The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is always a fun event, with this year being no exception. This year’s Skeeter Hunt encouraged portable Skeeter stations to set up in one of our many national parks, as well as back yards, fields, lakes, or any place that a prospective skeeter might find enticing.
My wife, Sue, and I decided to drive down to Surf City, NC to spend some time at a campground by the sea in order to get in a few miles of walking and to allow me to set up an antenna in the salt marsh for the Skeeter Hunt.
An Interesting Diversion
During our 2 hour drive to the coast from Raleigh, Sue was sharing a very interesting magazine article regarding the tiny village of St. Helena, which to our surprise was only a few miles off our route. We decided to take a detour in order to see if we could find the Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church, which was constructed by a handful of Ukrainian Immigrants who relocated to the fertile NC coastal plain in the 1920’s from the US Midwest as well as from the Old Country.
This lovely church was constructed in 1932, as evidenced by the cornerstone below. This church is now entirely supported for by its congregants, all three of them!
See if you can decipher the line above the date
Sue and I wanted to squeeze in a walk on the beach before the Skeeter Hunt, so we ate a quick early lunch and headed for a public beach access parking lot.
At low tide, you can walk for miles on the wide beach without having to worry about it being too crowded. We walked to the long fishing pier and kept on going another two miles, eventually turning around to retrace our steps, picking up an occasional sea shell or shark’s tooth for further inspection. It was then getting time to think about some Skeeters.
Skeeter Hunt Preparation
I decided to use my trusty DK9SQ fiberglass mast to support a 40M/20M vertical. It’s a quarter wave on 40M and a half wave on 20M. A PVC ground stake was screwed into the ground to support the mast.
The fiberglass mast slides onto the ground stake without any further guying needed except during moderate to high winds. The area around the ground stake gets saturated with salt water during high tide, making it an ideal location to position the vertical antenna. The Intracoastal Waterway can be seen in the background.
I rolled out five or six 60 foot radials, which were attached to a DX Engineering ground plate. I use this radial system when camping on nearby Lea Island for the 160M contesting season. It’s a lot of work to deploy all those radials when operating Top Band!
The operating position was the covered deck on my camper, which has a lovely view of the Intracoastal Waterway. The portable station consisted of an Argonaut VI, WM-1 wattmeter, and WinKeyer.
At this point in the solar cycle, the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt is primarily a 20M contest, but there is usually enough 40M participation to make occasional jaunts to 40M worthwhile. My plan was to start off on 20M and then QSY between 40M and 20M (as the well went dry) for the duration of the contest. 20M was a good place to start, as conditions were producing a lot of 569/579 reports with stations in the Midwest. It was especially encouraging to work Pete, WK8S in CO with RST 579 relatively early in the contest. After QSYing to 40M a little while later, Pete and I worked each other again, and he was 579 on 40M as well…
Several NPOTA (National Parks on the Air) stations were participating in this year’s Skeeter Hunt, and I was privileged to add some of those to the log, including N3AQC, N2CX, WB3GCK, N8XX, and W2LJ. It was also fun to snag SOTA (Summits on the Air) station WA2USA in CO.
The Big Sig Award goes to George KX0R (CO), whose signal was so strong I asked him what kind of flamethrower he was using for an antenna; George told me he was using a portable 20M beam way up in a pine tree. Well done, dude!!
The Golden Ears Award goes to Thomas AC7A (AZ), who was pretty much ESP level when he answered my CQ on 20M; Thomas has demonstrated his superb weak signal prowess many times over the years, and it was certainly nice to get AZ in the log. A second Golden Ears award goes to Randy K7TQ (ID), who was also able to pull me out of the soup at the midway point of the Skeeter Hunt. About an hour later, Randy was peaking 579. For me, completing these kinds of QSO’s is supremely satisfying.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Larry W2LJ for sponsoring another great Skeeter Hunt, and thanks to my fellow QRP friends for your participation.
72 es CU for Skeeter Hunt 2017,