Bill Noyce, AB1AV, and I pushed off
from a sandy shore in mid-morning.
Even our over-active imaginations couldn't foresee the adventure that
swooping past the canoe closer than we'd ever seen,
soaring at treetop level overhead, and the quiet of a wilderness
stretch of river that hasn't seen development. All that... and a
QRP radio excursion complete with an antenna that
200 feet across the river... from one shore to the
other which landed
us a QSO an entire ocean away.
We chose Bill's canoe over my
Bill spent five months building the 17 footer in his garage,
and it's exquisite... made from strips of wood carefully
over a form and finished with beautiful ash gunwales.
Bill's no stranger to the outdoors. In
mid-August he spent more than a
week in the White Mountains camping
and hiking with his family.
He's been a Scout leader for years, and
it shows... he came fully
prepared with rain gear, first aid kit,
man-overboard throw rope,
and most importantly his ATS-3 and box of
radio gear. All we
really needed was the radio.
The Merrimack River between Franklin and
Concord, New Hampshire
is wide, fairly shallow with a moderate
current. It snakes through farmland,
and is lined with hardwoods and
rich cornfields. The area is rife
with wildlife. A heron stands in
the shallow lee of an island so
still, you think it might be a branch
of a fallen tree sticking up.
He takes off, flies low just a bit to
the side of the canoe revealing
the secrets of flight and posture of
outstretched legs. Around the
bend a bald eagle surprises us by
launching from a nearby tree
branch and climbing above the water and
turning left across our
bow. The beavers have made tracks up the
river bank and into
the cornfields where they haul their booty back
to the river
leaving a trail of cornstalks.
Sand bars jut out as the river turns
and there are plenty of resting
places and quiet open areas. As
lunchtime approached, we had
no problem finding a spot. As we neared
the shore, we eyed
the trees for potential antenna branches. "Bill,
let's run an
antenna right across the river! Think we could?" I
"Why not," he answered. So we started adding up our wire
and rope supply. "I've got two rolls of wire" I said. "One
about 90 feet; the other is about 65 feet." I had a couple
50 ft. hanks of dacron and another 100 foot
roll of cord. We
were set. On the opposite shore we threw
a rope over a branch about
30 feet above the water and tied
the end to a root. We attached the
wire and paddled back
toward our chosen operating site paying out
behind the canoe. Once on the shore we threw another
about 30 feet, spliced the two rolls of wire with
a knot and a twist
and setup an inverted L. The wire
lifted beautifully above the water
and we had an antenna...
a glorious antenna. About 150 feet of
antenna, right over the river!
I sat right down on the sand then
connected the wire to my ZM-2
and hooked up the ATS-2 on 20
meters. There was no wire
left for a counterpoise, so we went with
what we had. I tuned
down from 14.060 and there on the FISTS
W7PFZ calling CQ! He came right back to me and the grin
on my face probably frightened every beaver for a mile
up and down
stream. Phil was a 599 from Washington
state. He gave me a 569.
After a quick lunch, Bill gave a
listen on 40 meters. There were
several loud stations but all in
Because Bill had to be home by 5:00,
we decided not to hang around.
Bill took the canoe over to the other
side to untie the line.
Our schedule was relaxed and smooth.
After packing up, we pushed off
and headed around the next bend and the next.
By mid-afternoon we'd covered 12 miles in five hours and reached our
pull-out just north of Concord. As
we brought our gear back to the car,
we talked about our next
adventure... perhaps we should make a longer
trip of it... more time for operating, perhaps camping overnight.
We wanted more... more quiet scenery,
more time surrounded by the
sounds of summer and the sounds of shores beyond our own.