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Hams In Paradise – MARCH 2018

Hams In Paradise – MARCH 2018

March 5, 2018 3:01 pm0 comments

Welcome to Spring! The long season of “Christmas Winds” seems to have drawn to a close and the temperatures are actually starting to warm up a bit! Warm is a relative term, so for readers not located in the VI, the all-time record lows are: St. Thomas: 52F, St. John: 55F and St. Croix: 57F. Anything below 70F is cold to us. The ocean temps rarely go below 79F, even at 70 to 80 feet below the surface.

While some of our Northern friends might think of these warm temperatures as good, in reality the warm ocean surface temperatures provide fuel for hurricanes when the conditions are right. One interesting fact is that the ocean’s surface temperature will drop some ½ degree Fahrenheit following the passing of a large hurricane! Think of the square MILES of energy this represents, and then it’s not hard to understand how storms can be so strong!!

Speaking of hurricanes, there are not many folks who have experienced a pair of category five hurricanes in a span of just under two weeks. Peak winds in Maria lashed St. Croix with gusts in excess of 200 MPH! Irma devastated St. Thomas & St. John. Little wonder that the territory’s infrastructure suffered immense damage. Ham radio was the only method of communication with St. John for a week following Irma.

On St. Croix some 90-95% of all utility poles were destroyed. Many places in the Territory experienced power outages in excess of 100 days! Landline telephone service still isn’t restored in the majority of businesses, and residences are even farther out on the restoration schedule. In true island spirit, one creative local musician wrote a song called “My Generator” sang to the tune of “My Generation” by The Who. Here’s another creative example of the lengths people would go to have their power restored:

The linemen who came from the States to restore power are folk heroes in the island. Personally, there was no better Christmas present we could have received than having our power restored on Christmas Day. Even some 5 months after the storm, there are still several hundred linemen performing cleanup of the hasty power restoration steeple chase. Thank you linemen!!! You are our true heroes.


In a word propagation has been AWFUL! Smoothed sun spot numbers have hovered near 70, and now frequently dip below 70 with multiple days of zero sunspot sightings. (It’s the sunspots that create the solar winds that excite the atmosphere, which facilitates HF propagation)

The contesters are in the Spring doldrums and fixing their hurricane damaged antenna systems in preparation for the Fall contest season which is right around the corner. The continuance of extremely low solar activity means contesters will have to work harder for DX and contacts.


The St. Croix ARC migrated the domain to a new host service (thanks Sean, WP2SC!) and also a new format – WordPress. We hope you like the new format and will contribute news & other interesting content to keep our website interesting and lively.

The old Yahoo Group which served our reflector needs for several years has been retired in favor of This new service does not require a Yahoo login, which hopefully will bring more folks in touch with our VI ham radio activities.


On the heels of the wildly successful ARRL’s NPOTA & W1AW/* operations comes a new challenge for 2018. The National Grid Chase challenges participants to work as many grid squares in 2018 as possible. The band & mode of QSOs matters not. Just the total number of grids confirmed in the logbook of the world. LoTW. Information is available at

Digital modes have taken the hobby by storm and allow for sub-audible QSOs, thus further increasing our RF ‘reach’ in challenging conditions. Brad, WP2B worked Kuwait (9K2) on 6m JT-65 as well as Western Australia on 80m 1.5 hours BEFORE local sunset. I don’t care how many years you’ve been licensed, that’s pretty cool stuff! Now the FT-8 digital format accounts for 58% of all uploads to ClubLog, a popular online QSO confirmation utility.

Digital mobile radio (DMR), and other digital formats, have also become very popular. Planning is in the early stages to revive the club’s interest in ‘mesh networks’ interest to link a planned intra-island repeater system.

In the aftermath of Irma and Maria, amateurs on all three islands volunteered over 2,200 man-hours of service supporting VITEMA, the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, and other Federal & Territorial agencies, both governmental & non-governental. Numerous lives were saved and volumes of critical message traffic was passed on behalf of our supported agencies. The ARRL recognized this effort by both VI & PR hams and subsequently bestowed the annual International Humanitarian Award to those who selfishly gave of themselves during our homeland’s time of need. A HUGE thank you to all who assisted in this worthwhile effort. This is one of the cornerstones of our hobby.


As we look forward, we must prepare both on a personal survivability and communications fronts. Family first certainly applies when preparing for, and in the aftermath, of hurricanes. The better prepared we are personally, the better we can support our served agencies. We continuously analyze our performance and recognize our strengths and also strive to make improvements to fulfill our public service role.

Well, that’s all for now. Stay R A D I O A C T I V E ! !

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