By Gus Browning, printed in 73 Magazines in 1967-01 reprint by PA0ABM Gus Browning story, Part 19 Cosmoledos VQ9C After a very FB stay at Diego Garcia Island we all boarded the ship and took off for Salomon Island, another in the Chagos Archipelago, This island is some 50 to 75 miles away from Diego Garcia. We were met there by the manager of Salomon Island and invited to have supper at his house. He had his wife with him ? a very charming person whose hobby is painting, She had a very large assortment of paintings of the islands, some of which would have won honors at any artists showing. Believe it or not, they actually had a Coca Cola— they had had it for about ten years, I think. When it was opened it did not even go plop it was completely flat. In South Carolina I would be afraid to give it to my dog for fear the dog would turn up his nose at it But on Salomon Island that one Coke tasted like something direct from Heaven. We were served a very elegant meal, prepared under the directions of the manager's French wife. Of course they had many different kinds of wine— what Frenchman does not? Late that night we went back to our ship. I did a little operating /MM for a few hours. Early the next morning we loaded up the copra there and about noon we lifted anchor and were away for VQ9, Mahe. This return trip was a real dream ride: all the way "down wind" Hour after hour I would lie back in a deck chair watching the flying fish. They would all take off like a covey of partridges and sail through the air for a hundred feet or so* These Indian Ocean flying fish actually get about 20 feet above the water and sail with the breeze just like a bird. It's a beautiful sight to behold they are a bright silver and actually shine in the sunlight. At night I used to like to watch all the apparent fireworks down around the propeller if the engine was running, or just at the point where the water passed the rear sides of the boat if it was under sail. They tell me it's some kind of algae in the water. How this stuff can look like fire when it's submerged I don't quite understand, but there it was every night. Looking south at night I could just see the Southern Cross on the horizon, not almost overhead as on Bouvet Island way down South, and not almost overhead as the North Star is when in the Faroes, There was always a nice cool breeze on the ship's decks and this trip back was about the nicest one I have ever had on any boat anywhere. We were out of the monsoon belt on this trip and this made the trip a real smooth one. Upon arriving back at Mahe and paying for my trip to the Chagos, away I went again to my little "Hotel de Seychelles*' where it was costing me $22.00 per week for room and board . When I was there they had no electricity at the hotel except their dc current which was no help to me at all. So it was connect up my little putt-putt again and buy some gasoline (they call it petrol) for something like 80tf per gallon. The hotel there now has ac current from Port Victoria, I understand. That's the hotel that has thatched huts for each hotel room, all in a long row up and down the beach* They always gave me the one on the end so that my putt-putt would not keep everyone awake all night when I was on the air. Incidentallyy the food there is very FB: plenty of breadfruit, pineapples, oranges, coconuts, lemonade, fish cooked every way possible, turtle meat quite often, swell pastry, plenty of good home cooked cake, and even once or twice per week they have ice cream. All tlxis for $22.00 per week. Not bad, eh? I again headed down to the dock area every time I had the chance, I had shipped there 3 forty meter AM phone rigs with the right model ARC receivers to tune 40, They wanted one installed at the owner's home on Mah one at his son's home on Mahe and the other down on Aldabra Island. Aldabra has no radio link with the outside world at all. all they have is a transistor radio to listen to the BBC and get the news. Another boat was soon taking off for Aldabra Island, going via Cosmoledo and Assumption Islands. They decided to have the unit installed on Assumption Island instead of Aldabra since they were planning on cultivating guano on Assumption shortly. They told me to be ready to leave in two days. If you want to see a new way to install a 70-foot bamboo pole get these Seychelles fellows to do the job. Here is how they put one up for me: they dug a nice hole (with their knives) right below the point where there were two big limbs on a tree that looked like an oak. One fellow got up in the tier with a piece of rope, They then put the small end ol the bamboo at the edge of tins hole they had dug and tied the rope to the small end of the bamboo. Then the other ten fellows started pushing the large end of the* bamboo towards the hole while the fellow up the tree pulled up the small end. The large end was eventually dropped into the hole. I tried explaining that there were better ways to do this job, but none of them spoke English, I learned that there are many ways to do a simple job, many of them different from the way we have always done it back in the States. It makes you want to pull out your hair (and I ain't got much to pull!). This ship that was going to Aldabra was going mostly to haul back a load of those very large turtles. The stop at Assumption was to bring back its manager, and to also install the 40 meter AM rig there. This was a fairly good sized ship (about 3 times as large as Harvey 's VQ9HB), The captain was a 1002 lull blooded Seychelles captain, tough as nails, with a good loud voice that his crew could hear even in the middle of the monsoon. He was the boss on that ship when he spoke, they jumped. To me he was as kind as a father, so I have no complaints. Down to the ship I went and loaded everything on board, putting my /MM rig right up in the poop deck beside the big wheel. I mounted my putt-putt this time way up on top of the crew's sleeping quarters roof, because the S.Emonsoon was at its peak now and we all knew we were heading right into its teeth. I wanted to keep the water from getting into my putt-putt. Even up there it did get soaked by some of those monstrous waves. Those waves were killers down around the Aldabra area, and Aldabra is partly shielded by northern Madagascar. As I said, we left VQ9 and headed for VQ9C (Cosmoledo group) making a very short 2-day stop there to pick up some copra and dried fish and deliver the usual mail and some much needed supplies. Then we were on our way to Assumption Island, right down in what Harvey calls the Cyclone Belt We did really get a full dose of winds, rain and I don't know how high the waves were, but to me they looked like mountains falling down on the ship. We were tossed every which way and it was a battle staying in our bunks even with their side-boards up. Sea sick— don't make me laugh. Those fellows on that ship did not know what that word even meant. As for me— I had a long time ago found how to control those butterflies in my stomach. Just tell yourself that you are not going to get sea sick, make vourself believe it and you have it made. So there was no sea sickness even with the tossing ship all the way, every minute of every day. It never did come up for a breather as it does sometimes during the year. I had installed my rig up in the poop deck and we were up about 40 feet, where every roll and rock of the boat was multiplied by about 5, To sit fastened down at my operating position I soon learned to get in swing with the ship. I became a part of the boat when it rocked, I rocked along with it. I told someone over the air I had the Aldabra Swing while I was on /MM, and I really meant it. This was exactly the opposite of the return trip from the Chagoes with that nice steady breeze blowing up back of us, pushing us along at a very steady rate. Alter about 6 days we sighted Assumption Island. We anchored off shore about one-half mile down wind from the island. The island shielded us pretty well from the high seas. I loaded up everything and went ashore in the first landing boat. While they unloaded some lumber, doors, windows, etc. to build some small houses, I did some operating. I also mounted the wind-driven battery charger and two large 12-volt batteries, the ARC-5 being 24 volt operated. I got the wind-charger in operation and explained to the island manager that they should charge one battery one day and the next one the next day (the wind charger was only for 12 volts). He said he understood me (which I still have my doubts about). The modulation of this AM phone rig was way down and I was not satisfied with it at all but we had to leave the island the next day. A hint to anyone taking equipment to out-of-the-way places: test and lest your equipment over and over and make sure that it's really on the ball before vou ever leave the USA. You cannot ever be too careful, because out on some remote island there is no radio supply house around the corner. You cannot even find one bolt or nut on these islands. You brine along even thing you need, or you do without and patch up the best you can. We departed from Assumption Island for Aldabra Island, the distance between them being something like 50 miles. Incidentally, any of you who worked me while I was on Assumption Island don't have a new one; it counts the same as Aldabra since it's actually in die same group. The high seas were still pounding away when we left and the going was pretty rough until we anchored sort of behind and in the shadow of Aldabra. Ashore we all went, the usual mail was delivered, up went my antennas again and I was on from Aldabra for the second time. The pile up was not as big as before but il was still there. To me it was always interesting to tune across a band that's very quiet and practically no one is on. You think everyone is off the air and that you have wasted your time going to that spot. Then von call that first CQ back comes maybe one station. You exchange reports with him and stand by. Then maybe 2 or 3 stations call and you come back to one of them. On about the third QSO there are maybe 25 stations calling you. From then on the pile-np pyramids. Ifs up to you to work that pile down faster than they pileupl You keep saying down 5 or up 5 every now and then even doing this the "lids" still keep calling you on your frequency, I have heard a number of stations that insisted on calling on my frequency, hour after hour, and day after day. They never get a QSO because it has always been my policy to never work anyone on my frequency. You newcomers to this game of DNing, take a hint from someone who has been in on the pile up from both ends. Listen to what the DX station tells you to do and do it. Try and find a station he works, listen to this station's speed and style of operation and try your best to imitate this fellow. Observe the frequency of the fellows lie is working, try to figure out how the DX station is tuning, try to outguess the other fellows in the pile. Maybe do what Frank, W5VA, does watch for tli at peak signal condition and "nail the DX station" at that moment. That's the way to get that S-9. . . Gus

Gus Browning, W4BPD

Hams - W4BPD - Gus Brwning 02
Chagos Arhipel QSL card of Harvey Brain VQ9C (Cosmoledo Group) Assumption Island