Islands have always excited the imagination. They evoke a sense of mystique and romance in those of us who live in crowded cities and commute on busy roads. For the iota band amateur, contacting islands encourages the imagination to run riot with visions of a remote station set up, perhaps, on a tropical beach among palm trees or, for the daring, a rocky Antarctic island in a blizzard at -40 degrees C.
This, surely, is what amateur radio is all about! Geoff was not a wealthy man and had little opportunity to travel himself, but it is clear that listening to amateurs operating from remote island locations captured his imagination. Geoff realised that there were far too many individual islands to chase, so he focused on recognised groups of islands such as the Laccadives in the Indian Ocean, the Bahamas and the Galapagos. Those three are, of course, recognised as DXCC entities, but how about Long Island, New York, or the Isles of Scilly off the south west tip of the UK?
All these and more would be counters in the IOTA programme. The main purpose of IOTA is to promote activity on the bands, not just HF but VHF as well, and for clubs as well as single operators. So it is an attractive programme not just for the chaser but for the activator and contester as well. The objective, for the IOTA Island Chaser, is to make radio contact with at least one counter in as many of these IOTA groups as possible and, for the IOTA Island Activator, to provide such island contacts. As with any activity programme of this sort there is a strong awards element. The basic IOTA award is the IOTA 100 Islands of the World for confirmed contacts with 100 island groups which must include at least one from each continent. There are further awards for 200, 300, etc.