|Competitor||Time||Adj. Time||Time Diff.||Score||Bill North|
Six teams assembled at Cowleaze Wood for the final Collier Cup event of the season, with Ray Goodearl very kindly operating the transmitter having come back from visiting relatives in Devon a day early to do that for us. Thank you Ray! Pete Phillips joined me to navigate, having recently returned from a year in The Philippines.
The signal was pretty weak at the start, but I was able to take what turned out to be a pretty good bearing in the North-Westerly direction, and although we did wait for the approximate which several other competitors needed, I was quite confident that my bearing was useable. Looking at the map the two most obvious areas were along the River Thame to the west of Thame – about 10km from the start, or Boarstall Wood/ Benwood Forest about 20km from the start. The puzzle was: if Ray was only 10km from the start why was the signal so weak, and if he was 20km from the start why had I not had a lot of trouble with skywave? Taking those two conundrums into account I decided to aim for the outskirts of Long Crendon for the 8pm bearing to ensure that if he was 20km away I would get a decent cross.
At 8pm I got a good signal and what turned out to be a spot-on accurate bearing going across the River Thame and into Fernhill Wood south of Tiddington. The problem was that it intersected my start bearing on the River Thame. What to do? The wood looked most likely but the river was where the cross was. Should I wait and take a decider bearing or would that give the fleet-of foot Justin the ‘edge’ if he had already decided where the tx was located? We decided: take another bearing!
At 8.15pm I took a bearing just to the north of Tiddington along a footpath, which would have told me which side of the river Thame the tx was, or (which it did) tell me that the tx was indeed in Fernhill Wood. A quick two minute drive and we were parked at the end of a small country lane by a little church. No sign of any other competitors – phew! Pete took the map with us and we headed (somewhat hesitantly) down a private-looking drive and past the front of a lovely old manor house, before spotting the public footpath posts ahead of us away from the house and across a field to Fernhill Wood. We went into the wood to where my bearings crossed and found a small path leading off the main footpath into a very attractive looking DF area, complete with stream, fallen-down trees, and lots of cover. I was pretty sure we were onto something and then…. the signal came on… BUT… very weak! The sort of signal you think ‘in the wrong wood – back to the car!’. So – started running back towards the main path when suddenly the signal strength zoomed up and after overshooting the tx briefly I was able to Df straight into Ray. He was right where my bearings crossed on the map!
We later discovered what had caused the weak signal strength. When Ray picked up the tx from me earlier in the day I had explained the ‘Phil Arnold’ recommended way of loading up the tx (going for a dip on the PA Amp display), but Ray misunderstood my explanation and instead went for a peak!
Convivial after-event drinks were enjoyed at the Fox and Goat at Tiddington afterwards. We were able to sit outside and not freeze (which was just as well since the pub was heaving inside!).