3000km, 13 Days and 5 Activations – Not a Good Start!

Everything was packed and ready to embark on our 12 night camping and Parks On The Air (POTA) expedition to Northern Ontario. It would be about a three thousand kilometer round trip with stops at Chutes Provincial Park (VE-0181) on the north shore of Georgian Bay, then Pancake Bay Provincial Park (VE-0336) just north of Sault Ste Marie. Next stop, after an amazing and spectacular journey through Lake Superior Provincial Park, the schedule would take us to Neys Provincial Park (VE-0316) on the north shore of Lake Superior and finally Sleeping Giant Provincial Park (VE-0395) near Thunder Bay.

The return trip would take us from Sleeping Giant back to Neys, then an overnight stop back in Pancake Bay. A bit of a long haul would then take us down to Sault Ste Marie, right across the north shore of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay to Sudbury and down Highway 69 to Grundy Lake Provincial Park (VE-0224) before heading home after a day’s rest.

Chutes Provincial Park VE-0181 near Massey, Ontario

First Stop – Chutes Provincial Park
I have activated Chutes Provincial Park (in Massey, Ontario) before and since it was just a rest stop on the first night, I decided against getting my radio gear unpacked. We just rested after the tiring trip up from Owen Sound. I really wanted to activate Pancake Bay Provincial Park though. The last time we had stayed at Pancake Bay I failed to get a complete activation. We had arrived during the afternoon on the Sunday of Field Day and very few stations were still on the air after the contest ended.

Haunted by Demons
Pancake Bay must be haunted by evil spirits because I failed again. It was a Saturday this time and a contest was filling the 20m band. I setup my vertical antenna and switched my radio to the 17m band. SWR seemed perfect so I started calling CQ POTA. Thankfully, my Yaesu FT-891 has CW keyer memories so I was able to call repeatedly just by pressing a button.

Is There Anybody There?
I called and called and called without a single response. I wasn’t even getting any spots on RBN, the Reverse Beacon Network. Something was wrong but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe band conditions were particularly bad, I thought. Reluctantly I packed up my gear in frustration and quit for the day. I finally found out what the problem was a couple of days later and it wasn’t good news.

Next post: 3000km, 13 Days and 5 Activations: Prisoners of War

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