by William Eric McFadden


Several members of the Southeast Ohio Radio Adventure Team and the Athens County Amateur Radio Association (link) succeeded in qualifying Mud Island (OH-061L) in Charles Mill Lake in northeastern Ohio as part of the U.S. Islands Award Program (link). Team-lead and ship-captain Jeff Slattery, N8SUZ was joined by Eric McFadden, WD8RIF and Miles McFadden, KD8KNC for the qualification attempt.

Jeff owns a lovely cabin on the banks of Charles Mill Lake in northeastern Ohio and he has registered nine islands on Charles Mill Lake with the U.S. Islands Award Program. Conveniently, Jeff also owns a 24' Grumman Fun Ship pontoon boat, the perfect platform for island operations on a placid lake.

For a July, 2016 attempt at a multiple-qualification, Jeff invited Eric and Miles for a weekend at the cabin. Unfortunately, Jeff had left his go-to portable antenna and feedline at home in Athens, Ohio. Fortunately, Eric had with him his Enhanced KX3 Travel Kit and MFJ-1910 33' fiberglass mast and tripod. The mast, tripod, and 28' end-fed wire with three radials worked perfectly for the qualifications.

Following the successful qualifications of Little Eagle Island (OH-058L) (report) and Sailing Club Island (OH-065L) (report) earlier in the day, Jeff directed the boat to Mud Island (OH-061) for a third qualification. Unfortunately, no landing was found on Mud Island so Jeff decided to operate on the boat with a portion of the antenna deployed on Mud Island.

While Eric and Miles went through steps to strap the the fiberglass mast to the boat railings, extend the mast, pull up the 28' wire vertical, and to deploy the radials including deploying one radial onto the island, Jeff assembled the rest of the station: an ICOM IC-706MkIIG transceiver, an LDG autotuner, and the large marine battery.

For the U.S. Islands Award Program, to qualify an island, one must use one callsign to make at least twenty-five QSOs with stations in at least two DXCC entities. With the help of Mike Hansgen, K8RAT providing spotting-support, Jeff was able to make thirty-two 40m SSB QSOs with stations in the U.S. and one 20m SSB QSO with a station in the Dominican Republic in just about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Eric, being primarily a CW operator, was content to log. Miles also did not operate but helped with set-up and tear-down, carrying gear, tying and untying the boat, and poling the boat away from the shore.