By Gus Browning, printed in 73 Magazines in 1966-08 reprint by PA0ABM Gus Browning story, Part 14 Aldabra here I come In the last installment I was on the Seychelles, getting ready for my trip to the Aldabra Islands, You would be surprised to see the number of different things that have to be done when you are preparing for such a trip. For one thing the word had got out on Mahe that we were going to be on our way in a few days. Everyone who had any relations on any of the other islands along the way all gave us mail and other items to be dropped off along the way and some fresh food was also taken. This made a good sized little pile of items to be placed upon the boat. This along with the supplies we won hi need just about filled the boat to the brim. We even took along quite a number of live chickens, looked like we were going on a sort of "chicken eating" expedition, which is a very common thing for a Baptist. But evidently the Catholics also practice this business of "chicken eating." since the Seychelles are predominantly Catholic, I suppose something like 98%, Harvey was busy getting his "wind charger" oiled up and in good working condition since his equipment at that time was mostly of the 12 volt DC variety. All day and all night he had the wind charger going full blast charging his various batteries, he wanted to start with all of them fully charged. Jake (the owner of the Lua-Lua) was busy seeing that his little diesel was in tip top condition. While all this was going on I was quite busy myself getting my "putt-putt" mounted on the rear of the boat with the exhaust sticking out towards the rear so the noise would not disturb Harvey and Jake when they wanted to sleep. The rig was strapped down on the eating table so that it would not slide off in case of rough seas. NOTE— Be sure to have a very good, wide, deep funnel to pour your gasoline into the putt-putt because those high winds and pitching boat can cause you to lose lots of gas. When everything was placed on board, all fastened down, and we were ready to go ? the harbor safety man came aboard to look everything over before he gave us our final clearance. These safety men are very careful and do a good job; you don't fool these fellows at all. We three got on board early in the morning, and of course Harvey had his fish-eating black cat along with him as I knew he would. Harvey doesn't go anywhere without his black cat, and a big supply of tea and hard tack, that seems to be "the staff of life" to Harvey, (and it turned out that it was also our staff of life). You should have seen the gimbal-mounted gasoline cook stove, which would stay level if the boat pitched any direction. Both Harvey and Jake had their sextants and their own charts along with them; Harvey also had his pair of FB field glasses. Harvey predicted that the seas were going to be rough, and we found out that Harvey was 100% correct . After a last minute check-up on everything. and another round of tightening up all ropes on the items in the hold of the Lua-Lua, we were ready to lift anchor and be on our way to Aldabra Islands. The three of us— Harvey, Jake (the owner of the Lua-Lua) and I, along with Harvey's black cat, went aboard. The little diesel was cranked up, the anchor lifted, and all ropes taken in from the dock. We backed the boat away from the pier and the gear was shifted into "forward" and we were off for tire Aldabras, the islands of giant turtles, thousands of birds, and BEST OF ALL A RARE DX SPOT. This was one DXpedition i firmly had made up my mind NO ONE was going to make us turn back from. After reaching the deep channel the sails were raised and the diesel cut off, and from then on it was a sail boat, Usually the diesels on these boats are used for landing and departing, basically t this was a sail boat. This little Lua- Lua had a very deep keel and, for its length, a high sail. According to Jake it was practically impossible for this boat to capsize. I for one hoped lie was right. I knew the boys all over the world, and especially back in the States, were all QRX for this brand new country I so badly wanted to put on the air. As usual the first few hours out from Port Victoria sailing was very smooth since we were pretty well shielded from the big swells of the ocean by Mahe island. I fired up the rig and let loose with my first CQ signing VQ9A/MM and had one of the doggondest pile-ups you ever heard. Everyone wanting to know when would we arrive at the Aldabras. Considering the fact that the sunspot cycle was not at its best, the way signals came thru really fooled me. I hoped conditions would stay like that when we got to the island. The band ( 14mc) stayed wide open almost around the clock, I suppose being nearly on the equator did make a big difference. It was agreed before we departed that each of us would take liis turn at the wheel But with conditions so good on the air my turn at the wheel never did come up because I was very QRL when it did. So in the end the chore of handling the wheel was always Harvey's and Jake's. An issue was never made about this so all the way down I got in plenty of operating. When we finally got out from the shadow of Mahe Island into the deep blue sea all the smooth sailing changed to just the opposite. Each wave had its own white cap, the swells were wide apart and the little boat would glide down into each valley of those swells and then all you could see was water looking like mountains all around the ship. Those big sails put the boat into 45 degree lean nearly all the time. I soon found out that this fellow Jake was about as good a sailor as Harvey This was going to be a Good DXpedition 1 could see, I used to watch the little stove going back and forth, and then side to side, everytime the boat tossed or pitched. It was hard to believe that the tea kettle would sit on that stove with so much motion. Harvey's black cat was very busy as usual scampering all over the deck looking for flying fish. Harvey kept one eye on his cat and the other on the compass when he was on the wheel. We all were having a very fine time, and everything was going smoothly, Harv< was always looking for one of those "stormy petrels," small birds that skim the tops of the waves, sort of following the boat, which according to him indicated bad weather was coming, So far we had not seen any of them, but we did see plenty of other birds. At times we saw a great many birds, especially when one of them spotted a school of fish. Suddenly from out of nowhere would appear hundreds of birds. They dived into the school, each of them squawking just before it hit the water, There would be a steady stream of these birds pouring into the school of fish, and another stream flying back into the air so they could hit the water again and catch another mouthful of fish. Occasionally we would see a whale in the distance, They could be easily spotted when they came to the surface to "blow." Thank goodness there was no sign of seasickness on board this time. The toilet was flushing OK and even the bilge pump was working properly. Each of us had his own little cabin down below deck with his own private port hole. The bunks were pretty well padded and had good high side boards so we would not be tossed out when the ship heeled far oven My bunk was just the right length so that I could wedge myself in and not slip and slide from foot to head when the boat pitched back and forth. Things can get pretty rough when you are about a foot too short for your bunk and you start sliding back and forth with the movements of the boat. Specially me with my practically bald head, Give me a bunk that's my exact length every time in rough seas. The sideways motion of the boat was better than sleeping pills to put y< to sleep. I mean when the swells were wide apart and the motion was like clockwork. At other times when the sea was not in a good mood, getting to sleep was a problem. The further South we went the more vicious the seas became. But still no sign of seasickness which was FB with us all. Even Harvey's cat did not get seasick as it did on our attempt to sail to Agalega on the other trip. OH, YES! cats do get seasick-at least Harvey's black cat did. It's sort of messy too and smelly. A seasick cat-ug UG UG. I wonder if fish ever get seasick? Hi! Hi! After 3 days at the wheel both Harvey and Jake were pretty well pooped out, so when we pulled into the coral reef that's all around Desroches Island and delivered the mail there, we waited so that the people who received mail could answer it We walked around the island, had a fairly good meal and back to the boat with the outgoing mail We arrived on board a little before sundown. Harvey and Jake decided to spend the night inside the coral reef and get some rest from their turns at the wheel for the past 2 days. Just when it got dark, down to their cabins they went for a long night's rest* For myself 1 cranked up the little putt-putt and went on the air signing YQ9A/MM. 20 meters stayed open until about 2AM. Down to my little cabin I went after turning off the power plant. Since the boat was pretty well screened by the island there was very little air moving down below dock. So I decided to sleep out under the stars on one of the padded portions of the rear deck. Both sides were padded and comfortable, one on each side of the boat with the wheel in between the two. It seemed as if I were going to have a nice quiet sleep out under the stars. After lying down and doing a little thinking, I wondered what my wife Peggy was doing at that very moment. if the phone patch net across the USA would be ready to go into action when I arrived at Aldabra, and what channel "A" were saying to each other. I also wondered why they did not count Desroches as a new one (not knowing that one day it would be a new one). I could have so easily gone ashore and had some nice pile-ups, and told everyone to date his QSO for late 1966 so that they would have themselves a new one. Hi, Hi. When you are lying on the topside of a small boat at anchor late at night so far from home you have time to think of a lot of things. For a while I even watched to see if there was any flying saucers anywhere around. When I did finally get nearly to sleep, it seemed as if I were hearing some sounds that I had not heard before the boat seemed to be moving a little bit more than it had before. For a while I just lay there listening very closely and SUDDENLY I DID HEAR some strange sounds like a wet mop was being dragged across the boat somewhere near me, and then I started to hear some sucking sounds, sort of like something was trying to suck water from a bottle, something that had about 6 or 7 mouths at the same time. As my eyes had become accustomed to seeing in the starlight, I sort of opened them both, not knowing what I would see, and looked right across from where I was and only about 6 feet from me there was something that looked like an elephant trunk moving around the other padded seat right across from me. I let loose a loud yell, and some unprintable words probably along with the yells, Jake and Harvey came tearing up the steps from below and one of them veiled "It's an octopus."' They grabbed some oars from the life raft and began to pound and pry loose that elephant-trunk-looking thing, finally it came loose and was tossed overboard. Then they told me there was 7 more of those tentacles that would have whipped onto the deck if that one I saw had found something to wrap itself around. I was sure glad that the one I saw had picked the left side of the boat instead of the right-hand side where I was lying. This could have brought this DXpedition to a sudden stop. After things sort of quieted down I went to my cabin this time, and even shut the door and my porthole too. I forgot all about how hot it was down there. But I never did go to sleep. Every movement of the boat I heard, and a few times I am sure something was trying to come on board the ship* They say an octopus never leaves the water. This one must have been a large one judging from the size of that one arm I saw. Things were getting interesting now. At sunrise the next morning we lifted anchor and away we were again for Aldabra. Plenty of high winds and big high waves all the rest of the way down. No stormy petrels were seen so ? as was expected, no storms were encoun-countered. One day out from the Aldabras we began to see the Booby birds out catching their small fish for their young back on Aldabra. At times we could see some of those high flying albatrosses. They never seemed to flap their wings. It was always interesting to me when it came time to "shoot the sun," or maybe it was "shooting Venus/* to get our bearings. I would listen to BBC and give the exact time, just a few seconds off and your QTH would be a few miles off course. Remember you don*t see these flat islands in this area if you are more than 4 or 5 miles off course, Harvey and Jake both used their own sextants and did their own figuring. Most of the time both came up with the exact same QTH. You try measuring the exact angle of the sun or a star from a tossing and pitching ship. A sextant you know has two images on it, one is the horizon and the other you see the object you are shooting, such as the Star, Moon, Sun etc. You are interested in the EXACT number of degrees this object is above the horizon at a certain exact second. I tried it myself a few times and doggoned near fell overboard. When the ship leans to the left you lean to the right, etc. It still looks impossible to me, You really have to have "sea legs" to keep your body always at a 90 degree angle from the horizon. Harvey's black cat did catch a few flying fish that landed on deck, slipping and sliding all the way, and Harvey saving "look at that crazy cat." Harvey first spotted the Island, and neither Jake or I could see it. When these islands are just on the horizon, being flat, they are nearly impossible to be seen by an untrained eye. When first seen they are actually part of the horizon but just a little darker in color from the sea. Of course in about one hour both Jake and T could see the island. Out came the maps of the Aldabras and we decided just where we wanted to land, or at least unload my equipment. We pulled up opposite the inhabited part of the island— the inland is sort of horseshoe shaped, some 15 or 20 miles from tip to tip. The inhabited portion is near one end, most of the rest ha$ birds as inhabitants, mostly those booby birds we had seen fishing when we neared the island By the time we arrived at the place we wanted to take my equipment ashore to many of the small pirogues met us from the island. We were the first boat thev had seen for a number of months. My letter of introduction was produced and shown the island manager this letter I brought along with me was from the leasee of the island who lives on the Seychelles, Aldabra is crown property and cannot be bought like most of the other islands. I suppose that's why it's considered a new country. We all went ashore, had a very fine lunch, we gave the island manager the mail we had brought along to the islanders from Mahe. Next month I'll talk about the visit on Aldabra. Around the U.S.A. I am writing this episode of my story while in the middle of my trip around the USA and Canada showing my color slides and telling the boys of my experiences on overseas DXpeditions. Peggy is doing the same for the ladies. At this point in our travels we have stopped at Richmond, Va., Washington, DC, the Pittsburgh area, Dayton, Ohio, at their big annual get together, Detroit, Buffalo, N.Y.. The big one at Boston and then up to Montreal with the YE2 boys and down to Toronto with the VE3 fellows and on to Philadelphia Then the Potomac Valley and Frankford Radio Clubs have their annual get-together. Peggy and I are having a wonderful trip meeting the fellows I have QSO'ed from so many places. Of course all their calls are being placed in my little WHITE BOOK for possible future use. I will be forever obligated to the many friends I have for making this trip around the country possible for Peggy and me. I am about to start putting some antennas up when we return back home on July 4th or 5th. Am taking my old 5 element yagi apart and using the boom for a new U.S. Fiberglass 4 element 3 band quad. I want to see how it will stack up on DX work. At this moment 1 am not sure just how long I will be at home before another DXpedition gets under way. With the all new W T W now on, almost any place I go will be a new one for nearly everyone. From the sounds of the bands the little bit I have been able to listen it seems that W T W has begun to catch on very nicely and I think when it gets in full swing things will be popping for some time. With awards for each band and with Phone and CW separated we think we have a good thing. The full W T W Country list is not yet complete. We are still QRX for the countries that a few of the larger national societies have to send us. As a rough estimate it looks as if there will eventually be something over 400 in the W T W list. We have begun with the ARRL DX( I list and adding to it those countries suggested by national societies. We refuse to be asked embarrassing questions as to why such and such a place is on our country list. We will refer all questions to the national society that suggested them to us. That will be the end of any questions asked us. We are letting everyone except ourselves make up the W T W country list. A few pages of this episode is being written while we stopped by the home QTH on our way from Philadelphia to Little Rock where Peggy and I will be stopping by to visit old Moritz-WA5EFL, for one night, then on to Houston and my old buddy Frank W5IGJ, that gud guy with those fast dots on his bug, and the West Gulf boys. Then continue on West from there, on up to Canada, might be able to operate a little signing /VE8 I hope. Peggy and I sure are seeing the USA and Canada this time. We are driving our little new Mustang that we got from W4YJQ that DXer in Orlando, Florida, It runs like a sewing machine and purrs along in fine shape. We have air conditioner in it so will be prepared for the hot weather we expect before we get back home in July. The gang and I are having many late eye-ball QSO*s in the wee hours of the night and I am very pleased to know many of them are getting into our all-new W T W with gusto. Many of them have expressed their thanks for something really new being started in the way of a good DX award. All QSOs must take place you know after 0001 GMT May 1, 1966, to count towards the W T W. It certainly is great meeting all my good friends in person all over the country. It's very good to know that Peggy and I have so many really sincere friends in every state; it makes us both fell very good to have all these fine Friends everywhere we go, One of the highlights of our trip so far has been our visit to Peterborough, New Hampshire, and the home of 73 magazine, where we were welcomed by the whole crew there including Wayne and Paul You know Wayne has a 37 room house there and the entire works for publication oi 73 is under just one roof. Looked like only about 9 employees do the whole job. Each person knows what his or her job is and they do it. No rushing around like some places, everyone seemed to be taking it easy, doing their job. I wonder how many people it takes to put out QST or CQ? I would think it's a lot more than 9 people at each place. It seems that the crew at 73 must be very efficient to turn out such a good magazine with so few people. There was a big difference in the temperature in New Hampshire from what is was when we left Orangeburg, South Carolina, a few weeks before. The weather the night we stayed there dropped down to the thirties and the TV weather man said the South Carolina weather that day went up into the 80's. We certainly were treated very fine at 73 magazine and hope some day to return for another visit there, Wayne certainly should be congratulated for the job he is doing there with so few people, AH I can say Wayne is "keep up the FB job you are doing in 73 magazine." Oh yes I got to add two new call signs to my list, by operating as both /VE2 and /VE3, now the total is 119 different call signs for me. Have any of you fellows ever seen a ham station that uses 16 one- hundred-and-thirty-foot towers? Well that's what Clem-WIEVT uses. Did any of you know that Chas- W1FH carries a pistol while working at his package shop— it's located in one of the toughest spots it Boston, Many such interesting things were found out about different people here and there along our route. A new president was needed by ARRL and there was a lot of talk in the many hotel rooms as to who the new president would be. By the time this is in print this will be old news. It was interesting to see and hear this being discussed by so many people. Probably the new man was chosen that Saturday night in Boston in the various hotel rooms. High politics are quite interesting to watch and hear discussed. As usual I drank many Coco Colas at this convention and other places along the way. Of course main other drinks were drunk by others, some quite a bit stronger than Cokes, too. Gus

Gus Browning, W4BPD

Hams - W4BPD - Gus Brwning 02
Cooking gear  on the boat Sorry I can'f find a VQ9/MM qsl It's an octopus Booby Bird Mustang-1962