[SECC] J79JG Report

John Getz johngetz24 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 9 10:58:57 EST 2014

Blowing time in the San Juan airport so decided to write a report on my
dive/radio trip to Dominica as J79JG.

This was an 11 day trip with one night spent overnight in San Juan, 7
nights at the Castle Cove Dive Resort on the southwest shore of Dominica
and 3 nights at Sunset Bay Resort on the northwest shore.  I was traveling
with eight other diver friends.

At the first resort, I had arranged an ocean front room about 30 feet from
the water.  My operating position was right by a window where I could watch
the sailboats and cruise ships.  I was able to put up wire antennas on the
roof of the two story building.  The longest antenna that I had room for
was a 30 meter dipole.  My problem was that I was unable to get the
antennas more than 3' above the roof.

During the day I had trouble making contacts but late afternoon and
evening, I got out pretty well.  My favorite time/band was 17 meters,
before and after sunset, when I could work JA.  I know my signal was weak
over there so I made it a point to send their calls at least twice.  30
meters was pretty good into Europe.

Our plan was to change resorts after a week so we could dive sites to the
north.  In the process of taking down my antennas, I managed to scrape
against a piece of vertical rebar and made a pretty good gash in my leg.  It
was probably bad enough to require stitches but I taped it up and let the
salt water do its work on it.  It's now been four days and it's looking
pretty good.  On one of the dives, I was hanging on the anchor line doing
the required 3 minute safety stop at 15' and got into some stinging growth.
The itching stopped after about 24 hours but the rash will probably take
about a week to go away.

The manta of this group was:  As long as you don't require stitches or a
trip to an emergency room, you are having  "fun".  The more damage, the
more "fun" you are having.  Another diver slipped and fell into the dive
boat.  He was hurting for both dives that day and skipped the next two.  One
day we did a hike and swam up a freshwater stream that feeds the local
power turbines.  The water was rushing pretty hard and we all had some
bruises.  That day was lots of "fun".  I might add that all of us are over

After a week, we moved to the second resort.  I hadn't asked permission to
put up an antenna but my room was located where I could put up an almost
unseen 40 meter inverted vee. The resort owner was a real bitch so she
probably would not have approved.  Her staff all called her "The Madam".  With
that antenna, I was able to work 40 and 15 meters.  It was nice to be fresh
meat on 40 for the last three days.

I ended up making 1,736 Q's, including 32 dupes, with all but two on CW.  I
spent 32 hours in the chair.  About 150 JA's got into the log.  I worked
some of the same JA stations on both 15 and 17 meters.  There were a few
ZL's and VK's.  I worked lots of Europe.  Some had real strong signals and
some were way down in the mud.  There were probably equal numbers of EU's
and US stations worked.

The diving was excellent.  Our group did 20 dives and saw a lot of real
interesting stuff.  There were no sharks but we saw rays, turtles and tons
of fish.  We did two night dives. We saw lots of  moray eels.  The reefs
had a lot of lion fish that need to be eradicated.  Another diver, myself
and the local Divemasters took out about 100 fish.  One night we had the
resort cook some up for us as they are very good eating.  Lion fish have
very venomous spines.  The other hunter/diver had a minor sting that went
away in a few hours.  The Divemaster had a much deeper stick and was in
more pain.  However since it was his 21st lion fish stick, he knew what to
expect and was able to continue with the dive.  He actually earns part of
his living by spearing and selling lion fish.  He likes to hunt in 120' to
160' feet of water as that depth isn't covered by normal recreational
divers.  Our group never went below 100' and normally stayed above 70'. He
estimates he has killed about 8,000.  Lion fish are not native and are
killing off the local fish population.  I'm told that a female lion fish
can produce up to 30,000 eggs every few days.  Because of this, it's
impossible to get rid of them.

We had rain showers almost every day and night.  They were usually quick
and didn't cause much of a problem.  One night we had a heavy rain and the
silt from the rivers flowed into the sea.  The cold muddy water was on the
top so we were able to descend below it and be pretty much in the clear.

The island of Dominica is very mountainous.  The drive between the airport
and both resorts was about 90 minutes.  It's not all that far but the
winding roads and rough spots make it a long trip.  They are in the process
of replacing many of the bridges.  However they haven't repaired the damage
to the road caused by the bridge construction.

I'm not sure when or where my next trip will be.  If there are any other
experienced scuba divers in the group, please keep me in mind if you ever
want to join forces on a trip.  It's great fun diving, playing radio and
having "fun" beating your body up!

John, AD8J, J79JG
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