It was quite exciting when we heard there was a posibility to go back to Market Reef. Fourth time for 2 of our members, second for me and first time for LA9DFA. Off course, the trip would never have become a reality without the help from OH0RJ, Lars. A few weeks before our trip, he went out to the lighthouse with fuel for the generator and some other supplies for us. Lars is also our excellent cook, and he always entertains us with his stories.
We all gathered in Moss on Thursday. The last supplies were bought, and we started on our long journey to Grisslehamn. According to weather prognoses, it didn't look good. As we came closer and closer to Grisslehamn, the weather got worse. It started raining and wind gained force. The ferry left early in the morning on Friday. During the trip, we knew that it just wasn't possible to reach OJ0 today. Wind speeds were approacing 25m/s. We also heard that the ferry between Sweden and land was cancelled later that day.This was quite frustrating, and we had to rent a cabin at OH0. We drove out to a place close to the sea. From here, we could barely see the lighthouse. The waves were so high, that the water was going over the top of the lighthouse. No wonder the helicopter pilot didn't want to land out there.
On Saturday, winds had calmed down, but still too much for boat travel. We contacted the helicopter transport, but they had a few flights before they could fly us to OJ0. Suddenly, we had several hours ahead of us, before things would happen. We decided to take a trip up to OH0JFP's qth. For those visiting OH0, this certainly is worth a visit. 8 towers with aluminium high up in the air. No wonder why he gets out.
In the evening, the helicopter was finally able to transport us. First flight was 1830 local time. After 3 flights to get all the stuff out there, we were finally on the reef again. Unfortunately, it was now getting dark and bringing all the gear inside the lighthouse did take it's time. The only thing done with the antennas today, was assembling the 9el for 2m and the 7el for 6m. Mounting of antennas had to wait until tomorrow. Inside, we assembled all the stations.
Early Sunday morning, antenna work started. 3 BiggIR vertical antennas were erected. The first was mounted at the top of the lighthouse, the second was mounted on the stonewall, and the last was mounted on the toilet. Thanks to Spiderbeam, we had 2 18m long fiberglass poles to use. One of them was used for the 80m quarterwave vertical. Because of heavy wind, the vertical had to be placed between two buildings. The vhf antennas was put up on a rotor on a pipe on top of the generator house.
We hit the air around 14Z. Conditions were quite good, and we had instant pile-ups. At our moonrise, an attempt at eme on 6M was done, but nothing heard. Later I went to work jt6m. I would soon find out what a pile-up on this mode sounded like. Amazing what this mode can do to a "dead" band. 80M was tried, but not much dx to find here. High noise level made it difficult to pull out the weak ones. 40M however, provided good openings to Japan, and many stations were worked. Since we were all very tired after working with antennas most of the day, nothing was worked during the night. During the first day, we made around 800 qsoes.
After a good nights sleep, we were on again. Pile-ups hitting us hard. Conditions are quite different from this place, compared to our home qth. At home, North-America comes in quite well, and are not difficult to work on most bands. Japan and other eastern countries are more difficult to work. At OJ0, this is totally different. Here we have trouble working North-America on any band, but Japan and surrounding countries are quite easy. In the pile-up's we have lots of EU and lots of JA, but very few NA. North-America was coming through on 40 and 30 early this morning. 80 was all eu.
At our moonset, another attempt at 6M eme was done. This time much more successfull. 6 qsoes were made, and signals were very strong. An excellent take-off with a good yagi did help a lot. We worked W7GJ, W1JJ, K6MYC, K1SG, PE1BTX and W1VHF on 6m eme.
Later that day, a 160M dipole were erected in the top of the lighthouse with sloping ends. It was too difficult to get any other antenna up because of wind. Receiving antennas weren't possible. Market Reef is a very small place, which makes it difficult with beverage antennas. A K9AY loop has been tried on earlier trips, with very bad results. Finally, all bands were now qrv.
At our moonrise, we didn't have much success with 6m eme this time either. Unfortunately, our moonset heading was almost straight into the lighthouse, causing qrm and a bad take-off. We later got reports that we were heard in Japan and in Finland. I went to work a bit jt6m on 6M and some fsk on 2M. 2M sounded almost like perseids. The big-guns obviously had their room-heathers on. On hf we were active on cw/ssb/rtty with pile-ups. We had several stations qrv at the same time. Thanks to the bandpassfilters from Dunestar, we had no problem working several bands at the same time. Since rtty hasn't been worked too much during our previous trips, we decided to do a lot of work this time around. During the evening, 160m was tried too. High noise level made it difficult, and mostly eu was workedm together with a few 4K stations Later a few stations from North-America was worked. VE1ZZ, VE1ZJ, VE1BVL, W1NG, NN1N, W1JR and K1ZM made it into the log. As the second day of operation reached its end, we had worked over 3300 qsoes.
By Tuesday, it was all about operating radio. One eme qso with K7AD was made on 6M, and some fsk were worked on 2M again. On hf, we still had good pile-ups. The conditions were quite good most of the time, however we did experience a few quiet periods when the magnetic field were active. At 60 degrees north, we are very influenced by the aurora oval. 160M was tried tonight as well, but only eu. At the end of the day, we had worked over 5500 qsoes. A lot of pics were also taken, and some video were shot.
During Wednesday, conditions were still very good. A lot of hf was worked, and in the evening, we had some good tropo on 2M. Longest qso was 1200km. 160M was once again tried. Mostly eu, but a few UA9's made it into the log. A bit later, W0FLS, NO2R, K1NA and KM1E made it into the log. No more dx was worked. The day ended with over 7000 qsoes.
On Thursday we had an eme sked on 2M with EA6VQ. This went along very fine, and he was worked in only a few minutes. HB9Q quickly followed EA6VQ, and became the only 2M eme we did from OJ0. According to weather prognoses, wind were supposed to increase closer to the weekend, so a decision was made to go qrt and leave the reef by Friday. In the evening, most of the station were qrt. A final try on 160 was made. JA4DND and JA4LXY made it into the log. Those were the only JA's worked on 160. Many europeans were worked as well, but no more dx showed up. Last qso was made a little while after midnight local time. All stations were now qrt. With over 9100 qsoes in the log, this trip had been a success. We even managed to work some dx on 160 and 80.
We got up very early on Friday. All antennas were taken down, and all gear were packed. Water was also this time too high to leave by boat. The helicopter was ordered and took us once again back to OH0. Market Reef was QRT.
Thanks to our sponsors: W5BXX, NCDXF, UX5UO, Spiderbeam and Dunestar.