OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation,19-04-19


John G4YSS
 

Activation of 100km square OV/ 10km square OV00 on 19th April 2019 

G4YSS - Unaccompanied
HF-QRO on 80m, 40m & 20m. 2m-FM QRP.
Using SSEG Callsign GX0OOO/P
Times: BST (UTC+1hr) & UTC (z) for radio ops

WARNING: This is a fully detailed 5,000 word report intended to stand-alone so there will be some commonality with past reports since 2013 such as driving instructions and walking route. As I understand it some of the old reports posted on Yahoo, may not be available on the new reflector/ WAB forum but the 2014 and 2017 ones seem to be unaffected.


EQUIPMENT:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver.
MX-P50M HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt linear amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with (up to) 25m end-strings
Loading coils for 160m (not used)
5m, four-section home-brew CFC mast

5 Ah Li-Po battery (fully depleted)
5 Ah Li-Po battery (10% used)
2m-FM (PMR) rig: UV-5R, 2-band, 5-Watt H/H (linked to J-Pole on short mast)
2m-FM/ (PMR) rig: UV-3R, 2-band, 2-Watt H/H (carried in top pocket)
QRO pack: 11.38kg (25.1 lbs) including 1.75 litre drinks, ice & electrolytes.

Other Items:
Garmin Geko 301 GPS with routes
One mast section was adapted as a walking stick

Scarborough Tide Times/ Height above Chart Datum for 19-04-19
High Water: 04:56/ 5.9m and 17:05/ 6.1m. Tidal Range: 4.8m
Low Water: 11:07/ 1.3m
OV00: Deduct 10 minutes from Scarborough times for OV
OV00 low water - 10:57 (rounded to 11:00 BST; 10:00z)


Introduction:
OV00 (and large square OV) only exist when the tide uncovers them. They lie at the base of the 500 foot Beast Cliff; a formidable barrier to any would be visitor and more so if you have to drive hundreds of miles to get there. Just 25 minutes away by car is a huge encourager for me.

Factors to consider: Tide times including tidal range; the weather, time of day for band conditions and it’s best to aim for a weekend or Bank Holiday when maximum numbers of chasers are available.

On this part of the Yorkshire coast, the cliffs are notoriously unstable. That certainly applies to Beast Cliff where OV is. A descent used in one year can be destroyed by the next, usually by heavy rainfall. That said, the route used for this activation (and the ones in 2014 and 2017) looks as if it’s been around a lot of years but just in case, I did a recee beforehand, adding 15 feet of beach-combed rope to the protection.

Following the demise of two direct routes, painstakingly put in for activation purposes in 1987 and 2006, I now use what I believe is currently the best route option; one I came across in late 2013 and used by beach casters. It descends a 270 foot cliff via a steep path and fixed rope south of Petard Point, landing you on the rocky foreshore some 1,700m south of OV. That sounds conveniently close until you see what the ‘beach’ is like.

Despite it all being at sea level, the most demanding part is the 2.2 mile round-trip over rocks and boulders, many of which are exceedingly slippery. Rushing, as I have a tendency to do, is not recommended. Finally, erecting an antenna in OV can be a frustrating and time consuming task. I little thought and a plan beforehand helps and it’s better if there’s more than one person.

Nowadays it seems to take me up to 2-years to mentally get over these OV expeditions and reach a stage where I can ‘stomach’ a new one. Being also a SOTA op, I tend to compare the two disciplines but I would advise against that approach in this case. Judging by the various aches and pains suffered after OV sorties which don’t appear after SOTA activity, a different set of muscles are called into use.


ROUTE - Directions and Waypoints:
Driving to the start:
If driving north from Scarborough, leave the A171 Scarborough/ Whitby road where the latter takes a 90 degree left (west) at Cloughton (TA 0097 9470). Go north (straight on) up the Ravenscar Road for 2.4 miles and turn right (at SE 9964 9774) on a minor road, marked 'Local Traffic' which used to lead to the Shire Horse Farm (currently closed).

Follow the metalled road east for about 0.7 miles to TA 0034 9771 and turn left at the top of the hill. Drive NW then N via Whitehouse Farm and Plane Tree Cottages to Plane Tree farm. You pass a B&B sign for the latter.

At Plane Tree Farm (SE 9997 9838) turn right (NE) onto a good dirt road for 450m. The track, which is easily negotiable in an ordinary car, leads eventually to Rigg Hall Farm. Before reaching the farm, look for a grassy area which opens out on the left at TA 0030 9867. Here there is a gate and stile with associated public footpath signpost, all set back from the road. In 2013, the farmer's wife kindly assured me that it was OK to park there so long as none of the three gates were blocked.

The post code for this general locality is YO13-0EY but it appears to cover a few properties. If using a satnav it may be preferable to enter the parking place grid ref; TA 0030 9867 or the Lat & Long in degrees: N54.37369 W0.45739.

Today I drove along with an IC706-2G and home-brew whip, listening to the Horizontal Net on 3.760-SSB.

Walking to OV:
Walk a few paces to cross the stile at TA 0031 9870, turn right and follow the sign, walking 170m to a second stile at TA 0046 9877. Cross this stile and turn right (SE) on the Cleveland Way cliff-top path; initially descending some steps and walking 400m south to the cliff descent point. Easily missed, the path going left over the cliff edge is opposite a bend in the fence at TA 00716 98478 (82m - 270 feet ASL)

Cliff Descent:
About a third of the way down you come across lengths of blue webbing tied together and fixed to a steel tube. The webbing isn't essential to safety but below it on steeper ground is a more useful rope section which I lengthened a couple of weeks prior. However it's only fixed top and bottom and is free to move sideways in the middle.

The path down is fairly well defined over grass at first and later through gorse and heather. Weaving around, it descends via TA 00730 98480; TA 00755 98507 and TA 00749 98530, meeting the beach at TA 0076 9853. I have yet to see any on this particular section but be aware that adders live on these cliffs and they like sunshine.

It's really not onerous but if you don't fancy the final steep bare slope or if the rope is absent, you can turn left at a path junction - TA 00755 98533. Going a distance of 50m down a muddy path between gorse bushes brings you onto the beach at TA 00745 98583, some 70m closer to OV. Here there is a low rocky shelf with a short fixed-rope down to high-tide level. Anglers use this option to get up and down the final 30 vertical metres but I prefer the rope because there's less chance of ticks. All waypoints were marked by myself.

Foreshore Walk (1.7km):
Once at sea level, you turn left to walk NW along the rocky foreshore. Occasionally you meet flat rock sections where better progress can be made. Some of these provide 20 or 30 metres of easier walking if you pick your way around the rock pools but others, like the one nearest to OV at TA 0012 9977, have less grip than black ice until they completely dry out.

On the way in I tend to hug the cliff as much as possible; the rocks are less slippery there but beware of falling debris, especially after sustained heavy rain. On the way back more foreshore is exposed by the tide making some of the best walking at half tide level and again there is less to slip on, in this case because of the scouring action of the sea and barnacles.

Between TA 0046 9896 and TA 0037 9915 there is the option of climbing up about 10 metres onto a mini cliff plateau. Here you can walk 200m on grass instead of rocks while dodging low bushes and bull rushes, though even this is quite rough, boggy and rock-strewn in places. Next you pass a point at TA 0033 9935 where there’s a choice of over or round.

At Petard Point TA 0052 9889 you must pass to seaward, making this the 'tidal crux' of the journey. The terrain here is characterised by big blocks the size of cars, backed by a steep cliff. I would estimate that there would be sufficient room to pass by at low tide plus or minus about 3.5 hours but don't hold me to that!

There may not be any recognised routes off the foreshore along this 1,700m section but that doesn't mean that there is no escape from drowning should you get the timing wrong. These cliffs are not shear from the sea up so for the most part there is space to wait out a high tide. However, if you're relying solely on phone coverage, notification of the several hour delay would be very unlikely as of 2019. Far better to pre-arrange for a VHF link if overdue. The eastern point of Scarborough's Marine Drive, the cliff above Filey Brig (Filey Country Park) and Flamborough Head are places to consider for this.

Compared with the direct descent method, there is a much-reduced chance of meeting adders and deer ticks, as well as avoiding the vertical rock face of Lower Beast Cliff. Putting ladders on this impasse has proved difficult and their longevity variable. Two have been ‘shrugged off’ by nature, so the method described above is the best (known) option as of April 2019.

The Walk in, 19th April 2019:
A dry day made for a safe cliff descent. The foreshore walk is by far the worst part of the journey but the mast section doubling as a stick helped a lot, so long as it was actively connected with dents in the rocks. Thinking it was going to be cold in the early morning and wearing a fleece, I soon overheated; the level of concentration required adding to that. In 2014, the walk-in from the parking spot to OV took just 62 minutes but that’s an exception. Today it took 1hr-23min and featured a couple of minor falls, a knocked knee and a grazed shin.

OV:
On arrival the sea was still only halfway down 'Stanchion Rock' the large rock in OV used in 1987 to take the semi-permanent but now long-gone bolted-on mast base. Unlike the cliff, very little has changed on the foreshore over the years. Many of the rocks were instantly recognizable but the ships boiler was not yet visible.

Survey (Lower Cliff):
With time to spare I scrambled north for a short distance but saw nothing of any value on the cliff face. No rope ladders, ropes or the remains of former routes were evident.

As far as I know, no one has ever tried it but I also looked for a suitable bivvy place, should the need ever arise but the sloping cliff base meets the rocks without properly levelling out. There is no level grass on which to pitch a tent and the slope is crumbly and unstable. If needs must there is another possibility but it would be less than satisfactory.

There are two flat and almost level sandstone rocks above the high tide line at NZ 99966 00048 and NZ 99975 00008. The first one is not really long enough, the second a bit on the narrow side and both are likely to move or tilt at any time in the future. Nothing stays the same for long on the lower cliff and even the tree-lined upper cliff has suffered some spectacular land slips.

Going back to the water’s edge, I found a high rock 3m inside OV00 to use as a table for preparation. Pre-assembling the mast and making ready the dipole at this stage saves valuable time later. I also set up the UV-5R with its J-Pole on a short mast.

Setting up for HF:
Sometime after 09:15 the sea allowed the possibility of bagging an HF dipole pitch for the day. The mast was shoved down between two rocks and wedged in place with more of the same. Despite care, one of the dipole links ended up in the drink. No worries, after a continuity check before leaving home the links had all been silicone greased.

Being furthest from the surf, next to be set up was the southern dipole end. A 20m length of very thin string wound on a bit of corrix board is tied to the wire, taken over the highest rock available and wedged between lesser rocks beyond. The same applies to the northern leg but it is necessary to wait until the water recedes a little further. While waiting for this I was surprised to hear a voice.

145.400 FM – 1 QSO:
My son Phil G0UUU/P was calling me on S20. I knew he was going to give it a try but it was surprising how good the signal was. Phil was using 5W from an FT60 handheld with a posh set-top whip located 11.6km down the coast on Marine Drive, Scarborough. This is one of just a few places with a line-of-sight (in this case slightly questionable) into OV. We exchanged 55’s at 09:36 (08:36z) and I was able to report progress. After this I moved the VHF station next to the HF mast.

Unlike the 2017 activation with a tidal range of 2.8m, which made the waiting positively tedious, today’s 4.8m range made for noticeably quicker movement. The final northern leg was soon deployed using the long string method again. If the dipole drapes itself across random rocks as it did today, I prop up the end string with two crossed sticks; the carbon ones I use for end supports on mountaintops. At this rate we were in danger of meeting the estimated QRV time of 09:47.

Today's 80m link dipole position was GPS checked as follows:
North end: OV 00009 00040
Mast: OV 00012 00021
South end: OV 00014 00002


The HF ACTIVATION 9:40 to 12:54:
Temp:14 Deg.C. Wind: 2 mph SE., sunshine. Wave height (breakers) variable approx. 0.5m. No phone signal. LOC: IO84SJ.

3.557 CW – 1 QSO:
With everything set up and ready by 09:40, I tried calling G4SSH in Scarborough with 50 Watts but there was no answer from Roy at this time. However, he did call in near the end of the SSB session on 3.760 where we arranged a CW sked. This was successfully carried out later at 09:25z but further CW CQ’s were not answered.

3.760 SSB - 40 QSO's from 08:49z:
I was hoping to hear voices recognisable as WAB members and there they were, just about to run a mobile down the net. Graham G7LMF was in control of the net but due to conditions he later passed this to Phil G7AFM. Graham left a gap which I made quick use of. There was more than one mobile on the channel so after checking it was OK to be run down first, things moved on rapidly.

The first 22 stations were worked in 11 minutes as follows: G7LMF Graham; G0FVH/M Dave in SZ00 ('00' how appropriate); G7AFM Phil; G4YYB/M Ernie; 2E0FEH Karl; G3PRI Dave; GM6ZAK Andy; G8VZT Dave; G4BYY Keith; GB50WAB (op Steve G4HPE); M1TES James; GB4WAB (op G0GWY); G0GWY Geoff; G4WAB (op G0OFD); G0OFD John; G4HPE Steve; G4BFJ Brian; G7BGA Geoff; G3XKT Tony; GI0AZA Esher; MW0ISC Steve and G0BKU Shawn.

Following on from 09:00z: G0FEX Ken; G0AJH John; EI2KD Rod; G6LKB Dave; GD0BPK/M Nigel; EI3GYB Michael; MW0XOT John; G1BLJ Steve; G8VOJ John; G0UUU/P Phil; G4SSH Roy; G0RQL Don; M0VKC Nigel; MM3PDM Peter; GB2ABG (op G4IAR); G4IAR Dave; G4SJX Mike and G4DRS John.

Power was 50W throughout and the session ended at 08:24z. Reports were mainly in the range 57 to 59 but there were a few ops who found it difficult to hear their reports. With assistance from control and counting up reports, QSO were completed; G1BLJ - Steve being the most challenging.

7.160 SSB – 2 QSO’s from 09:45z:
Phil G0UUU/M was waiting on here and gave me a 57 report in response to my temporarily 500mW signal. Then 2E0FEH called but Karl was not a brilliant signal. (Phil was actually hearing him better.) Nonetheless, we exchanged 44 reports. Karl then went on to work Phil for TA08. Despite Phil spotting me on the WAB reflector, this was the sum total of stations worked on 40.

14.265 SSB – 10 QSO’s from 10:02z:
I was hopeful of a better showing on 20m than on the disappointing 7.160. Sergei RV9DC had seen the reflector alert and emailed me to say he’d be listening. He also thanked me for the OV QSL card from a previous activation. Mentioning that 10:00z to 12:00z was a good time for 20m, he said that he would try to contact the two OH WAB chasers, OH3GZ and OH3OJ, both with the name of Jukka. All the evidence suggests that he succeeded but sadly, there was no sign of Sergei himself. I reminded myself to try again later.

The first thing I did was to call my helper Phil G0UUU/M, still parked amongst all the tourists on Marine Drive seven miles down the coast and patiently waiting. With all the swapping of mobile whips and handhelds out of the car window, the day-trippers must have been well entertained. Dropping the power to 500mW got me a 56 report, noticeably weaker than on the two lower bands but still a pleasant surprise.

Again Phil put a spot on the reflector for me and a few minutes later the two Jukka’s, OH3GZ and OH3OJ, duly called in. Thanks must go to Sergei for tipping them off. The exchanges were all 59 and I got a 59 plus from one of them. Propagation couldn’t be too bad but would it be good enough to reach Asiatic Russia?

Phil later informed me that one of the Jukka’s (Jack in English) had put me on the DX cluster and without that I don’t think I would have got much further. With this help I went on to log the following stations:

IV3EAD Ennio (55/ 57 QSB); I2BUH George (59/ 57 QSB); I0IJ Tony (2 x 58); OM2GM Tibor (58/ 59 QRM); I8OCA Tony in Naples (2x 59 plus); UX7UN Nicol in Ukraine (2 x 59 QSB) and finally IU8MB (2 x 59).

I have no idea how many of the above (if any) were WAB chasers but I did hear someone say, 'Thanks for the rare one. 'Another just commented on the callsign and called me 'Roy.' (Roy G4SSH is SSEG Charman and licence holder for the club-call.)

14.265 CW – 2 QSO’s at 10:27z:
During the SSB session, one station I2BUH George had requested a QSO in CW. I asked him to swap modes and to give me a long tuning call. Because this was the 20m band (USB=CW?), I'm not sure that any VFO adjustment was needed and after a short time we exchanged 599/ 579.

Next Jukka OH3GZ saw his opportunity to bag OV00 in CW and was duly logged with 599 reports. Along with Roy G4SSH on 3.557 earlier, these were the only CW QSO’s of the day but many thanks for them. I’m not that good at CW but I dearly love it.

3.760 SSB - 4 (and a 'half') QSO's from 10:45 to 11:11:
The pace changed a lot for this session but in case anybody missed it the first time, it’s always best to return to the controlled band before leaving. In this case 3.760 was quiet. Propagation on 80 had gone into lunch-time mode and I think the ops had probably done the same. No matter, the scheduled return was only to stop any stragglers falling through the net (excuse the pun).

After a few minutes contact with Shaun G0BKU/P was re-established. Despite being /P this time, he took up the gauntlet of control, albeit in a minor way as there was ‘no one else about’ as they say. After a while, in response to Shaun's invitations, Brian G0BFJ called in to check things were going OK and we had a brief chat about OV.

Glancing up at the cliff I marvelled at Brian’s bravery in putting OV on in the mid 1980’s using a direct on-the-day approach without the help of ladders or fixed ropes. He brought along two climbing-savvy scout leaders with coils of rope to help him abseil down. What an adventure that must have been. I don’t know of anybody who’d done it just that way. I tried once but chickened out some 6 feet over the edge when the hairy beach-combed rope dragged my wool pullover into the makeshift figure of eight. Stuck there for a while, I could go neither up nor down.

After several more calls on my behalf by Shaun, in came Kelvin M0AID with a 55 signal. Unfortunately he had no copy on OV but could hear me via the web receiver in Cheshire. Oh well, I suppose half a contact is better than none but that was an ‘interest only’ QSO and something understood by both sides. Pity.

Next came 2W0OSG/P John with 55’s giving his location as IO83KB, followed by 2E0GBK Keith who sadly did not manage to get his report from me. Excessive noise must have been the problem as he gave me ‘49.’

It was good to hear long-time SOTA acquaintance Don G0NES (58/ 55) followed by what turned out to be the final QSO of the day from Top Band enthusiast Jake G1YFF 57/ 55. What a pity this was 80 and not 160m. The latter wouldn’t have worked of course; not at this time of day, even 80m was having a bit of a siesta.

Shaun was concerned enough to periodically enquire where the tide line had reached. The operating position is on the landward edge of a fairly flat area before it begins to shelve closer in. This means that the tide comes in noticeably quicker over this section and you must keep an eye on it. This was especially true of today’s spring tide of 6.1m; moving twice as fast as the neap of the last activation of March 2017.

Shaun and I hung around on 3.760 between 11:11z and 11:50, in case someone should call. This was well past my scheduled QRT time but while ever there was space to operate, that had to be the priority. Nothing further was heard on 80m but while waiting I started moving non essential items back up to ‘advanced base’ a few metres landward.

14.265 SSB – Nil:
With only the essentials remaining and though the waves were within 2 metres there was one more thing I wanted to do before leaving. Opening the links, I called on the 20m frequency to see if by some vague chance RV9DC would be there but heard nothing from Sergei. I since learned that he’d been I’ll in bed for all of Easter. He had monitored 14.265-SSB at sporadic times but never heard me. Better luck next time and get well soon Sergei.

Packing up:
With all the equipment safely now on the higher rock, the next job was to to drop the antenna, the now wet northern end first. Most of this end string was now over open water so standing on a sea-surrounded rock I broke it. Rolling up the antenna was a pain this time, catching around every rock.

The Retreat 13:18 to 14:37:
Whenever possible I took the mid-tide line, bypassing the mini-plateau at TA 0037 9915. With 3 hours remaining to high tide, there was plenty of room to walk in most places; the narrowest gaps being at the two points, Petard and the unnamed one.

The ascent was slow and laborious in warm sunshine. The mobile phone started working again about two thirds of the way up the climb, enabling family messages and it was a relief to see the Cleveland Way again. Once at the car, I called on 3.760 but nothing was heard. The band was still ‘asleep.’

Just the same as in 2017, I suffered some painful leg cramps while driving home, something I rarely get with SOTA. Confirmed again; rocky foreshore walking puts stress on different muscles. I can’t blame dehydration or lack of electrolytes this time.

QSO's & TIMES (z):
1 on 2m-FM at 08:15 (G0UUU/M)
Nil on 80m CW from 08:40
40 on 80m SSB (session-1) from 08:49
1 on 80m CW at 09:25 (G4SSH)
2 on 40m SSB from 09:45
Low Water: 10:00z (11:00 BST)
10 on 20m SSB from 10:02 to 10:38
2 on 20m CW at 10:27
4 on 80m SSB (session-2) from 10:48 to 11:11
Nil on 20m SSB at 11:53 (Looking for RV9DC)
Total: 60 QSO's

CHRONOLOGY (BST):
Left home: 06:05
Left car: 06:36
Arr. Beach: 06:52
Arr. OV: 07:59
QRV: 09:40
Low Tide: 11:00
QRT: 12:54
Left OV: 13:18

Left Beach: 14:12

Arr. Car: 14:37
Arr. Home: 15:30

To OV: 1hr-23 min
Return: 1hr-19 min
On Site: 5hr-19min
Radio ops: 3hr-14min (6.1m tide)


COMMENTS:
Walking along the foreshore to OV shouldn’t be underestimated and bruises are all part of the fun. The mast section stick helped especially when getting down from large rocks onto smaller ones.

The Route:
Distance walked both ways on this route totals 5km and parking seems to be accepted by the local farmers despite it looking like a private road.

The 80m band:
I wouldn’t say that 80m was right at the top of it’s act on Good Friday but it did provide more than adequate for propagation around the UK in the morning. When revisited prior to leaving, it was quite a different story.

Easter Sunday was the reserve day for this activation. Had that been necessary, low tide would have been 90 minutes later by which time propagation would have been far poorer.

The Horizontal Net, which I listened to on the drive in from 06:05, had cleared 3.760 MHz nicely in time for WAB to get on there and mass for the activation. All in all and thanks to nature, the timing could barely have been better.

Net Control:
I can’t praise the 80m net controllers enough. In the morning it was Graham G7LMF who got things started and Phil G7AFM who finished it off. Between them they pushed through the first 22 contacts in only 11 minutes! Though a few top ops do (e.g. G4OBK, G1INK and some EU CW ops), I know from SOTA activations that left to my own devices, I could never equal that pace.

In the afternoon it was Shaun G0BKU/P who voluntarily stepped up to the mark. This was a different 80m and Shaun’s main job was to keep me company as well as probing for would be chasers.

Son Phil G0UUU/M played a valuable roll from Scarborough’s Marine Drive both in spotting my QSY’s and for just being there as local backup. Important information was gained. At a distance of 11.6km (7 miles) we were able to work easily on all three HF frequencies with just half a Watt and on 2m with 5W.

40m:
If it hadn’t been for Phil G0UUU/M and a re-working of Karl 2E0FEH on here, I would have been writing ’No QSO’s’ Phil was very close and Karl (Cornwall) was just far enough away for 40m. You are left wondering whether any WAB chasers live in the 80m - 20m ‘gap’ at this stage of the sunspot cycle.

20m:
Last time (2017) 20m had to be dropped partly due to neap tidal range but more because of time wasted at the beginning when an antenna fault reared its ugly head. In 2014 I got 35 contacts on 14.265 including Sergei RV9DC.
160m:
There was sufficient time at the end to have QSY’d to 160m but the last time I tried from OV I got nil QSO’s. Going by conditions on 80m and therefore the lack of chasers to tell, it would probably have been futile again. Darkness is required and when it comes to OV, that raises a whole new set of problems.

QSO's:
There were 60 this time compared with 58 in 2017, 89 in 2014 when 40m was ‘in charge and 111 in 2013. 80m is working well for inter-G just now in sunspot low but it tends not to reach as many stations when you consider the UK and Europe.

Tidal Range 4.8m:
The Spring tides were on our side today compared with a paltry 2.8m we got in 2017. On spring tides, the water comes in and goes out much further and since it has further to go in roughly the same 12 hours, movement is relatively rapid. The ship's boiler was uncovered for much of the time either side of low-tide whereas in 2017 I must have blinked and missed it.

The closer to the edge of OV that you can set up, the longer you’ll have to activate but as you approach the limit, it increases reliance on GPS accuracy. When sitting around for hours, comfort is a consideration so it’s best to look for a ‘table rock’ with a ‘seat rock’ next to it, preferably looking out to sea.

With good weather guaranteed, I was looking forward to this, my 27th activation of the very first square of my WAB career but you never know which one will be your last so I hope other activators will give it a try. This can be a rewarding and memorable exercise which is why the route detail is included here. Unfortunately, unless you’re good at abseiling, there is no direct route such as we enjoyed in the 1980's and again briefly in 2006 but it is much better than coming in from either Hayburn Wyke or Common Cliff near Ravenscar. Besides, the ‘lost world’ of Beast Cliff plateau is festooned with deer ticks these days, not to mention the adders.

Local’ comms:
The difficulty of backup safety comms from OV is a factor that puts me off doing it these days but son Phil and I proved one thing today. A 7-mile link is easily made between the OV operating point and Scarborough’s Marine Drive (the most easterly point) using 2m-FM QRP and simple aerials. It works on HF too, even with 500mW. However I tried GB7RW, our local dual-mode 2m repeater above Robin Hoods Bay. All I can say is using 5W
from the FT817ND to a J-Pole from the OV operating position, there was no response.

Thanks:
To the net controllers Graham G7LMF, Phil G7AFM, Shaun G0BKU/P and to Phil G0UUU/M for local comms on HF and VHF. Many thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to waiting mobiles for your patience.

Once again the historic acknowledgements: Alec Brennand G4AVA, with G4AKR, G3MGI, G4EJJ and the surveyor G4DQS for 'discovering' OV and activating it in 1977.

Garmin .gdb (or .gpx) route files for the above route and others, plus photos and tide tables are available on request from G4YSS. (See QRZ.com for email)

If you require one (of 2006 vintage) the direct QSL route is via G4YSS.
Please report errors in this narrative.

73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group Club call-sign GX0OOO/P)


David G0FVH
 


Thanks for an excellent report John, and thanks for a brilliant activation, I was actually in SU00 !!
 
73
DAVID
G0FVH.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 2:31 PM
Subject: [Worked-All-Britain] OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation,19-04-19

Activation of 100km square OV/ 10km square OV00 on 19th April 2019 

G4YSS - Unaccompanied
HF-QRO on 80m, 40m & 20m. 2m-FM QRP.
Using SSEG Callsign GX0OOO/P
Times: BST (UTC+1hr) & UTC (z) for radio ops

WARNING: This is a fully detailed 5,000 word report intended to stand-alone so there will be some commonality with past reports since 2013 such as driving instructions and walking route. As I understand it some of the old reports posted on Yahoo, may not be available on the new reflector/ WAB forum but the 2014 and 2017 ones seem to be unaffected.


EQUIPMENT:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver.
MX-P50M HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt linear amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with (up to) 25m end-strings
Loading coils for 160m (not used)
5m, four-section home-brew CFC mast

5 Ah Li-Po battery (fully depleted)
5 Ah Li-Po battery (10% used)
2m-FM (PMR) rig: UV-5R, 2-band, 5-Watt H/H (linked to J-Pole on short mast)
2m-FM/ (PMR) rig: UV-3R, 2-band, 2-Watt H/H (carried in top pocket)
QRO pack: 11.38kg (25.1 lbs) including 1.75 litre drinks, ice & electrolytes.

Other Items:
Garmin Geko 301 GPS with routes
One mast section was adapted as a walking stick

Scarborough Tide Times/ Height above Chart Datum for 19-04-19
High Water: 04:56/ 5.9m and 17:05/ 6.1m. Tidal Range: 4.8m
Low Water: 11:07/ 1.3m
OV00: Deduct 10 minutes from Scarborough times for OV
OV00 low water - 10:57 (rounded to 11:00 BST; 10:00z)


Introduction:
OV00 (and large square OV) only exist when the tide uncovers them. They lie at the base of the 500 foot Beast Cliff; a formidable barrier to any would be visitor and more so if you have to drive hundreds of miles to get there. Just 25 minutes away by car is a huge encourager for me.

Factors to consider: Tide times including tidal range; the weather, time of day for band conditions and it’s best to aim for a weekend or Bank Holiday when maximum numbers of chasers are available.

On this part of the Yorkshire coast, the cliffs are notoriously unstable. That certainly applies to Beast Cliff where OV is. A descent used in one year can be destroyed by the next, usually by heavy rainfall. That said, the route used for this activation (and the ones in 2014 and 2017) looks as if it’s been around a lot of years but just in case, I did a recee beforehand, adding 15 feet of beach-combed rope to the protection.

Following the demise of two direct routes, painstakingly put in for activation purposes in 1987 and 2006, I now use what I believe is currently the best route option; one I came across in late 2013 and used by beach casters. It descends a 270 foot cliff via a steep path and fixed rope south of Petard Point, landing you on the rocky foreshore some 1,700m south of OV. That sounds conveniently close until you see what the ‘beach’ is like.

Despite it all being at sea level, the most demanding part is the 2.2 mile round-trip over rocks and boulders, many of which are exceedingly slippery. Rushing, as I have a tendency to do, is not recommended. Finally, erecting an antenna in OV can be a frustrating and time consuming task. I little thought and a plan beforehand helps and it’s better if there’s more than one person.

Nowadays it seems to take me up to 2-years to mentally get over these OV expeditions and reach a stage where I can ‘stomach’ a new one. Being also a SOTA op, I tend to compare the two disciplines but I would advise against that approach in this case. Judging by the various aches and pains suffered after OV sorties which don’t appear after SOTA activity, a different set of muscles are called into use.


ROUTE - Directions and Waypoints:
Driving to the start:
If driving north from Scarborough, leave the A171 Scarborough/ Whitby road where the latter takes a 90 degree left (west) at Cloughton (TA 0097 9470). Go north (straight on) up the Ravenscar Road for 2.4 miles and turn right (at SE 9964 9774) on a minor road, marked 'Local Traffic' which used to lead to the Shire Horse Farm (currently closed).

Follow the metalled road east for about 0.7 miles to TA 0034 9771 and turn left at the top of the hill. Drive NW then N via Whitehouse Farm and Plane Tree Cottages to Plane Tree farm. You pass a B&B sign for the latter.

At Plane Tree Farm (SE 9997 9838) turn right (NE) onto a good dirt road for 450m. The track, which is easily negotiable in an ordinary car, leads eventually to Rigg Hall Farm. Before reaching the farm, look for a grassy area which opens out on the left at TA 0030 9867. Here there is a gate and stile with associated public footpath signpost, all set back from the road. In 2013, the farmer's wife kindly assured me that it was OK to park there so long as none of the three gates were blocked.

The post code for this general locality is YO13-0EY but it appears to cover a few properties. If using a satnav it may be preferable to enter the parking place grid ref; TA 0030 9867 or the Lat & Long in degrees: N54.37369 W0.45739.

Today I drove along with an IC706-2G and home-brew whip, listening to the Horizontal Net on 3.760-SSB.

Walking to OV:
Walk a few paces to cross the stile at TA 0031 9870, turn right and follow the sign, walking 170m to a second stile at TA 0046 9877. Cross this stile and turn right (SE) on the Cleveland Way cliff-top path; initially descending some steps and walking 400m south to the cliff descent point. Easily missed, the path going left over the cliff edge is opposite a bend in the fence at TA 00716 98478 (82m - 270 feet ASL)

Cliff Descent:
About a third of the way down you come across lengths of blue webbing tied together and fixed to a steel tube. The webbing isn't essential to safety but below it on steeper ground is a more useful rope section which I lengthened a couple of weeks prior. However it's only fixed top and bottom and is free to move sideways in the middle.

The path down is fairly well defined over grass at first and later through gorse and heather. Weaving around, it descends via TA 00730 98480; TA 00755 98507 and TA 00749 98530, meeting the beach at TA 0076 9853. I have yet to see any on this particular section but be aware that adders live on these cliffs and they like sunshine.

It's really not onerous but if you don't fancy the final steep bare slope or if the rope is absent, you can turn left at a path junction - TA 00755 98533. Going a distance of 50m down a muddy path between gorse bushes brings you onto the beach at TA 00745 98583, some 70m closer to OV. Here there is a low rocky shelf with a short fixed-rope down to high-tide level. Anglers use this option to get up and down the final 30 vertical metres but I prefer the rope because there's less chance of ticks. All waypoints were marked by myself.

Foreshore Walk (1.7km):
Once at sea level, you turn left to walk NW along the rocky foreshore. Occasionally you meet flat rock sections where better progress can be made. Some of these provide 20 or 30 metres of easier walking if you pick your way around the rock pools but others, like the one nearest to OV at TA 0012 9977, have less grip than black ice until they completely dry out.

On the way in I tend to hug the cliff as much as possible; the rocks are less slippery there but beware of falling debris, especially after sustained heavy rain. On the way back more foreshore is exposed by the tide making some of the best walking at half tide level and again there is less to slip on, in this case because of the scouring action of the sea and barnacles.

Between TA 0046 9896 and TA 0037 9915 there is the option of climbing up about 10 metres onto a mini cliff plateau. Here you can walk 200m on grass instead of rocks while dodging low bushes and bull rushes, though even this is quite rough, boggy and rock-strewn in places. Next you pass a point at TA 0033 9935 where there’s a choice of over or round.

At Petard Point TA 0052 9889 you must pass to seaward, making this the 'tidal crux' of the journey. The terrain here is characterised by big blocks the size of cars, backed by a steep cliff. I would estimate that there would be sufficient room to pass by at low tide plus or minus about 3.5 hours but don't hold me to that!

There may not be any recognised routes off the foreshore along this 1,700m section but that doesn't mean that there is no escape from drowning should you get the timing wrong. These cliffs are not shear from the sea up so for the most part there is space to wait out a high tide. However, if you're relying solely on phone coverage, notification of the several hour delay would be very unlikely as of 2019. Far better to pre-arrange for a VHF link if overdue. The eastern point of Scarborough's Marine Drive, the cliff above Filey Brig (Filey Country Park) and Flamborough Head are places to consider for this.

Compared with the direct descent method, there is a much-reduced chance of meeting adders and deer ticks, as well as avoiding the vertical rock face of Lower Beast Cliff. Putting ladders on this impasse has proved difficult and their longevity variable. Two have been ‘shrugged off’ by nature, so the method described above is the best (known) option as of April 2019.

The Walk in, 19th April 2019:
A dry day made for a safe cliff descent. The foreshore walk is by far the worst part of the journey but the mast section doubling as a stick helped a lot, so long as it was actively connected with dents in the rocks. Thinking it was going to be cold in the early morning and wearing a fleece, I soon overheated; the level of concentration required adding to that. In 2014, the walk-in from the parking spot to OV took just 62 minutes but that’s an exception. Today it took 1hr-23min and featured a couple of minor falls, a knocked knee and a grazed shin.

OV:
On arrival the sea was still only halfway down 'Stanchion Rock' the large rock in OV used in 1987 to take the semi-permanent but now long-gone bolted-on mast base. Unlike the cliff, very little has changed on the foreshore over the years. Many of the rocks were instantly recognizable but the ships boiler was not yet visible.

Survey (Lower Cliff):
With time to spare I scrambled north for a short distance but saw nothing of any value on the cliff face. No rope ladders, ropes or the remains of former routes were evident.

As far as I know, no one has ever tried it but I also looked for a suitable bivvy place, should the need ever arise but the sloping cliff base meets the rocks without properly levelling out. There is no level grass on which to pitch a tent and the slope is crumbly and unstable. If needs must there is another possibility but it would be less than satisfactory.

There are two flat and almost level sandstone rocks above the high tide line at NZ 99966 00048 and NZ 99975 00008. The first one is not really long enough, the second a bit on the narrow side and both are likely to move or tilt at any time in the future. Nothing stays the same for long on the lower cliff and even the tree-lined upper cliff has suffered some spectacular land slips.

Going back to the water’s edge, I found a high rock 3m inside OV00 to use as a table for preparation. Pre-assembling the mast and making ready the dipole at this stage saves valuable time later. I also set up the UV-5R with its J-Pole on a short mast.

Setting up for HF:
Sometime after 09:15 the sea allowed the possibility of bagging an HF dipole pitch for the day. The mast was shoved down between two rocks and wedged in place with more of the same. Despite care, one of the dipole links ended up in the drink. No worries, after a continuity check before leaving home the links had all been silicone greased.

Being furthest from the surf, next to be set up was the southern dipole end. A 20m length of very thin string wound on a bit of corrix board is tied to the wire, taken over the highest rock available and wedged between lesser rocks beyond. The same applies to the northern leg but it is necessary to wait until the water recedes a little further. While waiting for this I was surprised to hear a voice.

145.400 FM – 1 QSO:
My son Phil G0UUU/P was calling me on S20. I knew he was going to give it a try but it was surprising how good the signal was. Phil was using 5W from an FT60 handheld with a posh set-top whip located 11.6km down the coast on Marine Drive, Scarborough. This is one of just a few places with a line-of-sight (in this case slightly questionable) into OV. We exchanged 55’s at 09:36 (08:36z) and I was able to report progress. After this I moved the VHF station next to the HF mast.

Unlike the 2017 activation with a tidal range of 2.8m, which made the waiting positively tedious, today’s 4.8m range made for noticeably quicker movement. The final northern leg was soon deployed using the long string method again. If the dipole drapes itself across random rocks as it did today, I prop up the end string with two crossed sticks; the carbon ones I use for end supports on mountaintops. At this rate we were in danger of meeting the estimated QRV time of 09:47.

Today's 80m link dipole position was GPS checked as follows:
North end: OV 00009 00040
Mast: OV 00012 00021
South end: OV 00014 00002


The HF ACTIVATION 9:40 to 12:54:
Temp:14 Deg.C. Wind: 2 mph SE., sunshine. Wave height (breakers) variable approx. 0.5m. No phone signal. LOC: IO84SJ.

3.557 CW – 1 QSO:
With everything set up and ready by 09:40, I tried calling G4SSH in Scarborough with 50 Watts but there was no answer from Roy at this time. However, he did call in near the end of the SSB session on 3.760 where we arranged a CW sked. This was successfully carried out later at 09:25z but further CW CQ’s were not answered.

3.760 SSB - 40 QSO's from 08:49z:
I was hoping to hear voices recognisable as WAB members and there they were, just about to run a mobile down the net. Graham G7LMF was in control of the net but due to conditions he later passed this to Phil G7AFM. Graham left a gap which I made quick use of. There was more than one mobile on the channel so after checking it was OK to be run down first, things moved on rapidly.

The first 22 stations were worked in 11 minutes as follows: G7LMF Graham; G0FVH/M Dave in SZ00 ('00' how appropriate); G7AFM Phil; G4YYB/M Ernie; 2E0FEH Karl; G3PRI Dave; GM6ZAK Andy; G8VZT Dave; G4BYY Keith; GB50WAB (op Steve G4HPE); M1TES James; GB4WAB (op G0GWY); G0GWY Geoff; G4WAB (op G0OFD); G0OFD John; G4HPE Steve; G4BFJ Brian; G7BGA Geoff; G3XKT Tony; GI0AZA Esher; MW0ISC Steve and G0BKU Shawn.

Following on from 09:00z: G0FEX Ken; G0AJH John; EI2KD Rod; G6LKB Dave; GD0BPK/M Nigel; EI3GYB Michael; MW0XOT John; G1BLJ Steve; G8VOJ John; G0UUU/P Phil; G4SSH Roy; G0RQL Don; M0VKC Nigel; MM3PDM Peter; GB2ABG (op G4IAR); G4IAR Dave; G4SJX Mike and G4DRS John.

Power was 50W throughout and the session ended at 08:24z. Reports were mainly in the range 57 to 59 but there were a few ops who found it difficult to hear their reports. With assistance from control and counting up reports, QSO were completed; G1BLJ - Steve being the most challenging.

7.160 SSB – 2 QSO’s from 09:45z:
Phil G0UUU/M was waiting on here and gave me a 57 report in response to my temporarily 500mW signal. Then 2E0FEH called but Karl was not a brilliant signal. (Phil was actually hearing him better.) Nonetheless, we exchanged 44 reports. Karl then went on to work Phil for TA08. Despite Phil spotting me on the WAB reflector, this was the sum total of stations worked on 40.

14.265 SSB – 10 QSO’s from 10:02z:
I was hopeful of a better showing on 20m than on the disappointing 7.160. Sergei RV9DC had seen the reflector alert and emailed me to say he’d be listening. He also thanked me for the OV QSL card from a previous activation. Mentioning that 10:00z to 12:00z was a good time for 20m, he said that he would try to contact the two OH WAB chasers, OH3GZ and OH3OJ, both with the name of Jukka. All the evidence suggests that he succeeded but sadly, there was no sign of Sergei himself. I reminded myself to try again later.

The first thing I did was to call my helper Phil G0UUU/M, still parked amongst all the tourists on Marine Drive seven miles down the coast and patiently waiting. With all the swapping of mobile whips and handhelds out of the car window, the day-trippers must have been well entertained. Dropping the power to 500mW got me a 56 report, noticeably weaker than on the two lower bands but still a pleasant surprise.

Again Phil put a spot on the reflector for me and a few minutes later the two Jukka’s, OH3GZ and OH3OJ, duly called in. Thanks must go to Sergei for tipping them off. The exchanges were all 59 and I got a 59 plus from one of them. Propagation couldn’t be too bad but would it be good enough to reach Asiatic Russia?

Phil later informed me that one of the Jukka’s (Jack in English) had put me on the DX cluster and without that I don’t think I would have got much further. With this help I went on to log the following stations:

IV3EAD Ennio (55/ 57 QSB); I2BUH George (59/ 57 QSB); I0IJ Tony (2 x 58); OM2GM Tibor (58/ 59 QRM); I8OCA Tony in Naples (2x 59 plus); UX7UN Nicol in Ukraine (2 x 59 QSB) and finally IU8MB (2 x 59).

I have no idea how many of the above (if any) were WAB chasers but I did hear someone say, 'Thanks for the rare one. 'Another just commented on the callsign and called me 'Roy.' (Roy G4SSH is SSEG Charman and licence holder for the club-call.)

14.265 CW – 2 QSO’s at 10:27z:
During the SSB session, one station I2BUH George had requested a QSO in CW. I asked him to swap modes and to give me a long tuning call. Because this was the 20m band (USB=CW?), I'm not sure that any VFO adjustment was needed and after a short time we exchanged 599/ 579.

Next Jukka OH3GZ saw his opportunity to bag OV00 in CW and was duly logged with 599 reports. Along with Roy G4SSH on 3.557 earlier, these were the only CW QSO’s of the day but many thanks for them. I’m not that good at CW but I dearly love it.

3.760 SSB - 4 (and a 'half') QSO's from 10:45 to 11:11:
The pace changed a lot for this session but in case anybody missed it the first time, it’s always best to return to the controlled band before leaving. In this case 3.760 was quiet. Propagation on 80 had gone into lunch-time mode and I think the ops had probably done the same. No matter, the scheduled return was only to stop any stragglers falling through the net (excuse the pun).

After a few minutes contact with Shaun G0BKU/P was re-established. Despite being /P this time, he took up the gauntlet of control, albeit in a minor way as there was ‘no one else about’ as they say. After a while, in response to Shaun's invitations, Brian G0BFJ called in to check things were going OK and we had a brief chat about OV.

Glancing up at the cliff I marvelled at Brian’s bravery in putting OV on in the mid 1980’s using a direct on-the-day approach without the help of ladders or fixed ropes. He brought along two climbing-savvy scout leaders with coils of rope to help him abseil down. What an adventure that must have been. I don’t know of anybody who’d done it just that way. I tried once but chickened out some 6 feet over the edge when the hairy beach-combed rope dragged my wool pullover into the makeshift figure of eight. Stuck there for a while, I could go neither up nor down.

After several more calls on my behalf by Shaun, in came Kelvin M0AID with a 55 signal. Unfortunately he had no copy on OV but could hear me via the web receiver in Cheshire. Oh well, I suppose half a contact is better than none but that was an ‘interest only’ QSO and something understood by both sides. Pity.

Next came 2W0OSG/P John with 55’s giving his location as IO83KB, followed by 2E0GBK Keith who sadly did not manage to get his report from me. Excessive noise must have been the problem as he gave me ‘49.’

It was good to hear long-time SOTA acquaintance Don G0NES (58/ 55) followed by what turned out to be the final QSO of the day from Top Band enthusiast Jake G1YFF 57/ 55. What a pity this was 80 and not 160m. The latter wouldn’t have worked of course; not at this time of day, even 80m was having a bit of a siesta.

Shaun was concerned enough to periodically enquire where the tide line had reached. The operating position is on the landward edge of a fairly flat area before it begins to shelve closer in. This means that the tide comes in noticeably quicker over this section and you must keep an eye on it. This was especially true of today’s spring tide of 6.1m; moving twice as fast as the neap of the last activation of March 2017.

Shaun and I hung around on 3.760 between 11:11z and 11:50, in case someone should call. This was well past my scheduled QRT time but while ever there was space to operate, that had to be the priority. Nothing further was heard on 80m but while waiting I started moving non essential items back up to ‘advanced base’ a few metres landward.

14.265 SSB – Nil:
With only the essentials remaining and though the waves were within 2 metres there was one more thing I wanted to do before leaving. Opening the links, I called on the 20m frequency to see if by some vague chance RV9DC would be there but heard nothing from Sergei. I since learned that he’d been I’ll in bed for all of Easter. He had monitored 14.265-SSB at sporadic times but never heard me. Better luck next time and get well soon Sergei.

Packing up:
With all the equipment safely now on the higher rock, the next job was to to drop the antenna, the now wet northern end first. Most of this end string was now over open water so standing on a sea-surrounded rock I broke it. Rolling up the antenna was a pain this time, catching around every rock.

The Retreat 13:18 to 14:37:
Whenever possible I took the mid-tide line, bypassing the mini-plateau at TA 0037 9915. With 3 hours remaining to high tide, there was plenty of room to walk in most places; the narrowest gaps being at the two points, Petard and the unnamed one.

The ascent was slow and laborious in warm sunshine. The mobile phone started working again about two thirds of the way up the climb, enabling family messages and it was a relief to see the Cleveland Way again. Once at the car, I called on 3.760 but nothing was heard. The band was still ‘asleep.’

Just the same as in 2017, I suffered some painful leg cramps while driving home, something I rarely get with SOTA. Confirmed again; rocky foreshore walking puts stress on different muscles. I can’t blame dehydration or lack of electrolytes this time.

QSO's & TIMES (z):
1 on 2m-FM at 08:15 (G0UUU/M)
Nil on 80m CW from 08:40
40 on 80m SSB (session-1) from 08:49
1 on 80m CW at 09:25 (G4SSH)
2 on 40m SSB from 09:45
Low Water: 10:00z (11:00 BST)
10 on 20m SSB from 10:02 to 10:38
2 on 20m CW at 10:27
4 on 80m SSB (session-2) from 10:48 to 11:11
Nil on 20m SSB at 11:53 (Looking for RV9DC)
Total: 60 QSO's

CHRONOLOGY (BST):
Left home: 06:05
Left car: 06:36
Arr. Beach: 06:52
Arr. OV: 07:59
QRV: 09:40
Low Tide: 11:00
QRT: 12:54
Left OV: 13:18

Left Beach: 14:12

Arr. Car: 14:37
Arr. Home: 15:30

To OV: 1hr-23 min
Return: 1hr-19 min
On Site: 5hr-19min
Radio ops: 3hr-14min (6.1m tide)


COMMENTS:
Walking along the foreshore to OV shouldn’t be underestimated and bruises are all part of the fun. The mast section stick helped especially when getting down from large rocks onto smaller ones.

The Route:
Distance walked both ways on this route totals 5km and parking seems to be accepted by the local farmers despite it looking like a private road.

The 80m band:
I wouldn’t say that 80m was right at the top of it’s act on Good Friday but it did provide more than adequate for propagation around the UK in the morning. When revisited prior to leaving, it was quite a different story.

Easter Sunday was the reserve day for this activation. Had that been necessary, low tide would have been 90 minutes later by which time propagation would have been far poorer.

The Horizontal Net, which I listened to on the drive in from 06:05, had cleared 3.760 MHz nicely in time for WAB to get on there and mass for the activation. All in all and thanks to nature, the timing could barely have been better.

Net Control:
I can’t praise the 80m net controllers enough. In the morning it was Graham G7LMF who got things started and Phil G7AFM who finished it off. Between them they pushed through the first 22 contacts in only 11 minutes! Though a few top ops do (e.g. G4OBK, G1INK and some EU CW ops), I know from SOTA activations that left to my own devices, I could never equal that pace.

In the afternoon it was Shaun G0BKU/P who voluntarily stepped up to the mark. This was a different 80m and Shaun’s main job was to keep me company as well as probing for would be chasers.

Son Phil G0UUU/M played a valuable roll from Scarborough’s Marine Drive both in spotting my QSY’s and for just being there as local backup. Important information was gained. At a distance of 11.6km (7 miles) we were able to work easily on all three HF frequencies with just half a Watt and on 2m with 5W.

40m:
If it hadn’t been for Phil G0UUU/M and a re-working of Karl 2E0FEH on here, I would have been writing ’No QSO’s’ Phil was very close and Karl (Cornwall) was just far enough away for 40m. You are left wondering whether any WAB chasers live in the 80m - 20m ‘gap’ at this stage of the sunspot cycle.

20m:
Last time (2017) 20m had to be dropped partly due to neap tidal range but more because of time wasted at the beginning when an antenna fault reared its ugly head. In 2014 I got 35 contacts on 14.265 including Sergei RV9DC.
160m:
There was sufficient time at the end to have QSY’d to 160m but the last time I tried from OV I got nil QSO’s. Going by conditions on 80m and therefore the lack of chasers to tell, it would probably have been futile again. Darkness is required and when it comes to OV, that raises a whole new set of problems.

QSO's:
There were 60 this time compared with 58 in 2017, 89 in 2014 when 40m was ‘in charge and 111 in 2013. 80m is working well for inter-G just now in sunspot low but it tends not to reach as many stations when you consider the UK and Europe.

Tidal Range 4.8m:
The Spring tides were on our side today compared with a paltry 2.8m we got in 2017. On spring tides, the water comes in and goes out much further and since it has further to go in roughly the same 12 hours, movement is relatively rapid. The ship's boiler was uncovered for much of the time either side of low-tide whereas in 2017 I must have blinked and missed it.

The closer to the edge of OV that you can set up, the longer you’ll have to activate but as you approach the limit, it increases reliance on GPS accuracy. When sitting around for hours, comfort is a consideration so it’s best to look for a ‘table rock’ with a ‘seat rock’ next to it, preferably looking out to sea.

With good weather guaranteed, I was looking forward to this, my 27th activation of the very first square of my WAB career but you never know which one will be your last so I hope other activators will give it a try. This can be a rewarding and memorable exercise which is why the route detail is included here. Unfortunately, unless you’re good at abseiling, there is no direct route such as we enjoyed in the 1980's and again briefly in 2006 but it is much better than coming in from either Hayburn Wyke or Common Cliff near Ravenscar. Besides, the ‘lost world’ of Beast Cliff plateau is festooned with deer ticks these days, not to mention the adders.

Local’ comms:
The difficulty of backup safety comms from OV is a factor that puts me off doing it these days but son Phil and I proved one thing today. A 7-mile link is easily made between the OV operating point and Scarborough’s Marine Drive (the most easterly point) using 2m-FM QRP and simple aerials. It works on HF too, even with 500mW. However I tried GB7RW, our local dual-mode 2m repeater above Robin Hoods Bay. All I can say is using 5W
from the FT817ND to a J-Pole from the OV operating position, there was no response.

Thanks:
To the net controllers Graham G7LMF, Phil G7AFM, Shaun G0BKU/P and to Phil G0UUU/M for local comms on HF and VHF. Many thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to waiting mobiles for your patience.

Once again the historic acknowledgements: Alec Brennand G4AVA, with G4AKR, G3MGI, G4EJJ and the surveyor G4DQS for 'discovering' OV and activating it in 1977.

Garmin .gdb (or .gpx) route files for the above route and others, plus photos and tide tables are available on request from G4YSS. (See QRZ.com for email)

If you require one (of 2006 vintage) the direct QSL route is via G4YSS.
Please report errors in this narrative.

73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group Club call-sign GX0OOO/P)


Phil G7AFM
 

Well done again John as Dave says cracking write up nice to see a few pics of the activation zone some of those stones look treacherous.


Graham G7LMF
 

Thanks again John,

It was great to get yourself and the infamous OV00 in the log.

73

Graham G7LMF 

On Tue, 30 Apr 2019 14:33 John G4YSS via Groups.Io, <m1nnn=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
Activation of 100km square OV/ 10km square OV00 on 19th April 2019 

G4YSS - Unaccompanied
HF-QRO on 80m, 40m & 20m. 2m-FM QRP.
Using SSEG Callsign GX0OOO/P
Times: BST (UTC+1hr) & UTC (z) for radio ops

WARNING: This is a fully detailed 5,000 word report intended to stand-alone so there will be some commonality with past reports since 2013 such as driving instructions and walking route. As I understand it some of the old reports posted on Yahoo, may not be available on the new reflector/ WAB forum but the 2014 and 2017 ones seem to be unaffected.


EQUIPMENT:
FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver.
MX-P50M HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt linear amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with (up to) 25m end-strings
Loading coils for 160m (not used)
5m, four-section home-brew CFC mast

5 Ah Li-Po battery (fully depleted)
5 Ah Li-Po battery (10% used)
2m-FM (PMR) rig: UV-5R, 2-band, 5-Watt H/H (linked to J-Pole on short mast)
2m-FM/ (PMR) rig: UV-3R, 2-band, 2-Watt H/H (carried in top pocket)
QRO pack: 11.38kg (25.1 lbs) including 1.75 litre drinks, ice & electrolytes.

Other Items:
Garmin Geko 301 GPS with routes
One mast section was adapted as a walking stick

Scarborough Tide Times/ Height above Chart Datum for 19-04-19
High Water: 04:56/ 5.9m and 17:05/ 6.1m. Tidal Range: 4.8m
Low Water: 11:07/ 1.3m
OV00: Deduct 10 minutes from Scarborough times for OV
OV00 low water - 10:57 (rounded to 11:00 BST; 10:00z)


Introduction:
OV00 (and large square OV) only exist when the tide uncovers them. They lie at the base of the 500 foot Beast Cliff; a formidable barrier to any would be visitor and more so if you have to drive hundreds of miles to get there. Just 25 minutes away by car is a huge encourager for me.

Factors to consider: Tide times including tidal range; the weather, time of day for band conditions and it’s best to aim for a weekend or Bank Holiday when maximum numbers of chasers are available.

On this part of the Yorkshire coast, the cliffs are notoriously unstable. That certainly applies to Beast Cliff where OV is. A descent used in one year can be destroyed by the next, usually by heavy rainfall. That said, the route used for this activation (and the ones in 2014 and 2017) looks as if it’s been around a lot of years but just in case, I did a recee beforehand, adding 15 feet of beach-combed rope to the protection.

Following the demise of two direct routes, painstakingly put in for activation purposes in 1987 and 2006, I now use what I believe is currently the best route option; one I came across in late 2013 and used by beach casters. It descends a 270 foot cliff via a steep path and fixed rope south of Petard Point, landing you on the rocky foreshore some 1,700m south of OV. That sounds conveniently close until you see what the ‘beach’ is like.

Despite it all being at sea level, the most demanding part is the 2.2 mile round-trip over rocks and boulders, many of which are exceedingly slippery. Rushing, as I have a tendency to do, is not recommended. Finally, erecting an antenna in OV can be a frustrating and time consuming task. I little thought and a plan beforehand helps and it’s better if there’s more than one person.

Nowadays it seems to take me up to 2-years to mentally get over these OV expeditions and reach a stage where I can ‘stomach’ a new one. Being also a SOTA op, I tend to compare the two disciplines but I would advise against that approach in this case. Judging by the various aches and pains suffered after OV sorties which don’t appear after SOTA activity, a different set of muscles are called into use.


ROUTE - Directions and Waypoints:
Driving to the start:
If driving north from Scarborough, leave the A171 Scarborough/ Whitby road where the latter takes a 90 degree left (west) at Cloughton (TA 0097 9470). Go north (straight on) up the Ravenscar Road for 2.4 miles and turn right (at SE 9964 9774) on a minor road, marked 'Local Traffic' which used to lead to the Shire Horse Farm (currently closed).

Follow the metalled road east for about 0.7 miles to TA 0034 9771 and turn left at the top of the hill. Drive NW then N via Whitehouse Farm and Plane Tree Cottages to Plane Tree farm. You pass a B&B sign for the latter.

At Plane Tree Farm (SE 9997 9838) turn right (NE) onto a good dirt road for 450m. The track, which is easily negotiable in an ordinary car, leads eventually to Rigg Hall Farm. Before reaching the farm, look for a grassy area which opens out on the left at TA 0030 9867. Here there is a gate and stile with associated public footpath signpost, all set back from the road. In 2013, the farmer's wife kindly assured me that it was OK to park there so long as none of the three gates were blocked.

The post code for this general locality is YO13-0EY but it appears to cover a few properties. If using a satnav it may be preferable to enter the parking place grid ref; TA 0030 9867 or the Lat & Long in degrees: N54.37369 W0.45739.

Today I drove along with an IC706-2G and home-brew whip, listening to the Horizontal Net on 3.760-SSB.

Walking to OV:
Walk a few paces to cross the stile at TA 0031 9870, turn right and follow the sign, walking 170m to a second stile at TA 0046 9877. Cross this stile and turn right (SE) on the Cleveland Way cliff-top path; initially descending some steps and walking 400m south to the cliff descent point. Easily missed, the path going left over the cliff edge is opposite a bend in the fence at TA 00716 98478 (82m - 270 feet ASL)

Cliff Descent:
About a third of the way down you come across lengths of blue webbing tied together and fixed to a steel tube. The webbing isn't essential to safety but below it on steeper ground is a more useful rope section which I lengthened a couple of weeks prior. However it's only fixed top and bottom and is free to move sideways in the middle.

The path down is fairly well defined over grass at first and later through gorse and heather. Weaving around, it descends via TA 00730 98480; TA 00755 98507 and TA 00749 98530, meeting the beach at TA 0076 9853. I have yet to see any on this particular section but be aware that adders live on these cliffs and they like sunshine.

It's really not onerous but if you don't fancy the final steep bare slope or if the rope is absent, you can turn left at a path junction - TA 00755 98533. Going a distance of 50m down a muddy path between gorse bushes brings you onto the beach at TA 00745 98583, some 70m closer to OV. Here there is a low rocky shelf with a short fixed-rope down to high-tide level. Anglers use this option to get up and down the final 30 vertical metres but I prefer the rope because there's less chance of ticks. All waypoints were marked by myself.

Foreshore Walk (1.7km):
Once at sea level, you turn left to walk NW along the rocky foreshore. Occasionally you meet flat rock sections where better progress can be made. Some of these provide 20 or 30 metres of easier walking if you pick your way around the rock pools but others, like the one nearest to OV at TA 0012 9977, have less grip than black ice until they completely dry out.

On the way in I tend to hug the cliff as much as possible; the rocks are less slippery there but beware of falling debris, especially after sustained heavy rain. On the way back more foreshore is exposed by the tide making some of the best walking at half tide level and again there is less to slip on, in this case because of the scouring action of the sea and barnacles.

Between TA 0046 9896 and TA 0037 9915 there is the option of climbing up about 10 metres onto a mini cliff plateau. Here you can walk 200m on grass instead of rocks while dodging low bushes and bull rushes, though even this is quite rough, boggy and rock-strewn in places. Next you pass a point at TA 0033 9935 where there’s a choice of over or round.

At Petard Point TA 0052 9889 you must pass to seaward, making this the 'tidal crux' of the journey. The terrain here is characterised by big blocks the size of cars, backed by a steep cliff. I would estimate that there would be sufficient room to pass by at low tide plus or minus about 3.5 hours but don't hold me to that!

There may not be any recognised routes off the foreshore along this 1,700m section but that doesn't mean that there is no escape from drowning should you get the timing wrong. These cliffs are not shear from the sea up so for the most part there is space to wait out a high tide. However, if you're relying solely on phone coverage, notification of the several hour delay would be very unlikely as of 2019. Far better to pre-arrange for a VHF link if overdue. The eastern point of Scarborough's Marine Drive, the cliff above Filey Brig (Filey Country Park) and Flamborough Head are places to consider for this.

Compared with the direct descent method, there is a much-reduced chance of meeting adders and deer ticks, as well as avoiding the vertical rock face of Lower Beast Cliff. Putting ladders on this impasse has proved difficult and their longevity variable. Two have been ‘shrugged off’ by nature, so the method described above is the best (known) option as of April 2019.

The Walk in, 19th April 2019:
A dry day made for a safe cliff descent. The foreshore walk is by far the worst part of the journey but the mast section doubling as a stick helped a lot, so long as it was actively connected with dents in the rocks. Thinking it was going to be cold in the early morning and wearing a fleece, I soon overheated; the level of concentration required adding to that. In 2014, the walk-in from the parking spot to OV took just 62 minutes but that’s an exception. Today it took 1hr-23min and featured a couple of minor falls, a knocked knee and a grazed shin.

OV:
On arrival the sea was still only halfway down 'Stanchion Rock' the large rock in OV used in 1987 to take the semi-permanent but now long-gone bolted-on mast base. Unlike the cliff, very little has changed on the foreshore over the years. Many of the rocks were instantly recognizable but the ships boiler was not yet visible.

Survey (Lower Cliff):
With time to spare I scrambled north for a short distance but saw nothing of any value on the cliff face. No rope ladders, ropes or the remains of former routes were evident.

As far as I know, no one has ever tried it but I also looked for a suitable bivvy place, should the need ever arise but the sloping cliff base meets the rocks without properly levelling out. There is no level grass on which to pitch a tent and the slope is crumbly and unstable. If needs must there is another possibility but it would be less than satisfactory.

There are two flat and almost level sandstone rocks above the high tide line at NZ 99966 00048 and NZ 99975 00008. The first one is not really long enough, the second a bit on the narrow side and both are likely to move or tilt at any time in the future. Nothing stays the same for long on the lower cliff and even the tree-lined upper cliff has suffered some spectacular land slips.

Going back to the water’s edge, I found a high rock 3m inside OV00 to use as a table for preparation. Pre-assembling the mast and making ready the dipole at this stage saves valuable time later. I also set up the UV-5R with its J-Pole on a short mast.

Setting up for HF:
Sometime after 09:15 the sea allowed the possibility of bagging an HF dipole pitch for the day. The mast was shoved down between two rocks and wedged in place with more of the same. Despite care, one of the dipole links ended up in the drink. No worries, after a continuity check before leaving home the links had all been silicone greased.

Being furthest from the surf, next to be set up was the southern dipole end. A 20m length of very thin string wound on a bit of corrix board is tied to the wire, taken over the highest rock available and wedged between lesser rocks beyond. The same applies to the northern leg but it is necessary to wait until the water recedes a little further. While waiting for this I was surprised to hear a voice.

145.400 FM – 1 QSO:
My son Phil G0UUU/P was calling me on S20. I knew he was going to give it a try but it was surprising how good the signal was. Phil was using 5W from an FT60 handheld with a posh set-top whip located 11.6km down the coast on Marine Drive, Scarborough. This is one of just a few places with a line-of-sight (in this case slightly questionable) into OV. We exchanged 55’s at 09:36 (08:36z) and I was able to report progress. After this I moved the VHF station next to the HF mast.

Unlike the 2017 activation with a tidal range of 2.8m, which made the waiting positively tedious, today’s 4.8m range made for noticeably quicker movement. The final northern leg was soon deployed using the long string method again. If the dipole drapes itself across random rocks as it did today, I prop up the end string with two crossed sticks; the carbon ones I use for end supports on mountaintops. At this rate we were in danger of meeting the estimated QRV time of 09:47.

Today's 80m link dipole position was GPS checked as follows:
North end: OV 00009 00040
Mast: OV 00012 00021
South end: OV 00014 00002


The HF ACTIVATION 9:40 to 12:54:
Temp:14 Deg.C. Wind: 2 mph SE., sunshine. Wave height (breakers) variable approx. 0.5m. No phone signal. LOC: IO84SJ.

3.557 CW – 1 QSO:
With everything set up and ready by 09:40, I tried calling G4SSH in Scarborough with 50 Watts but there was no answer from Roy at this time. However, he did call in near the end of the SSB session on 3.760 where we arranged a CW sked. This was successfully carried out later at 09:25z but further CW CQ’s were not answered.

3.760 SSB - 40 QSO's from 08:49z:
I was hoping to hear voices recognisable as WAB members and there they were, just about to run a mobile down the net. Graham G7LMF was in control of the net but due to conditions he later passed this to Phil G7AFM. Graham left a gap which I made quick use of. There was more than one mobile on the channel so after checking it was OK to be run down first, things moved on rapidly.

The first 22 stations were worked in 11 minutes as follows: G7LMF Graham; G0FVH/M Dave in SZ00 ('00' how appropriate); G7AFM Phil; G4YYB/M Ernie; 2E0FEH Karl; G3PRI Dave; GM6ZAK Andy; G8VZT Dave; G4BYY Keith; GB50WAB (op Steve G4HPE); M1TES James; GB4WAB (op G0GWY); G0GWY Geoff; G4WAB (op G0OFD); G0OFD John; G4HPE Steve; G4BFJ Brian; G7BGA Geoff; G3XKT Tony; GI0AZA Esher; MW0ISC Steve and G0BKU Shawn.

Following on from 09:00z: G0FEX Ken; G0AJH John; EI2KD Rod; G6LKB Dave; GD0BPK/M Nigel; EI3GYB Michael; MW0XOT John; G1BLJ Steve; G8VOJ John; G0UUU/P Phil; G4SSH Roy; G0RQL Don; M0VKC Nigel; MM3PDM Peter; GB2ABG (op G4IAR); G4IAR Dave; G4SJX Mike and G4DRS John.

Power was 50W throughout and the session ended at 08:24z. Reports were mainly in the range 57 to 59 but there were a few ops who found it difficult to hear their reports. With assistance from control and counting up reports, QSO were completed; G1BLJ - Steve being the most challenging.

7.160 SSB – 2 QSO’s from 09:45z:
Phil G0UUU/M was waiting on here and gave me a 57 report in response to my temporarily 500mW signal. Then 2E0FEH called but Karl was not a brilliant signal. (Phil was actually hearing him better.) Nonetheless, we exchanged 44 reports. Karl then went on to work Phil for TA08. Despite Phil spotting me on the WAB reflector, this was the sum total of stations worked on 40.

14.265 SSB – 10 QSO’s from 10:02z:
I was hopeful of a better showing on 20m than on the disappointing 7.160. Sergei RV9DC had seen the reflector alert and emailed me to say he’d be listening. He also thanked me for the OV QSL card from a previous activation. Mentioning that 10:00z to 12:00z was a good time for 20m, he said that he would try to contact the two OH WAB chasers, OH3GZ and OH3OJ, both with the name of Jukka. All the evidence suggests that he succeeded but sadly, there was no sign of Sergei himself. I reminded myself to try again later.

The first thing I did was to call my helper Phil G0UUU/M, still parked amongst all the tourists on Marine Drive seven miles down the coast and patiently waiting. With all the swapping of mobile whips and handhelds out of the car window, the day-trippers must have been well entertained. Dropping the power to 500mW got me a 56 report, noticeably weaker than on the two lower bands but still a pleasant surprise.

Again Phil put a spot on the reflector for me and a few minutes later the two Jukka’s, OH3GZ and OH3OJ, duly called in. Thanks must go to Sergei for tipping them off. The exchanges were all 59 and I got a 59 plus from one of them. Propagation couldn’t be too bad but would it be good enough to reach Asiatic Russia?

Phil later informed me that one of the Jukka’s (Jack in English) had put me on the DX cluster and without that I don’t think I would have got much further. With this help I went on to log the following stations:

IV3EAD Ennio (55/ 57 QSB); I2BUH George (59/ 57 QSB); I0IJ Tony (2 x 58); OM2GM Tibor (58/ 59 QRM); I8OCA Tony in Naples (2x 59 plus); UX7UN Nicol in Ukraine (2 x 59 QSB) and finally IU8MB (2 x 59).

I have no idea how many of the above (if any) were WAB chasers but I did hear someone say, 'Thanks for the rare one. 'Another just commented on the callsign and called me 'Roy.' (Roy G4SSH is SSEG Charman and licence holder for the club-call.)

14.265 CW – 2 QSO’s at 10:27z:
During the SSB session, one station I2BUH George had requested a QSO in CW. I asked him to swap modes and to give me a long tuning call. Because this was the 20m band (USB=CW?), I'm not sure that any VFO adjustment was needed and after a short time we exchanged 599/ 579.

Next Jukka OH3GZ saw his opportunity to bag OV00 in CW and was duly logged with 599 reports. Along with Roy G4SSH on 3.557 earlier, these were the only CW QSO’s of the day but many thanks for them. I’m not that good at CW but I dearly love it.

3.760 SSB - 4 (and a 'half') QSO's from 10:45 to 11:11:
The pace changed a lot for this session but in case anybody missed it the first time, it’s always best to return to the controlled band before leaving. In this case 3.760 was quiet. Propagation on 80 had gone into lunch-time mode and I think the ops had probably done the same. No matter, the scheduled return was only to stop any stragglers falling through the net (excuse the pun).

After a few minutes contact with Shaun G0BKU/P was re-established. Despite being /P this time, he took up the gauntlet of control, albeit in a minor way as there was ‘no one else about’ as they say. After a while, in response to Shaun's invitations, Brian G0BFJ called in to check things were going OK and we had a brief chat about OV.

Glancing up at the cliff I marvelled at Brian’s bravery in putting OV on in the mid 1980’s using a direct on-the-day approach without the help of ladders or fixed ropes. He brought along two climbing-savvy scout leaders with coils of rope to help him abseil down. What an adventure that must have been. I don’t know of anybody who’d done it just that way. I tried once but chickened out some 6 feet over the edge when the hairy beach-combed rope dragged my wool pullover into the makeshift figure of eight. Stuck there for a while, I could go neither up nor down.

After several more calls on my behalf by Shaun, in came Kelvin M0AID with a 55 signal. Unfortunately he had no copy on OV but could hear me via the web receiver in Cheshire. Oh well, I suppose half a contact is better than none but that was an ‘interest only’ QSO and something understood by both sides. Pity.

Next came 2W0OSG/P John with 55’s giving his location as IO83KB, followed by 2E0GBK Keith who sadly did not manage to get his report from me. Excessive noise must have been the problem as he gave me ‘49.’

It was good to hear long-time SOTA acquaintance Don G0NES (58/ 55) followed by what turned out to be the final QSO of the day from Top Band enthusiast Jake G1YFF 57/ 55. What a pity this was 80 and not 160m. The latter wouldn’t have worked of course; not at this time of day, even 80m was having a bit of a siesta.

Shaun was concerned enough to periodically enquire where the tide line had reached. The operating position is on the landward edge of a fairly flat area before it begins to shelve closer in. This means that the tide comes in noticeably quicker over this section and you must keep an eye on it. This was especially true of today’s spring tide of 6.1m; moving twice as fast as the neap of the last activation of March 2017.

Shaun and I hung around on 3.760 between 11:11z and 11:50, in case someone should call. This was well past my scheduled QRT time but while ever there was space to operate, that had to be the priority. Nothing further was heard on 80m but while waiting I started moving non essential items back up to ‘advanced base’ a few metres landward.

14.265 SSB – Nil:
With only the essentials remaining and though the waves were within 2 metres there was one more thing I wanted to do before leaving. Opening the links, I called on the 20m frequency to see if by some vague chance RV9DC would be there but heard nothing from Sergei. I since learned that he’d been I’ll in bed for all of Easter. He had monitored 14.265-SSB at sporadic times but never heard me. Better luck next time and get well soon Sergei.

Packing up:
With all the equipment safely now on the higher rock, the next job was to to drop the antenna, the now wet northern end first. Most of this end string was now over open water so standing on a sea-surrounded rock I broke it. Rolling up the antenna was a pain this time, catching around every rock.

The Retreat 13:18 to 14:37:
Whenever possible I took the mid-tide line, bypassing the mini-plateau at TA 0037 9915. With 3 hours remaining to high tide, there was plenty of room to walk in most places; the narrowest gaps being at the two points, Petard and the unnamed one.

The ascent was slow and laborious in warm sunshine. The mobile phone started working again about two thirds of the way up the climb, enabling family messages and it was a relief to see the Cleveland Way again. Once at the car, I called on 3.760 but nothing was heard. The band was still ‘asleep.’

Just the same as in 2017, I suffered some painful leg cramps while driving home, something I rarely get with SOTA. Confirmed again; rocky foreshore walking puts stress on different muscles. I can’t blame dehydration or lack of electrolytes this time.

QSO's & TIMES (z):
1 on 2m-FM at 08:15 (G0UUU/M)
Nil on 80m CW from 08:40
40 on 80m SSB (session-1) from 08:49
1 on 80m CW at 09:25 (G4SSH)
2 on 40m SSB from 09:45
Low Water: 10:00z (11:00 BST)
10 on 20m SSB from 10:02 to 10:38
2 on 20m CW at 10:27
4 on 80m SSB (session-2) from 10:48 to 11:11
Nil on 20m SSB at 11:53 (Looking for RV9DC)
Total: 60 QSO's

CHRONOLOGY (BST):
Left home: 06:05
Left car: 06:36
Arr. Beach: 06:52
Arr. OV: 07:59
QRV: 09:40
Low Tide: 11:00
QRT: 12:54
Left OV: 13:18

Left Beach: 14:12

Arr. Car: 14:37
Arr. Home: 15:30

To OV: 1hr-23 min
Return: 1hr-19 min
On Site: 5hr-19min
Radio ops: 3hr-14min (6.1m tide)


COMMENTS:
Walking along the foreshore to OV shouldn’t be underestimated and bruises are all part of the fun. The mast section stick helped especially when getting down from large rocks onto smaller ones.

The Route:
Distance walked both ways on this route totals 5km and parking seems to be accepted by the local farmers despite it looking like a private road.

The 80m band:
I wouldn’t say that 80m was right at the top of it’s act on Good Friday but it did provide more than adequate for propagation around the UK in the morning. When revisited prior to leaving, it was quite a different story.

Easter Sunday was the reserve day for this activation. Had that been necessary, low tide would have been 90 minutes later by which time propagation would have been far poorer.

The Horizontal Net, which I listened to on the drive in from 06:05, had cleared 3.760 MHz nicely in time for WAB to get on there and mass for the activation. All in all and thanks to nature, the timing could barely have been better.

Net Control:
I can’t praise the 80m net controllers enough. In the morning it was Graham G7LMF who got things started and Phil G7AFM who finished it off. Between them they pushed through the first 22 contacts in only 11 minutes! Though a few top ops do (e.g. G4OBK, G1INK and some EU CW ops), I know from SOTA activations that left to my own devices, I could never equal that pace.

In the afternoon it was Shaun G0BKU/P who voluntarily stepped up to the mark. This was a different 80m and Shaun’s main job was to keep me company as well as probing for would be chasers.

Son Phil G0UUU/M played a valuable roll from Scarborough’s Marine Drive both in spotting my QSY’s and for just being there as local backup. Important information was gained. At a distance of 11.6km (7 miles) we were able to work easily on all three HF frequencies with just half a Watt and on 2m with 5W.

40m:
If it hadn’t been for Phil G0UUU/M and a re-working of Karl 2E0FEH on here, I would have been writing ’No QSO’s’ Phil was very close and Karl (Cornwall) was just far enough away for 40m. You are left wondering whether any WAB chasers live in the 80m - 20m ‘gap’ at this stage of the sunspot cycle.

20m:
Last time (2017) 20m had to be dropped partly due to neap tidal range but more because of time wasted at the beginning when an antenna fault reared its ugly head. In 2014 I got 35 contacts on 14.265 including Sergei RV9DC.
160m:
There was sufficient time at the end to have QSY’d to 160m but the last time I tried from OV I got nil QSO’s. Going by conditions on 80m and therefore the lack of chasers to tell, it would probably have been futile again. Darkness is required and when it comes to OV, that raises a whole new set of problems.

QSO's:
There were 60 this time compared with 58 in 2017, 89 in 2014 when 40m was ‘in charge and 111 in 2013. 80m is working well for inter-G just now in sunspot low but it tends not to reach as many stations when you consider the UK and Europe.

Tidal Range 4.8m:
The Spring tides were on our side today compared with a paltry 2.8m we got in 2017. On spring tides, the water comes in and goes out much further and since it has further to go in roughly the same 12 hours, movement is relatively rapid. The ship's boiler was uncovered for much of the time either side of low-tide whereas in 2017 I must have blinked and missed it.

The closer to the edge of OV that you can set up, the longer you’ll have to activate but as you approach the limit, it increases reliance on GPS accuracy. When sitting around for hours, comfort is a consideration so it’s best to look for a ‘table rock’ with a ‘seat rock’ next to it, preferably looking out to sea.

With good weather guaranteed, I was looking forward to this, my 27th activation of the very first square of my WAB career but you never know which one will be your last so I hope other activators will give it a try. This can be a rewarding and memorable exercise which is why the route detail is included here. Unfortunately, unless you’re good at abseiling, there is no direct route such as we enjoyed in the 1980's and again briefly in 2006 but it is much better than coming in from either Hayburn Wyke or Common Cliff near Ravenscar. Besides, the ‘lost world’ of Beast Cliff plateau is festooned with deer ticks these days, not to mention the adders.

Local’ comms:
The difficulty of backup safety comms from OV is a factor that puts me off doing it these days but son Phil and I proved one thing today. A 7-mile link is easily made between the OV operating point and Scarborough’s Marine Drive (the most easterly point) using 2m-FM QRP and simple aerials. It works on HF too, even with 500mW. However I tried GB7RW, our local dual-mode 2m repeater above Robin Hoods Bay. All I can say is using 5W
from the FT817ND to a J-Pole from the OV operating position, there was no response.

Thanks:
To the net controllers Graham G7LMF, Phil G7AFM, Shaun G0BKU/P and to Phil G0UUU/M for local comms on HF and VHF. Many thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to waiting mobiles for your patience.

Once again the historic acknowledgements: Alec Brennand G4AVA, with G4AKR, G3MGI, G4EJJ and the surveyor G4DQS for 'discovering' OV and activating it in 1977.

Garmin .gdb (or .gpx) route files for the above route and others, plus photos and tide tables are available on request from G4YSS. (See QRZ.com for email)

If you require one (of 2006 vintage) the direct QSL route is via G4YSS.
Please report errors in this narrative.

73, John G4YSS
(Using Scarborough Special Events Group Club call-sign GX0OOO/P)


David G0FVH
 


John G4LTH, will agree with me I think ? similar size boulders as SY38, although we had an easier trip in, not so getting out !!
 
 
DAVE.
G0FVH.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 5:12 PM
Subject: Re: [Worked-All-Britain] OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation,19-04-19

Well done again John as Dave says cracking write up nice to see a few pics of the activation zone some of those stones look treacherous.


Phil G7AFM
 

So when are you revisiting that one then Dave as missed it last time.


John Allan
 

very true david --- all the rocks were vy vy large and mostly  covered in slim
 
hence our inability to get off the beach in time
 
but hay ho i really enjoyed it
 
note --- i will be in gm land from 15th may till 27th may --- and i hope to activate a few squares 
(ps operation will/may be restricted as xyl is going with me this year hi
 
all the best too all
 
john
 
G4LTH 
 


From: Worked-All-Britain@groups.io [mailto:Worked-All-Britain@groups.io] On Behalf Of David G0FVH via Groups.Io
Sent: 30 April 2019 17:27
To: Worked-All-Britain@groups.io
Subject: Re: [Worked-All-Britain] OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation,19-04-19

John G4LTH, will agree with me I think ? similar size boulders as SY38, although we had an easier trip in, not so getting out !!
 
 
DAVE.
G0FVH.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 5:12 PM
Subject: Re: [Worked-All-Britain] OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation,19-04-19

Well done again John as Dave says cracking write up nice to see a few pics of the activation zone some of those stones look treacherous.

Virus-free. www.avg.com


David G0FVH
 


Hi Phil, if I knew someone with a boat, I would do it tomorrow, but I will leave it to someone a bit younger and fitter I think ?
 
 
DAVE.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 5:36 PM
Subject: Re: [Worked-All-Britain] OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation,19-04-19

So when are you revisiting that one then Dave as missed it last time.