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Jongensgat DXpedition Report
March 20-23, 2006

By John Plimmer

Dawn and I set off for Jongensgat on a cool cloudy day - ideal weather for stringing up beverage antennas! Traffic on the main N2 route was thankfully very light and we stopped off at Heidelberg for a late breakfast of eggs and bacon. After a three hour drive, we arrived at about twelve thirty to find our host and his wife still busy cleaning the cottage and lugged the heavy boxes of equipment up the 30m/100 ft incline. The older we get the more trying this is and I wonder for how many more years we will be able to manage it..??

DX chalet
DX chalet

Vince Stevens and his wife Sonja arrived at 1.00 pm after having a late brunch in Stilbaai and the heavy work of setting up and stringing out the antenna's commenced. I had intended to put out a 300 meter beverage, but seeing the hostile terrain I gave up and decided to rely on my Kiwa MW loop. Vince meanwhile got cracking and started his major effort of stringing three beverage antenna's through the thick coastal scrub. I have to give Vince an award for this: "Champion Beverage Antenna Stringer of the Year", as the terrain is so hostile with the thick coastal fynbos scrub up to 6/8 foot high, that it is a superhuman effort that Vince seems to excel in. His antenna's are always dead straight and supported six foot off the deck by bamboo rods he brings bundles of.

1630, just before sunset, we fire it all up and things are immediately disappointing. Huge noise from the inland thunderstorms and a lot of manmade electrical noise as well. Propagation seems poor as well and we do not get early pre sunset signals from the Australia/Far East as is usually heard. So all in all it's not a very successful evening and we retire at ten, hoping for a better tomorrow.

John & dead rasta
John ponders the dead rasta sheep phenomenon

The morning session on Tuesday 21st is also disappointing as the hoped for N. American stations do not arrive. Instead lots of Brazilian stations that we do not want, but in between that I find a Santiago Chile and a Bolivian station. A first for me as I have never previously heard anything from across the Andes on the Pacific East Coast.

We savour the new day in the lovely surroundings - the isolated cottage on the Indian Ocean beachfront with it's magnificent vistas of rocky coastline without sight of any other habitation or human presence. Some Cape Francolins and dassies gambol around to increase our pleasure. Lunchtime Vince fires up a braai (barbecue) and we have a convivial time.

Vince and I seriously have a go at trying to find the source of the man made electrical radio noise and after much troubleshooting Vince has a brainwave and detects that it is being created by our own badly laid out power extension cords. Whew! that sorts out that problem and at least now we will have a better radio evening with no electrical noise to speak of. I also do more experiments on my IBM laptop that has been successful at home, but here, with the sensitive antenna's, it creates a hellava radio racket and interference, so I pack it away in disgust. Pity, as I am always awed at how our American friends use a mountain of laptops and other electrical gear at Grayland with success.

John BBQing
John doing Edward Scissorhand impersonations

Tuesday 21st, our second evening, things are very much better. The Australian stations already start streaming in well before sunset and a fruitful evening session begins. Perth and Geraldton are early arrivals. Propagation seems better and the summer thunderstorms inland are a bit quieter, so we have a good evening of catches. The morning session on Wednesday 22nd is also better and North America also makes an appearance with nice catches from New York, Nashville Tennessee, Charlotte North Carolina and Jacksonville Florida. However, both Vince and I overslept and did not get going until 5.30 a.m. Wednesday morning, which was a pity, as the N. American stations were coming in well. Vince didn't hear his fancy wristwatch alarm and I, usually up at 4.00 am latest, simply overslept. Damnation, probably lost a few good American catches.

Vince with antennas
Vince and mini-whip and start of beverages

Ever energetic Vince gets more wire out on the antenna's and extends them considerably and adds a new one to the East. This is fruitful, as the 400 meter one I use on Tuesday night performs very well and Vince's new East antenna gives him a catch from the island of Guam in the Pacific, 13,900 kilometers / 8,600 miles away, an awesome catch on the AM mediumwave band. (Sadly for Vince, hoping for a South African first, his compatriot Gary Deacon has already snagged it the night before in Fishoek, and has already confirmed it by e-mail by the time we get back). Fortunately Vince also manages to get an email QSL from the kind lady at the station.

Wednesday 22nd we enjoy a quiet day, as the antenna's are all perfected so we take the women shopping in Stilbaai such as it is. For lunch Dawn and I have the lovely fresh fish takeaway they do in Stilbaai and go back to Jongensgat and enjoy it at our leisure with some fine Robertson wine.

Fanie, our host pitches up to see why the water pump has stopped working. I realise that Vince switched out an unknown circuit in our noise abatement exercise, it was unmarked and we did not know we had inadvertently switched of the main water pump to the complex! Fortunately Fanie took it in good faith and was mollified by our explanation, all was now well.

Vince BBQing
Vince barbecueing

The evening session starts well with a good showing from Australia and the Far East coming in well before sunset, and as we guys DX Sonja braai's a spatchcok chicken that Dawn has bought earlier. It is peri-peri and later we all thoroughly enjoy it with a little local wine.

6.20 p.m. my Icom radio goes dead - boomf = disaster!!!. Keep a clear head Plimmer, this is really bad news. The thought of missing the last nights promising DX session overwhelms me. I fiddle with all the buttons and check things but nara, not a peep out of it. Vince suggests rebooting it and so I switch off all the power and wait five minutes and then switch on again. Thankfully it starts up properly and works perfectly again, the mystery malaise gone. Wow! relief!

BBQ area
Barbecue area

Wednesday evening yields more good Australian catches and Vince's highlight of Guam. Thursday morning we are both up early but conditions are not spectacular, though I do get a low powered 1 kilowatts station from Augusta Georgia. At sunrise on the last day there are still some decent signals from the U.S. but I can't get a clear identification = frustration.

Thursday morning it's all over, not a bad DXpedition, some good catches, pleasant company and a fabulous setting on the seafront. Time to pack up - Vince heads out into a clear windless sunny morning and gets stuck into the considerable task of taking down his beverage wires. Dawn and I pack up all the gear and lug it down the steep incline - were really getting too old for this and find it heavy going. then a slow three hour trip home in light traffic and find all well with granny Bina and the pets at home in Montagu.

Local flower
A local flower

JP=John Plimmer
VS=Vince Stevens
Rxers: Icom 756 PRO III, Drake R8A
400m Beverage beamed magnetic North (336 deg - Canada & NZ over the shoulder), 200m Beverage at 306 deg (NY City & Perth over the shoulder), 300m Beverage at 276 deg (Cent. America & Indonesia over the shoulder), Kiwa MW Loop.

DXpedition Logs

Local flower
585 21-Mar 19h08 Australia 6PB Perth Nx & Wx for all of Australia poor-fair JP&VS
612 20-Mar 19h29 Kenya KBC Ngong in VV fair JP
612 20-Mar 19h05 Australia 6RN Dalwallinu Radio National fair JP&VS
666 20-Mar 18h50 Reunion RFO St.Pierre French good JP
684 22-Mar 18h05 Australia 6BS Busselton This is ABC fair JP&VS
720 21-Mar 15h45 Australia 6WF Perth Making a very early appearance an hour before local sunset. poor but good by 15h53 JP&VS
747 22-Mar 19h20 Australia 6SE Esperance // 783 poor VS
756 22-Mar 19h20 Australia 6TZ Margaret River // 783 fair VS
783 22-Mar 19h20 Australia 6VA Albany "Blondie's 'Call Me' // 756, 747, 1098 - all R.West" poor VS
801 22-Mar 18h17 Guam KTWG Agana US accented Gospel in EE then at 19h00 with My Utmost for His Highest & Turning Point prog's. No ID but total programme match when checked website v poor - poor but odd peak when sig was almost fair. Gone by 19h15
810 22-Mar 16h06 Australia 6RN Perth talks & nx poor under Mozambique JP&VS
828 every night 15h45 Australia 6GN Geraldton ABC good JP&VS
882 21-Mar 17h47 Australia 6PR Perth fair JP&VS
963 22-Mar 16h57 Australia 6TZ Bunbury Radio West ID & comment: '..open phone lines' poor JP&VS

Nearly tame Dassie
990 21-Mar 16h38 Australia 6RPH (presumed) Perth BBC WS relay fair JP&VS
999 22-Mar 16h45 Indonesia RRI Programme 4 Jakarta w talk in Indonesian fair-good JP&VS
1008 21-Mar 16h32 Australia 4TAB Brisbane Horse racing results poor w Mozambique QRM.QRM was less on N-beverage JP&VS
1062 21-Mar 17h05 Australia 4TI (presumed/tentative) Thursday Island Wx for N.Queensland/ABC nx etc.. poor and only briefly VS
1080 20-Mar 16h37 Australia 6IX Perth Pops - Imagine etc..ID @ 17h13 fair-good JP&VS
1098 22-Mar 19h20 Australia 6MD Merredin // 783 plus local ads at 17h59 poor-fair JP&VS
1110 22-Mar 04h32 USA WBT Charlotte NC CBS nx and wx poor JP
1116 22-Mar 17h57 Australia 6MM (presumed) Mandurah Pops (def an Aussie just not sure if it was the fairly often heard 6MM) poor w QRM VS
1179 20-Mar 18h43 Sweden R.Sweden.org & World music mention. Making an early appearance poor-fair VS
1180 21-Mar 04h00 Chile R.Portales Santiago Spanish good JP
1188 20-Mar 16h45 Australia 6XM Exmouth "Pops, ABC nx, wx" poor-fair JP&VS
1190 21-Mar 04h30 Argentina R.America Buenos Aires ID & noticias good VS
1190 23-Mar 03h45 Argentina R.Nacional San Miguel de Tucuman good JP
1206 20-Mar 18h16 Australia 6TAB Perth Horse racing results fair w local QRN JP&VS
1224 21-Mar 16h35 Australia 6RN Busselton // 1296 fair JP&VS
1242 20-Mar 16h49 Vietnam VoV Can Tho fair JP
1242 21-Mar 19h20 Japan? NBS Tokyo " //1413 (not Vietnam) w pop mx, local & western (Carole King etc..)" fair VS
1270 21-Mar 04h12 Uruguay R.Cuareim Artigas poor JP
1270 21-Mar 04h02 Argentina R.Provincial de Buenos Aires ID & talks in SS good JP&VS
Aerial view
1296 21-Mar 16h29 Australia 6RN Wagin // 1224 fair JP&VS
1323 22-Mar 17h55 China CRI in EE w ID &website addr good VS
1323 22-Mar 17h47 Cyprus BBC WS talk fair JP
1359 20-Mar 18h27 Taiwan WYFR Fangliao in EE gospel wth ID Family Radio fair JP
1380 23-Mar 02h58 Chile R.Corporacion Santiago ID & Religious programmes in SS ( but a few words in EE too). First Chilean for me (Vince) fair VS
1390 21-Mar 04h18 Argentina R.Ribera Sur Ingeniero Budge "ID's etc in SS, only eveident after listening to tape a few times" poor VS
1404 21-Mar 17h33 Australia 6TAB Busselton Horse racing results poor w local QRN JP&VS
1413 21-Mar 17h52 Japan? UNID Talks in JJ (?) w pops - Red Hot Chili Peppers etc. poor-fair VS
1413 21-Mar 18h00 Russia R.Khabarovsk Russkoye in RR fair JP
1431 22-Mar 18h35 Australia UNID Kalgoorlie "w ads, later on with Gospel - must be Vision FM." very poor JP&VS
1458 20-Mar 17h59 Angola Luena vernacular poor JP
1449 21-Mar 17h35 Australia 6TAB Mandurah Horse racing results p w local QRN JP&VS
1460 22-Mar 03h49 USA WZNZ Jacksonville FL "Sports talk, ads ID @ 04h00" poor JP&VS
1500 22-Mar 03h45 USA WTOP Washington DC ID & CBS nx update poor but clear JP
1503 20-Mar 17h37 Taiwan Fangliao in Chinese fair & good JP
1510 22-Mar 03h46 USA WLAC Nashville TN Sportscall' poor JP
1512 21-Mar 16h09 Australia 6BAY Morawa Pops good JP&VS
1520 21-Mar 04h29 Argentina R.Chascomus Chascomus in SS fair JP
1540 21-Mar 01h53 Bahamas ZNS-1 Nassau in EE gospel fair JP
1557 22-Mar 19h39 Taiwan RTI Kouhu EE gospel fair JP
1566 20-Mar 16h40 Korea HLAZ "FEBC, Jeju" in Chinese fair JP
1575 20-Mar 17h31 Mauritius BBC WS Bigara BBC WS progs in EE fair JP
1590 21-Mar 04h47 Bolivia R.Bermejo Bermejo in SS fair JP
1593 21-Mar 16h15 China CNR-1 talks poor-fair VS
1600 22-Mar 03h44 USA WWRL "NY, NY" talk fair JP
1602.2 21-Mar 16h12 UNID "on E-W beverage w phone ins, Indonesia?" poor VS
1611 21-Mar 15h59 Australia Radio 2 Margaret River & syncros ID & pops - Tears for Fears poor JP&VS
1620 21-Mar 04h45 Argentina R.Tropicana Buenos Aires in SS fair JP
1620 23-Mar 02h01 US Virgin I WDHP Frederiksted in EE fair JP
1620 22-Mar 16h39 Australia Radio 2 Perth ?Geraldton 4kz? //1611 w pops & ID poor JP&VS
1629 22-Mar 16h40 Australia Radio 2 various locations //1611 w pops & ID very poor VS
1630 23-Mar 02h59 USA WRDW Augusta GA talk/sports & ID poor-fair JP&VS
1660 23-Mar 02h59 USA WWRU Jersey City in Korean - talk fair to good JP
1690 23-Mar 04h34 USA WWAA Atlanta GA ID Air America & news/talk progs poor JP

(published on April 17, 2006)

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