POTA Activation #7 - Savannas Preserve State Park (FL) (4/4/2022)

The week of April 4 coincides with my daughter's Spring Break. As is our custom, we made the long drive down to the Treasure Coast of Florida to visit my father-in-law in Stuart, FL. In my POTA hunting, the overwhelming majority of my contacts from a particular state reference have been from Florida. So, knowing I would be in the area for a week, I decided to bring my POTA setup with me to try to get an activation in while on our vacation. Monday morning (the 4th) looked like a great time as my daughter was enjoying the pool at our VRBO and my wife was enjoying some downtime reading a book. So I found a park that was just 5 minutes away, Savannas Preserve State Park, K-3635.

I set the GPS on my phone and was there in a flash -- but there was a problem -- the gate was closed. Time for plan B. I decided to take the road that goes around the perimeter of the park, but surprisingly, there were not many other entrances to it. While taking the grand tour, it was clear this park was an ecological haven ... now I had to figure out how to get in. After calling my wife for some help while I was driving, she found another entrance near the midpoint of the park and guided me there. Success!

There was a kiosk requesting a $3 fee on the honor system, so I got out of the car, filled the envelope with $3, and then put the hang tag on my rear view. Immediately in view of the entrance there was a visitor's center that appeared to be closed along with a nicely shaded picnic pavilion. I was the only person there. So I decided to set up camp in a shady spot under the pavilion overlooking the park.

Savannas Preserve State Park is a 10 mile strip of land just off the coast of the Indian River. It consists of freshwater prairies and savannas behind a bank of dunes. After circumnavigating the park in my attempts to find an open entrance, I quickly realized just how big this park is. Even right off the road, it quickly feels like you are in another world, apart from the suburban sprawl mere meters away.

I decided to use my Buddipole Buddistick Pro so that I would not have to get into the brush to get my end-fed half-wave up in a tree. I was able to get it up in a couple minutes and tuned to 20m in another minute or so. It took a few minutes to find a good clear spot on the band, and I set up camp on 14.235 MHz, spotted myself on the POTA site and started getting some QSOs in the log. Propagation wasn't the best, but I was able to get 14 contacts from TN, MO, MS, NY, IN, RI, NJ, and the Dominican Republic (one was a twofer Park to Park) in about 30 minutes on the air.

After an initial burst of contacts, things died down a bit, so I tried some hunting. Unfortunately, while I could hear stations as far away as Nevada, they could not hear me. The perils of running 10 Watts. I decided to go to my old standby of 40m, but it was as dead as can be. I did hear one pair of older gentlemen ragchewing on the band (presumably local), but my calls of CQ went unanswered despite self-spotting, and having made my activation, I decided to call it a day and to join my family for lunch.

All-in-all it was a fun and quick activation. The spot I setup at is hard to beat with a shaded picnic table with a gorgeous view. I practically had the place to myself, save a handful of hikers passing through. I would love to spend some more time hiking through the park when I have more free time.

Gear used in this activation
  • Icom IC-705
  • Buddipole Buddistick Pro Antenna
  • LDG Z100 Plus
  • RigExpert Stick Pro Antenna Analyzer
  • Icom LC-192
  • Bioenno 12V 6Ah LiFePO4 Battery
  • Sony Headphones
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Lite Tablet
  • Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook
  • Zebra DelGuard Mechanical Pencil