AND NOW.....A Day in the Life of.....
4.00 AM Any day. "Get up you teddy bears" the captain yells at us. My head hurts from last night's pileups. Breakfast is corn flakes, toast and coffee on the fly. The Zodiac is a bit tricky, bashing against the ship with the waves. Five bodies in black rain gear time the rise and fall of the Zodiac and jump in safely. The black angry sea is not an option. The outboard motor sings and Campbell Island looms out of the blackness. The ladder on the wharf is much steadier to hold on to. We trudge up the hill to get to the radio shack No light yet except our flashlights. The big rock in the pathway suddenly comes alive and lets out a roar that sends us all scattering. 400 kg Sea Lions are very territorial and the ZL9CI site has been theirs for the past 30,000 years. Ken starts the generators. The noise of 23 KW keeps the sea lions away.
5 AM The CW shack is humming. Trey N5KO is casually reading a copy of NCJ as he passes 200 QSOs with the EUs on 30M. James 9V1YC is draped over the keyboard at an awkward angle. He is an ergonomically incorrect new age guy. As usual. I never noticed it before but he bangs the keys with a vengeance. Andrew, GI0NWG blocks the computer with his frame as he stands at the keyboard. He makes CW look easy as he runs 40M CW early in the morning. Doesn't say much but speaks with his CW expertise.
6AM Standing in the howling wind and driving rain 100M from the shack, changing antenna directions sure dispels the romantic ideas of a Dxpedition. No sea lions around... quick... get the antennas turned to JA for the morning and get back at the radios.
7.30AM The second shift team arrives. "What's the total?" "Who's on 40?" "Have you turned the 20M mono?" "How are the generators?" "Look out for 15SSB ... it's getting interference from 15CW" The shift changes smoothly.
12.30AM Lunch. Captain Ahab (Nigel) has sent over the lunch in the Zodiac. Nice chicken and salad. We get individual lunch boxes with little drawings on top which denote chicken or steak or pork. Funny, but the pork drawings looks like a demented cat. "Listen up guys" "This is the operating schedule for tomorrow" Captain Video (James 9V1YC) holds fourth on the joys of sitting at a radio desk fighting off hordes of EUs and how to handle them. We try daily!
2.30PM "Any totals Wilbert?" Wilbert ZL2BSJ has been working on the logs for the past hour. We collect them at 0000 UTC daily and Wilbert and Trey check them for errors, compress them and Pactor them to NZ for the Web site. I get dirty looks. Things are not going well. Some op has logged 150 QSOs on the wrong band on CT and they all have to be changed manually. Why don't ops use the check list?
4.00 PM Turn 20M beams to USA/EU for the night. "Hey ... some guy wants to know why he isn't in the log on 160M" shouts Murray ZL1CN from a run of USAs on 15M. We all laugh. Just another problem that will surface 3 months after we are back home.
6.30PM "See you later guys" Half the team goes off to the ship for dinner. Nice too! Captain Ahab makes a great plate of spaghetti. Is the weather too rough to transfer back tonight? No such luck! Dinner is unwind time. "What did you do on 12M" "10M was hot" "Are you going to work 20SSB tonight?" Radio conversation is mixed with "Pass the salt"
"OK guys, get the life jackets on" We face the wind, rain, rough seas and the Zodiac yet again. Nobody likes it.
8.00PM "Europe only, Europe only - ZL9CI" Lee, ZL2AL tries to keep the rate up on 20SSB It's impossible as 5000 EUs try to fit into 15 kHz. His S-Meter suffers terminal overload. Lee takes five and has a cuppa coffee.
10.00 PM Brian, VE3XA observes dryly "How can they hear us if they don't stop shouting at us' Good point!
11.00 PM It's over. Time to leave the Campbell Island for the day. The trip back in the Zodiac in uneventful. I can't wait for a shower and bed. Wilbert is in the office working on the Pactor. "Hey guys... you should see the E-Mails and comments from the pilots" We grab the printouts eagerly. "Look at this.... Best Dxpedition ever" It's all worth it. 4 days operation and over 30,000 QSOs in the log! Time to bask in the glory tomorrow. It's only 5 ours till Captain Ahab kicks us out of bed again at 4 AM. Gotta get some sleep!
73 from the ZL9CI Team
That's it guys....
ZL9CI East Coast Pilot, Webmaster
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Last updated 13 January 1999