Class: SOSB/15 HP
QTH: Rarotonga, S.Cook Is
Opr Time (hrs): 11
Band QSOs Mults
15: 1442 58
Total: 1442 58 Total Score = 250,560
Club: Southern California Contest Club
This was my first real DXpedition ever--unless you count operating in Mexico about 15 miles from the U.S. border in 1983. After 55 years on the air, this was overdue.
Carrie (W6TAI) and I went to Rarotonga in the South Cook Islands mainly for a vacation, but we took along an IC-7000, a small THP amplifier and a 2-element Yagi for 15 meters. The antenna and a 15' mast were broken into short pieces to fit in a 30" rolling duffel bag. We stayed at the same motel where the E51Z group operated CQ WW SSB last fall and benefited greatly from their experiences on the island.
I obtained the E51YNB license as a member of the E51Z team but decided to reschedule my trip because Carrie couldn't go then due to work commitments. We chose travel dates that included part of the ARRL SSB DX Contest weekend even though we knew we couldn't be there for the full contest. There's only one flight each week from Rarotonga to the United States--and it's on Saturday night.
We couldn't stay an extra week and the only other way to get back would have involved flying south to New Zealand and then backtracking past Rarotonga to the US (a 4,000-mile detour). Carrie opted to concentrate on hiking and bicycling instead of getting an E51 license, so I was in the single operator, single band category, operating a total of 11 hours Friday afternoon and Saturday before packing up to catch the plane.
I was astonished by what I heard during the contest. The pile-ups were huge. This doesn't happen much on 10 GHz or even two meters, the bands where I normally operate! Having to dig calls out of the bedlam made for a really fast introduction to DX contesting 101. Most of the operators on the domestic end were patient and cooperative. THANKS!
All of the United States and Canada were loud at the same time all day long. The suitcase station seemed to work really well and conditions were excellent. I made 1,442 contacts in 11 hours over distances that ranged from 4,600 to 8,000 miles. I think a more experienced DX contester could have made twice that many Qs in the same amount of time under those circumstances, but it was a memorable experience for me.