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Seefontein's DXpedition

September 11-14, 2007

by John Plimmer

Present at Seefontein were John Plimmer and his wife, (to look after the 70 year old dodderer), Vince Stevens and Derek Duplessis. Vince and Derek got there first in Vince's Landy with all the beverage bamboo supports, radio's, supplies and gear at 11.30 a.m., and they were soon running out the three long beverage wires in the coastal brush. Dawn and I arrived at noon and unpacked and had some lunch and a lager before starting to setup.

As this was the fourth or fifth visit for us all, we seem to have got used to the privations of the spartan fisherman's cottage, right on the beach and about a two hour drive North of the city of Cape Town on the Atlantic ocean. Paraffin lamps are used for lighting and gas for cooking and heating the water and the fridge. The brackish brown borehole water is undrinkable so the host supplies 25 liters of drinking water that soon runs out with endless cups of tea and coffee, so Vince brought along another 25 liters that was needed on the last day.

participants
Vince, John and Derek

The thing that brings us back to Seefontein cottage for the fifth time is the total lack of city/suburban RFI. It just awes me to DX at sunrise and sunset and the S meter has no activity at all. Signals/stations that come in as much as an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise can be successfully audible and recorded but the S meter on your radio is not even flicking or moving from zero. Amazing! In town we are used to S4 and much more of noise in some locations, severely limiting our DX ability from most town/city based QTH's. Sadly there are not a lot of totally free RFI DX sites left anymore as civilisation spreads and the power companies extend their networks of powerlines even to the remotest farms and communities. The nearest small village to Seefontein is 5 km's/3 miles away and the nearest small powerline is at least 2 km's/1 mile from the remote cottage. Truly leads to the most wonderful DX experience.

The prime objective of Seefontein DX site is exotic North American catches, the hope this time was to get some low power stations in the U.S./Canada and some stations in the mid West, and as a bonanza, perhaps a station or two from over the Rockies on the U.S. West Coast. The signal path from the U.S. East coast is direct over sea water to Seefontein, an ideal situation. Our other DX site at Jongensgat on the East Indian ocean coast favours reception from Australia and Asia.

For my part conditions were slightly above average and I got a good volume of stations from the U.S. and Australia, which was surprisingly strong. Alas, the U.S. West eluded me as did low power stations from there. However, to sum it up my stats reveal that this visit was slightly better than the previous two. The stats being 13 U.S. stations for Seefontein5, 11 for SE4 and 10 for SE3, so I came home well satisfied with my results.

Vince had this to say:

My impressions: (subtitled: 'Why I need to learn to speak Spanish')
Seefontein is a prime west coast location for hearing North American AM stations across 'the pond'. So I had high hopes again this year for some good catches. However I felt it hadn't been as good as I'd hoped. Despite low solar activity, signals from USA were poorer than I expected and the band once again was dominated by South American stations. Strangely enough (for someone who spends 99% of the time DXing mediumwave stations) one of the highlights for me was good signals from two Papua new Guinea stations on Shortwave. I've never heard Radio New Ireland put in such a good signal previously and the other station, radio East Sepik, (although not as strong), was a personal first for me. Nevertheless it was still great to be at a location with minimal noise interference and loads of space to sling up long beverage antennas. Once again many stations from all over the globe put in HUGE signals, unlike anything I can receive at my home locations. For that reason alone, its always worthwhile to go away and spend some time with radio buddies doing what we do best!

Seefontein cottage
Seefontein cottage

Modern DXing is so far advanced from the days I started over forty years ago in a remote mining village near the Congo border of Zambia that it is hard to imagine how I got any ID's at all, but somehow I did. There were no essentials like the WRTH manuals or magazines available up there and of course the internet only arrived years later. Now DXer's in many first world countries can DX with the full enormous capabilities of the net and cellphone/data connections even from their DX sites. Today, even if I miss a crucial station ID I can still verify the station if I have other information such as the program format, program name and/or program host. With the vast resources available to DXer's today and from the internet I can now quite easily identify stations at home on my computer which at first I was not too sure of in the field with only my trusty WRTH or other log available. Many serious DXer's now have SDR radio's with vast databases loaded onto their laptops and a wide range of information is instantly available to them as they DX. Surprisingly I have found even the smallest and lowest powered stations have websites with a lot of useful information to aid ID's and on one occasion, after two months digging around the net and trying various stations, I got an e-mail QSL verification from a 58 watt station in Georgia 8,000 miles/13,000 km's from my QTH = lovely!

I cannot stress enough the benefit of a good recorder. I used for the first time a new Edirol R-09 mp3 recorder with a 70 hour capacity, so I was able to record lots of what seemed irrelevant material, but later on analysis proved to be good catches that it was not possible to identify in the field. It also allows you to record enough material for sending out for that crucial QSL when station managers are critically going over your offerings.

TUESDAY EVENING 11TH SEPTEMBER
Everyone was all ready to go an hour before sunset, everything all checked out and working faultlessly, and 50 minutes before official sunset Fanglio, Taiwan appeared, soon followed by AIR Nagpur and HLAX Korea. Ten minutes before sunset some of the low power West coast Aussies appeared. The evening looked promising. By 1810z Adelaide appeared, always nice to catch something from the South East of Aussie as it doesn't always come in at Seefontein. 1900z and the more distant Europeans come up, with Vince getting a couple in the UK and I getting Lille, France. Later at 2000z Vince is thrilled to get PNG East Sepik on the Tropical band.

John boozing
John boozing, smoking and DXing all at the same time!

WEDNESDAY MORNING 12TH SEPTEMBER
I am up first at 2.00 a.m. and already find a U.S. station WWRU NJ, but the Brazilians are dominating the band and it proves hard work to dig out the Yanks. Strangely, unlike other visits, I find the Kiwa Loop only want's to get the Brazilians, whereas my BOG is doing quite well with the American stations. Just after two a.m I get what I think is a superb catch: WTKA Ann Arbor MI on 500 watts nightime power. Sadly, later at home I find on the web that "ESPN Radio" is syndicated to so many stations I had to dig deep, only to find that the correct station is in fact WEPN NY, NY, a 50 Kw powerhouse. With so many stations now syndicated to media groups it is becoming very hard for us to verify who we are listening to, as the correct station ID is only given quickly and briefly anytime once an hour. However, the syndicated ID is given frequently. As an opening may last only a few minutes, it becomes really tough for us to find the true ID of a station - the internet is a great resource here and usually provides the clues that lead to a positive ID.

Catches come in sporadically in the night, but things really hot up as sunrise approaches. I get "Big L" from Holland which pleases me as I have been trying to get that station for yonks. Several more U.S. stations come in, and ten minutes after official sunrise, with the sun well up, I get "San Diego 1700" (XEPE) which is a great catch as this station is around 16,000 km's/10,000 miles away. Good DX is still heard until nearly an hour after sunrise. That ends the session and the other lads go and doss down for some shuteye.

My Icom chews battery power, so I have to recharge it every day, but saving me the inconvenience of carting it over to the farm, Derek has brought along a solar panel, so hooks up my battery and it is fully charged again in the evening.

I have to entertain Dawn, so we go into Veldrif the nearest town 15 km's away and do some shopping for food and supplies and I drop in on the only internet cafe to catch up on my radio groups mailings. They do a great fresh fish and chips there, so we get enough for all of us and head back for lunch, where the bleary eyed DXer's are just surfacing after their snooze.

WEDNESDAY EVENING 12TH SEPTEMBER
Again the signals start drifting in an hour before sunrise and a few minutes before I clearly get Japanese, but alas! before I can get an ID it fades out. At 1700z I get an ID of what sounds like R. OBC which is a Japanese station in Osaka, but as I am not sure of it later I post it on the net and find it is actually BBC in UAE speaking in Farsi, a language I am not familiar with. Later Vince gets France Lyon and Bayern Germany and switches to the Tropical band and gets PNG New Ireland, which he is pleased with.

THURSDAY MORNING 13TH SEPTEMBER
The Brazilians are powerful again, but some U.S. stations are coming through. I get 1520 with a lot of references to Oklahoma and I am quite bucked, but frustratingly the only ID they keep giving is "AM 1520" and nothing else. Then 1520 is taken over by a more common station WWKB Buffalo, and later that is taken over by WLAC Nashville, so my great Oklahoma catch vanishes into thin air before I can get a positive ID. Truly like the old proverb of the big fish "that got away"! Vince gets R. Ulster UK, a nice catch, but the session ends with nothing particularly noteworthy. Just near sunrise I get my best catch so far, "San Diego 1700" which is XEPE, Tijuana, Mexico = a great catch!

I head into town again with Dawn for more supplies and get some meat for a traditional South African braai (barbecue) that the lads are preparing with some very rusted and primitive utensils. We have a convivial braai well lubricated by liberal shots of Scotch for the lads and some beer for me, then we all doss down for the afternoon.

THURSDAY EVENING 13TH SEPTEMBER
Europe and Australian lows powers come in nicely, the highlight of that session for me being the 2 KW Port Augusta station in South Australia near Adelaide. Vince also gets Greece which is not often heard and I get London and Paris.

FRIDAY MORNING = LAST SESSION 14TH SEPTEMBER
We are all bushed from days of continuous DXing, so rise a little later this morning, only getting started at 5.00 a.m local time. The U.S. stations are quite strong this last session and we soon get some solid catches, and as sunrise approaches we get the big enchilada's. Vince gets St. Kitts, XERF Mexico, Windsor ON Canada and his big one: KOA Denver CO. He is quite thrilled with that. I get several more U.S. stations and then the catch of a lifetime sneaks in on 1410 Khz. I don't recognise it for what it is then, and only back home a few days later, with the help of fellow hobbyists, the recorded audio clip reveals clearly a callsign "...on C-fun 1410 AM". This confirms it as CFUN Vancouver BC Canada, quite the best catch I ever got in my life and the only station I have ever recorded West of the Rockies. That station is over 10,000 miles/16,000 km's away from Seefontein and just proves that in this great hobby you can even expect the unexpected.

At twenty to eight local time the signals fade (50 minutes after sunrise) and it is time for us to pack up and head for home. Putting up the long beverage wires when you arrive all fresh and full of enthusiasm is a breeze, but taking them down at the end when you are dog tired after three days of hard DXing is a real chore. By ten thirty we are all finished and leave for home and the big task of running the recordings and writing everything up. A great DXpedition with great results.

Antenna's:
Vince's three 300m/100 ft beverages covering Europe/Australia/Asia and over the shoulder to N. America.
John's Kiwa MW Loop and a 300m/100 ft BOG laid out on the track to the cottage, pointing to Australia and over the shoulder to N. America.
Radio's:
Vince Drake R8A
Derek Icom R70
John Icom IC-756 PRO III

SEEFONTEIN5 LOGS - 11 TO 14 SEPTEMBER 2007

Freq Time Date Lang Station Town Country Power Remarks
198 1937 07/09/11 AA QUARGLA ALGERIA 1000 JP
555 03h57 14/09/07 ZIZ Basseterre ST.KITTS (Presumed) Briefly heard with
'Reggae Nights' song - VSv poor
603 18h32 12/09/07 FF France-Info Lyon FRANCE Rugby Comm - VS p-f
648 1945 07/09/11 EE BBC OXFORDNESS UK 500 JP
660 05h02 12/09/07 EE WFAN New York, NY USA Sport, ads & ID - VS p-f
666 2000 07/09/13 FF RFI ST PIERRE REUNION 20 NX - JP
700 05h06 12/09/07 EE WLW Cincinnati, OH USA News Radio WLW' ID - VS p
702 1928 07/09/13 EE 6KB ABC KARRATHA AUSTRALIA10 MUSIC & PHONE IN - JP
710 0047 07/09/12 EE WOR NY NY USA 50 NEWS - JP
720 1821 07/09/11 EE 6WF ABC PERTH AUSTRALIA 50 JP
729 16h37 13/09/07 EE 5RN Adelaide AUSTRALIA 50 Documentary on Aborigines & human rights - VS,JP g
747 18h49 13/09/07 DD R.5 Flevoland NETHERLANDS 400 talk about books, ID & nx @21h00 and still audible @ 04h00 - VS,JP f-g
756 1949 07/09/13 II R ROUMANIA LUGOJ ROUMANIA 400 JP
765 1959 07/09/11 FF SWISS SOTTENS SWITZERLAND 600 JP
801 19h32 12/09/07 GG Bayern-1 Munchen GERMANY 100 Mx & talk - VS, JP f
810 1917 07/09/13 EE ABC PERTH AUSTRALIA 10 JP
828 1845 07/09/11 EE 6BN ABC GERALDTON AUSTRALIA 10 JP
850 05h07 14/09/07 EE KOA Denver, CO USA 50 Subaru ad & ID - VS p
864 17h50 11/09/07 EE TWR Relay Yerevan ARMENIA ID's in EE, then into other lingo (AA/Farsi?) - VS f-g
864 1911 07/09/13 FF FRANCE BLEU PARIS FRANCE 300 POP MUSIC - JP
900 2308 07/09/11 II RAI MILANO ITALY 600 SONG CARINA - JP
920 2250 7/09/12 PP R NACIONAL GOSPEL COTIA BRZ 50 TALK/SONGS - JP
927 19h21 13/09/07 Greek ERA (SPORT?) Zákinthos GREECE (presumed) w sport comm, //1008 & 1494 - VS p-f
981 1848 07/09/12 PP R RENASCENCA COIMBRA PORTUGAL 10 FOOTBALL COMMENTARY - JP
990 1841 07/09/12 EE R SAWA CAP GRECO CYPRUS 600 JP
1010 0034 07/09/12 EE WINS NY NY USA 50 TALK/NEWS - JP
1017 03h09 13/09/07 GG SWR Wolfsheim GERMANY talks - VS f-g
1044 1850 07/09/13 VV AIR MUMBAI INDIA 100 LOCAL MUSIC - JP
1050 0016 07/09/12 EE WEPN ESPN NY, NY USA 50 "ESPN RADIO" ID SPORT - JP
1053 19h49 11/09/07 EE Talksport Droitwich UK Football talk (making a very early appearance) - VS p
1053 1812 07/09/12 VV R LASI URICANI ROUMANIA 1000 JP
1060 0408 07/09/13 EE WIXC "ESPN RADIO" TITUSVILLE FL USA 5 SPORT & NX - JP
1080 1844 07/09/13 EE 6IX PERTH AUSTRALIA 2 ID - JP
1098 03h50 12/09/07 SS RNE5 Various SPAIN YL & OM talking - VS, JP g
1116 04h00 12/09/07 II RAI Various (max 20KW)ITALY ID for Radiouno - VS g
1116 1652 07/09/13 EE 6MM MANDURAH AUSTRALIA 2 CONTINUOS LIGHT MUSIC+ COMMERCIAL ADS - JP
1134 1803 07/09/12 EE CRI CHINA 1200 NX - JP
1140 0446 07/09/14 EE WRVA RICHMOND VA USA 50 COAST TO COAST - NEWS AND PHONE IN'S - JP
1143 03h55 12/09/07 SS COPE Jaen (5KW) SPAIN (presumed) w Football talk mentions of 'La Liga' - VS p
1152 1800 07/09/12 VV R ROUMANIA CLUJ ROUMANIA 950 JP
1152 1644 07/09/13 VV PBC RAWALPINDI PAKISTAN 100 INDIAN STYLE MUSIC - JP
1170 516 07/09/12 EE WWVA WHEELING WV USA 50 SONG ON MY WAY TO NEW ORLEANS THIS MORNING - JP
1190 0350 07/09/14 EE WLIB NY NY USA 30 JAQUI CAMPBELL SHOW SOUL MUSIC - JP
1200 0511 07/09/12 EE WOAI SAN ANTONIO TX USA 50 ID - JP
1220 0012 07/09/12 PP R GLOBO RDJ BRZ 150 JP
1233 1634 07/09/13 FF RMC CAP GRECO CYPRUS 600 NX - JP
1242 1621 07/09/13 EE 5AU PORT AUGUSTA AUSTRALIA 2 JP
1296 1616 07/09/13 EE 6RN ABC WAGIN AUSTRALIA 10 TALK - JP
1305 04h12 13/09/07 SS RNE5 Various SPAIN Nx - VS g w QRN
1314 1700 07/09/12 VV R BBC IN FARSI AL DHABBIYA UAE 1000 NX - JP
1323 1757 07/09/11 EE BBC WS CYPRUS 200 JP
1323 1628 07/09/12 EE CRI CHINA 100 NX - JP
1332 1754 07/09/11 VV R TEHRAN TEHRAN IRAN 300 JP
1341 04h08 13/09/07 EE BBC R.Ulster Lisnagarvey UK (presumed) w BBC WS relay - VS f w QRM
1377 1734 07/09/11 CC CHINESE CHINA 600 JP
1377 1906 07/09/11 FF FRANCE INFO LILLE FRANCE 300 JP
1395 04h04 13/09/07 EE Big L Trintelhaven NETHERLANDS 20 ID's & Jingles - VS, JP f w QRM
1395 1642 07/09/11 EE 5AA ABC ADELAIDE AUSTRALIA 10 JP
1404 1637 07/09/11 EE 6TAB BUSSELTON AUSTRALIA 2 JP
1410 0434 07/09/14 EE CFUN VANCOUVER BC CANADA 50 "C-fun" ID and 'The Logical Song' by Supertramp 10,000m 16,000 km - JP
1449 1631 07/09/11 EE 6TAB MANDURAH AUSTRALIA 2 JP
1458 1622 07/09/11 FF RFO PAMANDZI MAYOTTE 5 LOVELY SWINGING CREOLE MUSIC - JP
1500 0425 07/09/14 EE WTWP WASHINGTON DC USA 50 ID WASHINGTON POST RADIO - JP
1503 1553 07/09/11 CC FANGLIO TAIWAN 600 JP
1503 0328 07/09/12 SS MONF DE LEMOS MONF DE LEMOS SPAIN 2 JP
1510 0252 07/09/12 EE WLAC NASHVILLE TN USA 50 JP
1510 0438 07/09/12 EE WWZN BOSTON USA 50 SPORTING NX - JP
1520 2357 07/09/11 EE WWKB BUFFALO NY USA 50 NX TOH - JP
1521 0331 07/09/12 SS R CASTELCOCAS TELCO SPAIN 5 JP
1539 0332 07/09/12 FF EVANGELIUMS RUNDFUNK MAINFLINGEN GERMANY 700 JP
1540 2351 07/09/11 EE ZNSI NASSAU BAHAMAS 30 GOSPEL - JP
1548 19h51 11/09/07 EE Capital Gold London UK 97 Ads & Dire Straits mx (making a very early appearance) - VS, JP p
1550 05h36 14/09/07 EE CBE Windsor ON CANADA 10 Presumed with R.Netherlands Worldwide (see http://www.cbc.ca/overnight/schedule.html - VS p-f
1550 05h39 14/09/07 SS R.Metropolitana Los Teques VENEZUELA ID (mixing w CBE) - VS p-f
1550 1919 07/09/11 AA RASDRABOUNI ALGERIA 50 JP
1557 1906 07/09/11 FF FRANCE INFO FONTBONNE FRANCE 300 NX // 1377 - JP
1557 1613 07/09/11 EE FAMILY R WYFR TAIWAN 200 JP
1566 1602 07/09/11 VV AIR IN VERNACULAR NAGPUR INDIA 1000 JP
1566 1604 07/09/11 CC HLAZ JEJU KOREA 250 JP
1570 05h31 14/09/07 SS XERF Cd Acuna MEXICO Presumed with mentions of Mexico, birthday greetings & mx - VS f
1575 1606 07/09/11 AA R FARDA UAE UAE 600 JP
1575 1935 07/09/11 SS //1584 PAMPLONA SPAIN 10 JP
1584 1933 07/09/11 SS R OURENS OURENSE SPAIN 5 FOOTBALL - JP
1593 1610 07/09/11 CC CNRI CHINA 600 JP
1600 2336 07/09/11 PP NOVO DE JULHO SP BRZ 100 JP
1602 1925 07/09/11 SS R VITORIO VITORIO SPAIN 20 JP
1610 0148 07/09/12 EE CARRIBEAN BEACON ANGUILA 8 GOSPEL - JP
1620 0421 07/09/12 EE WDHP FREDERIKSTED VIRGIN ISL 1 BBC WS NX - JP
1640 04h37 12/09/07 EE WTNI Biloxi, MS USA 1 ID's & slogans, NFL sport - VS, JP p-f
1660 05h00 12/09/07 EE WWRU Jersey City, NJ USA 10 ID + kOREAN - VS, JP f
1660 05h15 14/09/07 EE WCNZ Marco Isl, FL USA Relevant Radio ID's, relig px VS f-g
1700 0500 07/09/12 EE XEPE "SAN DIEGO 1700" TIJUANA MEX 10 JOHN MCCALL SHOW - JP
3335 20h00 11/09/07 EE/Pidgin R East Sepik Wewak PAPUA NEW GUINEA Nx in Pidgin, mention of workshop in Port Moresby - VS p
3905 19h45 12/09/07 EE/Pidgin R New Ireland Kavieng PAPUA NEW GUINEA Local & Int'l pops, ID's, NBC nx at 20h00 - VS f-g
4319 1530 07/09/11 EE AFN DIEGO GARCIA 3 JP
5765 1524 07/09/11 EE AFN GUAM 3 JP
6350 1530 07/09/11 EE AFN PEARL HARBOUR HAWAII 3 JP
8915 1535 07/09/11 EE SF WKG A/C NW908 SAN FRANCISCO USA 10 JP
8942 1533 07/09/11 EE MANILA WKG VARIOUS A/C MANILA PHIL 10 JP
VS - Vince Stevens, JP - John Plimmer
# Vince has listed only logs he considers of interest due to time pressures of his going away.

(published on September 20, 2007)

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