K1N Navassa Island, ATNO

I’ve been listening to the K1N operation from time to time, intrigued by how strong their signals have been here in the Heartland of the US. Not really surprising I suppose, Navassa Island is only 1600 miles as the crow flies from my QTH. I’ve copied them on 80-10 meters and often, they’ve been as loud as any station in the passband of my receiver.

But the pile-ups. Wow. The pile-ups…

On Saturday morning I was up and in the shack early, about 5:30am local. I had put the coffee on to make a pot and while waiting for a cup, turned on the Eagle, and there was K1N on 40 meters. Still parked on 7.002 where I heard them the night before. They were listening “up” but conflicting reports on the cluster had them listening anywhere from 7.003 to 7.010. It would have been nice in that moment to know precisely where to transmit but such is the game of DX.

I hadn’t called them up to this point, the pile-ups being too big for my peanut whistle to bust. But I sat down and figured I would give it ten minutes. Or until the coffee was done dripping. Whichever came first. I tuned up to pinpoint where the dog pile was most concentrated, then went up another half kc and dropped my call. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again. Nothing.

Then after the sixth or seventh call, I hit pay dirt. My call sign came ripping back to me. Stunned, I traded reports and it was over, literally in seconds. The coffee wasn’t yet done dripping and K1N was in the log on 40 CW. My favorite band, favorite mode. I don’t plan to even try to work them again. Filling band and mode slots is a lot less satisfying than that one brief, shining moment when ham radio stops on a dime, and hears my call being sent by the DX.

Of course I sweated the rest of the day, checking the online log for K1N many times to see my call in their log. It took about ten hours, but there it was. Good enough for me. Done.

Until the next one.

Author: Jeff Davis