View of Cooper Island from the air in 2013 (credit

UPDATE by VE3LYC — I returned back home on Monday, August 8 at 23:30 The log has just been uploaded to Club Log.

During the first four days it was pretty cold on the island. The temperature was 0 to 1C during the day, going down to -3C at night, although the 25 mph eastern wind – with gusts of up to 35 mph – made it feel more like -7 to -8 C. There were a couple of light snowfalls, not enough to stay long on the ground, but enough to be noticed in the morning. I was lucky that George had some winter clothing, otherwise I might have been in trouble. The tent I lived in had no heating. It was excellent against the wind, and definitely a few degrees warmer than the outside. However, I had to constantly keep a thick down-filling coat on my knees at night time when operating the rig.

In the first three days I didn’t sleep more than 2-3 hours in each 24 hours. Not because I was busy running the pile-ups, but because I tried to desperately find any glimmer of propagation I could. Sometimes I would log 3-4 stations, then nothing for more than 30 minutes, followed by a another couple of stations, and so on. Despite spending hours on 30 and 40 m, time and time again, I never succeeded one single QSO on any of these bands. I also tried the 17 m band too, but it was solidly closed at that latitude. Worth noting, three quarters of the number of stations logged had to be pulled out of some serious noise level. This shouldn’t be surprising when A index was 30-40+ at times, K hit 4 during several 3-hour intervals, and SFI was down to 75. What was surprising though were quite a few stations which had low signals but kept calling me at 35-40 wpm in CW, mostly completely out of synch.

I didn’t extend the stay by a day in order to log a few more stations, but because the locals couldn’t come to pick me up. The wind was too strong for their open motor canoes. To make the matters worse, during the first 12 hours of my extra day on the island I couldn’t contact more than a handful of stations due to various contests in both CW and SSB portions on the bands. Again, please keep in mind that 30 m was a complete right-off.

Interestingly, this was for the first time that I went 100% solar! George didn’t want to have any gas generators on the island. Instead, he is using solar panels and a small wind turbine. At the end of July he had a polar bear visiting his camp, which he succeeded to scare away. During my stay I shared the tent with Him, a good friend of his, who helped him with various fixes and assisted him with daily bird work. Among others, Jim extended the electric fence around the camp, and helped me with the solar power setup.

I logged 1866 contacts, of which 95% in CW. The log includes 1630 stations in 55 DXCCs from 6 continents. The relatively poor propagation conditions are no excuse for those stations which kep calling me endlessly. Among those who exhibited such a terrible practice were OE1WEU, PA3DOB, and IZ8FQI, who logged me numerous times and continued to keep calling again and again, every day, at different times, as well as IZ7DOO, who couldn’t copy me but kept calling me with strong signals, so many times, out of synch. A few other stations would press  the wrong button and instead of coming back to me with a report, they started to CQ, either on my transmitting or receiving QRG.