Tuesday 30th July 2019
We'd arrived on Sark the previous afternoon, after sailing on the Sark Shipping Company boat from St Peter Port, Guernsey. Marianne was pleased with the accommodation I'd booked and quickly started to fall in love with the island. This was going really well! We dined out at Stocks Hotel on that Monday evening then listened into Late Night Liam on the radio of course!
As is typical, I awoke with the sun bright and early on the Tuesday morning. Now this was the actual day of my silver wedding anniversary, but I knew Marianne would want at least another couple of undisturbed hours in bed and then some time to get ready for breakfast. I grasped the opportunity to get out for my first SOTA activation of the excursion.
Most of the main island of Sark is within the activation zone of the summit, but the issue was the Force 8 gales that were pounding the island. I would have set up on a grassy viewpoint with benches, right in the centre of the Village, on the Avenue. However, no mast or antenna was going to survive in that position, so I needed to find some kind of sheltered spot.
Knowing there was an old windmill at the true summit, I set off walking to there, thinking one side of that might afford sufficient shelter. Unfortunately, when I got there, there was no suitable position beside the windmill. However, on the other side of the dirt track, there was an opening to a farm gate, between some 5 foot high vegetation and trees. I set up the 20m GP antenna there, and it was sheltered enough to remain stable.
I made 24 QSOs - 12 each on 20m CW and 20m FT8. I then walked back down to the Village, and our accommodation - Clos de Vaul Creux - right on time to meet Marianne for breakfast. Breakfast is a bit of a speciality at this guesthouse, with homemade freshly baked bread and croissants, Guernsey butter and preserves, coffee, fruit juice, cereals plus of course delicious local bacon, eggs and sausage, served with mushrooms and tomatoes. We would enjoy this excellent start to the day all three days we were on the island.
Jimmy M0HGY had bought us a very considerate gift for our anniversary. It was the Ciccerone guide "Walking on Guernsey", which included two excellent circular walks on Sark. Marianne and I agreed to suspend worry about the dire weather forecast and have a go at the 10 mile walk from the book. As it turned out, the weather was much better than forecast. A bit damp and breezy earlier on, but easing to a warm and sunny afternoon later.
The walk took us down towards the harbour, around the cliffs above Derrible Bay, down to Dixcart Bay, over the spectacular La Coupee onto Little Sark, and back via the windmill at the true summit of Le Moulin. En route we paused at Caragh Chocolates, an excellent chocolatier for coffee, hot chocolate, cakes and hand-made chocolates. Marianne loved it and would be determined to return for round two!
That night we celebrated our anniversary with dinner and wine at our accommodation - Clos de Vaul Creux - with our landlady Leigh cooking up an excellent meal. I had the local scallops followed by king prawn skewers - delicious! Finally we wandered down to the nearby Bel Air Inn for some beer and a few games of pool.
This turned out to be another great day on Sark. Again, I rose early to play radio. This time, I was not hampered by prohibitive gale force wind and was able to set up on the viewpoint in the centre of the Village. I went for 30m this time and erected my homemade quarterwave groundplane. It was perhaps a little too early for the band to be properly open, with a handful of CW QSOs coming through at a fairly slow rate and with mediocre signals.
No such mither with FT8 though. After switching to that mode, there was suddenly a steady stream of callers with good signals. 25 QSOs were made on 30m FT8 after the six recorded on 30m CW.
After breakfast, Marianne and I set off to complete the other circular walk in the guidebook gifted to us from Jimmy. It was another super route exploring the rugged coast, winding dirt tracks, plus grand houses and old churches on Sark. It was a much shorter walk than the previous day - 6 miles as opposed to 10 miles - so we were finished by 2pm. We decided to hire a couple of bicycles for the rest of the afternoon.
We spent the next three hours or so pretty much revisiting every corner of the island we'd walked to over the last day and a half! First and most important target was the Caragh chocolate shop for our afternoon tea. That evening we dined out at Nicole's Restaurant which was adjacent to our accommodation, on the other side of the track. Here I treated myself to crab cakes followed by freshly caught Sark lobster, which I really enjoyed. Afterwards we had a walk around to the Mermaid pub for a drink, and later wandered out to the viewpoint - after dark - to take advantage of Sark's famous dark skies for a bit of stargazing.
Thursday 1st August 2019
I arose early for another pre-breakfast activation from the viewpoint in the Village. Just eight QSOs were made on 20m, split 50-50 between FT8 and CW. I was mindful to leave plenty in the internal battery pack for another crack at Guernsey Airport GU/GU-002 later in the day! I returned to Clos de Vaul Creux and enjoyed the final breakfast there with Marianne.
We packed our baggage and left it all just outside ready for the carting service down to the harbour. We then had a good hour to spare, so took a long circuitous route around the island's dirt tracks before eventually following a spectacular cliff path down to the harbour. Sark had been wonderful, but it was now time to go home.