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Pelican Pete

W5AZO Activates Historic Galveston Bay

Our objective for the LCL-2003 was to bring attention to the lighthouses of Galveston Bay . Planning for the event began a month before by acquiring topographic maps and nautical charts of the area, conducting research at the library, perusing the internet and making a few phone calls. While doing the research, we came across several lighthouses that were not on the official ARLHS List of Lights including six historic locations and two modern working lights. Ted – W8TTS was most helpful in getting these approved and added to the list! Texas once had over 24 lighthouses. Many of the historic lighthouses were of the cottage/screw pile type. Unfortunately most were destroyed during the Civil War or later fell victim to devastating hurricanes in the early 1900s. There is a replica of the Halfmoon Shoal lighthouse near Texas City (see photo).

All of our operating was from a mobile set-up in my GMC Jimmy. The rig is an ICOM-706MKII into a Hustler mono band vertical mounted on the side of the truck. At times I use a separate power supply as to not drain the car battery excessively. I programmed my GPS beforehand to make for more on-the-air time and less wondering how to get to the lighthouses. Most of the locations were on public property such as parks, the beach, seawall, or dike so no prior permission was needed. For one lighthouse on private property we called ahead to get permission to operate from the parking lot of a marina/resort.

We work as an OM/XYL team. Patty is the primary operator and Jim is the event navigator and engineer. We share in the trip planning and the QSLing. We also decided to use just one call sign to simplify logging and the process of sending out QSL cards.

In a week, we activated eleven lighthouses in between sight seeing and seafood. Part of the fun is watching the huge tankers and container ships, people on the shoreline fishing, and the antics of the seagulls and pelicans. Activating lighthouses gives us some quality time together when we're not working those pileups. Highlights of the trip was seeing the South Shore Harbor lighthouse decorated with Christmas lights, saying the words “Pelican Spit” on the radio, and enjoying the New Year's Eve fireworks on the beach.