September 19, 2011

Sands Contest Group Return to Sunderland Point

Hi Folks,

It was that time of year again when we have the pleasure in taking part in IOTA 2011 from Sunderland Point.

The peace and tranquility of Second Terrace before Sands Contest Group arrive, looking back in a northerly direction towards Terrace One.

As you can see not an antenna in site. This small strip of grass is highly valued by the local resident as an area they can sit on a fine summers day and hear nothing but the lapping of the waves when the tide is in and the birdsong of the vast variety of birds as they migrate throughout the year. This view is taken from halfway down the Second Terrace looking in a southerly direction.

By way of a change to the normal format of the blog I thought I'd give you a little potted history of Sunderland Point before moving on to the contest itself.

You can see this house located near the carpark as you enter Sunderland Point the current owner has lived their for over 50 years. The house was in real bad shape when it was bought due to the previous owner living upstairs in her oldage that being over 90yrs old.

You may notice a difference between the roof at the back of the house to that of the front. This is because the front part of the house was added in the 1800s. The original house was that of the local Anchor Smithy complete with forge and living accommodation. The current owners had the porch built on to the house after being flooded out two or three times.... All this despite the high wall surrounding the house.

If you wander to the end of First Terrace you will find yourself outside what used to be the local pub "The Ship Inn" a short distance up the country lane on your right you will find Up Steps Cottage.

The lower part of the cottage was used as a brewery for the pub with the upper part being used for accommodation.

This is where a young African refereed to as Sambo was cared for but sadly died. He is thought to have been the Captains cabin boy who became ill with a western disease possibly something as simple as the common cold. Following the lane to the foreshore you will see signs directing you to a plot of land for his grave that was created several years after his death. Because he was not a christian he could not be buried in the church yard in Overton. His grave is visited by local school children and you will find painted rocks around the grave.

It is worth noting that all the slaves landed in Lancaster were treated as free men and women, many found their way into the service of the good and the great of Lancaster and well cared for..... It was something of a status symbol to have a coloured servant in your employ.

For those who are interested in a more detailed history there's a paperback book written by Hugh Cunliffe called "The Story of Sunderland Point from Early days to Modern Times which went into print 1n 1984 my copy dates back to 1991. If anybody is interested in buying a copy please contact the Maritime Museum in Lancaster.

Sunderland Point was built by Robert Lawson between 1715 & 1720 and its said that if you removed the telephone box, street lighting and TV antenna's, Sunderland Point would look pretty much as it did when it was built. Second Terrace now has a walled garden at the front of the houses that has been added at sometime after the warehouses were converted to houses. You will be able to see the changes made in the two pictures below.

This is a picture taken in 1910 by George Gilchrist and shows the warehouse's used to store goods. It also shows the original "Cotton Tree" so named because of the cotton like buds it produces.

I took this picture was during our visit this year. The original cotton tree was blown down during a severe storm. The base of the tree was left in place and from this a new tree has sprouted.

Looking at the two pictures you can see how the warehouses were converted into very nice cottages

The Merchants Tower
The merchants tower was sited in such a position that views were available looking both out to sea and as vessels entered the mouth of the River Lune.

The building was extended at a later date extending from the tower which allowed its function to become a more functional home. The crack seen here in the rendering looks as though it follows the line of the extension.

There were two lighthouses at built at Cockersand's and I have no wish claim credit for the excellent information available by clicking on the link below which is offered as a mixture of personal diary and historical detail and well worth your time reading. However I will use a few extracts to give you some form of a timeline but this by no means tells the full story please read the entry offered in the link below..

This picture is part of a collection of images I have collected over the years.

"The purpose of both these lights was to guide shipping through the channels of the River Lune into Glasson where sea going boats could reach the port of Lancaster or by connecting to the Lancaster canal could reach Kendal in the Lake District."
"The rear Light was known as Cockersand Lighthouse and was built in 1847 to the plans of Jesse Hartley, the Dock Engineer to the Port of Liverpool (1824 to
1860)" "It was a square timber framed tower approximately 54 feet tall and supported by two wooden props at each corner. Where the timber props reached the ground they were incorporated into four separate single storey buildings of similar construction to be used as the living accommodation for the keeper."

Janet Raby was lighthouse keeper until 1943

"The keepers for both the lighthouses for the first 100 years was the Raby family with Francis Raby in 1847, followed by Henry Raby in the late 1870s and finally Janet Raby and her brother Richard Raby who held the positions until the end of 1945. The second and final family to take the baton was the Parkinson family with Thomas and Beatrice Parkinson and their son Richard. In 1948 Mrs Parkinson obtained notoriety when she appeared in national magazines as the only woman lighthouse keeper in Britain. This is a claim often made from time to time and no doubt her husband, who continued his duties as lighthouse keeper to both lights and retired in 1963, turned a deaf ear to her claims."

The current stone lighthouse was built on Plover Scar 1847 and is known as "The Front Light"

If you would like to learn more about "Lost Lighthouses" around our coast please click on the link below this is an excellent site.

The link below was made in 2008 and tells a little of the history of Sunderland point.

I had better stop this trip into past history and get back to the subject of IOTA 2011 before I bore you all to sleep.

First and foremost must be our thanks to Damien our Contest manager who although in severe pain made the trip out with his 4x4 to take the trailer to Sunderland Point for us. Sadly he could not take part in the event itself and we missed him.

Event Mangers:

For each event we look for two volunteers who will act as event manger and deputy event manger. Their job is to find out who is available for the event, make sure we have all the kit we need and sort the food and drink out.

Antenna Team:

Full of high hopes and exceptions members of the group collected the antenna's on Friday afternoon and headed for Sunderland Point. The tides were kind to us allowing full access before the road was covered again around 10pm that night but we were limited for time due to a much looked forward too birthday meal for Bob G1OCK.

Ian G0VGS and Kev G6FKE had organised their work time so that they would be available to help put the antenna's up this gave them the added bonus of a long weekend. Ian and Kev set to work putting the Spiderbeam together for the event and all had that sickening feeling when it was found that we could not make it resonant on a number of bands. It was hoped that just one band was in need of tuning.

He we see Ian holding a section of the Spiderbeam mast vertical whist the basics of the beam are put together. The end result was that the Spiderbeam was not used for the contest.

The original though was that the antenna dimension's for each band would need to be measured and adjusted, but later thinking brought us back to a potential problem with the Balun which has caused us problems in the past.... Test will be carried out on the whole antenna starting with the balun in the near future.

Hughie G4UME and Martin M0ZIF looked after putting the nest of dipoles together and later helped with the fiberglass verticals which were built in the form of phased array's

Faris M0FZA came down to sort our networking out.

Time and Tide Stop for No Man

Peter Gilchrist getting his boat ready for full tide.

This picture was taken as the tide was coming in around 10am on Sunday morning this was expected to be one of the larger tides of the year and it certainly came in at some speed. You can see that the single track road is just starting to be covered with the water draining into the gully just to the left of the warning sign. The next picture was taken a little while later and you can see that the road is completely covered with only the markers visible to give you some idea where the road is.

We are always very careful to get details about tide times and conditions but for people who are not local traveling the single track road is potentially life threatening. Whilst taking the pictures above I noticed a car that had driven part way down the road whilst the tide was coming in. Fortunately the car managed to turn round in time.

I have included a link below to the Lancashire Evening Post where you can read how dangerous can be if your caught out by the tide.

Our Venue for IOTA

The Reading Room

Equipment used for IOTA

Below you can see Ian G0VGS checking that the N1MM logging software is working correctly and the both the Run and Mult stations can be seen with the logging software interacting between each station.

Mike M0PRL is checking that his Mult station is ready for use as soon as the contest begins.

Both stations are K3's with the only differences being that Mikes station has a second receiver fitted and a Pan adapter. I covered the use of the pan adapter in some detail at in the IARU blog so don't intend to repeat anything except that it worked extremely well.

The Mult station was run primarily on CW and made for an interesting and informative experience for all who used it.

Our main Run station was another K3 supplied by Ian G0VGS along with a Ranger 811H Linear Amplifier.

The Ranger 811H Linear and it is not something that I have profiled in any depth in all the years we have used it although it has been an excellent piece of equipment. They come up for sale on the secondhand market from time to time and even with the secondhand price it has to be said that they are a considered purchase. There are plenty of reviews available on the Net if you want to see what users think of them but if your interested in the Spec then take a look at the home page

Operators for the weekend were:

Hughie G4UME

Hughie was finally defeated in the wee small hours of Sunday morning and he has started an intensive search on the net for a sleeping bag long enough to include his feet.

Paul M6APB joined us for the weekend and it was not long before he had the hang of running the Run station under the watchful eye of eye of Hughie G4UME and other group members. Paul learned how to operate a Run Station on a spot frequency and by the end of the weekend he had worked more stations than any other member.

It was a pleasure to watch him grow in both confidence and experience as he learned how to operate the Elecraft K3 proficiently load and operate the linear and control the frequencies with an ever increasing knowledge and authority. Paul has just started training for his intermediate license in which we wish him well.

Mike M0PRL on the Mult Station

Mikes Morse Key

Martin & Emma

Martin joined us for a few hours on Saturday afternoon and operated the Run Station.

Ian G0VGS operated both the Run and the Mult Station


Like Ian Kev operated both stations

I think it's time we adopted Pippa as our group mascot... She has attended every IOTA operation since the group started ready with her bags packed with "Round Thing for us to throw" She keeps the group's moral up during our off air time and a more faithful dog to Kev you would have difficulty to find.

Brian G0RDH

I operated the Mult station for a time along with the Run station which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Steve G1TLQ

Steve joined us and did a little operating early on Saturday and we also have to thank Andrew G0LWU for his input.

We had an excellent weekend and beat our score from 2010 which was one of our aims. It was later noted that our logging had less errors in due to the run station operating for most of the time on a spot frequency.

Again on behalf of the group we would like to thank the local residents of Second Terrace for putting up with us for another year.

This Blog has been a mixture of our radio event and local history..... I hope you have enjoyed it and maybe taken something from it to visit what is a beautiful area with a sense of history and fantastic wildlife.

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