Fall  2006 Issue

The VP2V/W7XU Expedition
to Anegada, BVI

From June 23 to July 1, 2006, K5AND, K5AB, W7XU,
and NØLAN put the British Virgin Islands, specifically
Anegada, on the air. The BVI contact made a lot of
European and U.S. 6-meter operators happy, as it
was a needed entity for many of them.

By Dick Hanson,* K5AND

Arliss, W7XU (left), and Dick, K5AND (right), unload the Cessna 182 at the airport in Tortola.

The trip to Anegada was planned to accommodate the high ranking of the British Virgin Islands on the “needed” entities list for European and U.S. 6-meter operators. Although several trips by 6-meter ops had occurred in the past, weak-signal contacts were made difficult by the extremely high QRN levels on Tortola, the main stopping-off island of the British Virgin Islands. Also, we later discovered that there is no active ham club in the BVI any more, and there are only about six active hams, none of whom operate on 6 meters. All of these factors combined to make the BVI more rare than it should be.

I had visited Anegada three years ago on a sailing venture and remembered that it is really off the beaten path and has little commercial activity. I thus felt that it might be electrically quiet, especially if a station could be situated somewhere on the north beach. The island is about 25 miles north-northeast of Tortola and about 12 miles due north from Virgin Gorda. It is a small island, only 2 miles wide and 11 miles long.

Anegada is mostly sand and rises approximately 28 feet out of the ocean. It is covered with sea-grape bushes, low-lying succulents such as Bay Lavender, and various salt grasses. The island is also covered with a yellow wildflower that looks like a daisy. There are no actual trees for antennas, and there is no problem for those who plan to erect a mast and beam. There are some friendly feral cows that wander the island, but because they wander, you have to be careful where you locate your mast and guy ropes!

Arliss, W7XU, went on the Internet to try to find a suitable hotel or cottage for us and finally discovered Loblolly Beach Cottages, owned by Kenneth Norman. Kenneth had built four new two-bedroom cottages in 2001, so we figured everything would be pretty new and well-maintained. Also, Kenneth, VP2VK, is an active ham and is incredibly accommodating and friendly. Two of the cottages feature airconditioning and ceiling fans in the bedrooms, a decided plus when visiting the Caribbean! His cottages also feature access to 240 VAC and good old U.S. of A. 120-VAC receptacles. No worries about connecting anything!

The Journey

Our journey began on two fronts: Alan, K5AB, and I both live in the Austin, Texas area, so all we had to do was get to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to catch a plane to San Juan and then an American Eagle island hopper to Tortola. Arliss, W7XU, and his son Nolan, NØLAN, chose a much more exciting and challenging method of transport. They flew their own Cessna 182 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota all the way down there! Talk about adventures in flying! Believe it or not, Arliss only had to stop three times for fuel, overnighting in Tallahassee, Florida and again in Provo, Turks and Caicos.

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