[amsat-bb] CN89 and the USA/Canada border on Friday, CO80 on Saturday

Patrick STODDARD (WD9EWK/VA7EWK) amsat-bb at wd9ewk.net
Fri Jul 9 00:38:18 PDT 2010


I did not plan on a lot of radio today, since I was in metro Vancouver and
CN89 is not a rare grid.  I worked a couple of AO-7 passes, and a few others
from two different locations south of Vancouver.  One of those locations 
was standing on the USA/Canada border, west of the Peace Arch at the border
between Washington state and British Columbia.  

The first location was in grid CN89ob, a few miles/km north of the USA 
border in the south-side suburb of Surrey.  I was heading down to the town
of White Rock, which has a beach and was rather crowded today due to the heat
gripping British Columbia just as it has much of eastern North America. 
I worked 2 HO-68 passes, 2 AO-7 passes, and an AO-27 pass.  Twenty QSOs 
went in the log at this location.  After spending some time in the town of
White Rock, just north of the USA border with a busy waterfront, I went to
the spot where I had thought about working some passes before I came up to
Vancouver - at the Peace Arch, on the USA/Canada border between Washington
state and British Columbia, where the I-5 and BC-99 freeways come together. 

Peace Arch Park is actually two separate parks divided by the border - a 
provincial park in British Columbia, and a state park in Washington state.
Effectively, this is one large park that sprawls across the border, with 
the white arch standing on the border along with the other boundary markers
in the park(s).  As long as one exits the park the way it was entered, there
are no border checks.  I could not drive out to this point, but I could walk
out there.  I did that, taking my IC-T7H HT along with my Elk 2m/70cm log 
periodic, a camera, and my Garmin GPS receiver. 

At this point on the USA/Canada border, it is supposed to be at 49 degrees
North exactly.  Surveying technology over 100 years ago is not what it is now,
and the international border through the park is just north of 49 degrees 
North.  I stood next to a metal marker west of the Peace Arch in CN89oa 
(49 0.119 N 122 45.438 W).  I stood with one foot on each side of the border,
and identified my station using both of my callsigns WD9EWK and VA7EWK during
two passes - one AO-27 pass, followed by an AO-51 pass.  This was the first 
time I had every worked satellites from Washington state, albeit with only one
foot inside the state.

It was a hot day for this part of North America.  Vancouver saw 95F/35C, and 
in the sunlight I was sweating a lot.  I stood at the border to work the AO-27
pass at 2218 UTC, and 7 minutes was more than enough.  I was able to log 6 
QSOs with stations from central Mexico up to Vancouver itself on this pass. 
I had thought about heading back to Vancouver after this pass, but thought I 
might try the upcoming AO-51 pass around 2307 UTC.  I stayed, sitting in the 
shade just north of the boundary until the AO-51 pass.  Despite using only 5
watts sitting so far west on a pass to my east, I was able to log 10 more QSOs
on AO-51.  Then I walked north back to my rental car - sitting in a parking 
lot on the Canadian side of the border - to return to Vancouver for the rest
of the day.  

Around the time of the AO-51 pass, a couple of US Customs and Border Protection
offices walked by me while escorting someone to the Canada Customs building on
the north side of the park.  A few minutes later, the officers passed by me as
I walked back to my car.  Other than pleasantries, there were no questions 
about the radio and antenna I was carrying with me.  Had I tried to bring more
gear, and especially if I carried the gear in a bag or backpack, it is possible
there would have been more interest in what I was doing while standing on the
international border.  

Much of the border east of this park in this area has no fence, and only has 
the concrete border markers.  There is water to the west.  Between patrols by 
officials on both sides, along with cameras and other sensors that monitor for 
people crossing away from an official border crossing, I figured the park had 
to be the place I attempted this.  I had no intention of trying this from any 
other point on the border, since I could stay within the boundaries of the two
parks and freely cross between the two countries without issue.  I did put my 
US passport in my pocket, just in case - but it was not needed.  

I will have double-sided QSL cards prepared for the QSOs made at the border. 
One side will have information for the USA side of the border (Blaine, 
Washington, in Whatcom County), and the other for Surrey, British Columbia.
For these QSOs, and any others during this trip, I will be happy to send you
my QSL card(s) if you e-mail me with the QSO details.  For contacts with 
VA7EWK, I *am* interested in receiving your QSL cards.  

Tomorrow (Friday) will be my day-trip toward Whistler and grid CO80.  Whenever
I wake up, I will get ready for the two-hour drive up from Vancouver.  I hope
to be up there in time for passes in the afternoon, but may get up there 
earlier.  I am not going to commit to a specific time or time window when to 
look for me, since it is now 0040 local (0740 UTC), and I need to get some 
sleep.  I will work both FM and SSB satellites, including AO-7 after 0000 UTC
when it should return to mode B.  I may not be on every pass in the afternoon 
and early evening, but will try to make a decent effort to be on from CO80.  
If I have Internet access from wherever I stop and operate from, I will post 
a message to the -BB.


Patrick VA7EWK/WD9EWK - North Vancouver, British Columbia

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