All the time rainy weather
The EJ2B campsite
The Qsl card
For a ham there are at least three good reasons to go to the Blaskets. First, they are a beautiful piece of nature on earth. Secondly, there is a group of hams hunting for remote small islands for the Island on the Air program becoming more and more populair around the world. Third, it's a rare prefix.The Island on the Air or IOTA awards program is managed by the RSGB.The Blaskets Islands count as EU-007 for the award. In 1960 and in 1975 groups of Irish amateurs visited the Blasket Islands so there was a lot of interest for the expedtion from the Island hunters. For prefix collectors the Islands deliver an extra point. The Irish government issues the special EJ prefix for offshore operations.The idea to go to the Islands came from ON5KL, Mat, well supported by ON4JL, Luc, alias EI5EP.
In early May 1985, I ( ON5KL) was together with ON4JL in Ireland and we were able when visiting the Dinge penninsula to convince a local fisherman to take us with him on his daily lobster fishingtrip and lets us stay for a few hours on Blasket mor. By visiting the old village our first search was for a well and yes we found the well very easily with fresh cold water, this was a big relief so no extra weight for water to carry. Blasket-mor been a big hill we found only at nearly 700m distance from the small harbor a relative flat piece of land. This ware the former fields for cultivation. The ware all lying in front of the beach. Time was passing quik and the fisherman was coming back to collect us. We had enough informations of the place to stay and by making a deal with our fisherman, tranportations was also arranged for crew and materiel for late afternoon on 10 July.
After some talks and explanation with photo's at our local radioclub the interested group to join this adventure was expanted with ON4QP, Pam, ON6NW, Walt, ON1ATY, Yvan and ON1MT, Will. Preparations for this expedition started immediately after our return from Ireland. Writing down a list for every possible item needed on a remote island and checking and rechecking take up a fairly amount of time. Careful planning of an expedition is not only necessary to avoid all sorts of problems and dangerous situations, but it is also an important part of the fun of an expedition.
The special call EJ2B was issued by the Irish authorities for this expedition. We decided to go on the air at least during the IARU Radio Championship weekend of 13 and 14 of July. After traveling by car with the heavy equipment via Calais France, ferry boat to Dover, passing England from east to west, taking the second ferry in Fishguard, and driving from Rosslare harbour to EI5EP qth in Coolbawn Tipperary our homebase for this expedition. The first team ON5KL and ON1MT were happy to take a break after the 24 h voyage. The rest from the team who flew in a day later from Brussels airport to Shannon via Dublin were nearly at the same time in EI5EP qth. Well recovered after a good nights sleep and breakfast the first job to do was driving to Nenagh city and collect our hired generator, after some explanations and testing we aimed back home to start loading two cars and trailer with all the equipment and proviand for our planned 1 week trip to EU-007. Leaving Coolbown around 10 Am next morning, we arrived around 4 Pm at Dunquin harbour on Dingle peninsula in front of Great Blasket after a nice sunny trip true this beautifull country. Last stop was a the petrol station to fill up our six 25 liter can's with petrol for the generator.
This was Wednesday the 10th of July 4 Pm, after unloading the cars and loading via small boats the offshore waiting fisherboat. When the wind is blowing from the west the harbor is to dangerous to reach for a fearly big boat ( rocks) so the boat waits offshore, Dunquin harbour is no longer in use for the fish industry, just in summertime for a occasional trip to the Blasket. Time had come to say goodbye to the support team staying on the main land, the Island crew ON1MT, EI5EP, ON5KL and ON6NW took the sea direction Great Blasket Island. The sea was calm and after 35 minutes we arrived at the litle harbour, unloading the boat on the wet stones was not too easy, we have been very lucky as some youngster camping on the island helping us to bring the heavy stuff
(generator) and antenna's to the operation site nearly 700m from the harbour, this was the chosen operation place, because been the flattest side of the Island.
During the set-up of our camp, weather chance rapidly, the wind was starting to blow so hard that we ware unable to set-up the operator tent, we decided to set-up our small sleeping tent, took some cold food and wait till next morning to start building the rest. During all night wind was blowing at gale force and with the noise from the rain falling on the tents we have not been sleeping to well. Next early morning we started to build our camp site, in a drizzely rain but nearly no wind.
First we set up the big shelter housing the operator site and dinning and storing room (hi). The first antenna a 3 band ground plane antenna was set-up and after ON1MT repaired outside in the rain the generator starting device, broken by our first atempt to start the generator, we ware able to been qrv just in time for our sked with ON4EB back home. A quick breakfast taken, Walt, ON6NW start operating the station in CW, wile the rest of the team finished to build the rest of the station. The main tranceiver was a Kenwood TS830S from EI5EP. Backup an Kenwood TS430S in loan from ON7JK, John. The antennapark consisted of EI5EP 3 element tribander beam, dismantled at his Coolbawn qth for the purpose of the expedition, hi. ON5KL triband hygain ground plane and for 80/40m a FD4 dipole between the two mast. Wind was blowing so hard that we were unable to bring up the mast to full height.
During our stay on the Island the weather was dreadful, gale force winds and heavy rain did not facilitate the operating and work. The antennas and sleeping tents were almost under constant treat. Unprotected from the Oceanside winds it was a constant struggle with ropes, guy lines and wires to keep everything in place. Monday, July 15th, local fisherman advised us to leave the Island as bad weather was due. Late monday afternoon we dismantled the station and transported all our materiaal via a founded rusty, but still rolling wheelbarrow to the harbour.
Next day early morming at 5 Am our land crew told us via 2 meter to be ready for departure the boot was coming to pick us up, due the wind was started to blowing in force again, the boot cone not ridge the small Blasket harbour. All material was again transported via the small zodiac, Due the weather situation was becoming wrose and wrose the open Fisherboat took a lot of water and dare we were all sitting outside nothing from our clothes stayed dry during the passage of the Blasket sound. Landing was not posible in Dunquin harbor so we went a little beyond to VentryBay and could land there in a small protected harbour. We left the Island earlier than planned, witch was a smart move as for the next week hell broke loose and no crossings were attempted with the foul weather.
Although conditions were not too good, we ma-naged 2602 qsos (1700 cw and 900 ssb) and contacted 74 countries of the DXCC list. There was a lot of interest from IOTA hunters from all over the world. Every qso in the log is confirmed by a color qsl card via direct our automaticly via bureau. ( our policy is always 100% qsl ).
After the local radio station ( Radio Na Gaeltacht ) had announced during its newsbulletin that a group of Belgians was making ham radio on the Great Blasket we were quite famous in the Dingle area. We could not understand all the comments of the local people at the pub after our save return as we don't speak Gaeltic. But we have a good guess about the meaning of some of the comments on the bassis of the accompanying gestures. Finger against right or left side of the head is a universal symbol.
This was our first expirence with a dx-pedition on a uninhabited remote Island, have to provide all the neccesary stuff to survive on such a remote place was quit a challenge and a good expertise to next adventure . Thanks for suporting us and see you from our next one.