Radio listening in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlottes)

Hello, everyone. Perhaps this is the best venue to describe some wonderful
experiences I'm having on Canada's northern west coast.

{mosimage}For the past few days, I've been on the Queen Charlotte Islands, also known as Haida
Gwaii. My wife Wanda is from Masset, and is of Haida heritage. In the early 80s, we lived here for two years. At that time, being a young doctor, I had neither the time, nor the experience to truly appreciate the value of radio reception possibilities here out in the Pacific Ocean. I did have a 40 foot random wire and a Collins R-390A back in those days and recall hearing some pretty interesting DX. The Canadian military has known about radio conditions here as well. During the second world war, and after, the Canadian Navy established a listening post in the nearby saltwater slough. This site being a major migratory bird habitat caused increasing local opposition, so the site was transferred, first to a
location about 3 km from town and perhaps 1km from the ocean (Dixon Entrance), and in the very early 1970s to the present location 5 km from town directly on the sand dunes overlooking Dixon Entrance. It is the site of the well-known Wullenweber antenna design with identical DF arrays
located in various locations around the world, although a number of them have now been decommissioned.

When I was a young medical officer, there were 300 Canadian and US Navy personnel manning the listening post
24/7. About 10 years ago, the site became fully automated with the base closing leaving a skeleton staff of 7 technicians remaining to repair any problems that might arise. The monitoring staff is now located in Leitrim,
Ontario close to the nation's capitol of Ottawa.

I have always been excited about the winter time possibilities of dxing virtually around the clock on medium wave. Being as far north as we are (above 54 deg N), the winter daylight is very short with the sun (if we see it at all) after 8:30 local, and setting by shortly after 3:00 PM. The sun doesn't rise more than about 20 degrees above the horizon, however. My suspicion is that there is MW possibilities around the clock, if auroral conditions allow. Last summer, Wanda and I finally bit the bullet and purchased 2.2 acres of waterfront property 13 km east of the town of Masset. This summer we have started construction of initially a 900 sq ft cedar post and beam home, and next year we may add an identical structure to serve as a garage/workshop as well as a fully furnished second story loft. Right now, we have a roomy but ancient fifth wheel parked in the southwest corner of the property. This week, we are adding power, and pouring the concrete for the foundation of the house and garage. The driveway was completed a month ago. Nothing is easy to accomplish on the Charlottes, and easily runs twice the "down south" price. Luckily Wanda is dealing with the day to day headaches of construction.

We've had a lot of great assistance with the planning from John Bryant, an accomplished
architect, and builder of several homes, so his guidance has been most helpful. Wanda drove up with our Mazda truck packed to the rafters a week ago. Besides the toilet, bath, and sink, there was a little extra room for
the other necessities...coax cable (several hundred feet), over 7000' of teflon coated antenna wire, numerous connectors, a complete electronic tool kit, multimeter, soldering iron, and of course, my most portable high grade
communications receiver, the AOR 7030+ along with my primary DX laptop with computer control software (ERGO 4) for the AOR. Unfortunately, with the lack of power, the laptop has seen limited use due to the 2 hour battery
capacity only (it's an older IBM Thinkpad). Instead, I've been taking notes, using a portable MD recorder, and using the computer only sporadically. I do miss having GeoClock, B-Log, ERGO 4, and the DBS and PAL databases running in the background. Can't wait until the power is hooked up, hopefully by later this week.

The first night on site (we're sleeping there, doing some site work during the day, and then spending a few hours daily at Wanda's parents' place in town. Here I can recharge the batteries, and transcribe my
loggings to B-log, and do this sort of thing.), I erected a mini-Beverage measuring about 350 feet along the west boundary of our property, and oriented approximately north and south. This is not an ideal direction,
especially during the summer, as 180 degrees points towards Pitcairn Is, while 0 degrees extends across European Russian, the Caspian Sea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Madagascar. Perhaps in the deep of winter this
bearing might produce results, but I wasn't optimistic this time of the year. Nonetheless, this morning I was able to hear Fiji, Australia, Tahiti, a Hawaiian, and several Alaskans on MW, as well as a good Indonesian opening, and excellent 120 meter Australian conditions. India on 60 meters was also audible. Not bad for a suboptimal mini-Beverage, in the middle of summer (with sunset not until after 22:00 local, and rising
before 0500).

Today, I bushwacked another Beverage of similar length at approximately 80/260 degrees unterminated. The original antenna was moved slightly to 350/170 degrees, also unterminated. This should correspond to
a beam toward Micronesia, PNG, and northern Australia, with the extreme eastern edge of Brazil on the back side (I may terminate this end). The original antenna will now point toward the Yukon, and then central Asia, without much off the backside. The adjacent uncleared properties are extremely difficult to traverse! There is very very thick Salal, which is virtually impossible to push your way through. It's usually about 5 to 7 feet high and very tangly. On top of this, there are many obstacles underfoot like stumps and fallen logs and branches. My bruised and
scratched legs and arms can attest to this fact! With two mini-Beverages erected, Wanda is already grumbling about the esthetics of white wire. I've been thinking about several other options. One exciting
possibility is to erect permanent Beverages across the road to the south of the property. This is forested land belonging to Naikoon Provincial Park.

I've toyed with the idea of several full length Beverages fed to a remote coax switching mechanism (such as the Ameritron RCS-10). Theproblem stems in how to get the single coax and 4 line 12 v power supply back to our cottage, a distance of perhaps 200 to 300 feet. The road is gravel. I'm hesitant to try and run the coax in the air beneath the power line, as this will immediately raise suspicions. There are no drainage pipes between the two sides of the road, unfortunately. Perhaps I could burrow down 8 inches or so and lay a 1 to 2" PVC pipe across the road, and
then fill the trench. I'm not sure at all whether this is at all doable.

The pavement ends about 100 yards towards town. It might have been easily doable had the asphalt continued to our property. I'm sure I could have worked something out with the contractors. Oh, well. I don't
see any signs of future road extensions. This would need to be an off-season project, as the road is fairly busy this time of year with tourists and campers. During the winter, there is very little traffic (I would think less than 2 or 3 vehicles per hour).

Yet another possibility is to abandon the Beverage plan, and consider smaller scale antennae such as EWE, Kaz, Pennant, or the K9AY. These should work reasonably well from long-wave, through the medium-waves to
short wave. I know that I've been very pleased with the performance of my K9AY during the wet winter months, and that John Bryant and others have had good experiences with the Kaz/Flag and Pennant antennae. Also Patrick Martin in Oregon often reports his satisfaction with the EWE antenna. Points to ponder, in any case.

{mosimage}A bit of a travelogue to end this evening's musings. I've never seen as many eagles as I have here in Masset. Last night within 100 meters, I counted 24 eagles. It was nice to see that approximately half to two
thirds were juvenile birds. Tonight after dinner, two adult bald eagles flew a window level towards us. I nearly jumped out of my seat, they were that close. The lead eagle had a salmon, or part of a salmon in it's
talons. The second eagle must have been chasing the first. What a marvelous sight! Well I went outside with my digital camera, my wife's film camera, and a pair of binoculars to view the spectacle. Well I
couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a fully mature, and probably rather elderly bald eagle in an alder tree in my in-law's backyard, no more than 20 or 30 feet away and 10 feet off the ground! I'm so used to seeing
eagles on the highest perches of evergreen trees, but not this one! He (or rather she, in my estimation) was casually observing a spectacle above her. High up in an evergreen tree were three juvenile eagles. These birds
are every bit as large as a full grown eagle, but lacks the white "bald" head. The middle eagle had it's wings extended, protecting it's turf. It had a salmon in it's talons, while two other juveniles on each side were
attempting to get in on the action, but to no avail. They eventually left, leaving the victor to feast on the salmon, which was a lot of fun to watch through the binoculars.

Ravens and crows were busy picking up the pieces below, as morsels fell down from the higher perch. The older eagle observed all of this (which went on for about 90 minutes), and eventually
also went on it's way. Life in paradise!

Well, that's all for tonight. I'm hoping everyone's summer is going well. I'll continue to fill you in as things develop!

Doctor Walter Salmaniw lives and practices in Victoria, B.C. Canada and is making a part-time home on Haida Gwaii in the Pacific Ocean.