HAMNET Report 7 January 2018

May I begin by wishing you all a very happy amateur radio year. May all your signals remain 5 and 9 plus 20, and may all your endeavours to improve your communications skills meet with success! I promise to do my best to keep you informed of matters important to us all, provided you promise to keep tuning in!

Greg Mossop G0DUB, in his New Year’s message says “As 2017 ends I would like to thank all of you, and your families, for your support this year.

“We were ready to respond to events like the wildfires in Portugal, and severe weather events passing over our region such as snow damage in Slovenia. There have also been more National exercises and tests like a successful EmcomSET in Spain, Vapepa in Finland and many more I only see afterwards because I look at your websites or magazines.

“We had a fairly successful IARU Region 1 Triennial conference in September. A request to recognise emergency communications in the new 5MHz band was approved though this does not yet appear on the website. The request for information about frequency usage above 148MHz did not want to know about Emergency Communications now, but I still do not think that this is right and I will produce some information for the IARU separately from the IARU-R1 VHF committee work, as some of them seem to think we concentrate on HF, and ignore all the good work we do on the VHF/UHF bands.

“I was pleased and surprised to receive the Region 1 medal for contributions to Emergency Communications, but this is in recognition of all your work too. Our part of the hobby is absolutely a team effort !

“There is still more to do. We may not live in a region affected by storms in the same way as the Caribbean, but our energy and communications systems are so interconnected, that a problem in one country can soon spread over a wider area.

“I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the next meeting of Emergency Communications Co-Ordinators in Friedrichshafen at HamRadio 2018 on 1st June, and I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2018.” End quotation.

Thank you, Greg, and the same to you and the IARU Region 1 Community, from all of us in South Africa.

One thing we always keep a close eye on is weather, and so I immediately bring to your attention the tropical storm driving down the East Coast of Madagascar. It has been on the “radar” so to speak, since the beginning of the week. With windspeeds of 176kph at maximum, Tropical Storm Ava-18 is expected to affect about 1.3 million people. Luckily, it is sticking to the Eastern Coast, so inland areas haven’t been badly affected yet. Red Cross disaster response teams are readying response plans in anticipation of the cyclone’s landfall.

Right now, our major concern is flooding as a result of the expected heavy rains. We’ve activated our national disaster response team, and Red Cross volunteers in all the districts are on high alert,” said Izaka Harizaka, acting Secretary General, Malagasy Red Cross.

In the event of a disaster, the Red Cross will be able to immediately draw on pre-positioned emergency supplies for 500 families, and plans are under way to top up these stocks with additional relief supplies.

Madagascar is regularly hit by cyclones. In March 2017, Tropical Cyclone Enawo hit the island, claiming dozens of lives and displacing tens of thousands. It was the strongest storm to hit the island nation in more than a decade. In response, the Malagasy Red Cross mobilized 24 disaster response teams alongside nearly 900 volunteers.

HAMNET asks all HF monitoring stations to keep their ears open for emergency traffic on 3760kHz, 7110kHz LSB, and 10.130Mhz and 14.245Mhz USB, and be prepared to react if their reception is better than anyone else’s. I’ll keep you posted of as much information as is available.

And while Madagascar is getting too much rain, the Western Cape isn’t. Dam levels stand at 31% full, and at 13.5%, the taps will be switched off, and we will try to get by on 25 litres per person per day, fetched from a tank truck each day. The logistics of this seem enormous. There will be 200 watering points, and 4 million people will have to be catered for at these points per day. That’s water for 20 000 people per water point per day, 500 000 litres per point per day, and, in some way, the authorities will have to keep track of all who have already collected water, to prevent illegal schemes from hijacking the system! Difficult times indeed.

Hamnet notes with regret the recent decision by Sam Maree ZS1SAM to step down from the Maritime Mobile Net, for which he has mostly been responsible, monitoring yachts coming down the coast of Southern Africa, and conveying messages and weather reports in both directions. The older radio amateurs will remember the original work of the late great Alistair Campbell, as well as Graham Griggs, ZS2ABK, who still helps to run the net. A lot of other radio stations up and down the coasts have assisted and will continue to assist, and we say a huge thank you to Sam, for all the work he has put in to the system in the last ten years. We hope a replacement formal control station can soon be identified, to take over the reins, as Graham has also had a very long innings, and cannot run the net unaided, and forever.

Hamnet has also been involved in both the fatal climbing incidents in the Western Cape this week. David ZS1DAV was duty Logistics Manager during the Table Mountain incident, and was aided by ZS1GS Grant, and ZS1SA Rob, during the overnight rescue of the surviving lady abseiler and retrieval of the male guide and lady climber’s bodies after they fell to their deaths on Monday night/Tuesday morning, just below the cable station.

And, on Wednesday, David again supervised the logistics needed to retrieve the 17 year old who fell and died on the Helderberg Mountain. This time, he was assisted by ZS1KP, Dean. Altogether a sad start to the climbing year in the Western Cape.

But a huge shout out to the two 12-year old friends, Mokoni and Evert, who climbed in and helped rescue trapped passengers at the scene of the tragic train accident outside Kroonstad on Thursday. With youngsters like these in the country, the future looks good!

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