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TMØINT - Tombelaine Island - An expedition harder than expected...

After the expedition to St Kilda island EU-059 back in june 2011, F4BKV Vincent proposed the team to activate EU-156, Tombelaine island, which was among the top 10 most wanted European islands.
The trip looked easy and attractive, as it was a good opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful and popular places in France, the Mont St Michel.
Due to personal commitments, just 4 of the Invoker Team members could make the trip on the proposed dates, so Simon IZ7ATN, Monica (KB3WAB) and Christian EA3NT joined Vincent, who took the lead on all the necessary preparations to stay on the island for 24 hours, including the tricky authorisations.
On Friday 9th September the team met at Beauvais airport and made the trip by car to Mont St. Michel, where they would meet 3 good old friends, Eric (F4FJH), Diego (SWLer) and Guillaume (F0FET) and enjoy a great meal all together discussing about old stories and future plans.
On Saturday, at 1000 hrs the team met Guillaume (F0FET) at the departure point, and all together with about 200 Kgs of weight walked to the island during the low tide.
The walk to the island was really hard. There were quicksands areas, and most of the time our feet sank 5 or more cm on each step. Besides, the two trolleys were giving us many problems as the wheels could not advance easy enough. A local guide was showing us the way to avoid the most dangerous areas, and what it initially looked like a 3 km walk, became a 3 hours trip.
At 1300hrs the whole team arrived to Tombelaine. Exhausted. We only wanted to drink and eat something…. And to our surprise we were not alone on Tombelaine.
Hundreds of tourists come to visit Mont Saint Michel and walk through the bay on the low tide, and Tombelaine is right half way, so it is the perfect spot for resting and having lunch. There were about 200 people having a picninc on Tombelaine !
They were amazed to see us with so much gear, and many curious people could not resist asking us about our intentions on the island.
It was such a contradictory scene…Tombelaine was one of the hardest places ever for us to reach, but it was crowded with people of all ages !
After some meal, we had to make the final effort by bringing all the stuff to the top of the island.
Once at the top, we set up immediately the tents and erected the first antenna for 20m, in a well organized maneuver where each one knew what to do in order to be on air as soon as possible. At 1500 hrs, TM0INT was on the air on 20m SSB with Simon, but a contest did not allow us to be heard, and we decided to QSY to CW, where Christian would quickly get a good pileup.
A couple of hours later a second station was ready for 40m band, and the SSB team had a good run with central European stations.
As the evening was progressing the tide was advancing, and very quickly Tombelaine became a real island. There we were, in the middle of the bay, lightened by a beautiful full moon and the beautifully illuminated Mont St Michel in front of us…but once again not alone, as a couple of curious rats decided to check the smelly food bags we had. Fortunately they left us some cookies for breakfast !
Despite the team’s efforts to work DX stations, the propagation did not help at all. JA or W7 stations were logging in sporadically, while Russian and Ukrainian stations were keeping the pileup alive with strong signals.
After midnight, around 0130 hrs local the propagation completely died on 20m and 40m band, so we decided to take a nap for a few hours and wait just before sunrise.
But the night was not easy at all ! Suddenly strong wind raised up together with rain, and the shack tent was not as permeable as desired, so it began pouring water all over, making the radio, laptop and amplifier wet…as it happenned to us on Flannan isles EU118 two years ago.
At 0530hrs we resumed operations, and DX stations were logging in with even better signals than Europeans.
It was 1100hrs on Sunday, after around 1800 QSOs, when we decided to QRT and pack everything, because at 1300hrs 4 beautiful horses were coming to pick us up and help us bring almost all the equipment back to mainland, except the generator which was bravely carried back on foot by Vincent and Gui. Thank you guys for your kindness and effort.
Now the Invoker Team realised why Tombelaine island was among the top 10 most wanted European islands...but the effort was well worth.
Thanks to all who worked us, and we look forward to hearing you in future pileups !
Best 73 de TMØINT - Invoker Team


6393113 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:33:21, 6703 bytes

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