Harker’s Island is located down east, about as far east as you can drive before the highway gives way to the sea. Fortunately, the island is readily accessible by car via a causeway.
I selected Harker’s Island as a good site to operate the US Islands Contest. It’s a rather lengthy (3-1/2 hr) drive from home, but this island has a lot going for it–beautiful vistas of neighboring islands and villages, friendly locals, first class seafood, and several ideal locations to set up antennas.
I set up my station at the Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitors’ Center, located at the SE end of the island. This view is looking south, toward Shackleford Banks.
To the SE, about five miles distant, you can see Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The rotating light at the top is active 24 hours a day.
The low power amateur radio station consisted of an Argonaut VI transceiver, capable of both voice and morse transmission, operated at 5W output power. Power was supplied by a battery, and logging of contacts was performed by a laptop running N1MM+ logging software. The small black rectangular block with finger pieces in the front is a set of paddles , used to send morse code. The station was set up in the back of my vehicle.
The antenna was a 20M half wave vertical. The actual radiator was a 33′ length of 22AWG wire, loosely spiral wrapped around a light weight 33′ fiberglass mast. The white PVC ground stake screws in the sand and provides a free standing support for the fiberglass mast in winds below 20 mph. I located the antenna right at the high tide point, close to my vehicle. The bungee cord was added for extra support due to the windy conditions.
Radio wise, I only made three contacts on 20M and 40M during a three hour period. I was specifically interested in working stations that were supporting the Island Contest. I heard many stations on 20M whom I could have worked, but they were active in the Kansas QSO Party, and it didn’t seem right for me to claim those stations for the US Islands Contest.
I only heard one other US Island station calling CQ on 20M CW . No island stations were heard on 20M SSB, although the band was full of Kansas stations calling CQ.
40M was a wash from my location; I called CQ many times on 40M, with no takers.
That’s the way it goes with portable operation. Sometimes solar disturbances make it difficult to talk to anyone, while other times the bands provide scores of contacts.
I took the opportunity to introduce ham radio to a number of people who were drawn to the 33′ fiberglass mast, which could be seen from 1/4 mile away.
All in all, it was a fine day; There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach, you’re lucky enough.” I couldn’t have said it better, myself!
I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, our sweat, and in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it’s to sail or watch it, we are going back from whence we came.
President John F. Kennedy,
Australian Ambassador’s Dinner for the America’s Cup Crews,
September 14, 1962, Newport, R.I.