Wednesday, May 11, 2022

K-8364: Flowers, 17m DX and a manatee

I had good intentions for today's activation regarding my mcHF.

Problem is, a picnic table, or similar, is needed upon which to sprawl the rig and its paraphenalia.

No picnic tables are to be found at K-8364, the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area State Conservation Area here in Eff Ell A (as Lou Reed calls it). In fact, the park is tough to find if you use Google maps for navigation. That method'll take you down a private road that ends in a gate.

This may explain the infrequent activations for the park despite its location near a large city (Ocala).

I imagined an octant (a sextant-sunstitute for land) in my head, channeled Lewis & Clark, who used one with amazing accuracy, and made my way down a dirt road a few miles right to the entrance to a lonely, beautiful place with a sign bearing the name of my intended QTH.

No picnic tables meant the mcHF would (again) sit this one out since the FT-891 is already installed into the POTA-mobile and requires no other support.

I started out on 40 meters with a 40m HamStick and a unique RF ground. Getting a match of less than 3:1 was impossible without the ground, which was my other onboard antenna - the 20/40m EFHW, this time strung from the tuner's ground lug out along the ground. Once this antenna-as-radial was attached, I'm at 1.2:1.

Lots of contacts on all 17-40m, on both phone and CW.

17m was where the magic occurred - Europe and Indonesia, easily copied and worked on CW. With a HamStick. Yeah, I remember those days and am glad to see them return, hopefully for a good long while.

The parking area is actually a trailhead for a 3-mile trail that leads down to the Ocklawaha River and the day was to perfect not to hike it. I was on the bank of the river - a cool, clear flow of water 50 feet wide and bounded by lily pads.

No man-made sounds at all - just the breeze and the current.

I was setting up my tripod/camera to capture a visual momento of this little slice of paradise when I heard a disturbance in the water slightly upstream of me. I was on guard for snakes and gators, but this was neither.

Dolphin-like, a manatee had briefly come to the surface for a gulp of air. I glimpsed him on his (or was it her?) return to the depths. Just a brown, leathery back, not corrugated like a gator's. The camera was pointed at a friggin' flower. Oh well.

A Carolina ruellia, if anyone's interested:

This pic cost me a manatee photo

Manatee's inhabit Florida's cool springs in winter months - all the tourist literature around here makes the point of mentioning that...which has always left me to wonder "Where do they go for the other months?"

Now I know - the Ocklawaha River, to name one place.

I'll be back to this park again, maybe riverside with the camera rolling, waiting for one of those gentle creatures to make another appearance.

80 contacts went into the log, all uploaded.




  1. My dad used to fish the waterways near Ft. Myers with his brother-in-law and they encountered Manatees on a regular basis.

    1. Swimming with them is on my bucket list but that'll have to wait until Nov/Dec when they return to the springs. Their closest genetic relative is the elephant - a land creature. Bizarre!