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Meridian Passages, Volume XIII, Number 30

Central Pacific Edition

The World from Here

A Milestone from the Radio Guys

Last night [written March 15] I finally worked into Europe. [That means made contact with a fellow ham, in amateur radio lingo – ed.] This finishes up a “Worked all Continents” from the good ship Mermaid Vigilance. One would think that Antarctica might be the last one in the bag. Not this time. I had found RI1ANC at the Russian Antarctic station earlier in our expedition. Europe, however is a difficult one from here in the Central Pacific. The reason for this is that EU is due north on the great circle path. That of course takes your signal up and over the North Pole where there is a convergence of our earth’s magnetic fields. These, plus any Aurora Borealis will significantly disturb the electromagnetic waves of our radio signal. Signals will often be watery or hollow sounding when this occurs.

I finally bagged HA4FF in Hungary on our “greyline” or “terminator” path. Greyline is when the sun is either rising or setting, that is, the sky is not full daylight and not fully night. At these two times per day there are opportunities for having better signals along these paths. This phenomena is caused by the very rapid ionization or de-ionization of the ionosphere. When the greyline for two stations is in good alignment, there is an opportunity to have communications between the two stations which might not occur otherwise. On the lower frequency bands these openings may be only seconds to maybe 15 minutes long! Yes, talk fast!

Azimuthal Map The Earth from 0°30’N, 177°W courtesy Tom (NS6T)
Azimuthal Map
The Earth from 0°30’N, 177°W courtesy Tom (NS6T)

Another milestone we reached with this station is 25 countries. In our amateur radio world some of these “countries” are entities that belong to other countries, but are separated by at least 250 km. There are other rules established for what determines an entity that I won’t bore you with here. So Hawaii and Alaska are counted as separate “countries.” Another example is the far reaches of the island nation of Kiribati. The country’s islands stretch over 2,000 miles. There are West, Central, and Eastern Kiribati entities that are surrounding us here near Howland Island. These were the former British Phoenix, Caroline, and Line island groups. Each group counts as a separate entity.

Some of the more exotic of the countries contacted are: Macao, Ghana, Namibia, Pitcairn Island (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame), Austral Islands, Tonga, Temotu province, San Andres Island, and Nepal. You may wish to google these locations. Radio is good for your geography! — Tom Vinson (NY0V)


At the end of our expedition, we are planning to dock in Majuro, the capital and and largest city of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Though it spans an area of 114 square miles, most of that is lagoon, and the land area of the 64 islands in the atoll amounts of a mere 3.7 square miles! The highest elevation on the island is a scant 10 feet above sea level. The Marshall group is comprised of some 34 coral islands or atolls lying north of Kiribati and Micronesia and extending to the west as far as the Marianas.

Most of the population of close to 30,000 live on the eastern end of the chain, where most of the land area lies. The airport is on a narrow strip to the south. The economy depends on the operation of the U.S. missile testing rang on Kwajalein and some tourism. Most of the outer island people live on subsistence farming and fishing, and the production of copra.

The island has seem human habitation for 2,000 years or more. In the modern era, the atoll along with the rest of the Marshall Islands was claimed by Germany, but was captured and occupied by the Japanese during Word War I. In January, 1944 American troops invaded the island, finding it undefended. It was used as a forward base of operations for the U.S. Navy during the rest of the war. The territory was retained by the United States until it was granted independence in 1986.

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