Madeira Contesting Cabana
Walter, DJ6QT, discovered the advantage of Madeira island many years ago.
I think it was in the late 60s that he first visited the floating garden of Atlantic for radio purposes.
The island was still hard to reach since the runway at the airport was short.
Holidaymakers were usually mature, moneyed and stayed there for lengthy periods.
Southern Madeira - view from my hotel between Funchal and the airport. Africa is straight on, Cape Verde to the right.
I visited Madeira for the first time over 20 years ago.
Mass tourism was already booming, but a beachless island in the relatively cold waters of the Atlantic did not attract neither families with children nor swingers.
I brought my radio with me having in advance arranged a temporary permit.
The disadvantage of Madeira is its height.
The populated area is on the southern slope, where most hotels are located.
So the next time I came to Madeira, I rented a car and drove to the northern side.
It is windy, cool and steep.
Very different from the sun-drenched and quiet Funchal on the south.
The pile-up was incredible, using only a length of wire.
In Funchal I could hardly get any QSO, except of some ZD7, VP8 and other South Atlantic stations.
Obviously, all contesters in Madeira are now located on the northern coast.
Why there are no contest stations on the flat and low island Porto Santo, some 50 kilometers away, I do not know.
There is a long and safe runway on Porto Santo, no high mountains and it is close to the salt sea water. Actually from the point of view of antenna performance on HF, Porto Santo is better.
The only limitation here is the drinking water supply and restrictive residency.
Madeira archipelago is an autonomous region of Portugal and is in the European Union, Schengen Treaty, EURO-money and CEPT.
A lodging house called Casa da tia Clementina where contesting visitors to CR3L stay.
The contest shack of CR3L with some antennas behind it.
Walter, DJ6QT, set up a more-or-less permanent station on the north-eastern coast of Madeira in the village called Santana.
The radio shack is arranged inside a traditional Santana-style hut, while the operators sleep and eat in a nearby lodging house.
The antennas are not extreme in any respect, multiband and monoband Yagi arrays of few elements and rather low over the ground.
Most of the antennas are raised only before a contest.
The station is rented per week to anyone who wants to be on the air as CT9/home call sign, instead of admiring the nature of Madeira.
There are 100 microclimate zones on the island, so cruising around is extremely compelling.
I always spend some time sightseeing and only a small part of the time at the radio while visiting foreign places.
Last time I visited Madeira it was November and the CQ WW Contest time.
On Saturday I drove to Santana and dropped in to CR3L.
This is the most recent call sign used by multi-operator groups at Walter’s station.
Walter, DJ6QT, was not here due to health issues.
The group was a mixed German-Russian team taking part in the contest in Multi/2 category.
They were: DJ2YA, DK7YY, DL1CW, DL5AXX, DL7JV, DL8WAA, UA9MA, UA9ONJ, UA9PM and placed number one in the world.
The hut is furnished for two teams, each team having two transceivers on the same band.
Other call signs used in recent years from this cabana were CT9L and CQ3L.
Usually the groups are all-German, but sometimes there are operators of other nationalities.
Madeira The cabana surrounded by antennas and subtropical vegetation. CR3L
The common language is contesting – left – UA9ONJ from Siberia, right – DL7JV from Berlin.
One band, two radios, two operators. Ruslan, UA9ONJ and Jan, DL7JV (closer camera) during the CQ WW CW Contest.
It is a winning location, close to Europe and North America, but the competition is tough.
Often there are other stations on the air in Madeira.
The local Amateur Radio population is quite high, and visitors are numerous.
I myself made hundreds of contacts in the contest on Sunday, using as usual a simple wire as antenna. The easiest QSOs were with D4C in Cape Verde, as I was staying on the southern side of the island.
When the competition became very hard at the end of last century, some ambitious contesters started building contest stations further south in the Atlantic on Canary Islands, and later even further, on Cape Verde Islands.
No doubt about the difference in living standard, infrastructure, food and water supply between Madeira and Cape Verde.
Madeira is about one hour by plane from Lisbon, while it takes almost four to fly to Cape Verde.
One has to be slightly more adventurous and prepared for the unpredictable to choose the latter.
From left: Gena, UA9MA (in green shirt) is waiting for his turn, Ulrich, DJ2YA (in yellow shirt) monitors 14 MHz, Ulf, DL5AXX is sitting at the rig, while Mikhail, UA9PM is standing while operating.
UA9ONJ and DL7JV at the radios, while UA9MA is clearly impatient to take over.
UA9PM – standing, further DL5AXX and DJ2YA
UA9ONJ in the doorway ready to rest in the green.
One of the antennas that are erected before a contest.
Arno, DL1CW in front of the cabana.
The permanent antenna tower at CR3L.
View over the airport with extended runway and Machico beach created with sand transported from Sahara. Southeastern Madeira.
Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF
2014 05 03