ASSAULT ON OLD ISLAND
Who knows why the island had never been activated? Location perhaps or reported dangers such as a snake infestation maybe, but regardless, John, (KK4JS) was determined to be the first POTA activator on Old Island located near Beaufort S.C. POTA designation K-3906.
This former Marine figured an amphibious assault was the best tactic and not having an LST (Landing Ship Tank) or Higgins Boat handy, his “adapt, improvise, and overcome” training kicked in and he purchased what he felt would be a reasonable facsimile thereof from Amazon.
Rubber rafts had been used before to ferry small units and gear ashore for various purposes and KK4JS was sure the assault on this Pota designated island could be accomplished in the same manner.
Even before its arrival, battle plans were drawn for the assault operation. He knew this could be a dangerous mission and so he talked is wife, Tammy, into accompanying him on the mission or at least to the jumping off point. (perhaps that should be “jumping in” as you’ll see in a few moments) so that he’d have a reserve unit as backup should unforeseen dangers arise and then reinforcements could be brought in.
Additionally all gear would be stuffed into coolers and taped shut should there be a sudden dunking or swells threatened to swamp the modest craft.
Once at the boat landing, which, according to recon intelligence, was a mere two hundred yards or less from the objective, the rubber raft was inflated by bicycle pump and the gear stowed.
Fortunately, and quite by accident , John rendezvoused with a plastic naval unit which was about to begin maneuvers. Yes, there were a group of kayakers about to embark on a tour of the surrounding waterway under the watchful eye of an experienced local guide.
John engaged with the commander of the group whereupon he learned that his “safety gear” failed to include a whistle which was required of paddle craft in S.C. He was informed that should a DNR patrol boat set upon him, he may be in trouble for not having such a device.
Consequently, the guide requisitioned a spare from his own gear locker and presented it to those about to go into harm’s way. Johns vessel must have seemed puny and not too seaworthy to the guide who, with a somewhat incredulous look, suggested that the crossing may be a bit difficult in his craft.
After seeing our intrepid warrior was not to be swayed, he told John that should it become necessary, raise his paddle over his head and, the group, who would hopefully be within eyesight, would attempt a rescue mission.
So now with an extraction plan firmly in place, the mission began. Things weren’t too bad until he neared the island. There was a heavy fortification of marsh grass but at least the tide was rising and that helped gain some distance to the objective. However, the closer to the island he got the more drag there was on the raft. Its rather small and inefficient propulsion system just wasn’t able to make much headway.
Remember the “jumping in point” ? Well, since progress was being restrained our former marine and Pota enthusiast decided to lighten the load, go over the side, and pull the raft the final distance to the island. No sooner than he did that, he ran into one of the unforeseen issues-pluff mud!
Now, John is from Ohio, unfamiliar with pluff mud and is now in chest high water sinking in pluff mud attempting to hold on to a raft full of radio gear and antennas to be the first to activate K-3906. To make matters worse, he’s about to have his shoes sucked from his feet and he is starring at a wide flat expanse of marsh grass which may have been a bedding area for a salt water crocodile or bear maybe. At least that was going through his mind while struggling to free himself sufficiently to get ashore with his gear intact. Near exhaustion, he crawled from the bowels of the marsh and its infernal pluff mud. The marines have landed!
Well, fortunately he was able to activate the island and without being eaten by alligators, crocodiles, bears, mosquitoes or snakes. But now there’s the problem of getting back. Remember he went over on a rising tide but now the tide had turned. There was now a larger expanse of marsh and accompanying pluff mud.
Nearly exhausted again, he was able to push through to claim the title of 1st activator of Old Island and live to tell about it.
But a word of caution to those wanting to recreate this marvelous feat in the name of POTA, please use a seaworthy craft and not one intended for “BEACH AND POOL USE ONLY !