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From left: Steve MM0SJH, Donnie GM0HTH, Dave MM0EAX, Colin GM0IFM, Mark MM0MSS and Clive GM3POI


After the success of the Grimbister Island activation members of OARC were keen to set the wheels in motion for another island in 2004. After receiving a lot of island surveys from our website it soon became apparent that quite a few of the larger and more populated outer Islands had been activated at some time or other over the years - judging by some of the surveys some of the "Big Guns" have nearly worked them all! So it was decided that we would try and pull off another "new one"! Clive GM3POI and Terry MM3POI approached the owner of Damsay Island who didn't have any objections, other than a restriction on the weekends we could actually go due to the breeding of the resident ducks, geese, sheep, seals etc. And not forgetting the weather and tides, which would be a large factor as we didn’t have the luxury of there being a causeway, so a boat would be the only access.

Damsay Isle is situated just a little bit to the north and east of Grimbister Isle and only a 5-minute boat run from point to point so at least in an emergency we could motor across to relative safety!

The next step would have to be a recce of the island to see if a boat landing would be safe, and to see if there would be a decent place to set up camp without disturbing the resident wildlife. So at the first opportunity Steve (MM0SJH) Donnie (GM0HTH) and Clive (GM3POI) set out on Steve's boat to check if OR36 could become a reality. And of course it was good news that they brought to the next club meeting!

Now that everything was falling into place nicely it was time to think about the most important factor of the entire trip The WEATHER! As nobody can control the weather it was decided to have a back up island that was relatively rare and a little easier to access. Hunda Island was chosen as the back up and Friday the 6th of August was picked as the date for Damsay Island OR36.


Due to the large amount of equipment and the relatively small boat available we would have to start putting the gear out to the island on the Thursday so as to reduce the workload on Friday. As it turned out the weather was to be kind to us on Thursday and Friday and the setting up went without any major problems.

The stations were to be the same as Grimbister. Station 1 consisting of a Kenwood TS950SDX, Kenwood TL922 amplifier, Heil pro set plus headset. This station ran on 17m, 30m and 40m using a homebrew vertical antenna made by GM3POI. Station 2 consisting of a Yaesu FT1000, Ameritron AL1500 amplifier, Heil headset. This station ran on 10m, 15m and 20m using a rotary dipole and on 80m with an inverted V dipole.

Station 1 antenna - Homemade vertical for 17m, 30m and 40m

Station 1 was first on the air and a test was done with Allan GM0HTT from OR01. Everything was in order so the first call from OR36 was made on 17m SSB at 18:17z and answered by NE1Z who became the first station to work Damsay Island. The next station to be worked was K4CIA (Bill) who has to be worth a mention as it was his 100th IOSA worked!! Congratulations Bill glad that we could oblige. The pile-up soon followed as MM5DWW who stayed on the mainland spotted us on the clusters (thanks for your help David ?) mainly North and South Americans were worked on 17m. Worth a mention was HF0QF (South Shetlands) at 19:02z who busted a huge S.American pile-up to get through.

As 17m quietened down Station 1 switched to 40m SSB and at 20:50z our first cq call was answered by OE6MBG (who it has to be said had the best signal of the weekend). This was followed by mostly Europeans until 4X4IM who made it through at 21:37z first 40m dx was LU7HF at 22:24 followed by many more South Americans. A switch to CW around 22:40 found I2ZGC followed by North and South Americans. Back on SSB, 40m was still wide open through the night to Eastern Europe and Asiatic Russia until around 02:00z when mostly Central and South Americans until 04:10z when ZL2JR made it through. A few other ZL's were scattered through the now increasingly louder Europeans until around 06:15 when the band seemed to crash so we switched to CW and concentrated on 40/30m until 17m opened again. Saturday's propagation on 17m turned out to be a dead loss until around 11:25z when we got a 30 minute opening. First call found KP4/WB2HMY followed by Africa and the Middle East until around 12:00z when the band went flat again. This re-opened at 13:25z with a good run of JA's and HL's until around 14:00 when the conditions were mostly to Europe although some rarer ones included OY, TF, JW. Station 1 finished up on 40m SSB working Europe until time to pack up at 23:59.

Station 2 antennae - 10m, 15m and 20m using a rotary dipole and 80m with an inverted V dipole

Station 2 fired-up on 20m at 18:17z. First call found UA6HGY followed by mostly Eastern Europeans until N.America opened around 19:00. A switch to CW at 21:08 found OM/4X1DF and more European stations. The odd W6 and W7 made it through with good signals so it looked as if 20m was going to be kind to us again. It did turn out to be a bottomless pit throughout the night. Another switch to SSB at 22:00z found CP5HK and there quickly followed a nice steady pile-up of Europeans and South Americans. 23:00z-00:00z was nearly 100% North and Central Americans logged with VK2SMB coming in around 23:50 on the Long Path. 80m SSB at 00:00z found LA9UJ followed by mostly G's and GM's which was good as not many had been worked from OR35 Grimbister due to poor propagation on 80m. Around 02:30z, with 80m drying up, we changed to 20m. An opening to North America found WB2DGM and for the next hour and a half the log was entirely North America until 03:30z when Eastern Europe opened up. At 14:30z with still a big demand on 20m we switched to 15m for a little variety. First call found SP6RGO followed by mostly other Europeans although a nice variety of Far Eastern and Indonesian contacts were scattered through the log. Operating on 10m caught a 30 minute opening - first call caught OZ/DJ6OL/P. Then at 18:00z we went back to 20/80m where we finished the activity closing the station at 23:59z

Hmmm.... Clive was obviously "slumming it" !

It was intended to operate until Sunday afternoon but as the weather was worsening we reluctantly started packing up camp in the early hours of Sunday morning so as to be ready to leave the Island at first light. Although the weather did eventually beat us we still managed 30 hours operating with 3800+ QSO's from 102 DXCC's.

Thanks to all for calling in - sorry to those who didn't make it through please try again from our next island OR?? All stations that complete our Island Survey AND INCLUDE THEIR E-MAIL ADDRESS will now go onto our mailing list to be informed of any future IOSA operations by the OARC team (please note that the mailing list will only be used to inform you of future activations. We will not send you any other unsolicited email/spam.

73s de MM0MWW team

Donnie Grieve, GM0HTH
Colin Blunn, GM0IFM
Clive Penna, GM3POI
Dave Thomson, MM0EAX
Mark Simpson, MM0MSS
Steve Harvey, MM0SJH

With support from:
David Wishart, MM5DWW