Jammed up by Puerto Rico; quality not quantity (Another lesson learned)

Happier times in Puerto Rico...

I thought Wednesday afternoon/night was going to be great. Temperatures were in the high 80s today, it was sunny outside and I was getting excited throughout the day checking DX Sherlock and seeing all kinds of insane band activity. I left work a minute after five and drove home as fast as I could so I could get on 10 meters and have some revelatory DX. There was none to be had.

Let me put it this way… there may have been some good DX this afternoon, but I squandered a solid 45 minutes trying to get acknowledged by a station in Puerto Rico. He was the only station I heard on 10 meters that was loud. I figured I’d have no problem busting the pile-up since PR isn’t that far away. I should have been coming in over 9, based on the types of reports I get from the Caribbean.

Whether he heard me calling or not, I’ll never know. Basically, the operator’s style drove me crazy. I didn’t hear him utter “QRZ” at any time and that caused havoc. His QSOs just sort of trailed off and as a result, I listened to 45 minutes of tail-ending. I hate to tail-end a QSO.

I heard operators repeatedly calling their sign during QSOs, I heard tuning up on frequency, I heard “big guns” just bust in 40 over 9 and instigate QSOs with the operator as if they’d been called. Example: PR station is finishing up with a calling station, just as 73 is exchanged, “Big Gun” station interrupts (blowing the headphones off my head), “You have a great signal into Michigan, the call is XXXX, the name here is XXXX,” and the OM just goes with it. Then we have to hear all the e-peen wagging that goes along with being a big gun: “I’m running near the legal limit with an Alpha, on an Icom 7800 with a 20 element yagi about 200 feet up, Palstar tuner… etc etc etc…” Ok, we get it Big Money Grip. Thanks for making me feel like I’m barely a man.

The Charismatic Apollo Inn on the Space Coast of Florida, a landmark I discussed during one of my QSOs tonight.

I continued trying to work the station and eventually gave up as I watched the sunlight dwindle outside. I had planned to go take a nice long walk before getting jammed up in the Caribbean. The band eventually closed like a dive bar at last call, so I put on my walking shoes and headed out in an effort to catch some of the final rays.

After dinner wasn’t much better, although I scored a very nice QSO on 20 meters with N6JW, a California station who announced he was going to take two final QSOs before shutting down. I got in easily and got a good signal report too. I was very happy to get that state in my log.

I let myself fall into a trap again on 20 when I heard a Utah station with a big signal. I think I listened to this guy ragchew for about a half hour with four different stations. He never heard my calls.

I switched to 40 meters and heard a gentleman from Michigan calling CQ. Before I could jump in, a station claiming to be from Puerto Rico got his call out (What is it with getting blocked by Puerto Rico tonight? And I LOVE PR… such a cool place). The two had a brief QSO, but when they broke off, another station interrupted and advised the Michigan ham that the Puerto Rico guy was a fraud and that he was actually from Virginia and had been reported to the FCC in the past. Those were obviously fightin’ words because Mr. Puerto Rico started yelling “break break!” trying to intervene. It was all very odd. I tuned away from it.

I was about to shut it down when I scanned down and heard Rafael, K4HEB, calling CQ out of Florida. What a great contact! We had a nice long chat, which was actually interesting because we were both familiar with various roads and landmarks in each other’s states, along with having similar interests in computers and photography.

So only two stations in the log tonight, but the quality of both QSOs more than makes up for the low number.

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