I’d just arrived at work on day #49 when my mobile phone rang, it was Yan, M0YNK with exciting news. He’d just arrived outside his work QTH and had noticed that 10m was a little lively. In fact it was more than a little lively as I could hear in the background, it was very lively and I was sure I could hear an Australian accent. A few seconds later that was confirmed as we heard the callsign. Yan called him and had a reply first time! The station he was talking to was in Tasmania, the island to the south of Australia. I think I was as excited as Yan was and was desperate to get home to see if conditions had held open until the evening. Sadly they hadn’t and so I had a QSO with HB9DCO, Art on 80m and then Yan and I had a conversation later on 10m. Finally I heard and worked a special event station, HB10K who was blessed with one of the worst operators I think I’ve ever heard. The pileup he had wasn’t huge but he insisted on transmitting over the top of practically everyone he worked. He’d pick up a callsign, return with an automatic “five nine” and then when the other station replied giving their report, he’d already be calling CQ again on top of them. This even happened when there was no queue of stations waiting to work him. I wasn’t impressed at all.
Following the conditions of day #49 and the reports of solar flares about to hit the planet and the fact that day #50 was a Saturday, I set my alarm for half past seven in the hope that 28MHz would be open again and that I’d get a chance to work some good DX. I was awake ahead of my alarm and so there I was, sitting in front of the radio on Saturday morning tuning around 10m. It was dead. Flat. Quiet. I don’t think the weather helped because although Friday had been nice, bright and sunny that hadn’t continued and Saturday was dull, horrible, overcast and raining. As I could hear nobody at all I started calling CQ and finally had a call back from G1YLE, Paul who is about 30 miles away in Ipswich. We spoke for a few minutes and I carried on calling CQ. Fortunately I have a voice keyer because it was nearly an hour later that I had another reply, this time from Tony, G0MBA who is even closer, just six miles away in Clacton-on-Sea. We had a quick chat and I carried on calling CQ to be answered around half an hour later by Dave, 5B4AHL in Cyprus. We spoke for ten minutes or so and it became clear that the band was starting to open slightly so I called CQ for a while longer and then went for a tune around because I had no more replies.
It was slow going because although the band had opened, it really hadn’t reached the UK much and the majority of stations who were reporting working any DX on the cluster were all in southern Europe although by repeated calling and probably some luck I did manage to work VU2DSI, Datta in India, JY4NE, Ali in Jordan and CN2JF, Jean-Pierre in Morocco. All of these are new DXCC entities for me so it’s good to have them in the log. Later in the afternoon I switched to 40m and had a QSO with Cyril, HB4FV in Switzerland and then finished the day by having a quick CQ on 29.600MHz FM and working Roman, EA8CSG on the Canary Islands. I looked back through my logbook and this was my first FM QSO since the 13th October 2000 when I worked DF0BRB, DL4EEC and PE5YES through the now defunct SUNSAT satellite.
Day #51 was even quieter on 10m, I only spoke to Norman, 5B4AIF on Cyprus and then ended the day by having a QSO with TM0WAP, Pierre on 40m
In the evening I made pizza, all the way from the dough and I really think this was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. It was magnificent.