An acquaintance got married over the weekend, so a group of us who attended the wedding gathered near Charleston on the Isle of Palms for a weekend of relaxation. I hadn’t been to the beach in a while, and I certainly didn’t have any ham radios the last time I was there. I decided to bring my go-bag containing the Buddistick vertical antenna and my Yaesu FT-817 in hopes of working a few stations.
Saturday morning I went down close to the tide and setup for 20 meters. I found a nice beach chair at the condo that had a built-in cup holder on the arm. This was the perfect support for the Buddistick, as I was able to run the mast through the cup holder and down into the soft sand. I found a nice chunk of driftwood to rest my counterpoise wire on. I got some strange looks from vacationers on the beach too. Most people assumed I was a surf fisherman.
As soon as I turned the rig on strong, clear signals erupted from the speaker. I didn’t bother with the antenna tuner. SWR wasn’t completely flat, but I figured I couldn’t be too far off. Anyway, it was time to finally test the “saltwater amplifier” effect that I’ve heard about so often.
Tuning around, I heard strong stations for the Texas QSO party. I immediately worked NX5M and NR5M on phone. Tuning around a bit more, I caught Anthony, VA3AVT calling CQ out of Ontario. He responded on my first call, and indicated my signal was only about an S1-S2, but still readable. We exchanged a weather report and I briefed him on my working conditions. There’s just something pleasing about telling a contact that you’re sitting on a beach with a Buddistick stuck in the sand using only 5 watts of power.
I ventured back down to the beach around 8 p.m. later Saturday and made another TQP contact, AD5WB, before retreating back into the condo after nearly being eaten alive by swarming insects. Other stations of interest heard included several stations from the Azores, and the always booming signal of Barrak, 9K2UU, out of Kuwait.
I have to say, this was one of the more sublime experiences I’ve had with ham radio to-date. It really doesn’t get any better. I’ll remember to bring bug spray next time though…