Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Notes from Belize

I got back from Belize 2 weeks ago, I've just been swamped with work and school since I got back, so this blog will be short.

We spent a full week in Belize, primarily on Ambergris Caye, with a few trips to the mainland. The house we had was in grid EK67, and the majority of the passes were done from there. However EK68 and EK57 are accessible on the Caye as well, though via several miles of golf cart mobile gravel roads. I managed to activate EK57 on SO-50 one afternoon, and went to EK68 for 2 different FO-29 passes. I feel good about getting as many people worked as I possibly could.

I ended up making 98 QSOs, worked 9 countries, as as of last count, had 68 grids confirmed in LOTW as V31CI. I didn't think that was too bad at all for a vacation style satellite operation.

I also brought equipment to work some HF and 6M, but after one particularly bad squall blew through, the Inverted-v I had hung from a palm tree no longer would tune. I wasn't able to figure what happened until I got back to Arkansas, and still am slightly unsure what went down.. I just know after re-soldering all my links on the dipole it's working again now. It was disappointing going that far, and not making a single QSO on HF/6M during decent atmospheric conditions, but it is what it is. Travel is hell on equipment.

On the topic of squalls, the weather in the Caribbean, while many consider it paradise, is hell on radio work. On the beach, the wind only dropped blow 20kts a couple times during the trip, and mostly was between 20 and 30, which occasional gusts one day close to 45kts, or tropical storm strength winds. There were 15 ft waves that day off shore, and the fishing and ferry boats weren't operating. It rained every day, though mostly for just 20-30 minute periods.. and with all the rain, getting away from the coast, the mosquitoes would carry you away. For chilling and relaxing, it was just fine.. for operating radios, conditions sucked. 

The good things about Belize though definitely outweighed the weather difficulties. The food was amazing, the scenery was gorgeous, the people were nice, and the rum was cheap. The XYL and me took one day and went inland and hiked to the Lamanai Archaeological Site, where we got to climb some old Mayan temples. That was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Seeing 4000 some odd year old temples was awesome. I will definitely go back again to see this sort of thing. 

So, Remember your noise cancelling can style headphones, otherwise you won't be able to hear in the wind. Make sure to not leave ANYTHING outside in the elements (even well build wire dipoles). And most importantly, enjoy your time in this beautiful country. There's nothing else quite like Belize. 

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