The Story Behind The Card Series 2 No.10 – Market Reef

Although just a jumble of rocks in the Baltic Sea located close to the 60 degree north line of Latitude and roughly midway between Aaland (OH0) and Sweden this miniscule part of Finland is a separate ‘entity’ for DXCC purposes . Market Reef has no permanent residents and even its Lighthouse / Weather Station is unoccupied and fully automated; its light and equipment being powered by gas and solar panels.

The Reef’s location is well placed to be contacted easily on the Amateur Bands by operators throughout Europe and North America, but when a hardy group of chaps set up a station there the ‘pile-ups’ really grow.

On Market Reef operators use the Finnish prefix OJ0  and there has seldom been a year when the Reef was not activated.

market-reef-g3bdq-2 market-reef-g3bdq-3 market-reef-g3bdq-1The card illustrated was sent to me for a CW contact on 1.8 MHz in November 2005, not the most opportune time in the year to brave the discomforts and cold of the Reef, but of course fine for propagation on the LF bands. In year (2011) I worked the place yet again on 1.8 MHz but this time during late September. The lack of a permanent and active operator at the place means that hundreds or even thousands of operators Worldwide are eager to gain the OJ0 call in their Logs.

My 2005 contact was with a quartet of Finnish amateurs that included Martti Laine the doyen of expeditions to wild and lonely places. His call is OH2BH. The reverse of the card gives an outline of the privations to be endured when staying on the Reef in Winter. There is always the threat of severe weather and a chance of being marooned, and the physical problems of living in the damp unheated concrete shell of the old lighthouse building, cause great discomfort linked to a degradation of even personal hygiene. Even the group’s short winter stay meant that the intrepid band of DXers had to burn every item of the clothing used when they returned home.

The radio gear used on the Reef included a Yaesu FT-1000MP and its companion Linear, and an assortment of antennas including a 160 metre Inverted Vee..At the foot of the QSL is printed: “Always reliable Yaesu gear operated without a glitch running on an old shaky 10 KW generator”.

I suspect that Yaesu subsidised the expedition quite lavishly.

By John Heys G3BDQ – Vital Spark May 2013.

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