POTA Activation #17 - Huntington Beach State Park (SC) (7/5/2022)

The first week of July I went down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with the family to visit my mother. I brought my portable radio setup and planned on getting a few activations in while on the trip. The first park we decided to visit was Huntington Beach State Park, just South of Myrtle Beach near Murrell's Inlet. The park was derived from 2,500 acres of property owned by Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer Huntington. The park also has their castle, Atalaya.

Anna Hyatt Huntington was a sculptor of renown who was afflicted by tuberculosis. Atalaya was built as a warm weather retreat for her by the sea during the depression in the hopes of ameliorating her condition. The castle is large and sprawls around a central courtyard. The North side of the castle has the support structures housing the staff and the kitchen, while the South side has the rooms that were occupied by the Huntington family. They intentionally built it without guest rooms, as they did not want to entertain guests while at Atalaya. The ocean is a short walk away from the castle and the waves can be heard gently rolling in from inside the house which is currently open to the outside air without windows. The park itself is across US-17 from Brookgreen Gardens which was also owned by the Huntington family and is definitely worth a visit (we went later in the week).

One thing of note: on weekends this park can fill its parking lot to capacity and be closed to additional visitors. This happened to us over the weekend, so we had to come back during the week. If you're looking to activate over the weekend, you may want to get there early.

In addition to Atalaya Castle, the park has a beautiful beach on the Atlantic with white sand that was mostly empty the day we visited.

After touring Atalaya I found a nice shady spot under some trees beside the castle and set up my station. Since I had trees available, I decided to use my MFJ 1984 MP End-Fed Half Wave antenna and used my arborist throwline kit to get it up in a tree. I started the activation on 20m SSB and after a slow start made contact with Texas, Maine, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, New York, and Minnesota. Things slowed down and I decided to drop down to the CW portion of the band and made contact with Maryland, Puerto Rico, Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Alabama, Kansas, Texas, Arizona, and Ontario, Canada. After another slow down I decided to take advantage of the frequency agility of the antenna and move over to 30m making contacts with Maryland, Alabama, and Ohio. After another dry spell I moved over to 17m and made contacts with Alabama and Florida. After another period of calling CQ into the void, I went over to 40m and made contact with Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia.

After she had done some exploring around the park, I was rejoined by my daughter who wanted to join me on the mic and call CQ for a bit. Together we worked 40m SSB and made contact with North Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.

She did a great job on the mic and the hunters were extra friendly when they heard her voice. She had a lot of fun and so did I. One of the things I love about Parks on the Air is the kind and collegial manner in which activators and hunters interact. Hearing a young girl on the air, everyone was so kind and did everything they could to make it a great experience. The POTA hunters are a great group of operators. All told we made 43 contacts with 27 on CW and 16 on SSB including 2 Park to Park QSOs. A very successful activation on 10W.

After breaking down the station we walked on the beach for a bit and Caitlin enjoyed running through the waves on the beautiful white sand beach.

Activation QSO Map: Red Pins = SSB, Green Pins = CW / Green Lines = 40m, Orange Lines = 30m, Blue Lines = 20m, Purple Lines = 17m, Cyan Lines = 15m

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • MFJ 1984 MP End-Fed Half Wave Antenna
  • LDG Z100 Plus
  • CW Morse Pocket Double Paddle Morse Code Key with Magnets
  • CW Morse Steel Base for Pocket Paddles
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Icom LC-192
  • Bioenno 12V 6Ah LiFePO4 Battery
  • Sony Headphones
  • Dell XPS 13 Laptop
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook
  • Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil