I'm Not the Chief Cook & Bottle Washer

by Helen VA1YL



In July 2014, the VC1S DXpedition team helped by Halifax Amateur Radio Club (HARC) with equipment went to Bon Portage (Outer) Island (NA-126) for the Islands on the Air (IOTA) contest. The island is a wonderful radio location and has 2 comfortable buildings. This is our fourth contest from there. We set up a run station, a multiplier station and a 6 meter station which is only used outside the contest. 

The island is only a few miles offshore, reached by a small boat. The best time to arrive and leave is at high tide so that it is not too difficult to move the ton of equipment from the mainland dock to the boat and on to the island dock. This time departure from the island was delayed for 5 hours because the waves were too high at high tide for the boat to dock. That meant that all of the equipment had to be hauled down the slip, lifted onto a small boat, moved to the larger boat, carried across and then lifted more than 10 feet up to the mainland dock. All the food and water must be transported to the island as well as the radio equipment, antennas, towers, generator and gas. It really does add up to a ton or more.

Gear on Mainland dock Waiting to go to bon Portage


The team members were  Rich VA1CHP,  Helen VA1YL,  Mark VA2MM,  Wayne VE1BAB, Lynn VE1ENT,  Fred VE1FA, Bill VE1MR, Al VO1NO,  and Lowell VY2OX.   It was a wonderful team with all members working hard to contribute. The team put up 3 towers with 2 HF tri-banders and a Yagi for 6 meters, a full wave 80 meter vertical loop, a pair of phased verticals for 40 meters, some beverages for listening, and 40 Meter and 80 meter dipoles.

The team has done many DXpeditions so the two stations are effective and easy to use. Some of the team are CW operators and some sideband. Some are specialists at the mult station and some prefer the run station. A computer guru is needed to make sure that the logging computers talk to each other as well as to the internet. Lynn VE1ENT was our food specialist and provided us with excellent healthy food. Whoever is not on duty or asleep helps out with the cooking as well as with clean up. Helen has always said that she goes as a ham operator, not the chief cook and bottle washer. She is also good at pulling ropes and tying knots, as well as carrying equipment.

Generator on Bon Portage Dock:  VA1YL,  VE1MR, VA2MM and Lee Adams (boat captain)

Running the station, VA1Y,  VE1BAB, V01NO

Multi-station VE1MR,  VY2OX

The team scored about 3 million points and may well be the highest scoring DXpedition team in North America. The European stations have an advantage over North American stations because there are so many European Island groups nearby which can be worked on more bands. The best that the team has ever done is about 10th in the world, but best in North America. It is terrific fun to be on the right end of a pile up! I always say it makes me feel like a movie star, having people line up to talk to me!

View from the lighthouse


Houses and Lighthouse from the top of the antenna

Lighthouse at night

10 & 40 meter antennas and a whalebone

Gear waiting to go home

The Gang
Lowell VY2OX, Wayne VE1BAB, Al V01NO, Rich VA1CHP, Fred VE1FA, Helen VA1YL, Mark VA2MM, Lynn VE1ENT and Bill VE1MR


 A different view of the lighthouse