With only 3 stations to get in the log the challenge began, I had DX Summit running in the background checking for spots. Since I wanted to keep my CW stretch going it seemed the remaining station's spots were either digi or SSB! The other issues I ran into were when K2C and K2D were operating CW they were lost down in the noise floor. I could hear clear as day the stations working them but the Colony stations were silent. The other issue was with GB13COL was rarely operating CW and I was determined to make all contacts using CW.
My operating strategy was to find the needed stations calling CQ before they were spotted, this was exactly what happened with K2D in Connecticut. He was calling CQ and was weak but there and so I gave him a shot and low and behold he came back to me BUT he was not able to copy my reply. We tried a few time but he then began to call CQ again so it was not a "true" contact. The propagation gods were smiling on me as his signal jumped to about S8 BUT the spotting network gods were laughing at me because he was just spotted and the crowd was growing fast! I tried to throw my 100-watt signal in the fray but the Endfed antenna did not stand a chance against the kilowatt and a beam. The name of the game was to wait for an opening as I hoped the big guns would make their contact and move on.
K2D's signal was starting to fade again, this was how 40m was treating me most of the time. Now the crowds started to die down and he was just calling CQ with no response. He was at the noise floor again and I was having no success. He then jumped to S8 again and I gave him a go and finally, I was in the log!
It was now time to concentrate on K2C in Rhode island and from the comments on the spotting network, K2C was not on all that often......hmmm this is going to be difficult I thought and I had to snag him before he was spotted. There were times when he was spotted in the CW portion but the pileup was crazy, it actually sounded like a super rare DX location was on the air. I was constantly checking DX summit on my laptop in the living room for K2C hoping if I pounced early the pileup would not be at the crazy point yet. My dear wife commented to me that I looked like a stalker when it came to hunting K2C!!
Evening came and in the past, I noticed that GB13COL had been spotted in the evening using CW, so I went to the shack in search of GB13COL before he was spotted. I was on 40m searching the waterfall for signals and there was one that popped up. I tuned them in and it was K2C......OMG no spots yet, this was my chance to make a clean sweep and get my final Colony using CW. Where my ears deceiving me....he was calling CQ and no takers. I tried calling him but nothing he had no copy and continued to call CQ. I knew it was just a matter of time before he was found and then spotted! As Steve Martin would say "I'm a wild and crazy guy" and it was time to be that person! Normally while on 40m my power is set to 40-50 watts. The reason for this is any higher than 50 watts odd things happen to our washing machine, LED lights and so on in the house. I figured if things go wonky in my home it may be happening to those around me. Thus my power on 40m does not go beyond 50 watts......or at least until now.
I looked to the left and then to the right......with an evil grin on my face the power was cranked to 100 watts. I turned the lights out in the shack and with my head lowered but still a grin on my face I put my call out.......it was answered by K2C and he was in the log. With the lights still out I looked out the window to make sure no homes were on fire, all looked good and I was thrilled.
I had accomplished my clean sweep of all 13 Colony stations using CW and it was now time to set my sights on GB13COL.
I was not determined to work the final bonus station using CW. I had 2 days left to hunt, track and get GB13COL in the log but from following the comments again on DX Summit this final station was rarely operating CW and seemed to hang out on digi and SSB. I tried very hard when they were CW to even hear them but absolutely nothing was heard. I now had one day left and during the day I tried and tried when they were CW and again nothing was heard.
Evening came and they were spotted using FT8..........I am going to give them a go as CW was just not going to work out for this station.
Into the shack I went and started the PC and then the radio and low and behold there they were on the waterfall. Before transmitting I observe the waterfall to see a who is transmitting where. There is no sense jumping into the fray if I am transmitting overtop of someone else as this way neither of us is heard. About 5 minutes went past and I was not in the log yet and then my call came across with a signal report from GB13COL! I was thrilled and sent my report back to make the contact complete and just waiting for his 73RRR BUT I then I saw that GB13COL was transmitting again with my signal report as he did not hear my report. NOOOOOOO so again and again I sent my report and nothing and eventually he started to call CQ again. I was not in the log.....well not yet I was this close and not giving up. I stopped transmitting to get a feel for the waterfall and find a clear spot. I found my spot and after a few minutes of calling he came back to me and I was in the log!!!!!
This was a nice challenge spread over a few days and for sure I will be taking part in this event next year. It's time to send off for my clean sweep plus 2 bonus station certificate. All but one were contacted using CW but I know for sure that GB13COL would not have made it into the log if I waited for a CW contact.