In January and February 2005 I went with Bruce KI7VR to St Croix US Virgin Islands to operate radio and do the CQ 160 CW contest from the shack of Herb Schoenbohm KV4FZ. We stayed there for 2 weeks and had a great time. The primary reason for going away to the Caribbean at this time of year is to take part in the CQ 160 CW contest (the last full weekend of January). With the sunspot cycle at a low it’s a great time to work the lower bands and 160m is a real winner at this time with world wide propagation, but it helps when you have a ready set up station for those bands. Herb has THE best 160m set up in the Caribbean with a 90ft shunt fed caged vertical up for transmitting and 5 Beverage RX antennas out in the most important directions with the EU one being the best at 1000ft long the others are about 500 ft long. During the contest it was great to be able to null out the strong US stations and run with EU’s for hours on end.
I arrived there a day late as the flight from the UK to New York had been
cancelled so they had to re-schedule all of my 3 flights to get me to St
Croix, this meant that I could not get there in the one day and meant I
had to stay overnight in Puerto Rico.
On arriving I was met off the flight by Bruce (who had arrived without any problems the day before) and Herb and then it was off to Herbs to get everything set up for our operating for our 2 weeks stay.
The station consisted of an Icom IC765, a Kenwood TS570DGE, with a Drake L7 1KW amp, we had a Cushcraft A3S for 10/15/20m a Butternut HF2V vertical for 40/80m we also had a Radio Works Supa Loop which was really surprisingly good on 80/40/30/17/12m there was also a 30m vertical and of course we had the 90ft Shunt Fed Caged Vertical for 160m with the array of Beverages for RX. We have a good radio relationship as Bruce likes to work thru the night and I like the daytime and a bit of night (I like my sleep) work. With this we can nearly operate 24/7 if we wanted to.
For the CQ 160 Contest we had secured the call KP2ZZ and it was a real
eye opener to do this contest with this call and this super station I managed
to keep the same frequency over the most of the contest period, which was
a 1st for me with any big contest. I worked 1090 stations with a raw score
of 1062 unique calls and 60 Countries and 57 States with ¾ million points,
I hope to come in the World top 20 with this score.
The rest of the time was great (apart from the mozzie bites!!) and worked nearly 4000 qso’s on all bands with about 1500 on 160m so all in all it was a good experience. We were looked after really well by Monika, Herbs wife and spoilt us with her lovely home cooking. Timmy Herb’s son took us out and about to see St Croix on a few of the poor radio days.
So all in all it was a really nice winter break for us and maybe we will be back again next year.