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AE6Y November 2018 Aruba Trip Notes – CQWW CW Contest

Andrew L. Faber, AE6Y, P49Y

Saturday, Nov. 17 – Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018.  Sandy and I arrived right on time, at a little before 3 p.m. on AA 1028 (the same flight that delayed me 7 hours on a recent trip), having left SFO at 9:50 Saturday night. Both flights were uneventful, with a 4½ hour layover at the Admirals’ club at D30 in MIA. Very kindly, Lisandro was at the airport to meet us, and we made some plans for coordinating for Sandy’s upcoming talk at the Nature and Space Aruba Foundation meeting at the University of Aruba on Tuesday.

We picked up our Hertz Kia Rio, then drove to the rented VRBO townhome at Jardines Del Mar, just north of the Horatio Oduber Hospital, about a third of a mile from Eagle Beach. We were met there by Dirima, the manager, who showed us around. Other than some fussing with the cable TV in the living room (for which she initiated a call to Greg, the owner, in Brooklyn) no problems. It’s a very comfortable place on two levels, with three bedrooms upstairs, and two bathrooms. I like that the kitchen and living room have lots of light (both natural and artificial). There is a very pleasant, covered outdoor nook off the living room with comfy chairs and couches that turned out to be a great area to while away time in, particularly during short-duration rain showers.

There is a large communal lawn right off this area and a pool that we all ended up spending lots of time in. Part of it is only a foot deep and part goes from about 2 1/2 feet to 5 feet, so it was ideal for the kids. There are a great many beach towels (and a washer and dryer) plus various water toys in the laundry room. The only real drawback is that there is only one parking space, and there is a master gate, with one controller, so it will require some planning [The parking turned out to be no problem, as there was additional parking right outside the gate, but an annoying feature of the development was that there is also a keyed pedestrian gate that was sometimes locked and sometimes not – which made it difficult for visitors to come and go].

Sandy stayed there to wait for the Tsebers, who were due to arrive about two hours later. They had flown from PDX through JFK on Jet Blue. Meanwhile, I drove to the cottage. Fortunately the odor noticed by Ed and John, was gone; JP said that Cris had figured out that it had indeed been some kind of sewer backup from the holding tank out back, and had put in some chemicals that seem to have neutralized it.

The only radio thing I did was to check the resistance in the four beverage feedlines. The good three were 28-30 ohms, as expected (the full roll of RG6 that I had brought down in a suitcase showed 40 ohms for 1000 feet, and John had checked and found that was normal. That seemed like a lot of DC resistance, but John Crovelli explained it as being due to the copper-coated steel center conductor, which I see on the internet has four times the resistance of copper wire). But the East US beverage resistance was infinite. [As it turned out, this was due to a bad connector at the feed point, but since this one uses the ICE transformer the resistance would be infinite anyway – actually this might be a reason to switch to a K9AY transformer].

The wifi is now through an Arris box: the password is 12 digits, written on the papers on the wall in the MBR: 1495-1272-3560.

I unpacked and put all the presents in the smallest suitcase to take to the townhome. On the way back, I stopped for a run at the airport on the new path to Oranjestad. Lots of walkers and a few runners. Normally in the daytime I don’t seen anyone, but there is apparently lots of local activity in the late afternoon/evening.

When I arrived back at the place at about 7, Sandy was making popcorn, Roxy and Colton were playing, and Holly and Scott were out shopping. Colton and I explored the grounds and checked out the pool. Holly and Scott didn’t get back till 8:30 or so. Unfortunately, the nearby Super Food was closed, it being Sunday night, but they ended up buying supplies at one of the many small Chinese supermarkets on the island. Dinner was a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches cooked up by Holly and Scott. Sandy and I left at about 9:45, being exhausted and ready for bed.

Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.  Up at about 7:20 after a very good night’s sleep. The a/c in the master bedroom seems very weak, as though it is barely cooling. We left it off, and put on the unit in the second bedroom instead. First casualty of the trip: the kitchen bulb blew out, and I replaced it (spares in the cabinet over the washing machine), but when I replaced the glass cover that clips onto the bulb, it fell off and shattered on the floor. What a mess! Brewed some coffee, then a brief rain squall interrupted my plan to go check the feedlines in the cunucu.

I did check the 40m yagi, which worked fine, with the minimum SWR was at about 7070. The three beverages also seemed to work as expected. Also checked for noise sources on 15; only about S2 at the moment. No signals, but that seemed to be a normal amount of noise. [Note, at no time in the week did I hear any of the man-made noise that had bothered John last month.]

Sandy slept late, and I drove her over to the townhome, arriving at about 9:20. It was dark and quiet, so everyone must have still been asleep. I had been planning to socialize, but instead left, driving immediately to Ling’s to, as usual on an empty stomach, overshop, including buying some aloe presents for the office.

I had been planning a cunucu work party with Steve and Scott, whom I had warned to bring long pants and shoes, but decide to go out myself and reconnoiter. It wasn’t too bad, temp was in the low 80s but humidity was low, so although I was sweaty, it wasn’t miserable. Walking along the feedline I didn’t see anything wrong. At the feed point, John had put a white bucket upside down over the three transformers (bearing in mind that the EU one had been relocated away from the common feed point a few trips ago when a neighbor had complained about getting irradiated from it!). Actually, the bucket was quite useful, as when taken off and inverted, it enabled me to sit down while working at the feed point, rather than crouching uncomfortably on the ground.

Anyway, I had shorted the East US beverage at the shack. Measuring the resistance at the unscrewed coax connect at the end of the feedline showed an open circuit. I untaped the end, and it turned out that the RG6 connector was loose; it came off in my fingers. Cutting some clean feedline, the resistance measured about 38 ohms which showed that the feedline was intact. Whew!! That was a great relief. I put on a new connector and put it back on the same ICE transformer. I couldn’t tell if it was good or not as it measured an open circuit at its coax end (unlike the K9AY and DXE transformers which show a DC short).

By the way, I used my own little Radio Shack cable stripper (though as mentioned in my 2008 notes, you have to strip off a little more of the outer jacket, for a total of about 3/8 of an inch, then just fold back the braid, leaving the foil in place; no need to clean off the goo). The compression tool, the shack RS stripper, and connectors are in the box labeled Coax Connectors and Tools by the door in the second bedroom. Of the DXE connectors, the blue ones are intended for the “flooded” RG6 we use, while the maroon ones are intended, they say, for “quad shield” coax. There are plenty of connectors, and I left more of both kinds behind from the stock I had bought from DXE before the trip. As I determined in doing some experiments at home, it is very important to twist and jam the connector as fully on to the cable as possible; otherwise, the compressed connector will be loose on the cable and can be pulled off. Back in the shack, checking on 20m the beverage did seem to work OK, though it might be a little down, since the West US one seemed generally to have slightly stronger signals. I’ll have to check tonight on the low bands and may replace the transformer. I then walked back to the feed point and taped it up.

Returning to the house, I had a snack of Ling’s food and cooled off. To the townhome at 2, then we all drove down to Oranjestad and had lunch at the Paddock on the main waterfront. Colton really wanted a cheeseburger, and they had those, along with salads, in a nice informal atmosphere. Everyone then came to the cottage, which Scott had never seen. Steve and Robin had arrived by then (yet a third route, from PDX through Atlanta on Delta), so they showed up at the cottage, also. They are both tired and a little sick, so Robin stayed behind and took a nap while the rest of us went down to Mangel Halto, our local beach on the Spanns Lagoenweg road and played in the sand, collecting rocks, etc. It was almost deserted and quite lovely.

We stayed there till the sun went down, leaving behind a rainbow effect in the sky that I had never seen before and that we tried hard to photograph. Then off to a leisurely dinner out on the deck at Marina Pirata. As usual, the food was OK, the service slow, but it was lots of fun to throw pieces of bread to the fish and watch their feeding frenzy. We had our usual, slightly over-familiar waitress, the one who calls everyone “my dear”, “my love,” etc. Back home at about 9 p.m., while they drove off back to the townhome.

Sandy went to bed, and I took a very refreshing shower, all the more welcome for being my first since Saturday morning. Then I spent quite a bit of time on 40/80/160, checking out the beverages. The East US beverage worked, but was a few dB down on 40, more on 80, and maybe 10-15 on 160. When I went to bed I developed a theory as I was lying awake that this would be consistent with having in essence a shortened beverage, so I expected to find a break in the wire.

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. For the only night of the trip I didn’t sleep well, in part because the a/c did not seem to be cooling in the master bedroom, and I ended up turning on the two in the radio shack and the second bedroom. But I got up at about 7:15, put on my work pants and hiking boots, and went out in the cunucu again, this time to trace the East US wire starting at its feed point. I did so, all the way to the end point which is near the driveway of a house several houses down the road. It was hot, exhausting work even at that hour, and when I staggered back in at about 8:30 I was really done in. But the wire appeared to be completely intact mechanically. I could follow it at most points and could tug on it at various locations in each direction, and it seemed to be whole. The cunucu is way overgrown though, so in many places the wire is solidly inside the bushes that have grown up around it; at one point near the far end, I even had to crawl along under some heavy branches to follow the wire. 

I emailed John and Ed suggesting that I could do five things: 1) switch the wires of the East US and West US beverages, thus testing the feedlines and transformer, 2) replace the transformer with a new one, 3) add a terminating resistor, 4) string a new wire by pulling it with the old one, 5) string a new wire over the bushes.

After cooling off a bit and taking a quick shower, we arrived at the townhome at about 9:30. All of us except Robin, who was still asleep and Sandy who was working on her computer, then went for a very pleasant breakfast at Linda’s Dutch Pancake house, on the road from the high-rise hotels to the central road. Then back to the house for a few hours of pool time. Colton is a “torpedo”, but basically can swim with his face underwater, then comes up for air, so he is pretty pool safe. Roxy had a great time being carried around, attacking Scott or me, etc. We made good use of the foam noodles and the two boogie boards from the townhome (also some of their many beach towels).

The adults were pretty tired after that and did some napping (thought the kids, who expended much more energy in the pool, seemed to have more left over), then all of us but Sandy went off to the California Lighthouse. She had been picked up by Lisandro earlier in the afternoon to go over to the site of her talk and coordinate the a/v. At the lighthouse, they’ve now finished the restoration started a few years ago, so you can climb all the way to the top up a narrow spiral staircase ($5 per adult). It was very windy up top, but there are great views. Then off to Super Food to buy some dinner for tonight (mostly sandwiches and soup from their take away deli), and back home to enjoy it before leaving at 6:45 for Sandy’s lecture at University of Aruba in downtown Oranjestad.

This was the first such lecture that the roughly two-year-old Nature and Space Aruba Foundation had sponsored in conjunction with the University. Lisandro was active in setting up the Foundation and is a Board member. It was held in a room that used to be a chapel when the buildings were part of a Catholic institution. There were maybe 70 persons there, including a number of ham buddies (John, Lisandro and Lissette, JP and Cris, Alex and Natasha), also including the Minister of Education and the Governor of Aruba, Mr. Juan Alfonso Boekhoudt, who arrived to a standing ovation. Lisandro and the Foundation people all wore blue shirts with their logo on it and ties.

Sandy’s theme was astro-imaging, and her talk featured many terrific pictures taken by the Hubble, ground-based telescopes, etc. It was very enthusiastically received and was an excellent talk. As usual she projected a very knowledgeable but friendly and approachable demeanor that encouraged lots of questions, even including one each by Roxy and Colton. They had two small telescopes set up outside for viewing. We then drove back to the townhome to chat a bit, then back to the cottage, arriving at a little before 11.

Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.  Back out in the cunucu after a good night’s sleep. Got caught in a light rain and cut myself up some more. [At the Hyatt the next day, John, Alex and I all held up our arms together to compare our bloody cunucu scratches.] I switched the wires for the East US and West US, after first stripping off a bit of wire and cleaning the newly cut end. This did not seem to make a difference, which showed that the problem was in the wire, as John and Ed had been telling me by email. I drove Sandy over to the townhome, arriving slightly after nine, and a little late for a skype that she was supposed to have with someone in Paris.

I then drove back to do radio setup, first stopping in to chat for an hour or so with Cris and JP (who is on the last week of his vacation). The radio setup drove me crazy at first, with problems getting CQPWIN to work with the Winkeyer, but eventually it all sorted itself out. Then I really blew it when I noticed that my K-pod was not sending my macros to the K3 but was sending the macros that had been stored in the K3 by Ed. I had forgotten that the K-pod buttons basically just activate macros that are stored in the radio itself, and since I was using the shack K3, rather than my own, those macros were different than usual for me. Unfortunately, I rewrote over all of mine, and I foolishly hadn’t brought the programmer’s reference as I usually do, so I downloaded the reference from the Elecraft website and recreated my macros, loading them with the K3 Utility program. How stupid of me! Some are simple, like turning on the RIT, but the ones that adjust AGC parameters are more complex and called for some re-creative thinking.

While I was so engaged, the rest of the crew had gone to Eagle Beach, a major tourist beach within walking distance of the townhome. Colton (who just turned 7) had been resistant, but Holly had insisted that in Aruba they had to go to a beach. In the end, he and Roxy loved it and spent lots of time in the water. When I arrived at about 3:15, they were already back home, so we all went to the pool, and had a small party for Roxy and Scott (who turn 5 and 45, respectively, on the 27th). We had bought a tiramisu cake at Super Food yesterday and some candles. Dinner was a very expensive but elegant take out repast from the Screaming Eagle restaurant, which is right at the end of the street. It’s a white tablecloth place and also appears to have curtained booths where diners can eat while reclining on mattresses. Sandy and I picked up the food and observed the rather unusual layout.

Back at the cottage, I got on the air at 11 p.m. (40m only) for the 0300Z CWT for about a half hour, but kept getting called by EUs who were not in the contest, so switched the exchange after a while from “Andy 38” to “599.” Felt quite rusty. The East US beverage was clearly not working very well.

Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018.  Up early, because Scott and Steve were coming over to make the big antenna repair in the cunucu (yet another morning with the thorn bushes and cacti for me). They arrived at about 8:15. Steve stayed in the shack and monitored noise levels on the P3 while Scott and I went out to the feed point carrying a 500-foot roll of wire. We communicated by cell phone. There were four rolls in the garage and we chose one with white insulation, thinking it might be easier to see. It seemed to be 14-gauge stranded, with some pretty tough insulation. [Note, that after all of our machinations there are still two 500-foot rolls of black 14-gauge stranded wire in the garage. These were apparently bought by John on the island. They may be 16-gauge, as they seem noticeably lighter than the 14-gauge rolls. Also a roll of white 14-gauge stranded wire that has maybe 200 feet and another roll of 14-gauge white solid wire with closer to 500 feet but not a full roll.]

We first hooked up the entire roll at the feed point, Steve reported the noise level went down almost 10 dB on 160 with the entire white roll in the circuit. We then pulled the wire out from the tree near the feed point, as John had said the only splice was there. Very fortunately, that splice turned out to be the problem. The tape had come off the splice and there was no wire nut, though from the positioning of the wires it looked as though there had been one once. The two wires were twisted together but heavily corroded. We spliced in a piece of new white wire, then reconnected it up to the proper transformers (i.e. the East US beverage to the ICE transformer and the West US to the K9AY as before). Steve reported that the noise levels on 160/80/40, as seen on the P3 seemed comparable on those and the EU. So we tidied it up and came back. This was a much easier job than it could have been, and we were were back in the house by 10 a.m. or so. It seemed copacetic to me, but I will check tonight with real signals, and we can still run the new wire tomorrow if necessary.

We all had some lunch from our fridge, and got ready to head back out to the townhome. The rest of the group had been at the Butterfly Farm, and reported that they had a very interesting and educational time there. They had some lunch back in the house, then we spent several hours at the pool. It was a perfect Aruba day, not too hot or humid. There was a Swedish family staying there with a 3½ year old at the pool who was like a little fish (they are on a one-year parental leave due to also having a 5-month old – the benefits of socialism).

Sandy and I had brought a change of clothes for dinner and everyone else got a spruced up for our 6:30 reservation for Thanksgiving buffet at the Hyatt. There were 15 of us, including our family, JP and Cris, Lissette and Lisandro, Alex and Natasha and John. It was a very nice affair. Kind of noisy, due to a band and a large party of New Jerseyans next to us, but because it was a buffet, you could get up and walk around to chat with different parts of the group. At the end of the meal, Lisandro made a presentation of a handful of Nature and Space Aruba Foundation clothing patches to Sandy.

Back home at 10:30 or so, and I ran a few guys on 40 barefoot, just to check the beverages. Eureka! The East US beverage seemed to work normally as of old. During the afternoon, I had the realization that we had actually made a mistake in the repair, ending up, due to the order in which we had attacked the problem, with two splices near the feed point. Both of them now worked fine, but we had introduced two potential failure points, instead of only one. I thought of repairing it Friday morning, but mindful of W6NL’s dictum that you don’t change spark plugs before the race, decided to do it on Monday. So I’m planning Monday morning to put in a longer piece of new, white wire, and move the repaired splice out of the tree and into the open so it can be inspected from time to time if necessary.

Friday, Nov. 23, 2018.  Woke up a bit after 7 and brewed a big pot of coffee. We are planning to meet back at the Hyatt for breakfast, so Robin (who wants some outdoor photos to be taken on their landscaped grounds) and the kids can appreciate the landscaping there in the daylight.

After breakfast we adjourned to the townhome. Grandparents and aunt and uncle babysat the kids at the pool while parents went off for a couples massage. Then we all piled into the cars for the long trip to Baby Beach. At the JADS Dive shop there Scott rented snorkels, masks and fins for the kids, although we only had an hour or so to use them, since the shop closed at 5. The beach was as usual completely calm. As they started into the water, I took our car and left to go for a run from our roundabout to the next one to the north, then back home to get ready for the contest. They reported having a great time in the water, staying till sunset, then at Colton’s suggestion they went back to Marina Pirata – same food, same waitress who calls you my love, and the same hungry fish (though this time the resident barracuda did show up).

CQWW DX CW Contest Saturday, November 24 – Sunday, November 25, 2018 – Contest notes more or less as dictated during the contest. 

I start out on 7017 running mixed NA and EU. Strong signals and low noise. The beverages all work great. I’m using just one radio, the shack K3, which John had left with Ed’s K3S boards. One USB port to the Compaq expander then the 4-port serial adaptor only one of which I’m using for rig control. Also the Winkeyer to a USB port and the PS2 convertor for the keyboard (for the mouse, I’m using the Bluetooth mouse, the adaptor for which also takes up a USB port). The Winkeyer goes right into the Key input on the K3, with no PTT connection. I have the headphones and the contest recorder plugged into the headphones jack on the front of the K3.

A couple of notes: Started the contest at 38-39 wpm. Went down as low as 34 sometimes on the second day. It’s funny how in a normal domestic contest 35 wpm seems fast, but in this one it’s like slowing to a crawl. I used the Bose QC-25 headphones, which worked great. They completely take out the noise of the amp fan and the a/c. It’s a bit tricky to use them as they have a 4-conductor cable. But if it is put into the standard 3-conductor jack with about 1/8 inch protruding, it works properly. I used full break-in QSK at the start, but changed it to semi break-in after a while due to the noise of the mechanical relays in the 91B. It seemed to work fine, though I didn’t listen on a second radio, as no one seemed to have trouble with my sending. I did find several contests ago that I needed to use 10ms lead time in the Winkeyer settings for it to work properly.

It’s now 0447Z and I’m at 894/67/20, all from running. I was on 7017 for 45 minutes, then four hours on a productive 7006 kHz. I’m going to get a bite to eat, and a quick bathroom break then do a little mult hunting. Back on 10 min later I do find 6 new countries, the most interesting of which is a double mult, ZM4T in zone 32. First JA is JA3YBK, a contest superstation at 0552Z. At 0634Z I’ve been falling asleep at the radio and am at 1142/81/24. As usual at this time of night the band is open in all directions simultaneously. Not much Pacific, though old reliable AH2R did just call in for Zone 27. At 0935Z RA0FF gives me zone 19, which is sometimes quite difficult to work from here, though I later work RT0C there also. First VK, zone 30 is VK3BD at 0910Z. About that time, JAs start calling in serious numbers. At 1030Z I tune around a bit and work FY for a new country and E2A (HS, Zone 26) and YE1K (YB, zone 28) for double mults. I stick it out till 1257Z (just before 9 a.m. local time and about 2 1/2 hours after sunrise), and the last Q is N6WM (at N6RO). I have 1761 Qs in the log when I quit for the day (about 100 fewer than in 2008).

In general, I’m finding the first night very difficult and keep getting sleepy. I feel like there is a considerable period of time during which I‘m operating on some form of sleepy auto-pilot, and not being very efficient. [As usual, Saturday night was easier, even though it’s a longer operating stretch. Once on Friday and twice on Saturday I actually fell asleep during a contact and was jolted awake each time by hearing a Morse code “?” in the headphones from some confused listener.]

I grab some food, then get about four hours of sleep. Sandy went off to be with the family (who are leaving this morning), and arrived back at about noon. We went out at about 2 p.m. to McD for lunch and to do a little shopping at the Mondo Nobo supermarket in Santa Cruz, which has been upgraded considerably since my last visit. They have much more fresh food and in general a better selection than before. Still don’t take credit cards. We bought some more interesting, locally ground coffee as Sandy hasn’t been happy with the can of Yuban that was in the refrigerator, unopened, that we have been using.

Back on the air at 2001Z. Can’t run at that time, but can do some S&P. This is over two hours before sunset. I call a weak VK6LW, zone 29, and finally get him. [I heard him on Sunday afternoon as well, considerably stronger.]

Well its 10 o’clock local time, Saturday night, I’ve been on for exactly 19 hours and just broke one million points, so it’s a very nice stopping place for a break. I’ve had a very nice run. It’s easier the second night. Typically I feel more comfortable, as my body has adjusted to the sitting posture, and the contesters often seem a little less frantic than on Friday at the start. Now at 2540 QSOs with a lot of dupes, and 106 countries in 31 zones. Was delighted to get called by two VU stations, in zone 22 earlier [one of whom duped me Sunday evening!]. Back on after a 17 minute break and tune around a bit, finally working D41CV (CT1BOH, who wins the contest single-op). Things are slowing down at 0800Z. The US isn’t awake and I’ve worked most of the Europeans, though tuning around I do get LX2A for a new country.

At one point I appear to be QRMed by PI4COM, which would be uncharacteristic radio behavior for the Dutch; later correspondence with Denis, K7GK, who was operating an 80m single band entry from that station seemed to confirm that it was actually his second harmonic! Can’t work BY4CT, unfortunately. Later can’t get B7Q either (he isn’t working anyone as far as I can tell; he doesn’t seem to be listening, maybe has high noise levels). Shortly after 0900Z I actually have a combined Scandinavian/Japanese pile-up! Well, it’s 1250Z and I’m knocking off for the day. I literally haven’t worked anyone in the last 10 minutes, though just before that I did finally work (I think) BA4NQ for a zone 24. Now 3308/120/33 for 1.436M points.

For some reason I’m not very sleepy, so I only get about an hour and a half of sleep and spend the afternoon mostly reading, eating, etc. At about 1:30 p.m. I did get out for a run at my traditional route starting at Marina Pirata. Thirty-one degrees C, a pleasant though hot run. Now ready for the last few hours at 1930Z. As expected, at this hour it’s very slow, though I do call and work HP3SS for a new one right off the bat. I only make five Qs in the first 30 minutes (and forget to turn on the contest recorder for some of that ). But the last three hours are better, as expected, with rates of 87, 108, and 97, and only four new mults, though it’s nice to work 7Z1SJ and 9K9A for new ones. I tune around looking for Africans (and reports after the contest show that 9X4XX and 5H3EE were on, for example), but I don’t hear any and they don’t call.

After the contest Sandy and I drove over to the Urataka Center just northeast of Santa Cruz on the way to Arikok for a pizza and beer. A very convivial local hangout with excellent pizza. John joins us for a while, but then goes elsewhere for food.

Monday, Nov. 26, 2018.  Slept very soundly then up for coffee to clear the cobwebs. Sandy said it had rained heavily last night, but I didn’t hear a thing.

We had agreed to a post-contest breakfast at Linda’s. John and I drove over together. Alex and Natasha were too tired and slept in, but Lisandro joined us. We had interesting discussions with Lisandro about Bonaire and Curacao. He says Aruba is much more American, e.g., the electric plugs, currency, chain stores, good infrastructure, etc. Also Aruba made a decision many years ago to emphasize tourism to diversify the economy which Curacao hasn’t done. When Aruba achieved its “status aparte” from Holland in 1986, it was mostly to establish its independence from Curacao, not from Holland. They were tired of sending tax moneys to Curacao, which was the administrator for the Dutch West Indies, and not getting enough back in return. Curacao didn’t obtain the same status until 2010.

Then John and I drove to Alex and Natasha’s and chatted for a while. He had JP’s Acom 2000 opened up to use as a “salvage” amp to try to fix Ben’s (both had originally been owned by Joop, P43JB, SK). The band change toothed belt had failed. It was made of polyurethane-coated wires, and the plastic was crumbling to the touch. He had entered the classic category and did very well: 55 countries on 160, for example!

Then to pick up Sandy. Lisandro had driven her very kindly to her hair appointment at Cleopatra’s beauty salon on Daltonstraat downtown, and she was just finishing up at noon. She had been so busy travelling (China and DC right before Aruba, and Mexico and China right after), that this was the only time she had available for a perm, and had asked me to have Lissette make an appointment for her. She had a very interesting discussion with Gwen, the owner, and Tina, a local customer. The both were married to foreigners and had lived overseas, and were very willing to share opinions about different ethnic and religious groups. Sandy also reported that they both called locals “Arubians,” not “Arubans” as I have always heard and read in the past.

Back at the cottage, I went out in the cunucu for the fifth day and replaced the spliced piece of wire. I used a 14-gauge solid, white-insulated piece from a partial reel, so as not to mess up our 500-feet reels. There is now one splice only, and I moved it out from the tree near the feed point so it is clearly visible. I also sealed it with Scotch 33 and Scotch weather-sealing tape (and more 33). I took some care to twist the wires; since the new one is solid, there is a tendency for the old, stranded wire just to twist around it. I then put on a red wire nut (even though normally it would take the smaller yellow one) to get a twistier connection.

Then out for another run. The weather was the same as every day on this trip, temp about 31C, breezy, and relatively low humidity so it’s hot work but not really uncomfortable. Dinner was a fabulous meal at our local gourmet restaurant, the Flying Fishbone. We were seated on the beach, but they also had about a dozen tables set up in the water, for particularly romantic evenings. We arrived at six, just as the sun was going down, so were treated to a lovely sunset. No rainbow this time. Sandy had duck breast and I had the fish special, “unicorn fish,” a mild white fish. Oysters and lobster bisque for appetizers, and apple pie and “chocolate ravioli” for dessert. All excellent.

The last time we went there, which was the last time Sandy was on the island a few years ago, there was a torrential rainstorm in the early evening. As I recall, we delayed our arrival by an hour, and when we got there we had to sit under a canopy, but due to continuing rains and strong winds, we got wet just from splashes. The weather was definitely more benign tonight.

After dinner I stopped by the community holiday celebration site, Sero di Jan Flemming that Cris had worked on last year, and had asked me to bring down lights for again this year. Jan Flemming is the name of their Aruban neighborhood, analogous to Sabana Basora for ours. It’s quite a place: a whole hillside decorated with small structures, lots of lights, a huge Peace on Earth sign that they were about to put up, etc. I wore my red “I (heart with Aruba flag colors) Sero di Jan Flemming” t-shirt that I had obtained last year, and a friend of Cris’s took a great picture of her, her two kids Andy and Cindy, and me. I made another contribution this year and in return got two red polo shirts embroidered with the logo “Fundacion Sero di Jan Flemming.” One was for me and one for the secretary in my office who had kindly arranged for FedEx shipping of the ten sets of lights that had not arrived in time for me to take them with me, in spite of my having paid for expedited shipping on Amazon.

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018.  Coffee and a bagel (with cream cheese and Nutella, yummy) were breakfast. Sandy worked in the cottage this morning till we left at about 10:30 to take her to the airport for her flight to Panama then Guadalajara. I then went back to WEMA in Santa Cruz. Yesterday I had bought two heavy duty, wet-rated Yale locks for our two gates. The lock in the front was a Master lock that I had purchased about a year ago. It was stiff to work, but squirting some lock lubricant (which we have in the cabinet over the fridge) did ease it up. The back gate lock, however, was completely rusted over and seemed to be unusable. So I bought these new locks, which have the same key. The set came with three keys. I left two for Cris, took one, and then this morning had two more made, for John and Ed. So on our key rings, the two small keys labeled “master” and “china” should be discarded.

I sent off a 3830 report, then finished tidying up and arranging all the shack equipment for the next user. I took a last run at the airport after dropping off Sandy, then gassed up the car at Santa Cruz and left for the airport for good old AA 1028 to MIA, then to SFO. We had put more than 600 km on the rental car; this is about three times normal, and represents a lot of driving on a small island. Left behind: an LED headlamp and yet another flashlight in radio room, two beverage transformers (K9AY and DXE) in the beverage component box over the closet in second bedroom, extra RG6 connectors in box labeled Coax Connectors and Tools near door in second bedroom, various wire nuts in bag in cabinet in radio room, new locks.

core Report as sent to 3830 Scores Reflector

Class: SOSB40 HP

QTH: Aruba

Operating Time (hrs): 33

Band QSOs Zones Countries

40: 3444 33 124

Total: 3444 33 124 Total Score = 1,605,168

Club: Northern California Contest Club


This was primarily a family Thanksgiving vacation, so the contest was not the main focus. The grandkids loved the variety of beaches on Aruba, and spent hours in the pool at our rented townhome (the P40L-P49Y cottage being too small for a large crowd). I decided to do a SB 40, which I had last done in 2008. It's pretty straightforward, just one radio, no internet, and not the full 48 hours. As many have noted, 40 was in great shape, at times seeming to be open to just about the whole world.

The station played well. It took five hot and cactus-y trips into the cunucu (the public area behind our house), plus the assistance of my two sons-in-law, to find and remedy a bad splice that had been causing our W1 beverage to misbehave, but once that was done, the four beverages worked great, though the band was generally so quiet that the main antenna received fine also.

This trip was even more of a social occasion than usual. There were two main events. The first was the inaugural lecture at the University of Aruba sponsored by the "Nature and Space Aruba Foundation," an organization of which Lisandro, P43L, is a Board member, formed to spread the gospel of science on the island. The speaker was my wife, Dr. Sandra Faber, a retired Professor of Astronomy at UC Santa Cruz, who talked on Astro-imaging.

The second was our Thanksgiving buffet dinner at the Hyatt, attended by my family (including kids and grandkids), plus Cris (P43C) and Jean-Pierre (P43A), Lisandro (P43L) and Lissette, Alex (KU1CW, P40C) and Natasha, and John (W2GD, P40W).

My score ended up slightly higher than in 2008, with fewer Qs but more mults. The score doesn't include some 180 annoying dupes. Congratulations to John and Alex for fine efforts from Aruba and to KP2M for an excellent 40m result.

Thanks to everyone for participating. As usual, thanks are also due to John, W6LD, and Ed, W0YK, for keeping everything shipshape with the station (and to Cris and JP for ditto with the house itself).

  73 and thanks for all the Qs,

  Andy, P49Y, AE6Y

Rig: K3, Alpha 91B, Force 12 2-el yagi, beverages

Logging: Cqpwin ver. 12.9