Skyway Fishing Pier State Park is the remnants of the approach portion of the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge that collapsed on May 9, 1980 after being hit by the 602-foot freighter Summit Venture. 35 people died in the tragedy. Both the northbound and southbound portions of the old bridge were demolished and a new bridge was constructed. The State of Florida decided to leave the concrete approach portions of the bridge intact as a fishing pier; the only fishing pier designated as a state park.
I am closing in on a Kilo Award at the Skyway Fishing Pier. Business took me to St. Petersburg today, so I decided to attempt an activation. I started on 20 meters but the band was sluggish. Still, I managed 20 DX contacts on CW before switching to SSB. SSB was much different. 20 meters opened at the right time. I had 11 DX contacts on SSB. I worked coast-to-coast with mostly good signal reports. I finished the activation with 143 contacts. There was a significant pile up that I missed when I went QRT but I will get to that in a moment.
I used my Yaesu FT-450D running 70 watts. My antenna was a 213″ telescoping whip into a tri-magnet mount on my roof. I did not use the Chameleon Hybrid Mini today since I was not planning to operate on 30 meters and below. I am not sure if operating nearly a mile out in Tampa Bay helped get my signal out but it did not seem to hurt.
Everything was going well during the activation until a bolt of lightening struck the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The strike was about a 1000 feet from my operating position. I quickly went QRT and tried to get my antenna off the roof but the rain started coming down in buckets! I had to take shelter at the nearby restroom pavilion. There was a break in the rain for a few moments which allowed me to get my antenna down and into my car but then it started up again. I waited 30 minutes but the rain did not relent. Sadly, I missed out on a lot more contacts. Still, I was safe, which is the main thing. Thunderstorms in Florida can be deadly, so they are not be trifled with. I have a lightening app that alerts me when strikes are nearby but it did not go off during the activation. Here is a brief video I took during the storm:
Actually, I’m amazed the mag mount didn’t fly off the car along with the antenna. They both live to activate another day.