OV00 - G4YSS (possible)

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OV00 - G4YSS (possible)

Postby G0UUU » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:24 pm

Posting on behalf of G4YSS


There's a handy tide time of 14:00 BST tomorrow Sunday 19-03-17. I propose to check the 2014 descent route which meets the beach at to a point 1.1 miles south of OV. The cliff height at this point is about 270ft. Here it is a single cliff with no plateau and it HAD some fixed ropes last time I was there in 2014. I can't know what state it's in after a not seeing it for 2 years. Landslips are fairly regular in this area of Beast Cliff.

I will take an HF radio (50W) in the hope that the journey is possible and safe. The tide clears the operating position about 12:30 but it takes another half hour minimum to erect the antenna over this type of ground.

I absolutely can't promise anything and I will have no means of contact once over the 'edge.' If you hear nothing until some hours later when I can get back on this reflector, I will have failed to access the area.

The BBC keeps changing its mind about the Ravenscar weather. Sometimes it forecasts thick cloud only, then it'll change to rain for various periods. Wind speeds are moderate to high but the beach should be largely sheltered from a westerly. I don't like the surfaces to be any more wet than they have to be but summer doldrums will soon be upon us.

Frequencies - SSB (CW on request on same freq. after SSB)
1) 7.160 +/-
2) 3.760 +/-
3) 14.265 +/-
4) 1.832-CW/ 1.843-SSB (if time/ WX)
Possibly no UK on 40m? 80m may be best band?

Times (approx) on 19-03-17:
UTC 19-03-17
9:20 Home:
9:55 Leave Car:
10:57 Arrive OV
11:55 Ant Assembly:
12:25 Ant Deployment:
12:47 QRV:
14:00 Low Tide (RHB):
15:26 QRT:
15:55 Leave OV:
16:47 Arrive Car:
10:17 Home:

73, John G4YSS 7,664
Using GX0OOO/P - 11,000
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:25 am
Location: Scarborough, TA08

Re: OV00 - G4YSS (possible)

Postby G0UUU » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:45 pm

Posting on behalf OF G4YSS

Safely home at 17:30. By gum, that was hard! Sorry about the tide not going back far or quick enough and the further delay caused by a broken antenna meant no 20m and no 160m. Thanks very much for all who came up and worked me. Magnificent turnout! Old friends and new. Apologies to mobiles trying to get in, especially the Irish one who had to wait the whole thing through. Thanks to Geoff and Ken for very capable control.
Full report in due course.
73, John G4YSS
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2013 10:25 am
Location: Scarborough, TA08

OV00-G4YSS (GX0OOO) Activation,19-03-17

Postby G4YSS » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:57 pm

G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation of OV00 on 19-03-17

Activation of 100km square OV and 10km square OV00 on 19th March 2017.
G4YSS - Unaccompanied
HF-QRO on 80m & 40m
Using SSEG Callsign GX0OOO/P

WARNING: This is a fully detailed 6,700 word report.
There are links to nine photos & past reports at the foot of this report.

FT817ND HF/VHF/UHF 5W Transceiver.
MX-P50M HF (80 thru 10) 50 Watt linear amplifier with 160m capability
Adjustable link dipole for 80-60-40-(30)-20 with 25m end-strings
Loading coils for 160m (not used)
5m home-brew CFC mast

5 Ah Li-Po battery (99% depleted in 58 QSO's)
5 Ah Li-Po reserve battery (not used)
2m-FM/ PMR rig: UV-3R, 2-band, 2-Watt H/H (carried in top pocket).
QRO pack: 11.4kg (25.1 pounds) including, one litre drinks/ electrolytes.

Other Items:
Garmin Geko 301 GPS with routes
30m rope (thin green polyprop)
Shock absorbing walking stick
Small folding umbrella (not used)

Scarborough Tide Times/ Height above Chart Datum
High Water: 08:06/ 4.83m and 20:28/ 4.73m
Low Water: 14:11/ 1.98m
Tidal Range: 2.8m
OV00: Deduct 10 minutes from Scarborough times
(eg. OV00 low water - 14:06)
All times UTC

There are several factors to account for when considering any sortie into OV. These are tide times including tidal range; the weather and band conditions. OV is not like a SOTA. Granted some of those are rare but most attract regular activators. Not so OV, mainly because it lies at the base of the 500 foot Beast Cliff and only exists when the tide goes out.

Since OV activations are few and far between, it's best to aim for a weekend when maximum numbers of chasers are available. It should also be at a reasonable time that suits not only the activator but the chasers and band conditions. In my case Saturday is a family day which leaves Sundays. All this cuts down opportunities to just a few per year. Add in the UK weather factor and you can see why this is such a rare square.

Most people have the added problem of travelling significant distances to put this one on but for me the start point is just a 25-minute drive away from home. From time to time an 'away' expedition is announced, in which case I back off and leave them to it, supplying information on request. So far, this year I'd heard nothing from would be activators.

As in 2014, I planned to use what I believe is the best route available at the moment; one I came across in late 2013 and one used by anglers. It descends a 270 foot cliff via a steep path and fixed rope south of Petard Point, landing you on the rocky foreshore some 1,700m south of OV.

On this part of the Yorkshire coast, the cliffs are notoriously unstable so there is no guarantee that safe passage will be possible. A descent used in one year can be destroyed by the next, usually by heavy rainfall. It's worth doing a recce beforehand but it didn't happen, so a tentative activation attempt/ recee was announced.

I didn't want rain adding to seawater and making the journey more treacherous than it need be but the weather forecast for the 19th was not particularly inspiring.

For OV, a basic level of fitness is a requirement so being no spring chicken, I wanted to do this as soon after the SOTA winter bonus period as possible. Even so OV can be more demanding than SOTA for a number of reasons. The need for basic rope handling skills is another consideration but the fact that the hardest work is at the end of the expedition, rather than at the beginning, can be telling on fitness. There is arguably an increased risk of failure or even injury, compared with all but the most technical SOTA’s.

Despite it all being at sea level, the most demanding part is the 2.2 mile round trip over rocks and boulders, many of which are slippery. Finally, erecting an antenna in OV can be a frustrating and time consuming task.

ROUTE - Directions and Waypoints:

Driving to the start:
If driving north from Scarborough, leave the A171 Scarborough/ Whitby road where the latter takes a 90 degree left (west) at Cloughton (TA 0097 9470) about 4 miles north of the town. Go north (straight on) up the Ravenscar Road for 2.4 miles and turn right (at SE 9964 9774) on a minor road at Bridge Farm, marked 'Local Traffic' which used to lead to the Shire Horse Farm (currently closed but the sign is still there).

Follow the metalled road east for about 0.7 miles to TA 0034 9771 and turn left at the top of the hill. Drive NW then N via Whitehouse Farm and Plane Tree Cottages to Plane Tree farm.

At Plane Tree Farm (SE 9997 9838) turn right (NE) onto a good dirt road for 450m. The track, which is easily negotiable in an ordinary car, leads eventually to Rigg Hall Farm. Before reaching the farm, look for a walled grassy area which opens out on the left at TA 0030 9867. Here there is a gate and stile with associated signpost, all set back from the road. In 2013, the farmer's wife kindly assured me that it was OK to park there so long as the gate was not blocked.

The post code for this general locality is YO13-0EY but it appears to cover a few properties. If using a satnav it may be preferable to enter the parking place grid ref; TA 0030 9867 or the Lat & Long N54 22.421; W0 27.444 (degrees & minutes).

Walking to OV:
Walk a few paces to cross the stile at TA 0031 9870, turn right and follow the sign, walking 170m to a second stile at TA 0046 9877. Cross this stile and turn right (SE) on the Cleveland Way cliff-top path; initially descending some steps and walking 400m south to the cliff descent point.

Cliff Descent:
Today I found fixed protection from the top. Someone had knocked in a steel tube and tied dozens of short lengths of blue webbing together, though most of it had been wrapped around gorse bushes by the wind and needed untangling. There are gaps in the webbing further down but it's not too difficult without. It wasn't even there in 2014.

The way down begins on the Cleveland Way at TA 00716 98478 (82m - 270 feet ASL) and is fairly well defined over grass at first and later through gorse and heather. Weaving around, it descends via TA 00730 98480; TA 00755 98507 and TA 00749 98530. Just my luck, the rope was broken so I had to temporarily add my own 30m rope for the final section over loose shale, to the rocky beach below. You meet the beach at ((TA 0076 9853)) but don't go down the shale to that final waypoint ((in double parentheses)), instead see 'A Better Option' below and you won't need the rope!

The Final 30m - A Better Option:
In 2013, 2014 and today, I knew no better but had I known it then, I would taken the path on the left at the junction - TA 00755 98533, then gone down a distance of 50m between gorse bushes. This brings you to the beach at TA 00745 98583. Here there is a low rocky shelf with a thin multi-coloured fixed-rope as an aid.

I saw this rope in 2013 but dismissed it as a non-viable way down. It was a misjudgement because it is the path used by anglers and the accepted method of descending the final 30 vertical metres (100ft). As well as avoiding the steep, loose shale, it also drops you onto the beach 70m nearer the destination, bringing OV00 within one mile! I wondered why there were no footprints in the shale and why the fixed rope was looking so neglected.

I was not to be blessed with this small but important detail until I met an angler on my return in the afternoon. (See ‘Return’ section). So when loading your GPS route, ignore the waypoint in double parenthesis and go via TA 00755 98533 and TA 00745 98583 instead! All the waypoints in this report have been marked on the spot by myself.

Foreshore Walk (1.7km):
Once at sea level, you turn left to walk NW along the rocky foreshore. OV00 was 1,700m away for me today but only about 1,600m (1-mile) if you use the 'Better Option' route variation above.

Particular care was needed this time due to a slightly sore right ankle, which was quite badly sprained on Fountains Fell six days prior.

Occasionally you meet flat rock sections that look like gifts from heaven. Some of these provide 20 or 30 metres of easy walking if you pick your way around the rock pools but others, like the one nearest to OV at TA 0012 9977, have little better grip than black ice.

On the way in (if setting off early) I tend to hug the cliff as much as possible; the rocks are less slippery there but beware of falling debris. On the way back more foreshore is exposed by the tide making some of the best walking at half tide level. Between TA 0046 9896 and TA 0037 9915 there is the option of climbing up about 10 metres onto a mini cliff plateau. Here you can walk 200m on grass instead of rocks, though even this is quite rough and rock-strewn in places.

At the diminutive Petard Point you must pass to seaward, making this the 'tidal crux' for the entire journey. The terrain here is characterised by big blocks the size of cars, backed by a steep cliff. I would estimate that there would be sufficient room to pass by at low tide plus or minus about 3.5 hours but don't hold me to that!

Compared with the direct descent method, there is a much-reduced chance of meeting adders and deer ticks, as well as avoiding the vertical rock face of Lower Beast Cliff. Putting ladders on this is impasse has proved difficult and their longevity variable; two have been ‘shrugged off’ by nature, so the method described above is the best (known) option as of March 2017. If I hear more, I will post anything useful.

The Walk 19th March 2017:
With my ankle as it was, I had to think about every step taken so, for the first time ever, I used a proper shock-absorbing walking stick. This proved invaluable so long as you actively connect the steel point with dents in the rocks. The sole aggravation to the injury was when I tripped over some plant life a short way down the cliff, but I also had two or three minor slips along the foreshore; the less obvious brown slime being more dangerous than the green.

In 2014, the walk-in from the parking spot to OV took just 62 minutes but it was dry then. Today, because of the rope work, it took 25 minutes to get onto the beach and a further 70 minutes to reach OV on extra slippery rocks, because of the drizzle and my ankle.

Familiar surroundings:
I should have names for the rocks in and around OV. They seem like old friends and unlike those on the cliff, the tidal ones never change. In fact one rock does have a name which I call 'Stancheon Rock' because in 1987 it had the semi-permanent mast masquerading as a 27-foot tree attached to it. This is about a dozen metres inside OV but at the time of arrival in NZ90 at 11am today, it was still being washed over.

Evidence of Old Routes:
The ladder and fixed ropes, installed in Spring 1987 as a means of getting down from the plateau have not been seen since 1999, when there was a major collapse.

Today I noticed that there has been further movement which, if I'm not mistaken, has uncovered meagre evidence of the long dead route's existence. This takes the form of a short length of fixed rope and what looks like some black electrical cable. Both of these were used on the 40 degree slope, as safeguards between the base of the home-brew ladder and the beach. To be certain, I would need to climb up or at least use binoculars, but I can't see a reason for these to be half way up the lower cliff, unless they came from that era.

Nothing was visible from below of the 2006 ladder and 'Orange' route. This was 'digested' by the cliff around 2008 but the ladder securing ropes were hanging down the vertical section until 2013.

Hanging Around:
Now the waiting game. On the prepared schedule, antenna erection time was still almost 90 minutes away. It was too early to do anything apart from put on a waterproof jacket, assemble the mast and stand waiting in the drizzle. I couldn't even sit down on the wet rocks for fear of getting my best walking trousers salt stained.

A 145.400 FM signal:
As boredom set in, pulling the VHF H/H from my top pocket, I switched it on. Most unexpectedly I heard a signal at about 55. This was Nick G4OOE talking to Roy G4SSH (who I couldn't hear) on 145.400. Without the slightest hope of success I tried breaking in but even after rigging up the J-Pole on a short mast held high above my head, a paltry 2 Watts wasn't cutting it. Curiously, the received signal was about the same with the J-pole, as it had been earlier with the duck.

After a few minutes of listening to one half of the conversation, Nick started to break up, getting more and more intermittent until he disappeared altogether. What was that all about? Nick lives down in Scarborough, 12 km away on a 170 deg. bearing and behind the 500 foot cliff; albeit at a glancing angle.

The way the signal ended up, I can only guess at an aircraft reflection but it lasted longer than it perhaps should have. Could it have been a ship reflection? I never considered that before. I have had these short-lived oddities before on 2m-FM from OV. In fact I'm sure I worked Roy G4SSH that way in 2006. If I'd gone down there specifically for VHF, I'd have had a 3-ely beam which might have helped diagnose what was happening.

By about 12 o clock, in decreasing drizzle, I had the antenna set up in NZ90 ready to walk it forward into OV but the tide was frustratingly slow to recede. I tried calling G4SSH on 3.557-CW but there was no answer with either 5 or 50 Watts. I thought that odd. Roy was going to monitor this channel for emergencies and also for an OV contact. Maybe he had gone to get his lunch tray but I later discovered another possibility.

Stancheon Rock:
The schedule told me to set up in OV at 12:25 but it just wasn't going to happen in time. Even Stancheon Rock wasn't fully exposed at that time but waiting for a break in the waves, I jumped the gap and climbed on top of it. By 12:50, the tide had cleared it and I tried to set the mast and dipole up against it. However, I couldn't get the mast to stand up; the bungees I'd brought weren't long enough to go around a rock of this size. I tried a bungee between the mast and the rusted stub of a 12mm expanding bolt from 1987 but there was nowhere to put a second fastening.

If your antenna is not going to rot away by the next time you use it, it is essential to keep the QSY links out of seawater. Sadly one of the gold-plated 40m links fell into the sea during this process. I reminded myself to wash the antenna in fresh water at home later. A coax failed on Ben Nevis in 2015, a year after an OV trip. The ensuing investigation revealed a crumbly black dust where once the braid had been.

With the QRV time already passed, I began to worry about keeping the chasers waiting. The QTH, used for the last three activations (at OV 00013 00022), was still swimming in water. More importantly and also because of the tide, the northern end of the 80m dipole was parked in NZ90, at least 2 metres outside OV!

Urgent Action:
Something had to be done and done fast. I repositioned the mast, jamming it between smaller rocks a short distance away. Risking a good wetting I had to sort out the northern end of the dipole too. The latter took a further 15 minutes and to do it, I had to pick my moment to climb onto a big rock with the white foamy sea rushing past.

In my right hand was the roll of thin string, which was connected to the dipole's northern end and mostly over sea. The roll was merely paper, which by this stage was mostly a white mush. I normally take the string over the biggest rock I can find and wedge the roll of surplus string between two smaller rocks beyond it. In OV, this is faster and more effective than using end sticks like on a SOTA summit. In this case the only thing beyond was the North Sea.

The top of the rock I was on was shaped like a football and I couldn't get the string around it owing to it's base being under water. What saved the day was an inch high 'pip' of rock sticking up from the top, into which I laboriously filed a horizontal slot using a tiny Swiss army knife's nail file. The string went round that and luckily stayed put. At last all of the antenna was up and safely inside OV and I still had dry feet. We were free to hit the airwaves - or were we?

The ACTIVATION 13:25 to 15:00:

OV00 (YSN) Particulars:
Temp: 10 Deg.C. Wind: 2 to 10 mph; variable direction. Drizzle 10:00 to 12:00. Overcast early and late with a burst of sunshine. Wave height (breakers) approx. 0.8m and decreasing. No phone signal. No available VHF paths without prior arrangement and/ or high power. LOC: IO84SJ. Mast position: OV 00006 00020; dipole N/S.

3.557 CW - 2 QSO's from 13:25 (Dipole Failure):
Putting on headphones because of crashing waves, I called G4SSH on 3.557-CW. This time he heard me but the report was just 449. Roy was coming in at a cracking 599 but with a few 'gaps.' Just after that Nick G4OOE called in. This time the exchange was a more encouraging 579 both ways. Both stations are located a few miles away in Scarborough.

Roy came back again but the loud received signal kept almost disappearing. Something was horribly wrong and with AF gain screwed clockwise, my eardrums were suffering when the intermittent fault was absent. I checked the squelch but it wasn't that. I got the gist of it; Roy had been listening on 3.760 SSB, where so many were waiting and he was imploring me to start there. My plan was to do 7.160 first which with hindsight wasn't the best decision of my life but these issues were small compared to the potential show-stopper that had just developed. Crestfallen is an under statement.

I tuned to 7.160 after opening the 40m dipole links, partly because if this was an antenna fault, isolating the different parts was a chance to trace its location. I had a continuity buzzer in the rucksack but testing wiring laid across this kind of terrain would be extremely difficult. I could hear stations calling me on 7.160 but they were stepping drastically up and down in strength just like G4SSH had been on 80m. I now knew that the break was inboard of the 40m links. I didn't try calling anybody because I wouldn't have heard their replies but I did notice QRM.

Next stop in the investigation was 20m and balancing on rocks and reaching up, I went to open the appropriate links. This aerial doesn't go above the 14MHz band so if the fault was still there, it had to be located in the 20m section or the feeder. There was a strong station on 14.265 and he too was going up and down.

I tried pulling on the coax connector at the rig end but there was no change. However, when bent the mast tip down by tugging on the coax, the fault made itself known. Everything was pointing to a break at the antenna’s feed point.

Dropping the dipole centre off the mast and manipulating the joint confirmed it. The station calling 'CQ VK; CQ ZL' was going on and off. I now had two choices. A butchering of the joint and it's temporary remaking using just a penknife, or maybe I could persuade it to work by adding some strain relief. In the event, a cable tie pulling the three components together, while listening to the DX'er, fixed the fault for the duration. The tyrap was pulled fully tight only when he was load and clear.

Thank goodness for that and many thanks to the unwitting assistant on 14.265! I hope you worked a VK but if not, you made a mighty fine continuity tester! After re-erecting the dipole and joining all the links, we were finally in business.

3.760 SSB - 40 QSO's from 13:45 (Dipole Working!):
One hour later than the announced QRV time for 7.160, I tuned to 3.760 instead and called in at 13:45. With the tidal low-point just 20 minutes away I really needed to get communicating with as many stations as possible ASAP; the reason for going straight to 80m.

Geoff G7BGA was in control of the net but I think a mobile was on there too. After we'd exchanged 59 reports (which in the circumstances made me very happy) I explained the situation, apologising for the delay and changes of plan. I also offered to operate on 3.765 but Geoff would hear none of it; he had the situation well in hand and was determined to run OV down the list.

Conscious that I was keeping a mobile station waiting, we quickly got down to business. The process went smoothly for the most part, putting forty stations into the log in just over 35 minutes. The sole overseas station worked was SM6CNX Dan, who was hearing me at 44.

It was a relief that 80m was working as well as it might. 26 of the 40 outgoing reports were 59 with 19 coming back the same, in response to my 50 Watts. However, we didn't have it all our own way, about seven of the incoming RS's were in the 33 to 44 range with a 22 coming in from Paul MI1AIB. (Thanks go to Ken G0FEX for correcting my mistake with Paul's callsign.) When I hear reports of 44 or less, I think it’s worth giving the return report several times, even counting it up. It takes a little longer but in the long run, it’s perhaps more efficient than multiple exchanges and the chaser having to come back at the end.

Carl 2E0HPI was one who from 14:10 tried a few times to get his report. He had S9 of noise but we did succeed when he came back at 14:20 having changed something? Despite minor difficulties, everybody who called in were worked but even more importantly and thanks to the tyrap, the antenna behaved itself.

There were lots of familiar callsigns worked and a few that I haven’t heard for a few years such as: G4JZF Graham; Tony G3XKT; John G3OKA; Steve G0SGB; and Rod EI2KD, to name some of them. Interestingly, 28 of these 40 callsigns appear in my SOTA activator log too.

G0BPK Nigel was running GB0PAS (Pontefract Astronaut Spectacular) which counts for two log entries.

The final caller was Geoff, GM4WHA with whom I have logged nearly 200 SOTA contacts.

By now the tide, having never got far away from the operating position due to today’s low tidal range, was well on its way back in but opening the links for the QSY to 40m used up another 5 minutes. I announced the QSY on 3.760 and G0FEX Ken said he would, 'take a look up there.' After a long wait the Irish mobile station at last had the full attention of the 80m net.

7.160 SSB – 12 QSO’s from 14:28:
The first station of the 40m session, 2E0KVJ was logged at 14:28. Conditions weren’t nearly as good as on 80m but that was expected. Some of the closer UK stations were down in strength but I did get a 59 plus 20dB from G0RQL Don in Devon. Don was in the company of Peter 2E0PDM, David 2E0KVJ, Abdul G0TVM, John G0AJH and Roy G4SSH, in that they all bagged OV00 on both bands.

Three overseas stations were worked on 40m: PA3HS; DL7SPR and HA3OK. I assume they are WAB collectors but I don’t think I have worked them before.

It was a nice surprise when son G0UUU/M called in. Phil and his XYL had visitors but he sneaked outside to work me from the car that was parked in the road. Considering the noise on Phil’s street (I can’t even hear the cricket on Radio-4 LW when I drive past there) it was a miracle we managed to work with 55 both ways.

The majority of chasers were Q5 with the exception of John G0AJH who was 44. The same 44 reports were also incoming from Jake G1YFF and Roy G4SSH. Roy uses a ground mounted vertical, which is perhaps more suited to longer distances than for Irton to OV. Mike G6TUH, a station I normally work from SOTA’s but who also chases WAB, called in too.

3.763 SSB - 4 QSO's from 14:44:
I find it’s always best to return to the controlled band before leaving. There are often one or two stations that miss the main event. I first broke in on 3.760 to inform Geoff that I would be listening for callers on the next SSB channel up.

First in was Mark G0VOF, our SOTA Top Band specialist and writer of the monthly SOTA news, calling from Blackburn. We had a chat but it had to be fairly brief. By now the occasional wave was coming within a metre of my boots. I was just sorry that the ‘half’ planned 160m session had been cancelled due to lack of time. I’m certain I couldn’t have reached Mark at that time of day but I might have made it through to Roy G4SSH ten miles away. Even that is doubtful as Roy was not getting a strong signal from me on either 80 or 40.

After Mark I logged another three stations before the frequency dried up just before 3pm. These were: G4UIR who someone had told that I was a military enthusiast; GW4VPX Allan (worked regularly on SOTA) and 2E0XLG Chris. Mark came in at the end to wish me a ‘Safe Ascent’ (a variation on SOTA terminology) and by 15:00 it was all over.

Packing up:
A few minutes after getting up, I noticed that a wave had reached half way up the small flat rock I had been sitting on. As the equipment was on a higher rock, I left it there for the time being and went away to drop the antenna; attending to the more urgent northern end first. A lot of the end string was over open water so I had to sacrifice some of it. Once the dipole had been pulled back away from the sea, it was easy to roll up.

I then retreated up the beach to ‘advanced base’ where I’d left a few items. One of these was my lunch. I don’t eat breakfast, there’d been no time for lunch so the latter was started at 15:30, just before leaving. I was feeling a bit weak having had nothing to drink since 8am either. With those things rectified, I felt that I might just have enough energy to make it back to the car.

The Retreat:
Just like my favourite mountains, I never want to leave OV but there was no point in hanging around. The journey started at 15:38. Because of the timing, there was more beach uncovered than in the morning. Also, there was no drizzle, so walking was easier. Now with more options, I took the mid-tide line, except where there was a better offer. For instance, I did climb up onto the mini-plateau at TA 0037 9915, which gave me 200 metres of alternative walking.

Angler Information:
At TA 0062 9878, 1.4km down from OV, I got something of a fright. Lost in my own thoughts, I failed to see the angler until I had almost passed him 20 feet away. He was casting into the surf, which was now much reduced compared with OV at 11am. 'Oh, a human being,' said I, much to his amusement. Apparently he had come down the same route I'd used with a slight variation (detailed in the Route Section above) and had only been a few minutes behind me. I can't remember seeing anyone down here for a few years so it came as a shock.

We talked for five minutes, partly about what I had been doing and he seemed to have some background knowledge on the link between radio and OV; though he didn't call it that. He'd caught nothing in the intervening six hours but he was well informed on routes down, pointing out I had gone for the poorer option on the final 30m of descent.

His name was Peter Chadwick and he was from Burniston. He told me of an angler called Andy Crow who, I was told, put a route down to the foreshore via the plateau, 'between Rocky Point and the next point south.' This chap had taken a chain saw down and got stuck into the 'jungle' on the upper cliff and plateau. Just how he tackled the lower cliff, wasn't clear but as you can imagine, I was all ears. The area he was describing is very close to OV00. Peter said that Andy had spent the winter fishing for Cod down there. If the opportunity arises, I will try to find out more.

I photographed Peter doing one final cast before packing up and following me up the cliff.

The ascent went well enough but I couldn’t explore Peter’s route variation because I had to retrieve my rope from the loose shale incline. I did however GPS both ends of this preferred option for future reference (detailed in Route section above).

On the drive out, I stopped by some horses to give them some polo mints and owing to my car blocking the lane, Peter pulled up behind and gave me some news. Wonder of wonders, that final cast had hooked him a 14 inch Codling!

After arriving back at the car for 17:04, I was home by 17:30 but not before suffering some painful leg cramps while driving down Irton Moor Lane. I don’t seem to get this much in SOTA, which probably goes to show that a different muscle set is required for rocky foreshore walking. Not drinking much didn't help either.

QSO's & Times (z):
2 on 80m CW from 13:25
40 on 80m SSB (session-1) from 13:45
(Low Water: 14:06)
12 on 40m SSB from 14:28
4 on 80m SSB (session-2) from 14:44 to 15:00 QRT.
Total: 58 QSO's.

Times (BST):
Left home: 08:30 (approx)
Left car: 09:25
Arr. Beach: 09:50
Arr. OV: 11:00
QRV 80m CW: 13:25
QRV 80m SSB: 13:45
Low Tide: 14:06
QRV 40m SSB: 14:28
QRV 80m SSB: 14:44
QRT: 15:00
Left OV: 15:38
Left Beach: 16:35
Arr. Car: 17:04
Arr. Home: 17:30

To OV: 1hr-35 min gross; 1hr-25 min net (10 min delay with webbing & ropes)
Return: 1hr-26 min gross; 1hr-16 min net (5 min with angler & 5 min retrieving rope)
(2014: 62 min to OV/ 54 min back in dry conditions)

Too few drinks:
The lesson from last time had not been learned. I was suffering from dehydration due to insufficient fluids intake, which caused leg cramps afterwards. Once down the cliff, it’s all at sea level but walking the foreshore takes more out of you than you’d think. It was partly down to luck that I didn’t aggravate my injured ankle but I did take every step slowly and deliberately. The stick helped to take some of the load off very effectively.

The Route:
Distance walked both ways on this route is 5km and parking seems to be accepted by the local farmers despite it looking like a private road (I got a friendly wave today). The route variation told to me by Peter the angler will further enhance any future experience. If I ever find out who Andy Crow is and meet him, we might advance the cause still further, otherwise it will be a case of going to the cliff top to look for activity.

The 80m band:
What can you say about 80m today, other than magnificent. Had 80m been poor, 40m showed that it would have brought in a few chasers if it had been required.

Broken Dipole:
I am sorry that chasers had to hang around waiting for me to trouble shoot a broken aerial. Portable operation in remote places is a compromise between weight and durability. It seems like a fact of life that these things will break from time to time. Just when that might happen is unpredictable but this dipole has seen some service this last winter. It has been tensioned and windblown on multiple summits and had to put up with the added weight of Top Band coils; a task for which it was never designed. It was asked to stand out along with its coils in high winds, rain and snow for 18 hours on top of Pen-y-Ghent over New Year. The wire is only 26 AWG - PTFE insulated.

Continuity tests at home have revealed no fault so what caused the problem needs further investigation. Could it have been the receive path through the linear amp?

Too little time:
It was almost expected that there’d be no time for 160m. The last time I tried from there I got nil QSO’s anyway. You need winter darkness to do well on Top Band and as my son Phil and I can testify, that brings its own problems in a place like this.

More disappointing was the fact that 20m had to be dropped. I wasn't expecting to match it in 2017 but in 2014 I got 35 contacts on 14.265 including Sergei RV9DC, who I'd heard was no longer active. I am happy to see that Sergei’s log on QRZ.com shows very recent activity. My apologies go to Sergei and any other faraway WAB chasers who missed out on a QSO. I will try to do better next time.

Fewer QSO's:
58 QSO’s compares badly with the previous two sorties to this square. I got 89 and 111 into the log in 2014 and 2013 respectively but I think there are three reasons for this. Back in 2014, 40m was ‘in charge’ but now it’s 80m. I’m certainly not knocking 80m; a band I like more than 40m but it tends not to reach as many stations when you consider the UK and Europe.

With QRV delayed by 1-hour, some chasers may have given me up for lost. I was forced to drop 20m due to lack of time; the lack of time being caused by a low-tidal range and the broken aerial.

As discussed earlier, unless you are very lucky, any expedition to OV is a compromise between tidal parameters, the weather, band conditions, sea state and cliff state. Other factors are fitness and the day of the week.

In this case apart from 2 hours of drizzle which stopped for the activation, the weather was OK. Band conditions were good, especially 80m and the tide let me operate at a reasonable time of day and on a Sunday.

I can't say I found it physically easy and that wasn't helped by the remnants of an ankle injury and forgetting to eat and drink. The recent winter of SOTA activity stood me in good stead but I was painfully slow compared to the last two sorties. Nothing to complain about really.

Tidal Range:
What really let us down here was the tidal range, which was very grudging regarding how much of OV00 it would give up and for how long. The range is the difference between high and low tide levels in metres and can be more than 5m on this coast.

The paltry 2.8m we got today was far from ideal. It doesn't come up so far, which is good for not getting cut off but it doesn't go out so far either. Since it doesn't have as far to go in either direction but has the same roughly 12 hours to do it, movement appears slow. I was busy and didn't look very often but I don't remember seeing the ship's boiler around low-tide. With such a low range, it's likely that it wasn't uncovered.

Obviously you must set up inside the area but it's a question of how far inside versus how long you'll get to activate and there are only so many places you can get a mast to stay up relatively easily. Also where you manage to set up governs whether you'll be uncomfortable or otherwise and that's down to the local 'furniture.' Fortunately the offshore wind wasn't helping the incoming tide or it could have been even worse.

In summary, 19th of March wasn't such a bad choice. The deciding factor was to get the job done before band conditions deteriorate during the summer.

Anniversary Year:
As was said during the QSO with Steve G0SGB, who has had a lot to do with OV in the past, this was a 30 year anniversary activation for me and incidentally my 26th activation of the very first square in my WAB log book. Whether I'll be get there again remains to be seen but the mind is willing. (Note: OV was first 'discovered' and activated 40 years ago this coming September 2017)

Another Plug:
I hope other activators will give OV a try. I think they would get a lot out of it and it would be great to chase it again too. In the hope someone will come, I have given every possible detail of the route. Unfortunately, it is not a direct one such as we enjoyed in the 1980's and again briefly in 2006 but it is much better than coming in from either Hayburn Wyke or Common Cliff near Ravenscar.

To the net controller Geoff G7BGA who helped me down the 80m net in quick time. Well done Geoff!

For all the postings on the WAB reflector pre and post event. Many thanks to all stations worked and apologies to waiting mobiles. I was particularly pleased to work G3XKT Tony, who at long last has OV00 in his log!

Acknowledgements: Alec Brennand G4AVA, with G4AKR, G3MGI, G4EJJ and the surveyor G4DQS for 'discovering' OV and activating it in 1977.

Garmin .gdb (or .gpx) route files for the above route and others, plus photos and tide tables are available on request from G4YSS. (See QRZ.com for email)

If you require one, the QSL route is via G0OOO (SAE if possible).

73, John G4YSS

Link to photos on G0UUU One-Drive:
Captions for One-Drive and on WAB Reflector ( )

1 of 9: Part way down cliff. 09:36 - labelled (8) on WAB Refl.
2 of 9: Base of cliff. 09:51 - (19) on WAB Refl.
3 of 9: Final pitch on loose soil. 09:52 - (22) on WAB Refl.
4 of 9: Difficult Northern antenna fixing. 13:15 - (89) on WAB Refl.
5 of 9: Ready for activation. 13:15 - (90) on WAB Refl.
6 of 9: 20 min after low-water between 80m & 40m. 14:25 - (98) on WAB Refl.
7 of 9: 55 min after low-water. End of activation. 15:01 - (112) on WAB Refl.
8 of 9: Starting the climb. 16:39 - (145) on WAB Refl.
9 of 9: Part way up. 16:41 - (149) on WAB Refl.

Links to photos on Yahoo WAB Reflector:
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wor ... /518879247

Thanks to Dave G4IAR for posting the photos on WAB Reflector

Links to previous G4YSS activations:

2006: Large Square OV:

2013: G4YSS OV00 06-10-13 Activation Report.
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wor ... sages/9530

2014: G4YSS (GX0OOO/P) Activation of OV00 on 12-10-14
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/wor ... ages/13439

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