Long Beach Island DXpedition 2002 attendees: Dave Hochfelder, Bob Galerstein, Russ Edmunds & Rick Kenneally
It started back in March when Dave Hochfelder suggested that a bunch of Northern New Jersey DXers should get together on Long Beach Island (LBI) for a DXpedition. Though not in NJ, I asked to join the fun if/when such an event took place.
In October, Bob Galerstein got the whole thing moving by inviting interested DXers to his house for a DXpedition planning barbeque. Bob then researched possible DX locations and accommodations, and selected the Drifting Sands Motel in Shipbottom as the official LBI DX Inn. We originally planned for November 9, but I had to cancel that date due to personal issues. The group was very supportive and accommodating, and rescheduled to November 23. The final attendee list was Bob Galerstein, Russ Edmunds, David Hochfelder and myself.
As the date approached, weather began to look like a problem for the target weekend as a Nor'easter was blowing thru. Rain and high winds were forecasted. And a day before the expedition, the driver's side window on my car failed and dropped open. I feared it would be a cold, wet drive to New Jersey. Fortunately the rain subsided, and liberal amounts of duct tape kept the window closed.
I got up early on Saturday and drove to Long Beach Island, logging TIS stations all the way. When I arrived at the DX Inn, residual winds left over from the storm were whipping 30mph gusts across the sand. I stretched out the "North" wire about 1400' at about 40 degrees pointed directly at central Europe. This wire (18 gauge stranded copper) ran on the ground just down-slope from the dune fence. In the interest of dune preservation, I avoided walking against the fence and stayed down on the flat sand as much as possible. Since this wire crossed several beach access paths for both pedestrians & cars, I had to bury the wire across the paths.
By now it was warming up, and I was getting hot & hungry for lunch. Returning to the DX Inn, I started to head out to lunch when I realized my indoor glasses had fallen out of my pocket on the beach. Not relishing a night of DXing wearing prescription sunglasses, I retraced 1400' of Beverage. The glasses were miraculously intact, peeking out of rapidly drifting sand in the middle of one of the beach access roads.
After lunch came the "South" wire, which ran 1000' down the beach in the other direction and pointed at southern Mexico. I didn't have a ground rod for this wire, so I played out some radials and buried them under the sand. Russ Edmunds arrived as I was wiring up the transformers. Between us we stretched out one more short wire as a "noise" wire for phasing, ran all 3 coax feedlines from the room to the Beverages, attempted (and failed) to tune the variable terminator on the North wire, and began hooking up the equipment in the room.
Russ brought along his monster Hammarlund DX-150 and his 2-foot box loop. While not the most portable setup ever, it is a heck of a conversation starter. Unfortunately, problems with the 150, and the fear that it would collapse the table, meant that the big boatanchor sat on the sidelines.
Dave Hochfelder showed up around 3:00 carrying the all-important card table that was to hold much of our equipment (and also carrying the all-important liquid refreshments that would power the evening). So we quickly hooked up the remaining gear and set to DXing. We were well into it when Bob arrived at 5:00, running on about 3 hours sleep and toting his Drake R8B.
The logs tell the story of what we heard. Loggings were accompanied by pizza and beer and discussion and stories. This was my first face-to-face "shared DXing" experience, and it was an exciting and memorable evening. All in all, it was a great event. The lack of TA's or Brazilians didn't detract from the fun. I'm just sorry that several of the original group couldn't make it, and hope to meet them at a future event.
Finally, a big thanks to Bob for arranging the affair.
After reading about the many DX-peditons in DX News, I've long coveted the opportunity to experience a beverage on the beach. Such lines as Mark Connelly's "a salad bar of South Americans" from Newfoundland or Bruce Conti's "VOA-Kuwait S-30 and obliterating the domestics" had me longing for what we finally did the third weekend in November. While our one day LBI experience was more an appetizer than a Newfoundland main course, the DX palate has been whetted for future radio trips to LBI.
I'm quite familiar with LBI, having done the summertime bachelor thing with my buddies. (Still do.) This past August and September, I scouted a few hotels, and found what, ergonomically, was the best motel on LBI for stringing beverages. Our DX Inn was just off the causeway, and the oceanfront DX room had a balcony that overlooked a sand dune. Very easy access to the beach. Rick, Dave and Russ all arrived early Saturday afternoon and did the "fun" part of setting up both wires. I would have liked to experience setting up a beverage (really guys!), but work commitments, and the subsequent traffic out of Manhattan, prevented me from getting there till 6pm.
I work as an anchor for one of the NYC radio stations, and subsequently told the guys that I hope I wasn't splattering over some early TA arrival. As it turned out, I didn't have to worry. As soon as I walked in the door, Russ blurted out, "The TA signals are dead." Mind you, these were Russ' first words before "hello;" we last saw each other at Bob Foxworth's 1976 BBQ. Ah, the priorities of DX'ers. Within five minutes my Drake was hooked up, and my first team DX experience was an immediate frenzy of such things as "Caribbean accent on 810!" All four of us would tune there and figure out that ZNS-3 was parallel to 1540, both blasting in. It is certainly a different DX strata to have Jamaica 700 and 720 go from "pest" to "pain" status within an hour. All the while, it was a pleasure learning little tips and observing the extensive DX knowledge of the rest of the team.
The DX highlight was the armchair reception, for quite a while, of Radio Reforma from Panama. When the clear ID was heard, we collectively cheered. Except Russ. His reasoning, more or less, "When you've already logged 100 countries...." (Sorry Russ, couldn't resist relaying that one.)
Another thing I remember reading in Mark Connelly's extensive Newfie reviews was his description of some "succulent" seafood dish at a local restaurant. Somehow, the LBI pizza was not the gormet equivalent, but to starving DX'ers eating over their radios, it hit the spot. As did Dave's DAB beer.
The next day, after Rick and Russ brought in the wires, Dave and I ventured out to retrieve the Euro wire ground rod. After lying on the sand and digging with a fervour that would have made a child jealous, the rod wouldn't move. Even with Rick and Russ coming over to try. So, Dave went to his car and came back with what he uses for an emergency snow shovel. This was not a full-fledged snow shovel; rather, it looked more like a glorified beach shovel for a kid. After digging about five feet down, the rod rotated, but still could not be liberated from the sand. We concluded that it must have latched onto some piece of driftwood, so Rick and Dave proceeded to hammer it further into the ground. Then came Russ' comment of the weekend, something on the order of, "Wait till someone next summer runs a metal detector over this one!" While it won't be a buried treasure for some coin collector, our DX experience was priceless.
I arrived later than I had planned, around 3:30 on Saturday. By the time I arrived, Russ and Rick had everything set up, including two longwires, one pointed toward Europe and the other toward Mexico and Central America. Rick also brought three rigs, an R8B and two ICF-2010's for spares or for other DXers. Russ brought his boatanchor and box loop, but opted to use one of Rick's '2010s. Rick also brought other necessary equipment, like antenna switches and splitters for all four of us. All I had available to bring was my '2010 and Quantum Loop. Thanks to Rick's splitters and switches, all four of us had access to both longwires.
Unfortunately, because of poor propagation conditions and poor grounding on the north longwire, the only TA we heard was Mauritania on 783. The south wire, pointed to Mexico and Central America, worked great though. The Cubans on 660 and 710 were sometimes stronger than the New York locals on the same channels. The Bahamas on 810 and 1540 were very good copy, and the Jamaicans on 700 and 720 were quite good also. The highlight of the evening for all of us was R. Reforma, Panama, on 860. I was very impressed with the directionality of the longwire, so I'll have to win the lottery and buy a huge tract of land.
We all turned in around 1:00 AM, and Bob and I slept till about 9:30, when Russ called us to get us to remove the last ground rod from the end of the north wire. Russ and Rick had been up for awhile and were pretty perky, but I need a couple cups of coffee to feel human. So a very groggy Bob and I went out to retrieve the ground rod. We dug and dug and dug, but it didn't budge. I went to get a plastic shovel my wife keeps in the car for snow removal, and we dug and dug some more. By this time, Russ and Rick came out to see what the holdup was. So there were now four of us tugging at the rod, and a few passers-by came over to ask us what we were doing. We wound up deciding that removing it was impossible, or at least very tiring, so we pounded it down about three feet below the surface and filled in the hole. The copper rod will no doubt be spectacular "DX" for some poor beachcomber with metal detector!
It had been a long time since I’d last had the opportunity for even a mini-Dxpedition, and an equally long time since I’d had the opportunity to use a beverage antenna, so I had been eagerly awaiting this. Fortunately, the weather broke for us, and although the auroral conditions pretty much killed our TA prospects, a number of unusual Southeastern domestic and Latin stations were heard. This was also my first chance to work with one of Rick’s Sony 2010’s, and it is a very impressive receiver. Although I had brought along my backup Hammarlund HQ-150 and 2-foot loop, these were little used, as they were set up in my room for demo – there wasn’t enough room to pack those into the radio room. As it happened, I really was glad to have the 2010’s instant-entry digital tuning capabilities. One small casualty of the trip – the power switch on the 150 gave out Sunday morning, so I’ll have to replace it.
Had we had a few hundred feet of untrafficked beach to lay out a mini-BOG toward eastern South America, I believe we would have heard some Brazilians, and certainly more Venezuelans, however with the ‘South’ wire running at about 220 degrees, that wasn’t to be. I had almost forgotten the extra enjoyment the hobby brings when DX’ing with a group! I’m already awaiting the next trip, hopefully with better conditions, a Brazilian wire, and perhaps more hands on deck as well.