Monday, September 26, 2011



After the expedition to St Kilda island EU-059 back in June of 2011, F4BKV Vincent proposed that the team activate EU-156, Tombelaine Island, which was among the top 10 most wanted European islands.

The trip looked easy and attractive, as it was a good opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful and popular places in France, Mont St Michel.

Due to personal commitments, just four of the Invoker Team team members could make the trip on the proposed dates, so Simon, IZ7ATN, Monica, KB3WAB and Christian, EA3NT joined Vincent, who took the lead on all the necessary preparations to stay on the island for 24 hours, including the tricky authorizations.

On Friday, 9th September, the team met at Beauvais Airport and made the trip by car to Mont St. Michel, where they would meet three good old friends, Eric (F4FJH), Diego (SWLer) and Guillaume (F0FET) and enjoy a great meal all together, swapping old stories and discussing future plans.

On Saturday, at 10:00 hours, the team met Guillaume (F0FET) at the point of departure and all together, with about 200kg of weight, walked to the island during low tide.

The walk to the island was really hard. There was quicksand in the areas. Most of the time our feet sank five or more centimeters with each step. Besides, the two trolleys were giving us a lot of trouble, as the wheels could not turn easily enough. A local guide was showing us the way to avoid the most dangerous areas. What initially looked like a three kilometer walk became a three hour trip.

At 13:00 hours the whole team arrived at Tombelaine. Exhausted, we only wanted to drink and eat something…. And to our surprise, we were not alone on Tombelaine.

Hundreds of tourists come to visit Mont Saint Michel and walk through the bay at low tide and Tombelaine is the halfway point, so it is the perfect spot for resting and having lunch. There were about 200 people having a picnic on Tombelaine !

They were amazed to see us with so much gear and many curious people could not resist asking us about our intentions on the island.

It was such a contradictory scene…Tombelaine was one of the hardest places ever for us to reach, but it was crowded with people of all ages !

After the meal, we had to make one last final effort by bringing all the stuff to the top of the island.

Once at the top, we immediately set up the tents and erected the first antenna for 20 meters in a well organized manoeuver where each one knew exactly what to do in order to be on air as soon as possible. At 15:00 hours, TM0INT was on the air on 20 meter SSB with Simon. However, a contest did not allow us to be heard. Thus we decided to QSY to CW where Christian was quickly met with a good pileup.

A couple of hours later a second station was ready for 40m band, and the SSB team had a good run with central European stations.

As the evening progressed, the tide continued to advance. Tombelaine quickly became a real island. There we were, in the middle of the bay, lightened by a beautiful full moon and the spectacularly illuminated Mont St Michel in front of us…but once again, not alone, as a couple of curious rats decided to check out the good smelling bags of food we had. Fortunately, they left us some cookies for breakfast !

Despite the team’s efforts to work DX stations, propagation conditions did not help at all. JA or W7 stations were logging in sporadically, while Russian and Ukrainian stations were keeping the pileup alive with strong signals.

After midnight, around 01:30 hours local time, propagation fizzled completely on 20 and 40 meters. So we decided to snooze for a few hours and get up just before sunrise.

But the night was not a pleasant one at all! And as if all of a sudden, a strong wind blew in, together with rain. The shack tent sprang a leak.

So it began pouring water all over, getting the radio, laptop and amplifier wet…as happenned to us in the Flannan Isles EU-118 two years ago.

At 05:30 hours we resumed operation and DX stations were logging in with even better signals than stations from Europe.

It was around 11:00 hours on Sunday, after some 1800 QSOs, when we decided to QRT and pack up everything, because at 13:00 hours, four beautiful horses would be on their way to pick us up and help us bring almost all the equipment back to the mainland, the exception being the generator which was bravely carried back on foot by Vincent and Gui. Thank you guys for your kindness and effort.

Now the Invoker Team realized why Tombelaine Island was among the top ten most wanted European islands…but the effort was well worth it.

Thanks to all who worked us, and we look forward to hearing you in future pileups !

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