CQP 2015 – how a gold rush turns into a cold shower

A few years back (2010?) I stumbled across an unusual amount of Whiskey Sixers. CQP they called this event. Propagation was fine and I was hooked. I marked the event on the calendar for the years to come and with the FB propagation it was a real party. After all, East Coast is easy from here but West Coast is REAL DX. I love the sound of polar flutter in the morning! Or evening for that matter. Last year already was far less productive with the decline of the solar cycle and I more or less had given up for this year.

Then I read the announcement that to celebrate the fiftieth edition of CQP, there would be a commemorative coin. Just work those 1×1 calls, take the letter of the suffix and spell GOLDRUSH. That means only eight contacts would do. Just find and work the right calls et voilà. It was only Saturday I read the fine print. I would need to make 150 QSO in total apart from the goldrush issue. One hundred fifty? That wasn’t in the initial announcement on CQ-Contest! I knew this would be hard and when I took a look at the K index was too high to be good and the Bz had gone negative. For a change. Against all odds I started looking for Californians Saturday afternoon.

I can be short about that. There weren’t many. That is: there weren’t many to be heard overhere. And only on 20. The RBN showed huge amounts of the coveted 6 area callsigns but skimmers only as far as PJ2 and KP3 picked them up. Later on there were a few light signals on 15. I wouldn’t call it an opening. Rather a small crack in the reinforced concrete wall that stood between me and that Golden State. Even on 20 the loudest signals didn’t reach S9. I listened to some SSB signals or rather ‘modulated noise’ but I didn’t even try to call. All this in strong contrast with the previous years where I could work plenty of them in both modes. Even on ten meters. My hope was for a better Sunday and maybe a few on 40 in the morning.

Here’s what I wrote in 2010 about CQP and 40m:

On 40m there were some SSB spots for the CQP. Huh? I could hear them, well past my sunrise. I worked 3 and K6IDX said I was loud (S9). He was S9+20 at my place. The thrill of it! K6IDX was the loudest of them all on all bands. The signals! N6O runner up.

N6GQ even sent me a note regarding this 40m magical contact. ‘Loudest EU at that time‘. I was using a low inverted V on 80/40 for that occasion. We all have a dozen contacts we’ll never forget. This is one of mine. Enough flash back, now return to the harsh reality of 2015. I asked my friend K7GK what would be the best time and he queried his 2014 log. Around 06.30z, which translates to 8.30AM. No alarm needed then. But once I got into the shack: NO DX heard there. Only a ZL2 in the Oceania DX SSB but I didn’t bother to call him. Even EU was weak. But not a single W6. And the rest of Sunday was even worse. In the evening I didn’t hear a single W6 on 20 either. So Sunday was even worse than Saturday. I called it a day with 36 CW contacts and GOLDR. Never even heard one of the USHers.

If we extrapolate this kind of propagation to CQ WW in three weeks… Oh boy.

2 replies on “CQP 2015 – how a gold rush turns into a cold shower”

Hi John
Glad you found the time to comment in between dinners with OZ cyclists :o)
Propagation last weekend was even worse. Yes: WORSE. On 20m the Oceanians were hard to hear, even in CW. Same with the close by Scandinavians apart from 40.

As a result, I don’t see myself doing a 48hr CQ WW all band this year. I’ll pick a band (80 SSB and 40CW?) and have lots of sleep.
73 / take care!

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