VP2MU Montserrat

Ham Radio
The desire to operate from the "other side" finally became a reality in 1986. In the spring of 1986, newly married, and looking for a honeymoon destination, the island of Montserrat became the focus of a destination location. At that time Chod Harris VP2ML (sk) had a QTH available on the eastern side of the island complete with station. Letters and communications were exchanged with Chod and also Bobby Martin VP2MO over several weeks, and everything was put in place.

Today, when hearing discussions about island life, much of it relates to the "event" that occurred in July of 1995. That is when the Soufriere volcano changed both the landscape, and island life completely.  After almost 30 years, the desire to return to Montserrat  is still there and hopefully will be a reality soon. In 2011, a group of Minnesota hams activated Montserrat in the CQWW -DX. The pictures they brought home re-kindled this interest. Some before and after pictures are included here.

We arrived late into Montserrat, were picked up at the airport, and given the keys to a rental car, and taken to the "LAST RESORT". The "Last Resort" was the name of Chod Harris's place located on Spanish Pointe on the eastern side of the island overlooking the Atlantic. The next morning Bobby Martin arrived to deliver our Datsun 150V rental car, and explain a few more things. We were starting our two week adventure! The first full day was spent on the beach with just a few evening QSO's. 

Soufriere Volcano
In 1995 the volcano decided to change island life.  This is a picture looking down the east coast of the island showing the W.H. Bramble airport, and the approximate location of the "Last Resort" .  The Last Resort became buried in up to six feet of volcanic ash, and the airport was abandoned as well.

Operating really took a back seat to honeymooning and island exploration, but often the evenings offered some time to generate some good pileups on almost any band. Here is the operating position running a TS-120 radio. The island did have a Radio shack where I was able to purchase a plug to get on CW!  Here I am enjoying the pile-ups with a cold HARP lager. The pile-ups would remain throughout the dinner hour, and by simply sending a "?", the frenzy would resume. Europe on 80 meters was quite simple starting in the late afternoon, with only a dipole at 30 feet or so.100% paper logging, however all the QSO's have been imported and uploaded to LOTW.

The license processing at Public Works was complete, but the first few times stopping there, there was no one around to finish the process, signatures, etc.  I began by operating the Montserrat Club call VP2MU, and even after license was in hand, I decided to not activate as VP2M/WA0MHJ. (CW Op's can understand why.) For the next visit it will be a true VP2MXX call sign.  

  This is a picture we took of touring the volcano. This is ground zero! We were able to drive up only a short distance, and then hiked the remainder of the trip to the top.  It was a long hike, and at the top was the strong smell of sulfur, and gases. The insert picture in the corner is a reminder that where we were standing decided to launch into a volcanic plume 40,000 feet into the air over Montserrat.
AIR STUDIOS - Montserrat
We toured Air Studios in Montserrat, which was a state of the art digital recording studio hosting artists like Elton John, Sting, Dire Straits, and others.  During the tour I asked one of the Engineers if there was any job openings, and he laughed and told me to go to England and get at the back of a very long line.

Air Studios was furnished as lavishly as you would expect it to be, to entertain the rock stars, and below left is their beautiful pool with a breathtaking view overlooking the Caribbean, as we saw it in 1986. To the right is a photograph  taken by the VP2MWG group that were there in 2011. showing it just as it is; an abandoned property. There were some recording tape reels apparently still lying around, but not much else to remember as how it was.