SZ8LH LIGHTHOUSE MEGALONISI DXPEDITION
the beginning of summer 2002, we, the DX amateur radio operators
(SV8QG, SV8CRI, SV8DCY, SV8DTD and SV8DBO, discussed the possibility
of making an expedition to the lighthouse on the island of Megalonisi.
However, various factors, like the license needed for utilizing the
lighthouse, the Special Call granting and mainly our transportation
from Sigri opposite to Megalonisi, worked against it. A few years ago,
small boats transferred the tourists every hour at Megalonisi for
1,47euro, but for some inexplicable reason the Archaeological Society
cut off this service.
By the end of July, after more careful consideration and the kind support of the local club, E.P.B.A., we requested from the Ministry of Transportation the operation license for the lighthouse and the SZ8LH Special Call expanding from 6-8 September 2002. Within a few days everything was ready. At this point we would like to thanks GEN and the Ministry of Transportation for their cooperation and immediate response. On the 29th of August, SV8CRI, SV8DCY and SV8DBO paid a short visit to Sigri in order to survey the premises and arrange all the transportation details. Captain Panagis agreed to transfer us with his shipping boat for 20euro.
On Friday 6th September 2002, SV8DCY, SV8DTD and SV8DTL departed with great excitement. SV8CRI would meet us later on. After a short coffee break at the picturesque Vatousa, by 2:30pm we reached Sigri. We loaded our apparatus on captain Panagisí boat and within 10 minutes we arrived at the port of Megalonisi, where the lighthouse-keeper, George, with his cute donkey, Kokona, welcomed us. Without Kokona it would have been impossible to carry our heavy apparatus (transmitters, receivers, power supplies, antennas, laptops, wires etc.), food and drinks (beer is the radio operatorís best companion) all the way up to the lighthouse from the slope, narrow pathway.
At 5:00pm we were at the lighthouse and began to install the antennas -a rotate dipole D4 by Crushcraft 40/20/15/10m and the first shack with a Yaesu 990. On frequency 21MHz SV8DCY (Padelis) announced: ďCQ CQ CQ - This is SZ8LH Lighthouse Dxpedition to Megalonisi Island, QRZ?Ē UA3GX responded, then EA3AON and very soon the pile-up expanded tremendously. It was a unique experience reminding us of other previous attempts to control stations from all over the world.
While SV8DCY (Padelis) was on air, SV8DTD (Periklis) and SV8DTL (Panagiotis) continued to install the rest transmission systems -a full size dipole for 80m, a FD4 Frietzel Cushcraft for 80/40/20/17/12/10m, a 5 EL for 6m(Tonna) and a 13B2 Cushcraft for 2m. In the end, we discovered that there was no empty space left for the 5 Band 3EL. MA5B Cushcraft, which took us so long to carry all the way up the hill. Fortunately, the Rotade Dipole by Cushcraft didnít disappoint us. Meanwhile, SV8DTL and SV8DTD transmitted alternately from the second shack with a Kenwood TS-2000, trying not to interfere with the operator of the first shack. At 11:30pm, while SV8DTL was on the microphone, we went together with the lighthouse-keeper to welcome SV8CRI.. Thus, the main operator team was present at the Megalonisi lighthouse and SZ8LH went on until 3:30am on Saturday morning. Although we had a hectic Friday, we lied down only for three hours and the next morning at 7:00am we were on air again, ready for everything. At midday SV8CRI (Panagiotis) participated at the Greek Field Day 2002.
At 5:00pm, (SV2QE/8, SV8QG and SV8BEV) arrived. A team also from the local Resque Group of Mytilini joined us. They had heard about the reactivation of the lighthouse and took advantage of their educational excursion at Sigri in order to meet us. SV8QG (Alekos) and SV8BEV (Kostas) took over the second shack, which was out of contest, while the rest of us showed the visitors around the lighthouse. We had a very good time on Saturday afternoon and after so many years of solitude the lighthouse was crowded again. As the sun went down into the sea we had the chance to see one of the most beautiful sunsets of our lives.
At 8:00pm all visitors wished us good luck with our mission and left. George, the lighthouse-keeper, showed them the way to the port, where captain Panagis waited with his fishing boat to take them back at Sigri. After this enjoyable short break, we went and replaced the contest operator, who was in charge while we had our visitors. Late at night, SV8CRI (Panagiotis) and SV8DCY (Pandelis), who were the main night operators, attempted many QSOs with other Greek stations in 80m . At sunrise, we all stood silent in the yard of the lighthouse in order to admire the superb wild beauty and serenity of the landscape, which can only be found at a Greek lighthouse. And I claim this is because the majority of the lighthouses in Greece have been built in the most isolated, picturesque peninsulas.
As the time went by, our mission came to an end. Everyone felt very sad because we had to leave that marvelous landscape and return to the routine of our everyday life. At 3:00pm, after a short break, we began to take down our antennas. At 7:00pm we thanked the lighthouse-keeper for his hospitality and boarded reluctantly on captain Panagisí boat.
In less than 45 hours, the DX amateur radio operators managed to make a transmission from Greece, which was received by 2900 households in 103 countries around the world. We hope that we will be able to make an DXpedition to another Greek lighthouse very soon.