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My visit to the BC DX Club's Island meeting 2008

A trio of ham radio stars -- Jim Smith VE7FO, Steve Wright VE7CT and Duane Sandemeyer VE7UF -- during my September 2008 visit to Duane's contest superstation in Courtenay, B.C.

The British Columbia DX Club includes a great bunch of much-celebrated DXers and contest operators. I was invited to attend their 2008 meeting on Vancouver Island by BCDXC President Paul Peters VE7BZ.

It's an honour to be invited as a guest to one of these informal, informative and entertaining get-togethers, and so I left home at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning (Sept. 6, 2008) to catch an 8 a.m. ferry from Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo's Departure Bay.

Once landed on Vancouver Island, I stopped in to see my folks in Coombs, B.C., which is just outside of Parksville and on the way to Courtenay where the meeting was to take place. Had a pot of coffee with Dad. They live on a nicely treed five-acre hobby farm which may be a summer contest haven one day. My brother Rhett, a veterinarian (yes "Rhett the vet"), also has his home and his busy practice there -- about a block up the road from Goats on the Roof.

After catching up on family gossip, I drove up to the QTH of Ron Philip VE7NS, whose idyllic seaside estate was the venue for the meeting.

Ron's location is about ideal for a ham. The site is a few acres of very tall Douglas firs, on the ocean with nothing but salt water for many miles to the northeast through southeast. Wire antennas would do wonders here and Ron has 'em up high. He also sports a Force 12 C31XR on a 45' tower, and a Mosley WARC TW33m on a second tower. What a site!

Had a great time meeting many luminaries of radio legend. They might not be aware of their places among DXing and contesting nobility, but I already knew them by reputation, and they turned out to be nice guys in addition to stellar DXpeditioners and high-rate operators.

After a few hours of beverages, BS and a little business, a few of us travelled a bit further north to Courtenay for a look at the contest station built by Duane Sandmeyer VE7UF.

I have to admit, stepping out of my car at Duane's place felt like stepping into the cover of QST. First thing you notice is a rather tall tower soaring above the place.

larger view

Then, if you're a ham, you begin to notice the other towers -- any one of which is three, even four times taller than the tower I have at home.

The contest shack is a sight to behold, too. Set up for multi-operator contesting (CW and RTTY), Duane has done an extraordinary job with the layout and equipment!


The radio room at VE7UF's contest station in Courtenay, B.C. One day soon, I hope to join Duane and Jim VE7FO there for a multi-op CW or RTTY test. I can't wait to see what it's like to run EU on 80M with a four-square, or a big 40M beam in the clouds!

I had planned to stay the night at Mom and Dads in Coombs (about 45 minutes south of Courtenay) but after seeing Duane's elevated 80M four-square array, I had ideas in my head that needed to be acted upon forthwith. So, I stopped in to visit Mom and Dad and down another pot of coffee, then raced to Nanaimo to catch the last ferry sailing back to Vancouver at 9:20 p.m.

Arrived home at 2:30 a.m. -- about 24 hours after leaving. Was up by 10 a.m. the next morning (Sunday) reconfiguring the elevated radials for by twin vertical elevated 80M array.

What a trip! Wouldn't have missed it for the world. And in October, I had a call from Paul VE7BZ welcoming me to the group!