio gear and the inflatable Sevylor Rio in the Jeep, drove to the southeast tip of the park and – with the help and encouragement of my beautiful daughter-in-law, Michelle – we carry the boat and the gear to the water, to a spot where there used to be a little dock no longer in existence. There I inflated the Sevylor, launched it and paddled it to the island. Though the crossing is just above 100 meters, there is a perceptible midstream current as the waters still carry some of the momentum acquired in the jumps along the Hog’s Back fault.

Cliffor01

In spite of the very tall grass that covers the entire island, and its entire shoreline being of very soft mud (almost like quicksands), I did manage to land on the south shore of its western tip. I made my way through the tall grasses and found a cleared spot under a huge Silver Maple presiding over the west tip of the island. There I set up the portable station with the KX3, and hoisted the PAR EndFedZ Tribander up the S9v42 mast leaning again one of the branches of the maple tree. I listen in 40m and 20m but although I heard a few CQ’s I was unable to get a reply (later I found out that a small CME might have been the culprit). So, after one hour of fruitless effort, I decided I was not going to “qualify” the island anytime soon. So, I packed back the radio gear, launched the canoe back into the stream and paddled it back to Brewer’s Park to join the rest of the family at the playground next to Seneca Street.

Cliffor02

I couldn’t say: “I did it…” – as my little grandson often puts it – but I can say “I’ve tried”… However, after this unsuccessful attempt, I doubt I will return to Clifford Allen Island, as I think that it should best be enjoyed from a distance while remaining what it has always been: a pristine, almost forsaken, piece of land in the middle of Canada’s National Capital, better inhabited only by its rightful owners, the mallards and the Royal swans.

IMG_5985 copy

Multi-Contesting QRP/P from a Unique and Battered Island

Last Saturday (August 26 2017 12:00z to August 27 2017 03:00z) took place the 2017 edition of the “W/VE Islands QSO Party” (W/VE IQP) organized by the “US Islands Awards Program” (https://usislands.org). Its timing partially coincided with the “Kansas QSO Party” (KSQP, http://www.ksqsoparty.org), the “Ohio QSO Party” (OHQP, https://www.ohqp.org) and the “Rumanian HF DX Contest” (YODX, http://www.yodx.ro). The weather forecast being favourable, the possibility emerged for simultaneous participation in all four events (plus any non-contesting QSO that could be gleaned from the bands) while operating QRP/P from a unique little island in the Ottawa River.

Hence, on Friday August 25, 2017, shortly after 17:00 EDT, a Com-Pac SunCat 17 leisurely undocked from the Nepean Sailing Club marina and motor-sailed up-river. An hour later she was at anchor in 5-6 feet of water on the lee of Aylmer Island, a water-locked island in the middle of the Ottawa River (Grid Loc: FN25BJ35). The island had been qualified two years before (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/aylmer-island-on-295/) for the Canadian Islands Activators (CIA) program (http://veislandactivators.blogspot.ca) and is identified in the CIA database as “ON295”). The short sail was uneventful but unusually choppy. Headwinds were around 5 Kts, but the waves, though not cat-pawing, were unusually large – likely because of the long fetch due to the wind blowing in the direction of the flow of the river for over 15 nautical miles (abt. 30 Km).

The aim was to spend the night at the anchor and make an early landing on the island early on Saturday morning carrying the portable station to operate QRP/P on location for the entire 15 hours of the W/VE IQP competition. Following a frugal dinner there was still time to smoke a pipe while watching the sunset.

W-VE_IQP 2017_01

Overnights spent swinging at the anchor are usually pretty Spartan, as bedtime is not much beyond sunset and the awakening is usually ahead of sunrise. The island offers limited protection to wind and waves, particularly because the waves refract at both ends of the island creating a crossing pattern in its lee not far from shore. Sleeping requires getting used to sudden pulls of the anchor rode from the bow, those of the dinghy painter from the stern, the dull “bottom” sound made by the steel centerboard trying to limit the swaying of the hull, and the eerie chants of the ropes inside the spars finding their resonating frequencies, all blended together by the sound of wavelets bubbling and streaming along the hull. Around midnight I popped the head through the cabin hatch. The air was fresh and the wind was still around 5 Kts from the northwest. Sassy was the only boat in the anchorage. Lights of all kinds were glittering from the shores of Lac Deschênes. Nearby, the marker in the island flashed emerald green. In the distance, towards the northeast, a red light up on shore suddenly turned green, and then yellow and red again. I concluded it had to be a traffic light (likely the one at the intersection where Québec route 148 changes from Chemin Eardley to Boulevard des Allumettières). I was unable to identify a marker light that had been a faithful companion in previous visits to the anchorage: the white light flashing Morse code “A” from the fairway buoy at the entrance of channel to the Aylmer marina was not in sight. There were no clouds and the moon had long dropped below the horizon (still too close to the Sun after the solar eclipse five days before) but the sky was not black: it had a dark-grey frosted-glass appearance (likely due to light scattering in layers of smoke that lingered in the upper atmosphere) with the Milky Way unsuccessfully trying to shine through. Nevertheless, I readily identified high above the “Summer Triangle” with the three Alphas: Alpha-Cygnus (Deneb), Alpha-Lyra (Vega) and Alpha-Aquila (Altair), and prolonging the line joining Altair to Deneb, the “W” of Cassiopeia. Reassured on where I still stood in the Universe, I went back to the warmth of the berth.

I awoke a few minutes before sunrise. As I stepped to the cockpit I looked up: a lonely osprey soared high above the anchorage. The mist over the river was lifting towards the Ontario shore. I had a quick “Continental” boat-breakfast and started to get the Sportyak ready for the landing operation. Aylmer Island is only 4 nautical miles (abt 8 km) west of the Nepean marina, in the middle of the Ottawa River, surrounded by rocks and with no landing dock. Hence, safe getting wet or beaching the boat (not an option for a Sun-Cat), the only way for reaching the island is to anchor downstream of it or on its lee and then row a dinghy to shore. Sassy’s tender is a 6-foot French Sportyak II with a polystyrene hull. Due to its two-hull design it is particularly stable. Nevertheless, transferring radio gear between the boat and the dinghy, with both rocking asynchronously in the waves, is easy compared to the transfer of my own persona – an operation that seems to get more challenging every year. This time it required some thinking and physical effort, but both the transfer and the landing were performed to satisfaction.

Once ashore, a large dog with the looks of an adult Rottweiler disliked my presence on the island and came running towards me from the tent camp on the other end of the beach. Walking slowly and speaking to it while always facing it I was able to stop its progress and then diffuse its belligerence (the fact that I was carrying the S9v42 telescopic pole in my right hand might have also been of help). Eventually, its sleepy and unapologetic owner called it back to his tent.

W-VE_IQP 2017_03

I chose a spot under a small elm-tree, not far from the one I had occupied for the W/VE IQP in 2016 (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/self-marooned-in-an-island-with-only-a-w3edp-and-a-kx3/). I operated the Elecraft KX3 at 5W for CW and 10W for SSB, both in 40m and 20m, using the PAR EndFedZ Tribander held vertically by the S9v42 telescopic pole leaning against the elm. All CW exchanges were manual with the Palm Single Paddle in Yambic mode, except for the SKCC contact for which it was switched to straight-key mode. WX was sunny (in spite of the smoke haze from the fires out West) and I was able to operate akmost without interruptions for about 7 hours (8:15a to 3:15p EDT).

Most of the 48 QSOs logged were in the OHQP and the KSQB but there were a few nice surprises:

  • Genesee Radio Club Special Station W8ACW in MI celebrating the 40th Annual Crim Festival of Races.
  • David WA3GIN in VA holding the ECARS Net frequency (7.255 MHz), who took the time to record and play back my transmissions and helped improve the audio of the KX3.
  • SKCC CW QSO with Curt WA2JSG, SKCC Nr. 3018S.
  • SOTA QSO with John N0TA calling CQ from W0C/FR-073 Redskin Mountain, CO,
  • POTA QSO with Mike W8MSC operating portable from KFF-1544 Tahquamenon Falls, MI,
  • And five precious contacts island-to-island with W/VE islands participating in the W/VE IQP:
    • Andy K2ADA in FL043S (Merrit Is.),
    • Bruce N4STG in GA044L (Latham Is.),
    • Ray W8RD FL017S (Honeymoon Is.),
    • Scott KM1MM in AL002S (Dauphin Is.) and
    • John CG3ISE in ON007 (Henley Is.).

W-VE_IQP 2017_02

Logs have been submitted already for the W/VE IQP (48 QSOs), the KSQP (10 QSOs), the OHQP (27 QSOs) and the YO HF DX contest (2 QSOs). The SKCC contact was with an SKCC Senator not contacted before, and the SOTA contact was worth 2 summit-chasing points in the SOTA database.

I had hoped to stay on the air longer, but Aylmer Island tends to get pretty wild on Saturday nights in the summer, and I decided against spending a second night in the anchorage. So, around 17:00 EDT Sassy weighed anchor and motored back to her slip in the Nepean Sailing Club, this time in lighter winds and smoother seas than the day before.

As I was about to leave the anchorage a hydroplane started circling above. It eventually water-landed and taxied to the beach south of the island: it was the Seabee Robinson Special 003 “CF-EVE”: http://www.seabee.info/robinson_003.htm.

A word on the island – Aylmer Is. is a rare small rocky island in the middle of the Ottawa River, within a section of the river where most other islands are mainly alluvial. It has no docks and its only amenity is an old “thunderbox” surrounded by poison ivy. Before the advent of Europeans the island was a burial ground of the Algonquin people inhabiting the Ottawa Valley. Human remains were found while excavating the foundations for the lighthouse (http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/archeo/sowter/sowterofnce.shtml, http://www.heritagepontiac.ca/aisle.htm) and their descendants may still have a legitimate claim to the island as well as to the rest of the valley (http://www.lynngehl.com/uploads/5/0/0/4/5004954/huitema_for_swinwood.pdf, https://www.ontario.ca/page/algonquin-land-claim). Later, the island was chosen as the site for a wooden lighthouse whose original wood structure can be seen in the background of a historic photograph taken in 1899 (http://www.historymuseum.ca/cmc/exhibitions/archeo/sowter/lighthouseisle.shtml). In modern times it was replaced with a lateral marker, currently with a sun-powered light that flashes green. The original lighthouse is listed as “Historic CAN867” in the ARLHS World List of Lights (http://wlol.arlhs.com/lighthouse/CAN867.html), while the modern marker light is identified in the official “List of Lights, Buoys and Fog Signals” of the Canadian Coast Guard “Notices to Mariners (Notmar)” as light Nr. 1299 (https://www.notmar.gc.ca/publications/list-livre/inlandwaters-eauxinter/i12333e.pdf). At the top of the promontory on the north side of the island, close to the site where the original lighthouse would have existed and human remains had been found, is a Canadian Geodetic Survey marker. It is still fully recognizable in spite of having been earnestly disfigured. A similar fate seems to have been followed by the broken helicopter landing-pad, once used by the Canadian Coast Guard attending the light. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat used to list Aylmer Island as “Crown owned” with “Fisheries and Oceans Canada” being its “Custodian”. However, in a 2010 document, the Ottawa City Council (http://ottawa.ca/calendar/ottawa/citycouncil/occ/2010/07-14/pec/6%20-%20ACS2010-ICS-PGM-0098%20-%20Anomalies%20and%20Correction%20Q2%202010.htm) proposed the correction of an “anomaly in Zoning By-law 2008-250” by which “The Official Plan designates the island as Natural Environment Area. Therefore the island should be zoned EP – Environmental Protection to reflect the intent that no development should occur on this island.“. On Saturday, two different specimens of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexipus) were seen flying to the island from the Quebec side. After resting and having a drink along the south shore of the island, they proceeded south crossing to the Ontario shore, likely starting their momentous journey to Mexico (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly_migration). Hence, Aylmer Island may serve as an initial stepping-stone for the migration of Monarch butterflies.

W-VE_IQP 2017_04

However, the island – clearly a fragile ecosystem – is in deplorable condition. Isolated islands often offer the feeling of unrestricted freedom, and people, particularly young people, camp and party in the island leaving behind smoldering fires, empty cans, broken bottles and many other types of residues. Since the island lacks garbage bins as well as a regular garbage collection schedule, all this material lingers in the beach and other parts of the island waiting for a flood that would cause it all to stream downriver to pollute other shores or reach the Sea. Dogs are regularly brought to the island unleashed, leaving behind samples of their digested meals. I have witnessed large pontoon boats ram the island and once beached, unload dogs and humans, some of these with obvious signs of being under the influence. Visitors to the island constantly create new fire-pits for their bonfires by digging the gravelly sand and moving around big pebble-rocks smoothened by the passage of the glaciers. All this would hardly happen were the island not a small piece of water-locked land, but part of the Ontario mainland. And at every visit I cannot help but ponder what is that could be done to improve on such sorry and undeserved state of affairs.

 

Radio Qualified Ontario Islands within the National Capital Region

An article posted a month ago (https://thewakesileave.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/radio-virgin-islands-in-the-national-capital-region/) referred to the Ontario islands in the National Capital Region (NCR) that had not yet been qualified for the Canadian Islands Activators Program (http://veislandactivators.blogspot.ca).

According to the rules of that program: “Qualification is the initial, first time operation from a Canadian island authorized and numbered by the Webmaster. […] In order to qualify a new Canadian island a minimum of 25 contacts including at least 2 different DXCC entities is required. […]Activation is any subsequent operations from a qualified Canadian island [… and] there is no minimum number of QSOs required for an activation.” (http://arsoc.blogspot.ca/2013/10/canadian-island-activating-rules.html).

Which means that any island previously qualified is readily available for activation,for example, during the “W/VE Islands QSO Party” (https://usislands.org/qso-party-rules/) whose 2017 edition will take place within two weeks: 1200z 26 August – 0300z 27 August, 2017. This begged the question as to which Ontario islands in the NCR had already been qualified for the program. Hence, the entire Ontario database of qualified islands (http://arsoc.blogspot.ca/2013/12/ontario-islands.html) was searched for islands in Grid Locators FN15 and FN25, and the Ontario islands within the boundaries of the NCR (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Capital_Region_(Canada)#/media/File:Ottawa-Gatineau_CMA_with_NCR.svg) were retained.

This analysis yielded the following twelve islands (those followed by an asterisk are water-locked and hence not accessible by road):

  • ON119   N. Petri Is. (FN25gm)
  • ON120   S. Petri Is. (FN25gt)
  • ON121   Porter Is. (FN25dk)
  • ON122   Green Is. (FN25dk)
  • ON123   Victoria Is. (FN25dk)
  • ON124   Morris Is. (FN15uk)
  • ON277   Maple Is. (FN25dk)
  • ON283   Bates Is. (FN25cj)
  • ON295   Aylmer Is. (FN25bj) *
  • ON296   Upper Duck Is. (FN25el) *
  • ON297   Rideau Is. (FN25dk)
  • ON301   Clarence Is. (FN25jn) (see note below)

Here are two maps indicating the location of each of these islands (the dotted rectangle in the first map corresponds to the area shown in the second):

NCR 5

NCR 4.jpg

Note: Clarence Island (ON-301) is to the East of the City of Ottawa, within the City of Clarence-Rockland in Prescott-Russell United County, which the Canadian Census considers to be part of Canada’s National Capital Region (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence-Rockland).

 

Messabout for Two at Horaceville

Messabout Aug 7-8 2017

The “Ottawa Small Boat Messabout” (http://www.workingsail.com/messabout/index.html) had called for a messabout in Pinhey Point on August 5-6. However, the weather-provider had other plans. Fortunately a window of opportunity opened a day later for an August 6-7 overnight. Unfortunately, this reduced the number of participants to only 2: “Woodpecker” and “Sassy Gaffer” (others may have shown up on the second day after Sassy’s early departure, see the workingsail.com/messabout page above for more details). Woodpecker wanted to try her new and flamboyant jug-rig sail, and Sassy wanted to try a new HF antenna for portable-afloat: a monoband 20m PAR EndFedZ rigged as an inverted “V” up Sassy’s mast.

The two boats sailed to Pinhey Point on Sunday on favourable winds of 5-10 kts in a very enjoyable starboard tack broad-reach and arrived at the cove almost together (actually, Woodpecker got there first, on account of the comparative ease with which its beautiful and well crafted junk-sail can be doused in comparison to Sassy’s cat-gaff rig).

By all accounts Woodpecker’s rig and new sail were a big success in the light breezy winds. The test with the 20m PAR mono-band was also deemed a success after allowing a QRP/PAF (portable-afloat) contact with Ed KP4DF in Aguadilla, PR.

Quite appropriate given the geography of the cove, the wind subsided and shifted to the SW during the night, and then to the NW during the morning of Tuesday for another nice and leisurely broad reach to the marina. However in the early afternoon the wind picked up with gusts above 20 Kts., which is more that Sassy can comfortably enjoy without a reef. Nevertheless after a few gybes in Lac Deschênes, she was again safely moored at her dock. Woodpecker, sailing a few hours later, found the winds to be a perfect match for her new sail design.

 

Clarence Island ON-301 – A Qualifying Success

Clarence 04

The forecast was for strong westerlies and possibility of storms, even some tornado warnings for the area. However, the possibilities of getting the required QSOs to qualify Clarence Island hinged on being able to participate in the North American QSO Party (http://www.ncjweb.com/NAQP-Rules.pdf) taking place 1800 UTC (2:00PM EDT) August 5 to 0600 UTC (2:00AM EDT) August 6, 2017. This was a strong reason against postponing the expedition.

From a recent visit to the island I knew that it was not as flooded as had been in early May (see bottom picture in the following composite) when the water level in the river was over 2 meters above datum:

Clarence 01

The Jeep CRD made the journey from Ottawa to the island in less than hour, even while taking the long route across the backcountry east of Ottawa, so as to avoid road traffic as much as possible. I decided to operate from a small area at the west tip of the island and the PAR EndFedZ Tribander was rigged up the S9v42 telescopic mast leaning against the trunk of likely an elm-tree, right behind the Jeep. The S9 mast is slightly longer than the antenna and the matching box hanged a foot above the ground and was wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting wet in the rain. Radio operations were started from the top of a bolder beside the car, but were soon transferred to the back seat of the vehicle when the wind picked up and the rain started.

Clarence 02

During the 6 hours that HF radiated from Clarence Island 36 stations were logged in two DXCC’s (W and VE). Two contacts were island-to-island and two were portable-to-portable, some may have been 2-QRP contacts: most of the QSO’s were in the NAQP CW, but four were not: one was a very nice and long CW QSO I was able to have with Bob KB2BSF in Staten Island, NY (island-to island). The second one was with Joe N2CX, operating /P (portable-to-portable) from POTA KFF-2032 (Chenango Valley State Park) also in NY State. The third was an SSB QSO, which took some effort to complete, with the group activating Barnegat Bay Lighthouse in Long Beach Island (IOTA NA-111) (another island-to-island). Then, it was 2:00 PM EDT and the “CQ NA” started to be heard in the CW portion of the bands. Eventually, a fourth non-NAQP QSO was logged: also portable-to-portable, with Ian N9XG who was activating a SOTA peak (SOTA W9/UN-002, Jackson County HP, IN). The first 25 QSOs were all with US stations but number 26 was with Brian VE3MGY from Sparta, ON which added the much needed other DXCC for validating the “qualifying”. Then I also was able to add to the log a “RAC Canada 150 Award” station: Summer VE5RAC in SK.

A Cabrillo log has been submitted for the NAQP CW claiming 32 QSOs and 16 multipliers for a total score of 512 points for the VA3PCJ Single-Op All-Bands QRP/P station.

In an effort to conform to the self-imposed principle that every island should be reached (or exited) by boat, I took the “Ecolos” ferry for a pleasure crossing to the town of Thurso on the Québec side.

Having thus successfully contributed to rename Clarence Island as “ON-301” for the future enjoyment all “VE Island Activators”, after a short stop for coffee at my son’s place in near-by Rockland, it was time for the Jeep to hit the road again and get back to Ottawa. The APRS track broadcasted by the TH-D72A is next:

Clarence 03

Here are further pictures from Clarence Island: https://www.dropshots.com/Sassygaffer/albums/521315

Clarence Island – A Qualifying Attempt

This Saturday I’d like to try “qualifying” Clarence Island (FN25JN09) for the Canadian Islands Activators (CIA) Program (http://veislandactivators.blogspot.ca). The island is on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, between Rockland and Wendover. Last May it was underwater but it has since resurfaced and is accessible by road. “Ecolos” is an electric cable ferry that operates from Clarence island to the town of Thurso on the Québec side of the river (http://ecolos.ca). The main deterrent for a stay on the island are the fumes from the Thurso Pulp Mill across the river, but this should not be a problem with winds forecasted to be from the SW.

The plan is to get to the pic-nic area on the island early in the afternoon to operate CW QRP/P with the KX3 and the PAR Tribander or the W3EDP Jr.. Twenty-five QSOs with stations in at least two different DXCC’s is what is required for an island to be “qualified” and I am hoping that participants in the NAQP CW will contribute to fill the log. Once (and if…) “qualified” the island will become “ON-301” and will be available for future activations within the CIA Program ( i.e., for the W/VE Islands QSO Party in Aug. 26 2017).

If all goes well, my position will be showing in APRS (VA3PCJ-7). I may also be able to Tweet QSX info in real-time (@VA3PCJ). QSL will be only via LoTW and eQSL(AG) (i.e., no QSL cards).