Anacapa Island Dual Activation a Success

Bill Willcox-KF6JQO, Martin Hickey-AJ6CL, and Andy Ludlum-K6AGL

On September 17th, three CVARC members had a successful expedition to Anacapa Island to conduct a dual activation of the National Park with both Parks on the Air (POTA) and Islands on the Air (IOTA.)

Bill Willcox-KF6JQO, Martin Hickey-AJ6CL, and Andy Ludlum-K6AGL traveled by boat to the small volcanic island located about 11 miles off the coast of Port Hueneme, in Ventura County.

Part of the Channel Islands National Park, Anacapa is actually made up of three islets (appropriately named East, Middle, and West Anacapa Islands) and are inaccessible from each other except by boat. The activation was staged on East Anacapa Island.

California brown pelicans roosting on the cliffs of East Anacapa Island.

Thousands of birds use Anacapa as a nesting area because of the relative lack of predators on the island. Anacapa is home to the largest breeding colony of endangered California brown pelicans, as well as the largest breeding colony of western gulls in the world.

The team leader, Bill-KF6JQO, conducted extensive planning with park rangers to ensure the team and its equipment would not disturb native plants or animals. Park sites, especially those with over 10,000 years of human history, have strict prohibitions against any ground disturbances.  The chief ranger noted, “Disturbing the ground is also one of the easiest ways to accidentally commit a felony in National Park.”

The antenna was carefully placed to avoid disturbing sensitive vegetation.

An antenna location was chosen on a mostly bare spot on the ground near a picnic area. With the environmental considerations, staking to secure the antenna was out of the question. The team chose a light weight vertical antenna supported on a tripod. The tripod sat on an aluminum window screen mesh which rested on the ground and served as a ground plane.  The window screen was stabilized by four half-liter water bottles, one on each corner. The thin antenna was (mostly) stable in the windy island environment.

The equipment had to be light enough to comfortably carry it up 157 steps from the boat landing. Using a battery powered 100-watt multi-mode transceiver, the team had its most success on 20-meters, but also operated 10 and 40-meters.  Most of the contacts were SSB, though Martin-AJ6CL ended the three-hour activation with a flurry of CW QSOs on 10-meters.

Martin Hickey-AJ6CL making CW contacts.

The team was pleased with the results. A total of 72 contacts were made. The most impressive results were on 20-meters where contacts were made with stations in California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Hawaii, Indiana, Ohio, Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Michigan, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. Band conditions on 10 and 40-meters allowed mostly local contacts with the big exception of a 10-meter contact with the Australian state of Queensland.

4 Replies to “Anacapa Island Dual Activation a Success”

  1. Our team would like to thank all the CVARC members who spotted us and enabled a pretty respectable QSO rate. Also a shout-out to National Park Service ranger and photographer-extraordinaire Becky – who gets the credit for this article’s cover photo.

    Our next Anacapa mini Dxpedition opportunity will be August 17-18, 2024. This is the international lighthouse/lightship event. This would also be a potential three-fer: IOTA, POTA and the light house activation.

    1. We have changed the 2024 dates to 3 and 4 August to coordinate with a US lighthouse lightship weekend.

  2. I wish I could have made that trip. I just got my technician license and it would have been great to watch you guys work. I lived and worked on Anacapa in the late 80’s. It’s a wonderful little island. I still visit and volunteer out there regularly .Thanks for the story and pics!

    1. Mike,

      We have changed the 2024 dates to August 3 and 4. You would be welcome to operate no matter your license class as there will be plenty of control operators.

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