Squam Lake Adventure
by Jim Cluett, W1PID
It was an all-day radio excursion to Moon Island
on New Hampshire's Squam Lake... and what a day!
The scenery was sparkling, the mountains beyond
were crystal clear and the sky was the deepest
blue I'd seen all year. Combine that with a QSO with
Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, and a contact with
Japan... and you've got a formula for QRP adventure
Bill Noyce, AB1AV and I hadn't been on a radio
outing together since we canoed the Merrimack
River last summer. As mid-September approached,
we knew our options were disappearing quickly. So
we agreed on a day and met mid-morning in the
tiny town of Holderness on the shores of Squam
Lake, the famed site of the movie "On Golden Pond."
Bill manoveurs his homemade canoe out of Piper Cove
We launched from the Squam Lake Association at
Piper Cover. The group is dedicated to preserving
the lake environment, habitat, shores and water
quality. They also own a couple of islands used
by members and visitors for camping and
swimming. We were headed to Moon Island,
a spot about 45 minutes paddle North and
East of Piper Cove.
It was a perfect day for a canoe outing
We marvelled at the quiet of the lake. There were no
power boats, no highway sounds... only the distant
call of the lake's resident loons broke the silence. We
soaked up the warm sunshine and sparkling vistas as
we headed toward the shores of Moon Island.
For most of the day there were no other visitors
Moon Island is roughly 30 acres. There are only two
buildings... a caretaker's cabin and an outhouse. There
are three campsites. We had the the entire place to
ourselves until late in the afternoon when some
campers arrived. As soon as we landed, we scouted
around to choose an operating site. We quickly found
one at the far West of the island.
I convinced Bill that we ought to start with my simple
30 foot wire vertical straight over a tree branch. I'd
been working Europe every afternoon I used it. We
set it up quickly and started making QSOs on 20 meters.
I was running an ATS-2 by KD1JV and Bill was using the
First we worked Minnesota, then Georgia, finally we
heard a French station and worked him easily. But
then there was a lull and the band remained quiet,
so I had lunch. Afterwards I heard VY0/KH0PR.
He seemed pretty strong, but he couldn't hear me.
I tried several times. "Bill," I said. "Maybe it's time to
try your W3EDP."
So we switched antennas. Bill put up the the 85 foot
wire as an L. Up 20 feet and over 65... with a 17
foot counterpoise. "The VY0 doesn't seem as strong,"
lamented Bill. But I could see Bill working the paddles.
Soon the silly grin on his face told the story. Bill had
worked Baffin Island with a chunk of wire and 4 watts!"
We were ecstatic.
The view from our operating position
We took turns using the antenna. The band was pretty
squirrely. Very few stations and generally quiet. During
my shift I was completely startled by a Japanese
station suddenly calling CQ out of nowhere. "A JA!" I
nearly yelled as I sent my call. "I got him!" JA7BXS
in Miyagi. His name was Takar and I couldn't have
been more startled or pleased.
A thrill working JA7BXS
Before packing up we worked a few more stateside
stations, but we couldn't duplicate the thrill of our
earlier contacts. We carried our gear back to the
canoe and sat on the dock for a few minutes
eating some local pears my wife had packed.
As we sat there... a most unexpected sound
erupted nearby. A large group of loons (I counted
14) began their haunting, warbling chorus.
Usually we hear one or two calling back and forth
across the lake in the evening. But this was something else.
All of them were engaged in a raucus seranade as they
glided through the channel that separates Moon Island
from Bowman Island. It was an unforgettable end
to a glorious adventure.