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E51AND South Cook Islands flag South Cook Islands

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QSL: DIRECT: BOX 518 AVARUA, RAROTONGA, COOK IS

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Premium Subscriber Lookups: 66806

 

28 October 2014 UPDATE

All qsls received to date have been responded to -- REMEMBER it can take up to 30 days each way.

 Email if there are problems :-) or you do not get a response within 6 to 8 weeks.  THANKS

There are only SEVEN (7) hams resident in the WHOLE country -- and only FIVE (5) are active: E51JD/E51BQ/E51CG/ and E51AND are on Rarotonga Island (OC-013) in the South Cooks,  and E51WL is occasionally active on 6m from Tongareva Island (OC-082) in the North Cooks. 

E51AND is the only resident ham active on CW.

A sixth ham, E51CK, my XYL, will make skeds with other YLs -- but will not go on the air because of the pile-ups.

Please be patient and LISTEN-- there are  very few of us and so many of you LOL.

E51AND (Op: Andy): QTH and OPERATING LOCATIONS

QTH is on RAROTONGA (IOTA OC-013) (Lat:-21.222S,Lon:-159.820W) in the SOUTH Cook Islands

Please note: I'm a Rag Chewer at heart, NOT a DXer - so please have patience with my operating procedures

I'm on the air to have fun, not to score the most contacts in the shortest time.

To the "old fashioned" hams who listen and patiently wait for their opportunity for a QSO -- MANY THANKS -- you exemplify the spirit of Ham Radio and are the operators that make this hobby enjoyable!!laughyes

To those who throw out your call sign over and over, or during a QSO devil -- Please LISTEN!   I understand the desire to "snag a rare one", but please recognise that throwing out your call in during a QSO causes QRM and often sparks a flurry of other calls and even more QRM.  no

For folks like me who live in "rare" locations -- the constant interruptions and seemingly endless QRM from hams who don't listen is really frustrating and very demoralizing -- imagine how you would feel if 9 out of 10 QSOs were  wiped out by someone calling over and over during the QSO.  I try to take it in good humour recognising that folks are just trying to "get an edge" -- but sometimes the the seemingly endless lack of consideration really upsets me and I just give up -- and turn off the radio. crying 

On CW -- I am an inexperienced and very SLOW operator -- PLEASE QRS, Listen, and be patient.  Thanks 

PLEASE help out by listening, and then listening some more, BEFORE you key the mic.  Thanks. 

In SSB e CW vi prego di ASCOLTARECi sono troppe stazioni che chiamano e chiamano ma non ascoltanoCi sono molti altri operatori educati :-). Voglio collegare questi ultimi, ma a volte le persone eccitate per "il raro DX" continuano a chiamare senza ascoltare. Non potendo copiare nessuno sono costretto a rinunciare e fare QRT e così nessuno può più collegarmi.  PER FAVORE ASCOLTATE !  GRAZIE :-)
 
I sometimes travel with my wife when she is working on the Outer Islands and operate from other islands in the South or North Cooks group:

MITIARO ISLAND (IOTA OC -083) July 15th - 18th, 2014 (SOUTH Cook Islands)

MAUKE ISLAND (IOTA OC -083)   05:33Z on June 11th - 08:23Z on 13th, 2014 (SOUTH Cook Islands)

MANGAIA ISLAND (IOTA OC -159) July 16th - 19th, 2013 (SOUTH Cook Islands)

PALMERSTON ATOLL (IOTA OC - 124) August 21st - Sept 19th, 2012 (NORTH Cook Islands)

Scroll down for QSL information and details and pictures of these operations

Free counters!

E51AND QSL INFORMATION

PLEASE QSL DIRECT TO: E51AND, P.O. Box 518, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, (via New Zealand)

Addressed envelope and 1 IRC or$2 US or NZ please :-)

NOTE: Mail to and from the Cook Islands will often take 30 or more days EACH WAY!!

DO NOT SEND CARDS TO U.S. or NEW ZEALAND BUREAUS!! -- they do not get to us!

I respond to cards within two days of receiving them

If there are problems/issues with your QSL -- Please e-mail me with all the QSO info and your mailing address - I CANNOT find you without callsign, date, time and frequency :-) Thanks

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RAROTONGA (IOTA OC-013)

South Cook Islands

The picture below is of my wife, Kathy, and me walking on the beach at Arorangi. We were married here in 1992 and had just renewed our vows when this picture was taken. Rarotonga is a lovely place to visit - endless, almost empty, white coral sand beaches and a shallow, warm lagoon. This picture was taken on the beach at the Edgewater Resort - the largest on the island - note the crowds of people!! LOL

Andy Duncan (E51AND, ZK1AND, ZK2AND and AB7FS): Married to Kathy Cheval (E51CK, ZK1SCH and KB7SCH).

We were married on Rarotonga in 1992 and vacationed frequently in the Cook Islands - almost every year for the last 21 years -- so we decided it was crazy to keep going there on vacation - - - - - so we MOVED t.o Rarotonga! Sold the house, cars, furniture etc in Oregon and shipped ourselves and a container to Rarotonga -- and here we are . . . . . living in Paradise. :-)

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TOWER, ANTENNAS and HAM SHACK

Here are some pictures of the tower set up here. Although the tower is designed to self support with antennas up to 21Sq.Ft., it's design limit is for winds of 70 mph (110 kph). On rare occasions here winds can exceed 130mph (210kph) so the tower is set on a lighter base and will be guyed in three directions at three levels. The antennas are rated to 100MPG (160 kph) -- we will see how they fare in a big storm -- all the swaged connections were reinforced with SS screws as well as SS clamps.

The bolts go down 2 metres into the concrete with tags welded to them to "grip" the concrete and are attached to a rebar cage.

70 feet long (23 metres) we assembled the tower on the ground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A small crane from a local construction company helped raise the tower

I know it looks odd!! It is a view from the tower of the lightning protection system. Each leg of the tower is connected to an earth (ground) rod close to the tower -- the three earth rods are connected by a copper wire "halo", then three 70 foot (23m) long lengths of 4.5mm copper wire extend from the earthrods and halo outwards, buried about 30cm. The blue colouration is from copper sulphate crystals sprinkled into the trenches to improve soil conductivity. A second earth rod is tied in on each leg about 5 metres from the tower. One leg is tied to the house electrical earth and the hamshack earth - with earth rods every 5 metres. Not a great RF ground system -- but hopefully enough to protect the tower from lightning strilkes. Coax is buried in a different trench away from the earth lines.

We used a gin pole to put the antennas up. First a Tennadyne T7 for 17 through 10 metres, this was then raised to 3 metres above the top of the tower -- then the KLM 205-M twenty metre yagi went up.

Here is what it looks like from below the tower -- we aligned the beams pretty darned well :-)

The view towards the NE -- we have to shoot the signal out over the mountainous volcanic core of the island -- happily there are a couple of valleys in just the right spots to allow a clear shot to the US and Europe. The concrete disk in front of the tower is the water tank -- we use collected rainwater for our household water supply. In theory we are on the island water systen, but with insufficient pressure in the system (plus the demands of the resorts) -- we get no water at all at our location -- thus a 10,000 litre water tank.

Here, about 800 metres "behind us" to the west, is the beach and several million square kilometres of the Pacific.

The tower is guyed at three levels and in three directions. It is designed to self support 21 square feet of antennas -- to 70 mph (110kph) winds -- we have 20 square feet up there and can anticipate winds as high as 130+mph (210kph+) during cyclone seaon -- so it must be guyed. No idea if the antennas will survive -- they are rated to 100 mph (160kph) -- but other ham's antennae have survived numerous cyclones.

. . . . and here is the shack -- a work in progress LOL

Icom IC 756 Pro, Ameritron AL1200 Amplifier capable of about 1400watts peak, a Palster 1.5kw autotuner (NICE!!), keys, antennas switches and the anomoly -- a VHF/UHF rig -- with only 4 active hams on island -- we are the only one with 2m and 440 capability -- so the rig scans the US and NZ simplex calling frequencies and the airport tower frequency. Who knows, may one of the yachties visiting the Island will call on 2 metres LOL.

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A LOOK at RAROTONGA

And now -- a look around Rarotonga. (say Rah-roh-tong-ah -- not Rar-roh-tong-gah). It is six miles cross (10km) and has a population of about 9,000 -- it is the seat of goverment and the largest of the 15 Cook Islands -- 10 of the other island are populated with resident population ranging from around 60 on Palmerston Atoll to about 1,000 on Aitutaki.

This is a picture of the harbours of Avatiu (foreground) and Avarua (further back) and and the town of Avarua - the center of business and activity -- and of the nifghtlife - especially on Friday night! The strip between the two harbours is pretty well all the shopping -- except for small stores scattered around the island. As you can see you can "do it all" in under an hour :-).

Picture below is of the island of Aitutaki (IOTA OC-083)in the Cook's Group - often called "Heaven on Earth" - one of the world's most beautiful lagoons!

The pictures below are all of Rarotonga -- they don't even begin to capture the beauty of the Island. Endless empty beaches:

This is Muri Beach on the southeast scorner of the Island

Muri Lagoon

Arorangi Beach on the west side of the island.

And this is the beach in front of the villas at the Edgewater Resort - in Arorangi on the west side.

Fun in the sun at the Edgewater!!! - my wife Kathy -- It is hard NOT to enjoy yourself here in paradise!!

The Villas at the Edgewater Resort. This is a nice hotel - before we moved to the island, we stayed here on our shorter (less than two weeks) visits - for long stays we rented a house.

We mustn't forget the sunsets!!!

Imagine sitting up on the balcony, sipping a cool cocktail and watch sunsets like this night after night :-)

Of course, the island is not all beaches. Its center is made of ancient volcanos covered with cloud forest. The next pictures show the interior and the coastline - lots of long white empty coral sand beaches. This picture shows the Golf Club at Nikao. .

This is the rugged interior of the island - the plugs of ancient volcanos covered with brilliant emeral cloud forest. There is one "cross island trail" from the NW to SE side of the island, and numerous other trails into the mountains. They are mostly very challenging hikes.

My daughter Sam on one of the challenging section of the Raemaru trail.

This is an ariel view of Avarua - the largest town on the island and the center of banking, shopping and nightlife. Just behind town you can see the airport -- believe it or not, they can land a Boeing 747 on that runway!

Another view of the airport from the cockpit of the Air Rarotonga Cessna 172 -- you can do sightseeing flights - AMAZING!! . . . and if you are a pilot (as I am) you can actually fly yourself around the island (thought it does take a bit of "fancy footwork" to make it work) LOL

Pictured below is the lagoon at Muri on the SE corner of Rarotonga.

Rarotongan tradition has it that the Maori voyagers who settled Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the 1300s set out from Rarotonga through the break in the reef at Ngatangiia seen below.

In 1992 the Cook Islands Goverment embarked upon an entrpreneurial adventure which turned out to be a $144 MILLION fiscal disaster for the island. Funded by Italian banks they set out to built a huge Sheraton Resort at Aroa on the SW side of the island. With amazing beachfront and a southwesterly aspect it was an ideal location for this kind of a project. Unfortunately after the basic stuctures were erected, the cost of the venture quickly overwhemed this tiny nation of under 14,000 people, the project (and the island) was bankrupt, and two decades later the shells of the buildings still stand as a testament to the greed of the banks, and Cook Islander naivete.

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MANGAIA Island (IOTA OC- 159)

South Cook Islands

Mangaia Island was active from 02:45Z on 16th July 2013 until 06:39 on 19th July 2013

This was not a DXpedition -- I was accompanying my wife who was working with the teachers in the schools.

I note DX summit showed my call as North Cook Islands -- Mangaia is actually SOUTH Cooks OC-159

QSL Direct To P.O. Box 518, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

Mangaia Island is one of the most ancient islands of the Pacific. It lies some 160 miles SE of Rarotonga and is accessible by air on Air Rarotonga. The island is about 7 miles (11 - 12 km) across and consists largely of uplifted coral (Makatea) surrounding an ancient volcanic core. Rising straight up from the reef, it is made up of hard grey jagged limestone, now amazingly overgrown with palms, pandanus and other tropical plants. The population of the island is probably less than 500 with a school roll of about 150.

We stayed at "Babe's" and the only economical hotel on the Island. Clean, neat and $70NZ a night including all meals, it was a delightful place to stay and operate. The station was set up in the living area of the main building and the antenna and ground radials went up in front of the cabins. The station was a Yaesu FT857D running about 100 watts through an LDG Pro 200 tuner into a Zero-Five 43ft vertical with 30+ radials. During the three days the bands were fickle -- completely dead for several hours in the morning and liveliest in the early evening for about 3 hours after dusk.

During the 3 days on Island I worked over 650 station in 50 or so countries -- with Mali and Corsica two new ones for me. About half the contacts were QRS CW and the remainder SSB. I made some contacts on each of 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15 and 12 metres with the great majority on 20 and 17.

I would like to thank the MANY hams who operated with courtesy -- the pile-ups were pretty insane -- but the vast majority of ops listened, stood by and waited their turn, and showed great courtesy, discipline, and patience. MANY THANKS!! You exemplify the spirit of Ham Radio!!

Approaching Mangaia Island from the air

Approaching Mangaia Island from the air

Final Approach to the short crushed coral airstrip

Six passengers and a half ton of baggage and cargo arrive at "Mangaia International" LOL

Just in case you didn't notice it -- the airport is well signed :-)

?

Setting up the antenna and ground radials at Babe's Place.

Babe is the very "camp" owner, but two delightful Mangaian ladies: Ura and Moe, kept the place spotless and served the typically "island food" meals. EXCELLENT!!

While not the stereotypical tropical island like Rarotonga, nor with the incredibly intense colours of Palmerston Atoll, Mangaia is a truly beautiful island -- a LOVELY place for a portable operation in E51.

?

I have been operating portable from the Cook Islands for 18 years using a variety of antennas, but this Zero-Five 43 foot vertical with a bunch of ground radials is BY FAR the best antenna I have used! Set up on my own in under an hour (including the radials(pre-prepared), take down in the same time, tunes all bands from 80m up with a little LDG autotuner and WORKS!!!!!! . . . . . . .

And finally, here is the station! Yaesu FT 857D, LDG Pro 200 Tuner, and a Kent straight key.

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PALMERSTON ATOLL (IOTA OC-124)

NORTH Cook Islands

Palmerston Atoll was active from 05:05Z on August 21st to 07:25Z on September 19th 2012

Please QSL DIRECT to P.O. Box 518, Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

The activation of Palmerston Atoll was an impromptu event following our being "marooned" there for several weeks. We set off from Rarotonga in the South Cook Islands for a 5 day round trip to Palmerston in a small yacht -- Kathy (E51KC) and I (E51AND) were charter passengers on our first ever voyage -- along with the skipper, Andre.

Palmerston is in the middle of nowhere! About 500 miles SE of American Samoa and 300 miles NW of Rarotonga at 18.02 South and 163.30 West it lies in a region known to sailors as the Pacific Convergence Zone.

The trip started well -- calm seas and fair winds carried us to Palmerston in just under 48 hours.

Kathy (E51CK) at the helm -- at this point we were 150 miles out of Rarotonga on the open Pacific -- an awesome experience! Happily neither of us were seasick nor did we experience the panic many people do as they completly lose sight of land. We each took 3 hour watches at the helm -- that allowed 6 hours of sleep for each of us at night :-)

Although on leaving Rarotonga we were able to see the mountains for some 60 miles, Palmerston Island was something else! It is so low that we could not clearly see it until 10 miles out -- here is what it looks like from less than a mile. A "motu" or coral sand islet about 700 metres across and 3 metres high. Covered in Pandanus, Coconut Palms and, surprise, huge Mahogany trees.

Palmerston Atoll -- 500 metres wide and 3 metres high!

There are no passages through the reef deep enough to permit the passage of a yacht so visiting yachts tie up at moorings outside the reef and the locals come out in small boats to carry you ashore.

We had another treat when we got there -- Whales! They were playing around the yacht -- within a 100 metres or less -- and breaching over and over again. SPECTACULAR!!

Palmerston Island is amazingly beautiful -- it is truly a tropical paradise -- intense white coral sand beaches and the lagoon so many shades of intense blue you'd swear it wasn't real.

We stayed overnight with a local family Edward and Shirley Marsters -- along with the extended family of "Mama" Tuaine Marsters. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all they did for us!.

Only 66 people live on Palmerston -- 36 of them children. All are descendents of William Marsters, an English barrelmaker who settled the previously deserted island with his three Polynesian wives in the mid 1800s. Today his great, great, great great grandchildren populate the island and are scattered across Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia.

After spending the night on the island we set off for Rarotonga, however, a storm blew up in the night and the vessel suffered serious damage and we were forced to put ashore again at Palmerston - lucky to be alive!

This time we were stranded - forced to wait until another ship could take us back to Rarotonga -- and ships visit once every 3 - 4 months and on no schedule!!

After a few days on Island, a Dutch yacht on a round-the-world trip stopped in -- on the way to American Samoa -- it was decided Kathy would take passage on the one available berth -- and I would stay and await the next ship to Rarotonga.

Life on Palmerston is VERY different from life in the US, or Europe . . . . There is electricity from 6am to noon, and 6pm to midnight -- IF the generator is working. Water for drinking and bathing is collected rainwater stored in large concrete and plastic tanks, and anything that is not harvested from the land, lagoon or ocean comes in by ship -- if and when one comes. The following are pictures from the island -- and at the end, a couple of pictures of the "ham shack" and power and antenna systems. MINIMAL to say the least -- this was not a DXpedition -- I had the radio along in case I could operate from the yacht as E51AND/MM -- so it came with me when we went ashore.

A view Across the Lagoon

The island was full of surprises -- well kept streets of coral sand -- raked to keep them free of debis -- and YES -- that is a street light -- while the power is on, the streets are lit. Pretty much everyone walks, there are NO cars, a half dozen scooters and 2 quad bikes on island -- and they only run IF there is petrol! LOL

"Little" John Marsters walks toward home -- pretty much everyone is barefoot (except for Church on Sundays)

William Marsters grave. He sired 23 children and had 134 grandchildren. Google him for more info :-)

To "give back" to the community for heir hospitality, I volunteered at the school. Palmerston "Lucky" school is pretty amazing - they provide an individualized program for kids are 5 to 18 -- the two teachers there work SO hard -- it was a pleasure and a privilege to work with them. Couple of pics of the school below.

The classroom BEFORE school LOL - - - - - Gets pretty busy after 8am with 28 kids age 5 - 17 years

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This is the Ham Shack LOL -- we first set up the radio in the open area that doubled as our bedroom but line loss gave only 8.5 volts and less than 50 watts out with terrible audio. So the radio moved to the disused kitchen area and was powered by a bank of solar charged batteries -- that also powered the 12v water pump.

There are no stores of any kind on Palmerston -- I arrived with minimal equipment - the radio, a key, 25ft of coax and a Snowdonia Radio Products X80 17ft vertical with a 9:1 UNUN -- with no way to augment the station or build more efficient antennas -- it was "make do with what you have!" And I scrounged a school exercise book for a log.

Here is the battery system - the solar panel is about 18" x 24" and on the roof. As you can see the antenna is simply clamped to an iron rod pushed into the sand. There were no ground radials -- where would I get the wire????

Operating was a challenge!! I am not a DXer and not at all skilled at managing pile ups. And when the band was open -- there WERE pile-ups!!! Imagine you are standing in the centre of a football stadium, and everyone in the crowd is shouting their name at you - - - - and it is your job to select just one - and have a brief conversation with him -- That's how it felt to me at the DX end of the pile up. Evey day I wished that the stations trying to contact me would READ and ABIDE by the DX Code of Conduct -- I would have worked 3 to 5 times as many stations if they had!

CW was even more of a challenge with a hand key, paper logging -- and it has been 40 years since I operated CW -- I copied at about 8wpm -- and I worked those who slowed down -- if you didn't QRS -- I couldn't copy you -- sorry!

So that's it -- the VERY abbreviated version of the story!

I'd love to operate from Palmerston with a little power and especially with a directional gain antenna -- and if you are thinking of a DXpedition there -- DO contact me - - - there are electrical power and "island politics" that are best understood BEFORE you start contacting the folks on island LOL!!

MANY THANKS to the stations who facilitated contacts -- there were folks out there who helped moderate the European "chaos", there were patient and courteous hams who quietly stood by until I called their number, and there were so many supportive and encouraging comments that helped me through the frustrations of he pile-ups, and the overwhelming sense of isolation.

I was fortunate in that a small cargo yacht came up from Rarotonga after I had been there only 5 weeks -- with cyclone season coming on I might have been there until March -- 5 or 6 months -- or longer. HOWEVER, if you are going to be "marooned" -- it is nice to be marooned in Paradise :-)

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