If part of Field Day is supposed to be an exercise in how to set up an amateur radio station under adverse conditions, it was certainly a success here in Michigan. This Saturday, we had the worst conditions that I’d ever experienced for Field Day.
Friday night, we had set up the six antenna masts, the GOTA (Get on the Air) tent, and a couple of the guys had towed their campers out to the site. It was overcast, but cool, and that all went pretty well.
Overnight, though, a rain storm moved in. I don’t know when it started raining, but things were already pretty wet when we met for breakfast at a local Coney Island at 8 am. While we were eating it let up a little, but by 9 am, it had picked up again to a steady downpour. Even worse, the wind was picking up, too.
After a short drive to our Field Day site, we assessed the situation. The GOTA tent was still standing, but the driving rain had managed to make it unusable. There were several puddles of water inside. The public information tent was totally destroyed.
One of the antenna masts had fallen and had to be put up again. Six of us did that in a complete downpour that soaked me to the bone. My feet never really did dry out until I went home later that evening.
As the other three stations were using campers as shelters, we were able to get those stations on the air by 2pm. Operating, though, got kind of scary at times. The plan was for the campers to be positioned east and west, and the wind, of course was coming almost directly from the north. It was strong, too. Someone estimated that it was gusting up to 50 mph.
The camper housing the CW station was missing a stabilizer (which was damaged at last year’s Field Day). When a big gust hit that trailer, it really got to rocking. At one point while I was operating, I jokingly commanded everyone in the camper—and everyone was inside because it was just so incredibly bad outside—stand on the north side to prevent it from rolling over.
One of the phone stations was in a small pop-up camper. It’s door was on the north side, and the strong winds would blow some rain in through the openings between the door and the door jamb.
At some point during the afternoon, the wind blew the GOTA tent down. Several of the fiberglass tent poles split, and as you can see in the photo below, one of the metal sleeves failed. That was pretty amazing to me.
It let up sometime later that evening, and Sunday was actually pretty nice. Whereas it never got above 60 degrees Saturday, it was sunny and in the mid-70s on Sunday. We even got some visitors on Sunday. So, while Field Day started on a damp note, it ended on a pretty nice one.
73 de Dan KC6NU