ISLAND OF COCHE 1999

YW7C

Location of YW7C
10.7708 ° N  63.9583 ° W
LOC: FK8ŘAS

Our annual DXpedition sponsored by the Venezuelan Navy (ARV) brought us this year to the Island of Coche.
It is hard to believe, that anywhere else on the world a Navy transports regularly amateur-radio-operators to small islands hundreds of miles away, to get them ON AIR. This is possible, because the HAM-radio-activities are part of the July-anniversary-celebrations of the Venezuelan Navy.
Thanks to the ARV in name of the international HAM-radio-community. Without ARV's cooperation many Venezuelan islands may never be heard On Air. And Venezuela's territory has a lot of islands .... :-)

Coche is a small island, located between the South-American continent and the island of Margarita.

Here a GOOGLE EARTH placemark of our QTH.

   

This part of the world is a very historic area, because Columbus discovered here the south American continent. He mentioned in his logbook the tiny island of Cubagua, which we could see from our location (looking west). Columbus was amazed about the wonderful pearls he has seen on Cubagua. (Sure he kept quite a lot too.....) Probably he also landed on Coche, which is only a few miles away and 4 to 5 times larger.

Coche's population lives mainly from fishery, sea-salt-production and shrimp-cultivation. But the tourist business is growing too and gives employment to lot of people.
Even a small runway permits air-traffic for small planes.

After leaving the port of La Guaira on July 29, we arrived in the early morning of the next day at a bay in front of the village of San Pedro, the main population of the Island of Coche.

The local authorities had prepared for us an abandoned house just at the beach, near to a Ferry-Terminal.
Twice a day a ferry transports people and cars between the port of Punta de Piedras (Margarita Island) and San Pedro.

We installed our antennas in a relatively small area just at the water. For short-wave we used verticals and an inverted "V". For 6m and 2m 2 Yagi-antennas were installed.

We started our operation with our 5 KW Power-Plant. We got a bad surprise, when we switched on the radios. The noise-level was EXTREMELY high in the area.
During all our operation we had to fight against that noise, which made reception very difficult, specially of weak signals. Sure, many thought, we were deaf. The cause may have been SALT on the isolators of the village's high-voltage-line, which passed not very far from us. Salt is a good conductor had may have caused some arcs. With our 6m-beam we could locate the direction from where the noise came, but we had no time to investigate the cause.

As a friendly gesture from the local authorities, some hours after our start we got a visit of the truck of the local electric company. They installed for us a special power-line for electricity without any counter installed, so our electricity was FREE OF CHARGE.
(of course our line-noise continued, BUT it was not stronger then with our own generator).

The ship, which transported us to the island, is of the same type like those, that brought us already to Tortuga and Blanquilla. So an introduction is not necessary.

Here we are arriving at July 30, 1999:

Arrival

In the background you see our ship while we are approaching our destiny.

at the bridge

Our stuff is arriving at the main bridge of the Island of Coche.

observers

We have curious observers while we are preparing the installation of our antennas.
(for those who never have been near the equator: observe the shadows !)

The people on the island could not really understand what we were doing. Even the local police came to see, what is going on. But we really had not any problem with anybody.