HAMNET Report 1 July 2018

It is with sadness that we have learned that Ashley Ware-Lane’s key has become silent.

Ashley ZS1ASH was well known throughout the Western Cape Rescue Community as an operator for both ORRU and HAMNET and attended many rescues in his day. He was recently the chairman of the 4 wheel drive club and the organiser of a number of HAMNET Winter Exercises.

His bright and jovial presence will be missed by all but no more than  by his family. At this time our thoughts are with Mari, Bradley, Celine and his extended family.

Funeral arrangements will be made known later this week.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) has been tracking Tropical Cyclone PRAPIROON-18, as it moves Northwards to hit the Southern tip of South Korea tomorrow (Monday) at 06h00 UTC, before turning North-East to skim the coast of North Korea. Maximum wind speeds are expected to reach nearly 140kph, and GDACS has set the alert level at RED.

Last Sunday, Andrew Gray ZS2G of HAMNET Eastern Cape reported that PE Amateur Radio Society members and Hamnet assisted the Mountain Club and EMS in bringing down two injured hikers on the Lady Slipper Mountain on Saturday afternoon the 23rd of June. The first injury was a suspected broken ankle. As the rescuers were making their way to the patient, another report came in that someone else higher up the mountain had fallen and sustained a head injury. The foot injury patient recovery was put on hold, while the head injury patient was brought down the mountain and flown to hospital. The second patient was off the mountain and at the ambulance by 16h15. It was really tough on the people who did two trips up the mountain. Andrew thanks and greets all who assisted, and says “Well done”!

In a sad ending to another rescue, HAMNET Western Cape participated in the eventual retrieval of a Cape Town Psychologist’s body, which was brought down off Table Mountain after a prolonged search. David ZS1DAV was duty logistics manager at the time.

A report coming from John ZS1JNT and Bruce ZD7VC brings to an end a saga that began in October 2015, when an unusually designed 51 foot high performance catamaran sailing yacht coming down the coast off the Eastern Cape struck a whale and started to take on water. After putting out a Mayday call on the Marine VHF radio, the owner/captain and his crewman abandoned ship in a dinghy and triggered their EPIRB. Shipping in the area was coordinated to search for the sailors and the capsized yacht was soon found, but it took another 24 hours to find the crewmen in their dinghy. They were finally rescued in 50 knot winds, and brought to Cape Town.

Nearly three years later, the Sea Rescue Service of St Helena found a piece of boat wreckage washed up on an inaccessible rocky beach of the island, called Turks Cap Bay. Sea Rescue decided to ask Bruce ZD7VC to help them identify the wreckage. Bruce thought of his old sailor friend John ZS1JNT, in Cape Town, and emailed him the details and pictures of the wreckage. John  identified them as bits of the bridge-deck of a catamaran, but with an unusual design and construction. There were features unusual in a catamaran, so John sent pictures to a few yacht designers around the world, who identified the structures as being of French origin.

A week ago, a knowledgeable cruiser in the United States thought the bridge construction looked similar to a yacht type called a “Switch 51”. It was discovered that only about a dozen of these had been built, and only one ever abandoned – the yacht struck off the East Cape Coast in 2015.

And thus, through the spirit of ham cooperation, was a mystery solved. The drift pattern to take the vessel Southwest in the Agulhas current and then up the West coast of Africa in the Benguela current, all the way to the tiny island of St Helena, is quite remarkable – a passage of around 2500 nautical miles or 4600 kilometres in just over two years and 7 months.

Thank you, John for this interesting story, and congratulations to you and Bruce on the ferreting achievement.

The ARRL letter for 28 June reports that, with typical propagation no better than fair to pretty good, most ARRL Field Day participants nonetheless enjoyed the 2018 running of Amateur Radio’s most popular operating event — most as part of club or group operations and some as individuals. Among them was an ARRL Headquarters team that included several newer operators as well as some veterans, who operated Maxim Memorial Station W1AW. ARRL Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, said most contacts at their station were on the HF bands, with a handful of VHF/UHF FM and SSB satellite contacts via SO-50 or FO-29.

“Conditions were so-so on 15 and 10, but 6 meters opened for a while, and 20 and below were hopping!” Carcia enthused.

More than 1,600 clubs and groups registered their locations on the ARRL Field Day Locator website.

The newsletter includes reports from stations in the mountains, others out on rivers, some working low power (QRP – less than 5 watts output power), some operating CW only (morse code), and others only digital modes.

The station reports continue to come in, and we will try to bring the interesting ones to you.

Finally, I am happy to bring you news of record rains in the Western Cape for the month of June. Dam levels are on average very close to 45% full, much better than this time last year or the previous year, and, at my station, a record amount of 145mm rain has been measured, better than all June rainfall in the last 18 years, which is how long I have been keeping records. Long may this Winter trend continue!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.