The Saltee in front
ON5KL / Mat
ON4JL / EI5EP / Luc
ON4QP / Pam
ON4EB / Larry
ON1MT / Will
ON6NW / Walt
ON7JK / John
Regarding the high IOTA-number of EU103, the Saltee islands are not been activated very often for the IOTA-award program. When we decided after our 1985 Blasket operations, to go for another island the next year, the Saltee Islands were still unnumbered. By checking with the IOTA committee, the Saltees islands were well qualifying for a new number after first been activated. Preparations for the next DX-pedition started. Due to work commitment from most of the involving enthusiast, the operation has to be held in the month of July, our holiday season.
Having a idea to go to some remote island is ok, but not knowing anything about it, is not so a good idea, hi. In the month of May 1986 I was asked to do a trip to Ireland, and that was an offer I accepted with pleasure. The trip consisted to bring a small speedboat to Ireland and so we did, before leaving we packed every empty place in the boat with all the heavy stuff, coax cabels, 100m of powerline. Alongside the trailer we found a very good place to put the different antennas. Arriving in Ireland via Rosslare harbour is the shortest way to go to the Saltee islands. Ther are two ferry arrivings in Rossalare, one around 7Am bud this means taken the boat a 3am in Fischguard (UK ) and travel by night our the second arriving at around 7 Pm, its leaving early morning time in Belgium bud driving is in day light and much confortable hi. From Rosslare harbour we took the national N25 direction Wexford, after a few miles coming at the crossing from Tagoat we turned left on the R736 before Bridgetown we turned right on the R739, direction Kilmore Quay. our departing point.
After driving nearly a hour on the small picturesque roads, with signpost in Gaelic language, we arrived in Kilmore Quay harbour. Still some light shone outside, and by looking very hard we ware able to see the shadow of the islands at the horizon. The best please to inform you is the local pub, After some pint of Guiness we had all necessary information and found our way to the Kilmore motel, to take our beauty sleep. The 'ferry' to Saltee left, weather permitted around 11 am next day, so we were all waiting for William Bates the boat owner to give green light. During the trip we arranged every detail with the skipper and made a rendezvous for next July. Debarking at the island is quit an event, no pier, but we found a nice spot to set up the camp, found also a well, no water problems for our next trip to the Saltee. Soon time was coming to go back to the boat and back to Kilmore quay. We confirmed our date, we said goodbye to Mr Bates and took the direction of Tipperary, to deliver our cargo, hi.
Once back home, preparations for the coming dx-peditions continued in our spare time between work commitement. We had learnt so much from our previous Blasket experence that checklists with all the necessary materials, from pencil to toilet paper were been made en checked over and over again. One piece of eqipement to have be 100% sure on is the generator, to not to have a bad surprice with a hired item, we buyed a brand new 3Kw genarator. Due the heavy wind last year we were not able the pull out the tubes of our mast to full height, after our trip to the island we knew that the wind was blowing very heavy on that unproteced piece of land and that we had to find something more stronger to put up the beam. By searching around I found three piece of triangle mast, we make him fixing niceley together, after making some chair to put up a rotor and with some paint our second problem from last year was fixed. All the other items on the lists were labelled with the call signs from the OMs who had giving some material and equipment in loan. After briefing the members of our local radio club with video and pictures from our trip to the Saltee islands we found more amateurs willing to make the trip with us next July.
Moving heaving equipment and material around on a uneven soil is not very easy, with our fantastic experince from last year on Blasket Mor with that rusty wheelbowow in mind and knowing that EI5EP had a brandnew exemplar on hand, the problem of moving was for 50% solved. I was able to obtain at my factory some nice plastic boxes very suitable to put tranceivers and other material in. The box were from hard plastic and were able to withstand some severe shocks, this was very well apricated by the people ho loaned us some material, hi. As the day's passing, the promessed materials were coming in and stored in the boxes and filled on our checklist. By the end of June all was ready to go and we were becoming every day more and more excited to leave.
Finally time was coming to go. We packed our filled boxes in the stationwagon fixed the three piece of mast on the roof of the car and left after wishing goodbye to the stay-at-home people. ON5KL and ON4QP took off for a 24hour journey direction Ireland via there usually way, to Calais-France, ferry to Dover, to Fishguard-Wales by crossing England, ferry to Rosslare-Ireland and finally to EI5EP home in North Tipperary.
The second team was taking the faster way, ON4EB, ON7JK and the xyls and qrp arrivid in Shannon airport after a interrupted flight due one missing suitcase, from Brussels via Dublin and were picked up in Shannon airport by EI5EP in his car. After taken some refressement we started in the late afternoon to moving all the neccesary materials for our week staying on Saltee island direction transport zone (hi). The two cars, trailer and speedboat are been filling up with all the needed stuff, this was a neasty job to do, it was not easy to find a place for every box, so loading, unloading and again
loading take some time (hi) bud a last everything was stored and we had still place for our crew to sit down in the cars. We were a little exhausted but after a fine pint of Guiness and for the lady's a Irish coffee we joined our bedrooms. With a good night of sleep and a typical strong Irish breakfast in the morning, we were ready for our adventure. We leaved our home base in Tipperay with two cars toward Killmore quay. The weather by leaving Coalbown at 10 Am was splendid, sunshin all around. The last shopping for fresh food was done by our xyl's in Nenagh city shopping center, via road R498 we arived in Thurles, then direction Cashel, just before Cahir there is a shortcut the R686 to go to Clonmel, now we are on the N25 and we are staying on this road till we leaving New Ross. Shortly after New Ross there his the crossing at Ballynabola and here we left the N25 for the R736 to Wellington Bridge and via the coastway at Carrick by taking the usual stops for refreshments and lunch we arrived around 4 pm at Kilmore Quay. The third team ON1MT and ON6NW, were patiently waiting our arrival on the harbour pier. The tird team did come via the very long way over Cherbourg-France via ferry direct to Rosslare-Ireland and was staying 23 hour at sea. After the greetings and the changing of the last information, time came to find our transport to the Saltee islands.
By looking in the harbour there was no sign yet of the Mystical Rose' this was the name of William Bates boat. Some people were already becoming nervous, hi, explaining that we were not in Belgium but in Ireland could not directly satisfy the
suspicious. minds of some town people. First job was to bring our speedboat in the water, when she was at sea the Mystical Rose ' entered the harbour, good timing hi. With lots of comments from the locals, we started to load all our material on deck of William boat, and there we went for our one-week on the Saltee islands. During our trip from about 45 minutes, our captain told us that Prince Michael was not coming this July on the Island so we were alowed to stay all week on Great Saltee, he gave us also the key from the farmhouse, we could stay in the building, that sounded like music in the ears of our lady companions. From our first trip we know that landing would not to be easy. The boat anchored about 100m from the shore and everything was then offloaded into a small open boat for real landing. There was no jetty and the boat didn't quite reach the beach, it was depending the tide, how much slithery seaweed you had to cross first. The weather was still holding fine and the sun was shining, which was very good, we had wet feet and ... pants. This had no influence however on our good temper. Unloading was done with in three shifts, the first team filled up the small boot, the second team headed to the beach and unloaded the equipment, they returned to the small boat and returned to the big one to load a new cargo. The third team on the island started to bring the equipment from the beach via a 32 step slithery stone stair to the farmhouse. Unloading was done without any trouble our loss, we said a big thanks to our captain William and started to set-up our camp. We decided to stay the first night in the farmhouse and started to build the operation side next day. While ON4QP, Pam, the head off the kitchen prepared our evening meal, the rest was occupied by bringing already all the necessary equipment upside the hill for next day activities. At the first light next morning we set up a small station with a TS440 and a GP antenna and, after he took his breakfast, Walter, ON6NW started to put EJ5EP on the air. The rest from the team was up the hill to set-up the operation side. Operation site consisted of the shelter for the transceivers, TS830 and TS440 plus vhf (communication between operator and farmhouse). Antennas where a Mosley classic 33 tribander on top off a 15m tower, the second tower had the 3 band hygain ground plane on top (moved from the farmhouse after the beam was operational), between< the to mast we have our FD4 windom for 80 and 40 m. To have better signals on 40m we put up 2 quarterwave fased verticals, each with 60 radials an switching east/west. This antenna worked great. The operators have a lot of fun, band was in good shape, many were looking for us as new IOTA our for the EJ5 prefix, by each relive from an operator we looking the number off qso's, that was steadily growing in the log. Starting at 6 am was ON5KL relieved by ON4EB at 10 am, then ON6NW and at 22:00 ON7JK took the night shift, our video man was EI5EP, repairservice was in the hands of our trusty ON1MT and chef kitchen ON4QP. This was also our annual holiday and so we decided to do also some sightseeing on the Island, with million birds on the cliffs, birdwachting is a very nice occupation. The weather was beautiful all week long, no RAIN at all, we spent also many hours on sea with our speedboat, to catch some nice fish. Each day in the morning William Bates paid us a visit, gave us some fresh lobster and crabs. The nice weather together with the good food, let us from time to time dream that we ware not in Ireland, bud on a pacific island.
We had that idea already in our mind when we first arrived on the island and saw all these tropical palm trees, Day after day passed, and finally we stopped with 5775 qso's in the log. With only one station in the air but without any material trouble this time, we ware very satisfied about this holiday-expedition. We cleaned up every mess we possible had made, burnt all the rubbish, the island was clean and proper like we had never set foot on it. Around midday we had all equipment down the batch and were waiting for our skipper to pick us up. We had even more comments when we anchored back in the harbour from the locals (staying one week on the Saltee, you must be crazy). In the local hostal, with a cold beer and with dinner ordered, we reviewed our one-week on the Great Saltee island. Due to the preparations in advance, everything had been going smooth, no obstacle to overcome, a good crew, nice weather (to good for Ireland) many qso's, so the result was positive all over the line.
Time was coming to say goodbye to the team that was returning to Belgium, the rest of the gang took the cars and returned back to Tipperay. After a week travelling true Ireland, enjoying the country and friendly people, we headed back home to collect the fanmail (hi) and preparing to design the EJ5EP qsl card.
This second dx-pedition to a uninhabited island was ever more successful than our first attempt on the Blaskets. We ware more experimented, much better prepared, the weather was in our favor, the band condition ok. We had lots of fun, not only with hamradio, but the beautiful nature and wildlife on these islands are well worth to visit. Thanks for supporting us and see you from the next one.