It was Georgia QSO Party time again.  That meant a trip to Saint Simon's Island, GA.  So, Mike Weathers, Paul Kelley and I headed out to visit our friend Phil Graitcer.  Phil had invited some of us last year, so we knew what to expect.  But this year things were a little different.  Phil had dded a Hex Beam on a crank up tower.  

So for antennas, we used a vertical at the waters edge, a hex beam, an OCF wire and a 40/20 end fed that we put up temporarily.  We hauled 2 K3s and a KX3, four computers and much peripherals.  We arrived mid afternoon on Friday, so we had plenty of time to get setup.  Last year we sort of spread out in the house, but this year we decided to put all the radio gear in one room.  Just be sure to use headphones.  We were QRP and could even do SSB and CW on the same band with very little interference.  

Phil had another K3 there, but we decided not to use it with him not being there a good part of the time.  Of course we did need to spread out some of the coax and run extentions from Phil's operating position out to the rigs spread out in the shack.  Hopefully we marked everything to get it back together.  We made a few contacts on Friday evening.  All seemed fine.  Just waiting on the GQP to start.  

Phil left us some instructions and an information package about the island.  On it was a list of restaurants.  We tried to sample all of them, but the QSO Party got in the way.  We did find his list to be very helpful with great food.  Saturday morning after a hardy breakfast at the WH, we were making last minute adjustments to rigs, network and computers.  Next thing you know, it's lunch time and BBQ sounded like a great idea.

One thing about the island, most places are fairly close.  So we headed out for lunch.  After standing in line for 30 minutes just to place our order, we pushed and shoved into a place at one of the outside tables.  There is some good BBQ on Saint Simon's.    

Now it's start time for the GQP.  Three stations ready for action.  Good antennas,  a good history from last year's party.  Ready to go.  So where's the party?  Bands were very sluggish.  On SSB contacts were near impossible.  I called CQ until I couldn't talk.  Sure, made a few contacts.  The CW guys were making a few, but nothing like the year before.  

We double checked antennas, blamed the coax, blamed the connectors, blamed Phil, but all that didn't help much with the QSO count.  After a few hours, we just blamed propagation.  As you can imagine, at dinner time we were glad to take a break and work on Phil's restaurant list.

Back to the bands for just a bit before calling it quits for the night.  Next morning back to WH and then double checking our equipment and network.   The bands seemed just a little better and we started up again.  After a few minutes, we realized that even though conditions seemed better than Saturday, the still left a lot to be desired.  

Phil had come back to the house Sunday early afternoon and we discussed the lack of activity.  He insisted all antennas were doing what they should and he has confidence that we're just experiencing poor propagation.  We did take a few minutes to put up an 80 meter inverted v just in case it might help near the end of the contest.  That didn't add much to our tool box, we just struggled along with what we had and accepted the fact that last year the propagation from Bloody Marsh was on our side.

We enjoyed the weekend.  The facility was great, the view was great, some great food and plenty of time to  discuss the important issues of the day.

Norm, W4ZXV

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