San Francisco Maritime Park (HP40) February 7th, 2016

NPOTA Entity: San Francisco Maritime Historic Park HP40

SOTA summit: N/A

Activation Date: February 7th, 2016

Portable operation: Yes

Hike in: Yes

Solo hike: Yes

ATT Coverage: Excellent

Photos: Copyright Paul Gacek 2016

Early morning has brought out runners, rowers, swimmers, tourists, fisherman and me, all seeking something from Aquatic Park here in San Francisco. El Nino has temporarily departed and made way for beautiful weather; blue skies, light breeze and warm to almost balmy temperatures that has me rapidly shedding what I can without embarrassing myself.

I was surprised to find the municipal pier within Aquatic Park open as I had somehow convinced myself it was off limits due to decay. This seems the best location for my tiny QRP station that includes the antenna that keeps amazing me; the AlexLoop.

Operating location is end of pier that runs left to center of photo

Before I’m on the air I hear splashing in the water directly next to me. Aquatic park is used by some very brave and hardy swimmers but today it wasn’t swimmers but scullers heading out to the Golden Gate bridge. I’m in awe having spent enough time bobbing around white tops on a sit on top kayak to know that these scullers, both female are brave souls ready to dodge ocean going container ships and deal with some very nasty currents. After all, Alcatraz’s last line of defense for escapees was the expectation to be washed out through the Golden Gate and out into the not so passive Pacific!!

Brave female scullers heading to Golden Gate Bridge

I press ganged a couple of women into taking my picture below which led to the inevitable question “what are you up to…”. I’ve decided the best way to explain ham radio is to start with a pitch about our collective community service. From the straight forward support of a race through to the more immediately gripping service during a disaster all to be rounded out by the fun side of contests and this, a celebration of the NPS hundredth year of stellar service. I’m rewarded with a pat on the back and a “keep it up”.

W6PNG operating at end of the pier


PR pitch over and now the AlexLoop is up to its magic again and helped by the very cooperative propagation gods I’m able to rustle up 100+ contacts on 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20m. 12m is entirely new to me and was so quiet compared to 10 and 15.

The Maritime site has a number of exhibits, museums etc and I stop by each. I always enjoy learning a little bit more about California history and today it was about the Niantic whaler turned hotel/store that was re-discovered in the 1970s during construction near by. All that is left is the bit shown below and a rudder. Pausing and imagining the era, the stories, the people in search of gold, adventure or a new life etc is fun on a Sunday morning.


Elsewhere at the site and my neighbor when operating is the Balclutha moored along with other luminaries from the Pacific era circa 1800s. An ocean going tug boat that hauled “nets” of logs literally hundreds of feet long through to an old paddle steamer that was built along with the Balclutha back in the UK.

Balclutha – all the way from Scotland


My wife exclaimed that they look great but where are we going to put all these mugs. I enthusiastically offer up the garage as overflow storage!! I’m a sucker and couldn’t leave these two behind. Hadn’t seen the 2016 centennial one before and could imagine it departs as quickly as it arrived.

NPS entity mug


Mug to rule them all


Fun morning!!

After wandering around and then replenishing myself, I dashed off to Fort Point to get the stamp I didn’t get earlier (the NPS office is only open Friday-Sunday).

I’m here, the Ten-Ten contest is on, propagation seems good….. why not operate again from Fort Point, which is exactly what I did and a story for another post.




  1. Paul,
    I really envy you going to all these National Parks. You have succeeded in making me think about how I could do some of this. Your posts are very interesting and I always enjoy them. Keep having fun.


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