Another week flies by with not too much going on. However, on Thursday I returned to morse classes, the main reason for this was to return the trophy I won last year. My badge will stay on there but this year it will be passed on to another newcomer to morse. I enjoyed the class to a certain extent but felt a bit of frostiness, I’m not sure if it was because I haven’t been for a while, or whether it is because I am now on the air, but that said there was a certain amount of stand offishness. I would add though this was not from the chief instructor Andy who has helped me immensely over the past year or so. I am in two minds whether or not to continue with the classes, I will probably go this week and see how the land lies but I have never seen the point in putting up this sort of thing. I do benefit from the classes and could always do with constructive criticism.
Friday night I went to Harlow radio club, it was pretty full and very lively, about ten o’clock I sat with Bob G0AGO while he worked a couple of US stations on the key, I was writing down what was being recieved. Bob worked a couple of stations and then disappeared to get a cup of coffee. I sat at the radio, mainly to block anyone taking over the set to work SSB :). I was havingf a listen either side of the QRP calling frequency on 20 metres and heard an american station calling (K2JT), I decided I’d go back to him, but wasn’t expecting much as the rig was only set to 2 watts max output. This is very low power for those not familiar with radio. Sure enough the chap came straight back to me, I was amazed as the radio was set so low, the power needle hardly moved on the ATU when transmitting. We had a QSO, the guy was called Joe and he was a Viet Nam veteran living outside New York. To say I was chuffed would be an understatement, 5500kms on 2 watts! the only downside was that this was on the club callsign (G6UT).
Me and the wife went to the boat on Saturday for the weekend. The aim was to prep the boat for the boat safety check she now needs. Once again the boat gods were against me. First off I fitted the new fuel sedimenter and fuel lines bled the system up and started the boat. I left her running and went off to play ball with Alf, after a few minutes I could hear Martha’s engine hunting and and racing and knew that the fuel system had some air in it, sure enough she eventually cut out and died. So it was a case of climbing back down into the engine bay to bleed the air out of the system. After some time I realised that the air was not coming out and air must be entering the system through a pipe or connection. Eventually I found that the pipe I made to the lift pump was letting air in and try as I may I couldn’t rectify this, so this would have to be a job for next week after I get some more parts.
In the afternoon in between covering myself in Diesel, we took Alf to the beach, I was wondering what he would make of it as the last time I took him he was unimpressed and also afraid of water. He was great this time and had a splash while playing ball.
The next job was to get the heating working, yeah you guessed it, this also would not play ball. I ended up stripping the heating down to try to get it to fire, but alas all I got was smoke and cold air. This dampened my spirits as the predicted temperature for Saturday night was -2C. After a chat we made the decision to stay and would probably get some heat from the oven once Lesley puts the dinner on. Well we managed to warm the boat a little but the oven was no replacement for the diesel heater. I turned in about 10pm with the dog and had one of the worst nights I’ve ever had on the boat. Firstly there was a fair amount of diesel fumes laying around since my problems earlier in the day, this played havoc with my throat and left me with coughing bouts. Then there was the cold, I tried to open the cabin window to let some fresh air in about 2 am and it was frozen shut with ice on the inside of the windows. And finally, this was Alf’s first time overnight on the boaty and he would not settle which of course disturbed me and Lesley.
I didn’t want to get up Sunday morning, not because I was comfortable as I wasn’t, but because it was bleeding cold. Luckily Lesley got up and braved the cold and put the kettle on. I got up after and cooked us both cheese on toast, this is proper boat food!
I decided to set the radio up (FT-897) and see if I could work anything, while setting the radio up I accidentally knocked the heater on and believe or not it fired first time. At least we had some heat for the morning. I stayed on the radio for an hour and managed to work a few stations including an american station on 15 metres SSB. I do like my FT-897.
Alf is now languishing upstairs as I type this totally dead to the world, he won’t return to normal till Tuesday, poor sods knackered.