TAMAULIPAS STATE GROUP - NA-246
The Tamaulipas State Group of islands consists of several barrier islands in the Laguna Madre. One of the largest of the inner islands is Larga. This island was chosen because it is easy to land on and has no population. On July 30, 2006, Hector, XE2K, Jorge, XE2WWW and Mike, AB5EB, made an initial trip to Larga for a few hours and qualified it to count for NA-246 using XE2K/XF2 and XE2WWW/XF2. Planning started for a larger operation.
In early 2007, equipment was being assembled at the Reynosa, Tamaulipas QTH of Jorge. Several of the antennas and masts that have been used on XF1K operations were shipped across Mexico. The required paperwork for the operation was started to obtain the licenses for the special island operation and for the operators coming down from the United States. On the 22nd of February, the team assembled in Reynosa. Hector and Norm, N6JV, flew in from California where they were met by Jorge for the trip into Mexico. Marco, XE2S, was also picked up at the airport in Reynosa where he had flown in from Hermosillo, Sonora. Mike, AB5EB, drove to Reynosa from San Antonio, Texas. The rest of the day and evening were spent buying additional provisions and parts, assembling power cables and loading the trucks. On Friday morning, the two pickup trucks headed for the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre which is about 130 km to the east. Foggy conditions resulted in a slower start to the operation.
This border area is closely controlled by the Mexican Navy. It is a prime area for smuggling. A courtesy visit was made at the Navy headquarters to explain who we were and where we would be. An unusual operation like this was sure to attract the attention of the Navy patrol boats. After the Navyís approval, negotiations with Captain Jorge Mantecas were started and an agreement was made. He would provide two boats and several helpers to load and unload the boats. The gear was quickly loaded and the boats headed off to Larga.
Marco Jorge Mike Norm Hector
A landing area was found that was very close to a good camping spot. The boats were quickly unloaded. Norm slipped in the mud and did a back flip and landed on his back, but there was little damage. Hector and Marco started assembling the antennas while Mike and Norm put up the tents. Jorge would join the team the next day. The main tent was near the landing area and would have two of the transmitters. A second small tent would be located down the beach as far as the power cables would reach. This tent would have a single CW station. When the TH3jr tribander was up, a station in the small tent was ready and the initial contacts on 20 meter SSB were made with an ICOM 706 Mk II. K6QG and N6AWD, our QSL manager, were the first QSOs. An IC-756 PRO and AL811 amplifier were used on SSB and a TS-2000 was the second CW rig. Other antennas included an A3WS for the WARC bands, a DX88 vertical, an F12 vertical dipole and a 60 foot top loaded vertical for the low bands. Power was supplied by a single 5 KW generator.
Conditions were very good on all bands except for 15 meters and above where conditions were very poor. All three stations were active on 17 and 20, SSB and CW until near dark when 30 CW, 40 CW and 75 SSB were started and run all night. Very large pileups of Europeans and Asian stations kept everyone busy day and night. By the end of the operation on Sunday morning, 7203 QSOs had been logged with 4002 on CW and 3201 on SSB. QSOs with Europe were 1726 and 952 were with Japan.
BAND SSB CW EUROS TOTAL (CW + SSB) 15 1 19 2 20 17 498 873 324 1371 20 1672 1240 701 2912 30 0 880 257 880 40 0 990 287 990 75 1030 0 155 1030
Captain Mantecas and his boats arrived back on Larga exactly as requested at noon on Sunday and they all assisted in taking down the tents and loading the boats. The sea was calm so the boats had a high speed race back to the mainland. With the trucks loaded, everyone returned to Reynosa for a barbeque dinner at Jorgeís home. Hector, Mike and Norm crossed the border and stayed near the Harlingen Airport so it would be easier to make flight schedules the next morning.
The XF2K team would like to thank Ing. Moises Ramirez and his associates (COFETEL) for their assistance with the licensing. We would also like to thank the Island Radio Expedition Foundation (IREF) for their support and to individual contributors JE1DXC and JM1PXG. Jorge and his wife were excellent hosts to all the operators at their home and provided invaluable assistance while dealing with many problems. All QSLs will be handled by our manager Fred, N6AWD. We wish to thank all who worked us and made this a very successful operation from NA-246.
This ends the official report.
This is the rest of the story. (Norm N6JV "Oidos de Piedra")
The weather was very good if you like high winds. The first night, both tents partially blew down in the early morning. The small tent was very light and a sun shade tarp had been wrapped around the windward side. This worked well until the second morning when a 50 mph wind came from the opposite direction and the tarp acted as a sail. It tried to lift the tent off the ground and put it in the sea with me in it. With the wind howling, I couldnít yell for help and managed to get out and hang on to the tent supports while attempting to untie the tarp. After several exhausting minutes, the tent collapsed and wasnít headed to sea. I went to the main tent for help, and Jorge and I tried to drive long posts into the sand to hold it down. Not much luck, so we woke up Hector and tried again. By this time, I was not feeling well and laid down in the dirt and was content to stay there. Jorge and Hector stabilized the tent and Jorge went to get Mike. As an ER doctor they decided they needed him as Norm was still laying in the dirt. Everyone knew of my medical problems and was very concerned. I managed to crawl into the tent and onto my bed where I was comfortable. I got some sleep until dawn. In the morning, I felt well enough to sit up, so made many QSOs on 20 CW until shutting down about 10 am. I was still not very steady and worked slowly. Eventually they made me sit down and not load anything else.
When we returned to the mainland, I was very tired and lay in the back seat of one of the trucks. Mike decided that they needed to get me across the border and get me checked out at a medical facility. After empting out the truck in Reynosa, Jorge and Mike drove to the border. At the border there was about a 30 minute wait, so Mike ran up to the Border Patrol people and explained that they had a sick American in the back of the truck. With a Border Patrol officer on the back of the truck, Jorge drove to the front of the line and into Texas. An ambulance was called and five ambulances responded. I donít know which was chosen, but I was loaded in one of them and an IV and oxygen were started. They took me to the McAllen Heart Hospital while Jorge and Mike returned to Reynosa. Once in the emergency room they ran several tests on me and eventually decided that I was so dehydrated that my blood pressure would fall too low when I stood up. They started giving me fluids and poured 2500 ml of saline into my IV. About 10 pm they officially released me. Hector and Mike had loaded my gear and picked me up at the ER. We found a nice motel and we had some needed showers and a good nights sleep. I was especially careful to clean the blister I had gotten on my heel from walking around with wet feet and shoes the first day.
With flight delays, I didnít make it home until 11:30 that night. As I was taking off my socks to go to bed, I noticed that my ankle was twice its regular size and the blister was very infected. My wife and I went to the local emergency room and they cleaned the blister and injected me with some painful antibiotic. By 3:30 am they had again released me with a prescription.
Lessons learned: When on an island operation, drink as much as you would at home and probably more. Try to have an ER doctor on your team and if he is a good CW operator, all the better. Remember what your mother told you about accidents, hospitals and clean underwear.
RETURN TO N6JV'S WEB PAGE