BTBDFA  National Final 2012  - 23rd September

Map 169.    Organiser Philip. Operators   A - Richard Whitney. B  Peter Larbalestier, C Ian Butson.    Start Felixstowe.

Yes, we're off .....  Thanks to Paul for his start bearings and estimate of distances. You can read how he got on at the end of this report - a story well worth a read!

Paul's estimates of distances are remarkably good. As you can see all three stations were within a very small area. However, I didn't get where I am today by making things look easy ... the first 40 Minutes were used to drive to the far, far, far  NW corner of the full map, where I expected to find Ian under one of many power lines. I did see Andy Collett parked up but at 1.30 it was obvious, I would have to wait another year to become numero uno.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and ours was that there was no need to leave the car until after 2.30 pm and by then we had enjoyed the benefit of  watching dripping DFers driving towards us as we approached and they all left Station A.

But surely others found the whole thing far too easy, there were loads of transmissions, what could possibly go wrong  ....... ?

14:10 - Graham Nicholls was closer to Ian but the wrong side of the river.

Station C.
Ian was prepared for the rain and had plenty of aerial out should anyone actually get close.

Station C was a fern fest, so was B ...
and A had quite a few too! Most with aerial dangling invitingly above.
Soon it was 4.30 and it was story time.  There were plenty of them, some are related below but for all it had definitely been a challenge!

While we had all been playing our game the real star of the afternoon was Caroline who had managed not just to cook hot meals for all of us but provide a choice of three and all for a fiver! Assisted by Philip's Mum we were very well looked after and soon ready to face .......... the results.


You let a bloke navigate for you, teach him all you know ....  and what does he go and do ......   thirty minutes ahead .......  very well done Tim!
Report from Philip:

A new map, a new Champion, the reign of the Lisle is over, well nearly.

Not all the qualifiers appeared for the event – perhaps some had the long term weather forecast. Alan and Graham Jones were given time ‘off sick’ for the event.

The Ipswich map has three rivers striped across it, Stour, Orwell & Deben. Previous events highlighted the difficulties this can cause. So the start was moved to Felixstowe rather than Manningtree, helping eliminate such complications. Three stations were set out in a simple neat fan, none far from the start, none far from each other, with the A14 and A12 minimising time spent on the road. The plan was to go nowhere near, Reading, Slough or any other traffic-light ridden urban sprawl! The aim was to hold out the first place till 3.30pm and have everyone into three by end of contest, with lots of signal to help people at all stages.

Getting across the Deben via Melton onto the Bawdsey peninsular was just missing off the top of the Map, so this was provided with the start details and gave a bit of a clue as to where at least one of the transmitters was located.

The only part of the plan that failed was the weather, heavy rain predicted from 1.00 pm. All teams found bearings on the three stations, lined up behind Andy Collett to leave the start as the rains started and never let up.

Ten teams decided to go for Richard Whitney at A station first. The piece of map provided helped and some wanted to work their way over to the tea, not being put off by the prospect of a long run in. Tim was first at Sutton Heath arriving quickly at 2.14 pm with Peter Lisle after a longer run in right behind, and the young Gary Parker only 10 seconds after. Some teams found they could drive right onto the site and nine were in by 2.30 pm, a good start to any campaign.

Meanwhile Colin & Rosy decided to take B on first, arriving at Martlesham Heath at 2.43pm. Tim on a flyer, followed and clocked in at Peter Larbalestier at 3.07 pm.

Six of the other teams taking the same route found Larby in a bunch at 3.30pm, still in good time and all teams found the B station at some point in the afternoon.

Meanwhile two innocent teams had fallen into the traps laid out by the evil Ian Butson at the C station in Braziers Wood, right by the A14, with fine views on a sunny day overlooking the Orwell estuary and bridge. Andy Collett battled fairly successfully on his own, finding Ian at a respectable 2.35pm. Whilst Graham Nicholls and team tracked most of the large aerial array before finally falling into Ian’s hole at 3.21pm. Having done B, Colin and Rosy arrived at C and came the hard way up the hill into Ian at 3.35pm before scooting off for A.

Peter Lisle’s poor start bearings on B had put him off another potential long run so he decided to do C second. Arriving with a young, but drenched, team they took a good look round Ian’s site before getting in at 3.41 pm.

I was convinced teams would all do C first and having waited all afternoon to take photos of lots of people who never appeared, or I had missed (Andy). By then soaked and leaving for the tea, passed Tim on his way in, not sure who was more surprised, but at least I got a picture. By 3.50pm he had found Ian’s lair, and third station, taking first place in the contest. Tim was the last one to find Ian, all the others for one reason or another failed to make it to Braziers Wood in time, though some said they came really close.

Peter Lisle however made up lost time finding B some half an hour later at 4.20pm, coming in second. Andy Collett had got into the middle site at 3.40pm, finally arriving at Sutton heath for 4.28pm, giving him third place, just seconds ahead of Colin & Rosy, the last of the four teams to find all three stations. The ten other teams finding two wet stations during the afternoon.

After a hot dinner provided by Caroline, the prizes were given by George, with the Lady’s award to Cathy in the Collett team, with Andy also being presented the Rose Bowl for his efforts over the year. Suitably fed and watered the teams were soon off home through the rain and we were left with a new Champion, Tim the elder!


So over to the 2012 Champion ......

“How the East was Won”

With heavy rain forecast for the afternoon, I thought that this would be another event where I went home with was a set of drenched dirty washing, aching joints, and the prospect of another heavy cold. So reinforcements were brought in in terms of Andy Mead as navigator, a set of headphones which worked on both sides, deep heat and a knee strapping, and a light rain jacket. Thankfully the rain kept off so we could all start with dry clothes and dry maps…..

At 12:50 three good signals rattled in; C towards Ipswich but weakest; A northerly through Woodbridge airfield, and B which seemed very strong in the direction of Woodbridge town. Which station to attempt first took a bit of thought, and as a result we were one of the last to leave the car park; C could be tangled up in the power lines west of Ipswich; B could be quite close to the start; our best hope seemed to be A with the added bonus hint from the extra portion of OS map provided. By the time we hit the A14 the rain had started. Turning north up the A12 it looked like the majority of fellow competitors were heading this way too.
By 13:25 we were set up at Sutton Common car park ready for the next transmission, with Paul and Matt nearby sporting that essential bit of gear : the large umbrella. We kept clear in case a bolt of lightning hit them. There was no disappointment with signals and we took all three, but the focus was on the stonking great transmission in the direction of Shottisham, with the bearing crossing several green bits on the map. We would have liked to have cut through towards Vale Farm, but this was private, so we drove on to Shottisham church where we trod water for about 5 minutes. The next transmission said…..”You have messed this event up already. You are nowhere near GZ; here’s a nice (nearly) parallel bearing for you”. With spirits sagging we headed off for and parked at the bottom end of Oak Hill. Leaving the car in almost a sand pit, we tracked northwest expecting to find evidence of other competitors leaving the first site. Only after a long run did we home in on the wood concealing our prey, only to find Gary, George, Peter et Al  already there and surely able to home in first. Thankfully, my set did a good job and pinpointed a likely spot – but where was the way in ? Andy came to my rescue and it was his big smile which beckoned me in. With all of the downtrodden brambles around here, how could I be first ?    Back to the chariot; back onto the road. Hello Roy ! – oh no, this must be his second of the day.

A quickie at Sutton and the 1330 bearing put B in one of the woods SE of Martlesham; I think we got round Woodbridge to the ..”am” of Martlesham for the next signal, and with parked cars giving extra help, we were able to get a fix in the middle of the largest wood from its easterly extremity. Run time. We plonked ourselves in the middle of the wood and waited; and waited; and waited. No signal; no  human lifeforms. Had the rain taken its toll on the receiver; transmitter or operators ? Yay ! No ! But back towards the corner we had come from. Hope quickly faded after the next transmission led us a merry waltz through an assortment of greenery with Mark and company joining us on the dance floor, followed by Geoff and George…..nice to see you ! With no aerial visible I decided to take some quick steps away from the main search area. Traversing gaps in the tangled blackthorn, a soggy fox was encountered; after a multi-attempt at clocking in, I sneaked away from the soggy operator as quickly as I could as Geoff was closing in; then whistled for Andy to form a conga back to the car. Apologies to the other teams for distracting you from your mission !

Without giving Andy time to reassemble the map, or consider a smidgeon of dryness, we set off for Bridge Wood adjacent to the Orwell Bridge, where the1250 and 1330 bearings converged. By the time the next but one transmission was on, we were in the Wood’s car park. Expecting to head down towards the river, I was surprised to get a bearing heading through a wood and Pipers Vale on the other side of the A14. So back in the car for the short but soggy trip to the car park on the other side of the bridge, and out.
We stopped at the end of the first wood and surveyed the rain forest in the valley below. The next signal reversed our direction and the valley floor was avoided; a cameraman (Attenborough ?) observing the antics of the indigenous and migrant species was seen in attendance recording a flock of Lisles skating for cover from the weather. The carpet floor of brambles resembled the tramplings of a herd of buffalo. Surely the alpha (oops Charlie) male was hiding close by ? A potential den was spotted and a food offering of card 4 made…….would the beast take the bait or brace for impact with his transmitter? …“Please could you come round to the front ?” … With seconds vital, card 4 was inserted at arms length into the animal’s lair from the rear. Bait taken.

So job done by 1545; home for a quick change of attire and then a spot of afternoon tea after a little bit of Sunday afternoon driving. Two cups please ?

Thank you to the Essex crew for putting on a good event; to all three transmitter operators for taking the trouble to find sites, put up aerials, and sit in the wet for hours on end; and to the Cunningham team for organizing the whole event and serving us up with a most welcome hot meal. Big thanks too to Andy for stepping in as navigator at the last minute (hope you enjoyed the afternoon’s cruise !) Pity about the most frightfully awful English weather !
 So Peter, what went wrong?

Our chances of retaining the trophy for the final were dealt a fairly significant blow this year from the first moments of the competition. Having surveyed the start and deciding that the grass areas at both end of the car park held the potential for hidden ‘traps for the unwary’ in the form of a building and a fence at one end, and a mound with potentially buried pipes and/or cables at the entrance end, I decided to venture into the woodland to the side of the car park. Whatever was in there played havoc with either the signal, or my compass, or both – an experience paralleled by Bill Pechey who also made this unfortunate choice. The end result was bearings on tx’s A and B that were respectively  20 degrees and 10 degrees East of the correct bearings.  

Tx A’s bearing passed along a fairly long stretch of the banks of the River Deben, and we decided that was the most likely to require a long run in. Therefore the question was which tx to go for first – A or C. After a ‘mad fling’ with the idea of going for C which we suspected was near a cluster of electricity pylons near Bramford, we decided a better option was to go for A and aim to pick up two bearings on A and possibly one on B at the 1330 transmission. 

We positioned ourselves near the junction of the B1083 and the long straight road through Sutton Common with the idea of driving along the straight road on the 1330 transmission to get two bearings on A. Lo up came A with a good strong signal, but at a fairly narrow angle to the straight road and I decided that travelling along the road for a mile or so would yield no better cross on the site which, according to my start bearing, was still several miles away. Hence instead of ‘taking two’ on A, I decided to settle for a bearing on all three tx’s. Little did I know that if I had  gone for my original plan we would have driven past the site of tx A with the signal on and would have nailed the location straight away. Instead we journeyed on to Hollesley to explore the wooded area to the South where my bearings crossed. 15 minutes later up came the tx with a parallel bearing back to where I had taken the previous one! ‘Chaps our start bearing can’t be that far off’, I said, so we drove up a minor (but public) track to Bussock Woods north-east of Shottisham where, somewhat comfortingly, we found Paul's car ...(You can read what Paul was doing later Ed.) We sprinted off West, heading towards a suspicious looking  area marked ‘Tumulus’ on the map, and as we got there the tx obligingly came up – but alas: pretty weak and straight on! Too far to come to go back and round, too far to run in from there  and get back again – an invidious choice! A mile later and I came across John Mullin’s car at the right place to drive in, and a couple of minutes later, on a transmission, was beating up the wood near the tx with several other teams. I was slightly surprised, given our debacle in getting on site, to check in 2nd just behind Tim Parker, but it was clear that we were going to have a significant handicap with the run back to the car. I despatched my lads to the main road with the set and my sweater and jogged back as fast as possible the 1.5 miles back to the car. 

The next question was: how do we make up the 25 minutes that we’d lost. On the basis that Tx B was (according to my bearings) about a mile run from Waldringfield on the banks of the Deben, we decided the only way to win was to go for Tx C first in the hope that it would be a shorter run in. This would have been a good plan if it had not been for the complex aerial. We got to Orwell Park quickly, found Phil’s car in the housing estate, and accessed the wood with a signal on, running over some boarded pathway. The signal was turning to the right and just before the tx finished I had reached the end of the boarding with some delectable looking marshy terrain on the right. In we went, squelching through the mud,  but did not spot the wire which, by all accounts, went to an earth stake in the swamp. Nice one Ian! The next transmission  was taken up extricating ourselves from the swamp and finally deciding, albeit with a lot of difficulty, that the tx was actually further up the hill.  Trouble was that this time the signal took me to the right of this path (away from the tx!) and hence another spell of fruitless searching took place. Eventually, on a further transmission, we finally found Phil (with camera) and hope started to flicker. Tim’s good eyes spotted the aerial and it was then a straightforward tracking job down the bracken and beaten down brambles to the delightful hide that Ian had created in a hollow in the woods. 

3.45pm! Would we have time to get to the last site? Worth a go! We headed to Waldringfield and stopped there at 4pm for the fixed transmission and ‘woa!’ – not on the Deben – in woods near Martlesham! A goodly run in and we found ourselves with others fruitlessly searching a nice overgrown area complete with gully and overhanging tress, a belting signal, but no tx. ’16 minutes to go’ intoned Peter, ‘come and find me’. ‘12 minutes to go’ – where are you all? Humph! Wrong end of the aerial me-thought:  the only way is to get away and come in from a different direction. And so it was – that with 10 mins to go, I finally flung my card at Peter and finished a long, physically demanding, but hugely enjoyable DF.

 Back next year for the trophy and I’ll be staying away from Bill at the start!!!!!

Yep a good story Peter, but can the Torbay Tigers go one better?

Good bearings at the start, remember the map right at the top, over to Paul:

Both stations A and B had signal strengths that gave range estimates of 7.5km and 8km as shown on the map.  Station C was weak and could only say >10km.
We decided to go for A, then B, then C.  Note, after the start bearings, it started to rain and then never let up for the whole afternoon.
The range estimates from the start are shown and so for the 1:30 bearing I wanted to get a good right angle cross as possible on A and B.

For the 1:30pm bearings we got to Sutton as shown below,  Tim Parker and Andrew Mead team stopped there with us:-
Looking closer at A station bearings:-

So, our start nd 1:30 bearings and signal strength estimates put the station in Bussock Woods or near about.

As we drove on to Shottisham, we looked to see if access on the white roads was possible.  All were private, no public access.  So we tried the long access white road south of Bussock woods which was drivable up to the Woods, but no further.

So then a short wait and the signal pointed directly up the track with a signal strength of 1.5km:-
So, I thought they must be hidden at the crossroads with all routes in as difficult as each other as these tracks are sand and not driveable.  So run for it.

As we were running in we were overtaken by Peter Lisle and his sons, so we thought we were spot on, as he is right more often than wrong.

Waited at the cross roads circled and the signal came up indicating ~1km further.  Dick went back to the car as his running was done and he would wait for Matt and my return.

So this was our first big error.  The Tx was as shown below by the cross and circle nearly 1.5km further on:-
Double the distance I thought. 2.5km to run!!!!

When we got there, there was Tim and Andrew running from the wood and several others had driven right up to the wood from the north which wasn’t private.  Gutted as now we knew everyone was 20mins ahead of us as we had to run back.  Set worked fine by the way to locate the Tx in the wood.
The 1:30pm bearing on A was 133deg and should have been 114deg – 19deg off!  Also distance was only 1km, not 2.5km!  Best Universal Grit Grime and Efluent Remover, or bugger for short.
Not a happy DFer at all.  And the set was starting to rattle (loop and body coming unscrewed)!!!
Eventually got back to the car disgruntled and disgusted to go for B.

B came on as we came through Shottisham, so took the bearing for information.
Then worked our way back to Martlesham and had another bearing from the north.  This was due south and distance 3km from strength.

Three bearings pinpointing the small wood so straight there!

This was where my keenness to make up time ruined my day.

Drove right up to the wood and out of the car, incar said Tx was on so turned on DF set and off:

Signal was weak, but thought the wet had got to my set or the Tx, so ran for about a1km, then as signal was not rising, ran back to car as I thought he was on the estuary.

Back to car and drove around – but then I knew what I hadn’t done!!!!!! 

 I was still tuned to A and was following the bearing back to Sutton on foot.  NOT HAPPY BUNNY AT ALL.

Nothing for it, but back to where we were.

Tuned to B.  Yes BIG signal and ran in around the field:-
No time left, so weary walk back to car, muttering about lack of skill, running ability, getting older, etc, etc

So, for interest, C was here:-

Then, back to the tea site and a very well laid on tea.  Choice of chillie, chicken casserole, or lasagne followed by three puddings to choose from!  Well good as the youth say.

Heard other teams problems, Geoffrey had the worst, a blown head gasket.

4 teams found all three, but I was 2nd from last!

Paul, at least you made the rest of us feel better, though in my case only very slightly!

All good character training ready for next year .....
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