|The Subject of Donations
André does not
activate islands to make money
There is no doubt that considerable income can be made by activating a new
or rare country or IOTA island (indeed there are many professional
activators). If one is well-organised, and shops around, there is any amount of
sponsorship to be had, either as cash, equipment, travel expenses, QSL cards, literary
royalties etc. The only difference between an expedition to, say, Campbell Island and one
to a remote Scottish island is one of scale.
GM3VLB has only once ever asked for sponsorship. This was
when the Islands Of Scotland Award committee was approached for help with a
very costly Hebridean expedition. The committee promised, and eventually donated UK £100
towards his Boreray (DI17) activation - not without 17 pre-conditions!
He has often received spontaneous donations from many well-wishers (all
too often the same people). These range from an extra 2nd class stamp, an extra US$, a
Skye Bridge ticket (prior to the removal of tolls), a bottle of midge repellent, a jar of marmalade, a bottle of whisky, a
£1 or €1 coin, a £5 note and even, on one occasion, an over-generous £50. André is truly
grateful, however large or small the donation, because each one shows that there are hams
out there who have had, as they say themselves, considerable pleasure from
chasing Scottish Islands, and feel that they want to put a little back into it, where it
counts. Equally importantly perhaps, is the fact that they have clearly
given some thought to what is involved.
These are the people who reflect on what it can be like sometimes,
struggling in a tiny
tent whose integrity is being threatened by 80 mph winds. But then, there are also those
who sit in their comfortable armchairs, in centrally heated shacks, complaining about
missing their favourite soap-opera, or about the activators method of operating
(callsigns never given of course!).
Sadly, Scottish hams, with a few notable exceptions, do a good job of
justifying their comedic reputation for meanness. Many have high island scores. Yes, a 2nd-class stamped addressed envelope is included, but wouldnt it be nice once in a while to see that
they have actually given some thought to what is involved before that precious
QSL card drops through the letter box? We feel we understand...they are GM hams as we
are...so we are seen as "just another Scottish island"...that's all very well if
the operation is from an island frequently served by a Caledonian Macbrayne
ferry...but...take a look at the map... A "wee trip" to many of the islands can
easily cost (for transport alone) a whole month's old-age pension! Would you send an empty
envelope to the first genuine activator of North Korea (who might well be operating from the
comfort of his home) or, for that matter, to any activator of Rockall? Andre doesn't request
assistance and has sincerely appreciated any sign of recognition of what is
involved, be it an extra 2nd class stamp or a Skye Bridge Toll ticket (no longer
required!). Prolonged and complete indifference, personal "scores" being all
that matters, does get noticed however....
A last-minute activation of Ronay (HI09) in 2000, (to date the only
known expedition to this island), only took place because GM3VLB met, by
chance, the sister of a previously
unknown boatman. She put in a good word and he subsequently went out of his way to take us
to the island (and he then also gave us two boxes of prawns the following day!!). In the 12
hours' operation, some 600 people worked Ronay. In Andrés book that was worth the
box of chocolates which he later took to the boatman's sister. It was
really those hams who repeatedly
contribute, who effectively paid for those chocolates and who, as a result, were able to get Ronay. However, those less thoughtful hams, also got Ronay. Sad
but true. That small gesture also ensured that Andrés next trip to the MONACHS
(DI22) would be free!!
If you wonder why some hams get their QSL cards long before others, see
the information on the procedures André adopts for QSL-ing.
Information was passed to
André about a German amateur
who had apparently referred on the Web to our summer-2000 St Kilda / Hebridean expedition
as a 'dollar expedition'. Which planet does this guy live on ? ! Has he the faintest idea
of (a.) what the costs were? and (b.) the conditions the team members had to endure? If
not, then he (and others like him) should keep quiet and not show their ignorance. Perhaps
the individual concerned might like to identify himself - although probably not - his type
prefers to hide behind a wall of anonymity.
Some FACTS about the Summer 2000 trip (click here for a full account) :-
Costs - Even before QSL cards were printed, total
costs were approaching US $2000 (a normal charter to St Kilda (DI23) alone is likely to
cost around US $4000). Because of GM3VLB's many contacts in the island community, costs
were kept to a minimum, despite also activating a rare IOTA island and, on the same trip,
making nearly 800 QSOs from previously little-activated Taransay (HI20).
Income - The team is (again) deeply indebted to IREF (the Island Radio Expedition Foundation),
administered by Mike Crownover (AD5A). IREF have, for the third time,
sponsored a GM3VLB Scottish Island expedition, once again to the tune of US $150 (despite
their available funds falling, as reported in a recent CDXC magazine). The team is most
grateful to those amateurs who support IREF. Coincidentally, there was no support
from any UK-based organisation.
Nevertheless, thanks must go to those few amateurs (31 in the UK, and 13 overseas) who
contributed the equivalent of £1.00 or more. Some in fact contributed to more than
one member of the team, although all the contributions were pooled together. A few kindly
donated £1, most donations were a generous £5, seven people donated a very generous
£10, and one an embarrasingly generous £20. . Over the years, SCOTIA has received even
larger donations (£50 on one occasion). Team members have always been deeply and
sincerely moved by such generosity which always gives a wee boost to morale and keeps us
looking at other islands, as well as sometimes enduring pretty horrendous conditions when
we get there....Thanks again to all our supporters...
Conditions - To leave St Kilda, the equipment and team members had to be
transferred to the Coastal Surveyor from a small motor boat. The small launch was
heaving up and down on the 3m swell, repeatedly smashing and literally breaking up against
the side of the larger vessel. Before the fishing boat even reached the open sea, there
was utter chaos in the galley as crockery and other utensils were smashed on the floor,
and many items of the expedition looked certain to be washed overboard before the trip was
over. Not until landfall in Lewis, some 10 hours later, could anybody think about all
those dollars that would allegedly be received, or whether they might be
required to cover the costs of
the damage to the dinghy, or to cover the replacement costs of any lost or damaged equipment
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SPONSORS
As I explained elsewhere, the
Summer 2002 expedition to the Flannan
Isles EU-118, was both much more costly than originally anticipated, as well as being
physically very demanding. My own feeling is that there will not be many more operations
from those islands.
Follow these links for a detailed account of the Summer 2002 Flannan Islands expedition,
and a brief reprise of the Autumn 2002 Shetland expedition.
My primary concern at this moment in time is to publicly acknowledge the
support that we have been given, both prior to and subsequent to the operation. It is not
possible to name everyone, nor would I state the precise level of support. Many others
have included what could be termed "extra postage" and I would like to assure
those concerned that every little helps, from the extra 2nd class stamp, to the bottle of
the latest midge deterrent, to the extra IRC or "green stamp". However, a few
spontaneously give support beyond the call of duty - I feel that any contribution in
excess of $5 is in that category.
I would therefore like to publicly thank the following who have indeed
given very generous support, many for the umpteenth time. I also know there are some who
perhaps cannot really afford it. Alex GM0DHZ and myself were most touched by the donations
of the following (arranged randomly):
Alistair GW0VMZ, Gregg PA9ZZ/VE3ZZ, Gerald G3JQC, Fred DL4BBH, Bob
G0YYY, Dick N7RO, Ted G0ASZ, Norton M0BNC, Gou JA1QXY and Norman G0VYR.
Sincere thanks es vy 73 de André GM3VLB (on behalf of the Flannan team)
[Since scribing this piece, we have been fortunate over recent years,
to receive generous support from many others, too numerous to mention here. Once again,
our sincere thanks to all - André GM3VLB, May 2013]