Now that I am retired long weekends seem to sneak up on me as when I was working it seemed they never could come fast enough. As with CW contesting they just don't seem to come fast enough but space weather has a way of sneaking up and spoiling the contest....well that is what I used to think anyway. In the past, I would faithfully check out the space weather to get a sniff of upcoming conditions for a weekend contest. If things looked rough I would either skip the contest or dip my toes in it just to see how the ride would go.
Recently I have changed my outlook on the dreaded solar storms. This weekend was the CWops open contest and it is divided into 3 sessions. I took part in the 2nd session only as I had other things on my agenda for the weekend. From 9 am local time to 1 pm is session 2 I jumped in even with a Kp index of 5. I understood it was going to be rough, and I most likely will not beat last year's score but I have decided to use the poor conditions to hone my CW skills.
In the past when calling CQ contest and having a station come back to me who was almost non-existent and fading in and out I struggled. Now I have the opportunity thanks to the poor solar conditions to practice this skill! I had a ton of fish on 40m and 20m just waiting for me to dig them out of the mud and toss and turn with them as we both faded in and out.
That was how I spent my 4 hours in session 2 of the CWops CW open contest. My score was not the greatest but that was not my goal and considering the poor conditions I would have been frustrated. Instead, I used it as a learning session to work weak and fading stations. When I say weak at times their signal was not even moving my S meter and fading as well.
Below is my final score and I ended up operating for 3 of the 4 hours as I started late by 30 minutes and I took some breaks.