A Marine Mobile work-in-progress


October 6, 2006:
Twenty-one years ago I took a guided kayak trip along the coast of British Colombia. Those six days were filled with islands and charts and whales, and our time was regulated only by the tides and currents. Well, I've wanted a sea kayak ever since, and today I'm the owner of a Prijon Kodiak. It's 17 feet long, and for the 2006 model year they have added a hatch cover just forward of the cockpit. That's where I will mount a support base for my ham radio antenna. There are lots of details to be worked out, including the addition of a 2-meter APRS station and its antenna placement.

October 13, 2006: initial test ride
Today I took the new boat to a nearby lake for her maiden voyage. With my Garmin GPS set to nautical readings, I opened up the throttle (okay, I paddled hard) to see how fast she would go. I was able to make 5.2 knots, or 6 m.p.h. Then I monitored my paddling at other speeds. Here is how I would describe it:
3.0 kts (3.5 mph) - piece of cake: not in any hurry
3.5 kts (4 mph) - could maintain this speed for some time
3.8-4.0 kts (4.6 mph) - good speed for making a quick crossing
5.2 kts (6 mph) - full speed ahead
5.4 kts (6.2 mph) - theoretical maximum hull speed for 16.5' LWL

I am very pleased with the overall stabitity, and feel I can operate HF successfully from this boat. 

Heading for shore - first day out

October 20, 2006: First time out with ham radio in kayak
There was snow in the forcast for the weekend, so it was either go now or wait another week. I spent most of the day getting the boat ready for some kayak mobile operating. I modified a spare hatch cover to support a Cabelas 14' graphite fishing pole. (Thanks to Jim Cluett, W1PID, for introducing me to the pole in his Adventure Radio Society article). The support base begins with a 1-1/4" PVC cap bolted to the hatch cover.


Inside the cap is a 1-1/4" to 3/4" adapter. A length of thinwall 3/4" PVC pipe fits into the adapter. A shorter length of 1/2" PVC slips down inside the larger tube to act as a stop for the fishing pole. The Cabelas pole slides down into the tube about six inches.  Following my usual tradition, I painted all of the PVC black. This base will support a homebrew 14-foot end-fed halfwave antenna.


My halfwave tuner is taped to the antenna support. Forward of that is an orange waterproof bag containing my FT-817 radio. If conditions get too rough, I can disconnect the headset and coax and close the bag for complete waterproof protection of all the gear.

With the paint still drying on the new project, I finally pushed away from the dock around five o'clock local time as the air temperature began its descent from a high of fifty degrees. With the seriously shortened halfwave antenna, I made eight contacts in an hour-and-a-half on the water. I talked to California, Washington and Nevada to the west, and Illinois, Michigan, Alabama and North Carolina to the east. These were all made at five watts, sideband, with a set of eight rechargeable AA batteries inside the radio. Signal reports received ranged from 51 to 59 with most in the 53 to 57 range. I managed to log everything with my Palm IIIxe, but found it's not very convenient to use a PDA while you're trying to paddle. I may have to revert to my digital voice recorder next time.


 I was having fun, but I knew it was time to go when cars leaving the area all had their lights on.

Prospect Lake, Wheatridge, Colorado just hours before the snowstorm

October 20, 2006 (update):
It's midnight, six hours after I took the last picture, and the snow is coming down hard outside. Talk about timing!

October 21, 2006:
Here's a photo I took the very next morning from the lake. It was 10:00 am, and the Colorado sunshine was already melting the 4" of snow we received overnight.

Next spring and summer hold many opportunities for exploring the waterways here in Colorado while operating marine mobile, along with camping and beachside portable operating. I can't wait. Too bad winter is still on its way.