As I drove through North Carolina and Tennessee today, I thought about this past weekend and my lack of success in nabbing TX5C until this morning.
I've come to the conclusion that I had totally unrealistic expectations.
Here's why - after the recent ARRL CW DX contest, I felt pretty good about how my station had performed. Pretty much if I heard 'em, I was able to work 'em. It might've taken a few calls to get through to some of them, but eventually I was able to. Afterwards, I read where a lot of folks felt that conditions were crappy during the contest. Having no previous point of reference (it was my first 'real' contest), heck, I thought they weren't so bad. Anytime I'm able to get through to Japan and Australia, I'm pretty happy. I had pretty good success with VP6DX recently, so I had pretty high hopes for working TX5C before the weekend was over.
Boy, did I have a case of overconfidence or what?
Now, I wasn't in front of the radio ALL weekend (my wife and daughter might beg to differ), but I'll admit, I spent a pretty good portion of Saturday evening and Sunday with my rear in the operator's chair. I listened. I waited. I was patient. And I called. And called. And called. Not blindly, mind you (more about that later), always having listened before calling, trying to spot my signal in an open (ok, less-cluttered, let's say), nearby frequency.
Clearly by 11 pm Sunday night I'd decided to throw the towel in.
Or so I thought.
One last stab around 11:30, just before the operator began calling "EU, EU only". OK, towel thrown in.
So, today, while driving, I came to the conclusion that in order to get through to such a heavily targeted DXpedition like this one on the first (or even second) day, running 100 watts (maybe), is either total luck, or requires skills that I've yet to master. I don't think it's the station. I know there were plenty of folks that managed to get through with far less power and antennas that would pale compared to mine. So it's me. And while I'll argue that it's still a fairly decent challenge to get through with a little pistol early on, I still have a long way to go before I can set my expectations so high again.
And about that 'success' in the ARRL contest...maybe I worked what I heard, but I need to make sure that I'm really hearing everything that I need to be. Someone else might have heard a lot more than I did.
One last thing...the blind calling. I heard more people calling continuously than I ever have. It made no difference that the DX was transmitting or in QSO, they kept calling. Like a machine. What really burned me up is that some of them got through. Pretty seedy tactic, but I guess it's hard to argue with its effectiveness when it works. What a shame when that happens.