Alan’s Long Beach Island Radioactive Vacation!

Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:

Radioactive vacation on LBI (Long Beach Island)

by Alan (W2AEW)

We look forward every August to our much needed 2 week vacation “down the shore” as we say here in New Jersey.  Our vacation spot of choice is Long Beach Island, one of the barrier islands on the Jersey coast. This is an 18 mile long island that hugs the Atlantic coast of southern NJ, just north of Atlantic City.  The part of the island we love to stay in is called Surf City.  The Surf City area has been continually populated since 1690, although the town of Surf City was officially established in the late 1800s.

The XYL and I are both pretty fair skinned, so laying out on the beautiful LBI beaches everyday isn’t really our thing.

So, the house we rent is actually on the bay side, facing west, overlooking the Manahawkin Bay.  We enjoy sitting back and watching (and occasionally participating in) the wide variety of activities on the bay – the fishing & crabbing, the power boats, personal watercraft, paddle boarding, sailing, etc. Our favorite though, and the thing that keeps us coming back every year, are the awesome sunsets over the bay.

Of course, we always need to find a house that is pet friendly. Sophie loves LBI also, especially the long walks around town with the sea breeze.  Here she is waiting at the top of the stairs – hoping to hear the magical word….  “walk”…

LBI is certainly a family and pet friendly place.  Even the local Dunkin Donuts has a wall dedicated to the local pets:

I certainly planned to do a fair amount of QRP operating while on vacation – both from the rental house as well as POTA from the nearby parks (more about this soon).  But lest you think this was purely a radioactive vacation, let me reassure you that we did a lot of “normal” vacation activities too.

Like most, a lot of vacation is about relaxing, eating, other stress relieving activities, eating, shopping, and of course, eating…  Breakfasts were typically some homebaked muffins, or even some fresh biscuits from the oven with some great Black Bear Jam – a gift from a good friend in NC.  Yummy!

The main meals were a mix of good ‘ole home cooking and some great local cuisine, including great Jersey pizza from Panzone’s,  fresh local seafood from Mud City Crab House and   Pinky Shrimp’s Seafood Company.  Of course, no trip to LBI is complete without getting some of the best burgers in the state from Woodies Drive In in Ship Bottom, right next to Flamingo Mini-Golf – one of *many* mini-golf places on the island.  I’ve personally seen Ray Romano golfing at Flamingo with his family.

I did manage to do some other “normal” vacation activities besides radio…  A couple of relaxing afternoons on the beach, completed a 1000 pc jigsaw puzzle, read two James Patterson novels, lounging on the decks overlooking the bay and lots of strolls with the XYL and the dog.

But who’s kidding who, this is a QRP blog right!  Let’s get radioactive!

One of the first tasks after unpacking was setting up the antenna at the rental house.  The location was great, right next to the bay!  I strapped my slip-fit military fiberglass poles to the corner post of the 2nd floor deck, which made a great support for the 40m EFHW wire.  This is the same UNUN & antenna that I featured in a “build” video a few years ago.

For operating “at the house”, I brought my Penntek TR-45L and CW Morse N0SA style paddles. Imagine my delight when I actually worked the man himself, Larry,  N0SA from the beach house using paddles of his design!  Great radio serendipity!

A good portion of my radio activity at the house was actually done from one of the two decks outside.  So, if you worked me (outside of POTA) during the middle two weeks of August, my operating position was likely something like one of these pics:

All in all, I made about 36 contacts from the house.

Most of my radioactivity was POTA activations!  For these, the rig was the Elecraft KX2 with the BaMaTech TP-III paddles and SuperAntenna MP1 equipped with an MFJ-1976 10 foot whip.

Long Beach Island lies completely within the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail K-6544, so any public spot on the island would qualify as a POTA location.  The map below shows the length of LBI, from Barnegat Light at the north end, down the Holgate on the south end.  The green shaded area is a portion of K-6544. The rental house was just north of Ship Bottom.

Luckily, right across the street from the front of the house was a public area with benches up against the bay’s bulkhead.  So, a simple walk across the street gave me a perfect quick POTA activation spot.  I took advantage of this 11 times, with six of them being “late shift” – operating on a bench under the streetlight.

The metal bulkhead sunk into the saltwater bay proved to be a PERFECT mounting spot and counterpoise for my MP1 vertical.

Of course, one of our afternoons on the beach was a little chilly (with biting flies), so I did what any radio-nerd would do – POTA from the beach!

This was less successful than it could’ve been because I forgot to bring my ground radials!  Oh well, only two contacts, but still fun!

My other favorite spot on the island was Barnegat Light State Park. This is POTA K-1609.  It also happens to fall within the NJ Coastal Trail (K-6544) and within the boundary of the NJ Pinelands Preserve K-6609, making it a 3-fer!

I was able to activate the lighthouse state park 3 times.  Weather was great, and I was able to pick out a nice somewhat shady spot near the lighthouse, overlooking the Barnegat Inlet.

On Sunday morning of the middle weekend of vacation, I needed to drive up to Newark Liberty Airport to drop off some family that was visiting us.  On the way back to LBI, I stopped off at Double Trouble State Park K-1614 for a quick activation (which as also a 3-fer with 6544 and 6609).

By the numbers…  I wound up 15 separate activation activities.  Eleven were quick walks across the street, three at the lighthouse, and one at Double Trouble, for a total of 280 CW QRP contacts.  Barnegat Lighthouse and Double Trouble counted as 3-fers, making the total POTA activations equal to 23.

Not bad for a two week vacation!

[K4SWL Note: Readers, make sure you bookmark Alan’s excellent YouTube channel. It’s chock-full of tutorials, projects, and radio goodness!]

8 thoughts on “Alan’s Long Beach Island Radioactive Vacation!”

  1. Hi Alan.

    Thanks for sharing your story at the end of summer 😉 I will print it as aPDF and read it again in the winter. Cheers Chris, DL7CW

  2. Great report Alan!

    I like your operational style! Why not flaunt the casual and carefree? It’s a ‘VOTA’ any ham would be envious of!

    de W7UDT

  3. Alan, You might be interested in learning about the radio tower that was built in 1912 by & for Germany prior to WW1 in Little Egg Harbor. (LEH is one exit south on the GSP from LBI.) It was once the 2nd tallest structure ever built in the world. (Weird NJ: Mysterious Monoliths of Mystic Island)

    The concrete block bases of the Tuckerton Wireless Towers still stand around Mystic Island. Not so pleasant looking for the residents, but an interesting history nonetheless.

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