We had a potentially serious incident at GS3PYE/P early this morning.
The station was very busy with Colin G4ERO on 20m and Mark M0MJH on 40m at around 3:30am. The rest of the team were asleep, getting ready for another busy day. Bob G1SAA was woken by the sound of strong winds outside and decided to take a look at the antennas. What he saw was pretty frightening.
The 40ft pump up mast, with the Spider Beam on it, was leaning over at almost 45 deg, being held up by a combination of the support legs and the guys, with the 80m dipole tangled in the spider beam. The mast is extremely heavy and definitely not the sort of thing you want to come crashing down.
Bob dashed indoors to shout for help … and to put some trousers on! Gavin M1BXF and Steve M1ACB heard the calls from their respective beds, quickly got dressed and joined the others outside in the wind and driving rain.
It looked like some air had leaked out of the mast, causing it to lower and allowing the guys to go slack. The wind pushed the mast over and it was putting enormous and growing pressure on the legs and guy ropes. There was very little time to think and act. Gavin and Bob took the guy ropes and put them under tension while Colin, Mark and Steve worked on the base of the mast to try to stabilise it and bring it down under control as quickly as possible. The 80m dipole had become entangled, so Mark had to attend to that before we could fully retract the mast. We did get the the mast down, probably only just in time. I’ve never seen a heavy mast like that as such at angle and really didn’t expect the result to be a good one.
We then turned our attention to the 6m and 4m beams on the crank-up trailer mast at the front of the house. This was waving around very dangerously. Gavin rotated the beams parallel to the house and we brought the mast down very quickly to avoid damage to the house and the antennas. We also dropped the 20m vertical which was in danger of breaking, but the 40m and 80m verticals were more heavily guyed and it was safer to leave them up rather than risk damage and injury trying to take them down. Everything was tied and guyed and we retired inside to dry off, warm up and grab a coffee.
Never being ones to miss an opportunity, Mark M0MJH and Steve M1ACB jumped onto 40m and 80m respectively and took the group through 6000 QSO’s at around 4:30am. 80m was so good that I stayed up for a couple of hours and worked some DX from the vertical.
When we checked for damage this morning, the Spider Beam did suffer some damage during the rapid decent, but that’s been fixed now and we’re back at full strength on all of the bands.
It was all very exciting and makes a good story, but we were lucky that everyone moved so quickly to bring the situation under control.
The 6m (top) and 4m beams got knocked about a bit and are now out of alignment but nothing damaged…