Thanks for your generous comments, and of course it was our great honour to welcome you to Hawaii!
<<< The PL880 was modified to allow the loop to use the external antenna jack on MW which when supplied by the factory only functions on SW. I was very comfortable using this receiver and antenna combination and have dxed for many hours on both. Whilst the PL880 is not a "Ultralight receiver" in my opinion it is the pick of modern portables and performs extremely well. >>>
I certainly agree that your PL-880 performed very well, and its SSB capability probably gave you the edge in tracking weak SSB carriers at sunset in comparison to the rather tricky CC Skywave SSB circuitry, which isn't nearly so user-friendly. When a DXer goes to an exotic new ocean beach location and chases unfamiliar transoceanic DX at both sunrise and sunset, he definitely needs to use the radio and loop that he fells the most comfortable with, and have full confidence in his ability to use them effectively, in all situations. There are already enough challenges with the weather, unfamiliar propagation and the occasional worker turning on an electrical switch at a neighboring swimming pool to kill reception :-)
<<< Having said that I used the C Crane skywave radio at the condominium I stayed at, and the reception from some very desirable Pacific Island stations, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvlalu, etc as well as many of the other stronger US mainland stations were audible at armchair level inside on the modified C Crane Skywave. They were further enhanced with the FSL. The FSL antenna and C Crane receiver together requires a fair bit of practice at getting the best out of it, and in that regard I am just a beginner. >>>
The new, highly tweaked 5" Frequent Flyer FSL's are actually a pretty extreme type of antenna, where other factors have been sacrificed in order to get the highest possible, razor-sharp, high-Q gain performance from a pretty tiny antenna. Every single part of the new "Frequent Flyer" FSL's has been given an A/B test with similar parts in order to determine whether they actually do provide the highest possible tuning "Q." The end result is a tiny DXing "firecracker," but with the side effects of requiring ultra-sharp tuning, and tolerating some loss of high frequency DX station audio when zeroed in on the potent, high-Q gain boost. It's kind of like tweaking a compact passenger car into a drag strip queen-- you can make the "hotrod" go extremely fast, but you won't get the best results without some serious practice, and you can't expect the "hotrod" to act like a high-economy passenger car. Craig Barnes and I have both been using these fanatical little FSL's for over two years now, so we both have had lots of training with them in DXpedition environments. You certainly made the right decision in going with the easier-tuning PK Loop in your Kauai DXpedition listening, since precious live DXing time should not be used for "on the job training." On the other hand you now have all the components necessary to assemble the ultimate compact FSL DXing package, which may prove useful for you in the future after a little practice.