A group of us hams were sailing to Navassa Island (see section on KP1). Kingston, Jamaica served as our point of embarkation.
Before we sailed to Navassa I stayed at (see picture to the right):
Hotel Four Seasons
18 Ruthven Road
Kingston 10, Jamaica
This hotel was very small (maybe only 20 rooms), but they were very accommodating. It was run by Germans, and it appeared that most of the guests were European.
Upon returning I stayed at:
Port Royal, Jamaica
This is also where our ship “High Isle” docked, so we could board for Navassa. This hotel had a little more resort flair to it. It had a beach, although I wouldn’t swim there (see picture to the left), a pool, a gift shop, and it was a quick ride from the airport. It appears that most of the flight crews from the airport that have to overnight in Jamaica stay here.
Hotel Four Seasons
Station set-up. Here’s how the station looked at my first hotel. I’m quite sure I used CT Contest software in DXpedition mode back then on that old DOS computer.
My Hustler mobile whips were used for a “go anywhere” antenna shown here hanging off the balcony.
Waiting for our ship to come in. We had some complications with a lot of our equipment held up in Jamaican customs. We spent a couple of days here at the hotel waiting. Left to Right: Don, VE1A0E, Dave, KB4VLO and Vance, W5IJU
World traveller Larry, NF6S, joined us.
Sailing for KP1
Morgan’s Harbour from 300 yards out. Finally we have everything loaded on board and leaving for Navassa (KP1)
Looking Back. Kingston, Jamaica from 10 miles out.
Contacts. A handful of contacts were made in the prefix contest while marine mobile. We used this R7 vertical antenna. From left to right: WJ2O, Toshi, JR8RUZ, and Vance, W5IJU.
Jamaica Day Trip
A view of Kingston from the mountains to the north. Upon returning from Navassa Bob, K0IYF, and I took in a day trip to the mountains around Kingston.
Schoolhouse. This is a typical country schoolhouse in the Caribbean. They also double as hurricane shelters. They were built from donations from other countries. This one was Canadian built.
A typical roadside vendor found out in the country. Jamaicans are not real fond of having their pictures taken. This guy insisted that I owed him $5.00 for doing so.
Local Bar. What’s a road trip without stopping at the local watering hole?
Bar Talk. Bob, KØIYF, fitting in with the locals.
WJ2O/6Y5 QSL Card Front
WJ2O/6Y5 QSL Card Back
Licensing: You can apply for a license for free. There is an application you must fill out, and you can request a copy of it from either Jamaica or the ARRL. It can take up to 8 weeks via mail, so plan ahead. A group of three Japanese hams that were with us went to the issuing office one afternoon and were granted a permit while they waited. The address is: Mr. Matheson Posts and Telegraphs Department South Camp Road P.O. Box 7000 Kingston, Jamaica
Kenwood TS-940 Transceiver
Tandy 1400 HD Laptop Computer
Heathkit Micromatic Keyer
Hustler mobile whips and a random length wire thrown in trees for antennas
On many small island countries, import duties are the only source of national revenue. Customs officials are concerned that you are going to sell the equipment without paying the duty. To varying degrees, they are also looking for drugs depending on the country. Jamaica has a serious drug problem, so they are looking real carefully there.
I found it’s best to act like a dumb tourist whenever dealing with customs (this is a feat which comes naturally to me). If you have a native of the country you’re visiting waiting for you, I believe it’s worse if customs knows that. They may assume that person to be your connection to fence your equipment.
I had no trouble with customs here, but out of 9 guys coming in with equipment, I was the only one. Being able to produce a license often helps (whenever possible I always try to get my license in advance).
Bribes and payoffs are a way of life in Jamaica. When all else fails, you might give it a try. You have to be very careful, there is as much of an art to presenting green as there is to stuffing it in one’s pocket. Be very discreet. Don’t give it to the first official who questions you with a crowd around, wait until they take you aside. If you and/or your equipment land up in customs jail, sorry, you shouldn’t have listened to me.