GM3VLB Scottish Island Hopping

In the hope of completing what I now call the “SCOTIA challenge”, which in my own case means activating the last five of the programme’s 200 islands which I haven’t yet activated, I am returning to the Orkney (EU-009) group, arriving there Monday, 21st May. I have a return booking on 7 June but am prepared to remain in EU-009 longer, if necessary.

Having been dogged by high winds in late summer/early autumn on previous expeditions to the Northern Isles, I am trying the earlier part of ‘activating season’ this time.

I will be based primarily on Orkney mainland, sailing from the capital Kirkwall. All islands involve sea trips by small boat, of over 10 miles, and (for Faray and Calf of Eday) much longer…I will be relying very heavily on the local knowledge of Orcadian Kenny Sinclair, skipper of the “Nicky Tam”, who runs ‘Sea Orkney’ (see Google).

My plan is to be active on each island by 0900Z, remaining for as long as Kenny can allow. I will be QRV on +/- 14.2575MHz and (in poor conditions) on or about 14.040 MHz CW. All operations will be battery-powered, 100W maximum (less if conditions allow) into the trusty “Islander” vertical, from the TS50 (back-up will be an FT817 on 5W).

The 5 remaining islands are Muckle Green Holm (OI20), Linga Holm (OI21), Eynhallow (OI24), Faray (OI28) and Calf of Eday (OI29). Some are quite difficult to approach and to land on (steep rocky shores) as well as being subject to very strong tidal current (the waters off Eday are in fact the chosen location for testing the latest tidal generators, so near-perfect weather conditions will be required. I believe most may be first-time activations.

This will be a ‘solo’ operation. If successful, I hope to continue activating islands, this season, in a more relaxed way, hopefully teaming up with regular ‘island buddy’ Alex G(M)0DHZ to re-activate some less remote islands, which even some of the high-scoring SCOTIA chasers may have missed – I will be doing an analysis of the records to determine the ‘most wanted’.


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