Google Earth probably gave me all the hints I needed to see this coming--but I booked the villa before looking. We had such great locations on St. John and on Montserrat I was lulled into the false belief that they'd all be that good. I was lazy, and it is costing me.
Before anybody starts feeling badly for me, I should state clearly that I'm OK with all this. I'm going to make the best of it and have fun. I might not "kick butt" like I had hoped in this contest, but I'll still do well enough to have fun.
Speaking of "kick butt" (the battle cry of the Yankee Clipper Contest Club members) I have talked with other club members already. The folks working J3A were so loud I needed to turn on the attenuator in order to work them. They've got the right idea: find a great location and keep going back.
The other problem I'm having has nothing to do with hardware or location. My callsign is "V4/NE1RD" Victor Four Stroke November Echo One Romeo Delta. For some reason this has confused just about everybody I've talked with on the air. The mangling and tortured miscomprehension of this simple series of characters has been an eye-opener for me. When I was first assigned the call I made an attempt to get a "real call" like V44RD. My messages were met with silence. I should have pushed harder. The combination of having a stroke in the call couple with a callsign that is somewhat familiar in contesting (NE1RD) has made most of the scant few QSOs I've made an exercise in repeats and fills. The lesson: get a local call. Period. This business of having the licensing agency giving you a call like "V4/NE1RD" is goofy.
Which brings me to another epiphany I've had. If you are thinking of going someplace, get the license first, then shop around for the location. Licensing seems to be the big hang-up in all this. The Montserrat licensing exercise was nightmarish. (No need to repeat all that here. Go read the blog entries from last year.) This St. Kitts thing with the "V4/" for the callsign after a long wait is equally frustrating. At this point, I think my order of assignments would be:
- Pick the place you want to go
- Get a reasonable license. Can't get one? Go back to step one.
- Look for a private, secluded villa on a hill. Can't find one? Go to step 1.
- Work out all the logistics. Can you get there easily (and inexpensively)? No? Go to step 1.
Pretty harsh, but I'm starting to think this is the correct approach.
Finally, some common sense perspective. I'm on vacation. I'm down here in a beautiful place with the love of my life. We're both tired and stress out (which is why we needed the vacation). I'm going to relax and have fun. If the radio thing doesn't work out 100% this time, so be it. I brought an excellent book (or two), we have a pool, we have a great view, and we have each other. There will always be another contest.
73 from paradise!