Well I’ll be damned, I’m having some fun with ham radio again.
The Navassa DXpedition, K1N, caught my eye a few weeks back simply because the island isn’t that far away from the U.S. That meant that I might actually be able to hear it (unlike the recent EP6T), and secondly, at only about 1,100 miles away, it’s well within striking distance for my modest antenna/rig combo. What I didn’t realize was that Navassa Island is the number 1 sought-after DX on the planet.
I’d read about the hellish pile-ups for it on some blogs last week (apparently, someone has coined the term, “Navassholes” to describe lids and jammers!) and took a listen a few nights ago. Yeah… major jamming going on there. SSB was past the point of forget-about-it, and I don’t do SSB pileups anymore.
Over on 40m CW one night, the pile-up was spread nearly 10kHz deep and while the DX had a FB signal, the
Navassholes operators calling on his transmit frequency made it impossible to hear with clarity. (seriously guys, working split is NOT hard. How did you get a ticket if you don’t grasp that simple concept?)
Then I read a post from W2LJ and suddenly I had hope that maybe I could grab K1N under the right circumstances, namely, very late at night/early in the morning.
It just so happened I was having a hell of a time getting to sleep Saturday night and sometime around 3:30 a.m. (Sunday), I gave up and decided to turn on the rig and see if K1N was awake.
Sure enough he was at the bottom edge of 40m, S7-ish signal with what looked like a minimal pile-up. I called for about 20 minutes, tapping out the code on my Vibrokeyer in a slightly bleary state. I wasn’t having luck. Then he worked a 4-station and I clearly saw the calling station’s response on the panadapter. I re-tuned and banged out my callsign. He picked me up. I heard at least KK4D and the rest fell into QSB. I re-sent my call, he came back with a copy and signal report. I fired back and completed the QSO.
I wasn’t confident that he had me, so I decided to mess around on 80 meters and try to get another one in the log. Using DX Heat, I located a spot for him, but heard nothing once I tuned there. I let a few minutes pass and was about to shut down the rig when armchair copy S9+ code erupted from my speakers. “CQ K1N UP.” I let him work one station, jumped in the previous station’s pocket and fired off my call. As soon as I let it fly, I knew he heard me. He came back with a 100% copy. I felt very confident I was in the K1N log at this point.
I continued listening for a bit afterwards and he was begging for QSOs. With no more takers, he went QRT around 4 a.m. and the op on 40 meters had also closed down.
Sure enough, the next morning, I found myself in the expedition’s ClubLog, caught on both bands! I may try for RTTY later!