In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

islands on the air

Today we are having a visit from Martin Atherton, a ham radio operator and instructor from England. He came over to the island this morning in Brown Eyed Girl, carrying the equipment to set up a radio signal on McNutt's. Straightaway he extended a telescopic fibreglass pole thirty feet high in the middle of the back orchard, with long guy wires radiating out from its centre.
Then he ran an electrical cord through a back window, attached it to his transceiver and his computer, and began signalling. On islands where there's no electricity he brings along a small generator.

Here are a few things I've learned since this morning. There are ham radio operators around the world who focus on islands. They're called island chasers. The island chasers participate in contests in which they try to be in contact with as many islands as possible. So when somebody like Martin begins to signal from an island that does not have a permanent ham radio operator, the island chasers rush to signal and receive a return signal. Later, at home, Martin will send a postcard to every operator who contacted him on McNutt's, to verify the contact. The postcards themselves become a nice collection.

On this trip, Martin set up a signal at Miquelon, one of a group of small French islands south of Newfoundland, before he came to McNutt's. He has radioed from many islands over the years, including islands off Newfoundland and Labrador, and in the Arctic. He came to McNutt's in the mid 1980s to signal from here, and stayed in this very house with Elizabeth Hyde. He'll spend the night with us, sitting at his transceiver late into the night. He'll continue to signal in the morning, then break down his equipment and take off for Halifax and his flight home.
It's really a way to promote international friendship, he told us over lunch. It does sound like a fascinating interest that connects people all around the world.

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