International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, 2018

The International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend or ILLW was a lot of fun. The goal is to try and make contact with as many other lighthouses and ships as we can, all over the world. It was the first time Jordan got to see a lighthouse up close, and the first time either he, Amy or I have been inside of a lighthouse. The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse was closed to the public Friday and Saturday, so the lighthouse keeper allowed Jordan up with us under very careful supervision.

Due to delays on that first day, a Friday, we showed up after they had hauled out the radios, batteries, cables, tables and so on. I watched them assemble and hoist the Buddipole HF antenna, and we toured the lighthouse. There were a few different levels. We had to crawl up a narrow ladder through a small hatch on to a large deck that circles the lighthouse. Around the side, there’s an entrance that leads to a living room type area. Narrow stairs spiraling the outside wall took you to a bedroom, and then an open room where we’d be operating 20-meters. We depart, locking up our equipment for the night.

The next morning, I go alone and bring water and snacks to the team. After some time, Mike arrives and hooks up his Icom 7300 in the first floor, and I help Rory haul in his inverted-V antenna kit for Mike to use. Mike, Dave and I operate 40-meters awhile, downstairs, while the rest of the gang upstairs operates 20-meters from Sean’s Yaesu ft-857d. 40 was slow going, but we pulled in a page of contacts between the three of us. It sounded like they had a bit better luck on 20. We have lunch, and Mike eventually has to head home and takes his radio with him. I go upstairs, and operate 20 for a little while, while the others take a break. The batteries are dying, so we toss Rory’s on the bench, which we had used for Mike’s radio. About the time I was pulling in a contact from out West, I was told that the Buddipole had spun itself off its pole in the wind, and I need to stop transmitting. I made my contact while they were trying to put it back together!

I head home to cover watching Jordan while Amy heads to work, but returned the end of the next day to help clean up while Jordan visited friends. I felt bad for not being there early enough to help with the setup. Sean tells me that the bands had finally opened up on Sunday, and they were getting places in Europe, as well as some nearby lighthouses. Sometime that afternoon, a helicopter was flying low around some sailboats, appearing to be taking pictures. It seems the party really picked up after I had left.

This was a great time. I got to know my new friends better, and add operating radio from within a lighthouse to my experience. The club got some great PR with curious visitors and tourists. I look forward to more contests with these guys.

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