|Spring 2002 Expedition to
CS18 - INCHMARNOCK 2002
9th to 13th May
In the early days of activating Scottish islands (back in 1997/98),
several unsuccessful attempts were made, in particular by Ron (GM3THI), to try and obtain
permission to land and operate from Inchmarnock Island. The then island owner seemed quite
set against the idea. However, a chance conversation with a fellow passenger in the queue
waiting for the flight home from Vancouver in May 1999 brought some unexpected news.
Despite his somewhat inebriated state, he informed GM3VLB and son Niall that he sailed a
lot on the Clyde, knew the island well, and that it had recently been acquired by new
owners. (These are the sorts of chance encounters you get when you set out to travel the
world wearing the traditional Scottish kilt!).
As soon as he returned home, André lost no time in tracking down these
new owners. Primarily due to a slight, but fortuitous, indiscretion during a telephone
conversation, it transpired that he and the island owners were, relatively speaking, near
neighbours. They, it turned out, were immediately interested in André's proposals and a
few weeks later, in July 1999, Inchmarnock was activated over a 3 day period by both André
With the recent launch of the new SCOTIA island programme, and with the
fact that the island had not been activated since 1999, and coupled with the friendship
which has since grown between André and the owners, André had had a desire to 'get away
from it all'. After the long winter break, and operating on his own, this would be a
perfect opportunity to check out all the expedition gear prior to the new season.
Inchmarnock seemed the ideal destination.
After a 'haggis-supper' on the larger, intermediate, island of BUTE
(CS19), André set up and operated for three or four hours. Using his /M set-up, with the
ageing but trusty Webster BandSpanner mobile whip, some 240 QSOs were made, many in North
and South America, some from Alaska, two 'regulars' from British Columbia, and a few in
Japan and New Zealand. It never ceases to amaze what can be done with a well matched
8-foot whip and 50W of output power.
Torrential rain ensured that André only got about 3 hours sleep in the
car but, by the morning, the rain had cleared and André jumped at the chance of an
earlier-than-planned 8am crossing in a 'RIB', instead of waiting for the larger
'landing-craft' used by the island owners.
The first QSO was at precisely 0900 on May 10 (with Ray MM3ZMI) and the
last happened also to be at precisely 0900, 3 days later (with Dario IV3IIM in Trieste).
It seemed that most of André's 'regulars' were already aware of the new SCOTIA programme,
looking for the extra point(s) to help them on their way. Indeed many newer stations
showed interest too, especially once they realised that their QSOs would NOT be valid for
certain other island-chasing programmes.
The usual occasional ID1OTs and M0RONs made futile attempts at
disrupting proceedings. It can only be assumed that, because they enjoy this sort of
activity so much, they haven't the time to learn about antennas or matching, etc. as their
signal levels are almost invariably well below even many (well-set-up) QRP stations. They
are pathetic. One clown was so stupid as to stay on long enough to allow three
well-equipped stations, operating good LF receivers with "compass cards" for
direction-finding, to get a "fix". These three stations, located in Edinburgh, NW England
and SW Scotland, were able to quickly locate the would-be QRMer to within an area just
some 7 miles across. It turned out that the transmitting station was located on high
ground, just northwest of Morpeth in Northumberland. Whoever they were, they might not be
so lucky next time!!
The WX was reasonably pleasant, though dominated by a persistent and
cold and blustery wind. Initially blowing in from the NW, it eventually dropped to zero on
the Sunday morning (which the infamous highland 'man-eating' midges took full advantage
of). It then climbed steadily to a southerly Force 6, approaching gale Force 8 from the SE
on Monday morning. This meant a call on the cell-phone had to be made, and again an
earlier departure than had been planned. It did, however, give André time arrange his
forthcoming return trip to the BURNT ISLANDS (CS20).
During the 3 days on Inchmarnock, André was also able to take several
breaks from operating and walk over the whole island, which is now largely cultivated and
fenced, and which is now home to a magnificent herd of highland cattle. Congratulations
are certainly due to the now not-so-new island owners.
All in all, the trip was most enjoyable, allowing André to meet up with
very many old friends after a long winter of inactivity. Despite very poor DX conditions,
particularly towards Oceania and the USA, a total of over 1200 QSOs were recorded in the
Thanks to all those 'hunters' and SWLs who contributed to the success of
73 de André (GM3VLB)