Interesting Afternoon Propagation

This afternoon, I went out to Jekyll Island to play radio for a bit and encountered some interesting propagation.  While listening to a flight of VFA-86 F/A-18s working out in W-157 I noticed I was hearing Chatham and Effingham County Public Safety traffic from the BC-996 (I had forgotten to turn off the Chatham-Effingham TRS and SEGARREN systems when I came down to Brunswick this week).  I looked down at the BC-996 and sure enough it was receiving the Kerry St. site of the Chatham-Effingham TRS and the Chatham site of the SEGARREN.   I also noticed I was picking up the Hunter AAF site of the Ft. Stewart/Hunter AAF 406 MHz TRS.

On a whim I tuned the FT-8800 to the W4LHS 442.700 repeater in Savannah and put out a call; the repeater returned full scale but I didn’t get an answer.  I waited a minute and put out my callsign again, appending it with “Jekyll Island” and got an answer from Guy, K4GTM who immediately asked me if I had said Jekyll Island.  I assured him that I had and during our QSO he mentioned that I sounded just like I was in town.  Not bad for being 70 miles away from the repeater!

While talking to Guy, I noticed that the BC-996 was also stopping on the Effingham site of the Chatham-Effingham TRS.  After a few transmissions, I realized that I wasn’t receiving the Chatham-Effingham system on that site but a different system with Site ID 9031h-0001.  This turns out to be the Jacksonville City “First Coast” radio system, once again about 60 miles away.

The UHF reception this afternoon (I was out listening from around 1600-1700 local) was terrific!  VHF was slightly enhanced  but nowhere near the level of the 400/700/800 MHz enhancement.  I was hearing just a bit more than normal on VHF amateur repeaters and I was hearing what were obviously the Savannah USCG transmitter sites on Marine VHF frequencies at low levels.  Broadcast FM radio was pretty much normal, I didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary on that band.  I really enjoyed being able to listen to communications from home without using the internet and talking back to home without using VOIP or HF.

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