VK0EK – March 6 – April 20, 2016


The afternoon of March 22nd, around 3:30 PM local (1030z), the VK0EK expedition team aboard the Braveheart sighted land: Heard Island!   After two straight days of foggy conditions, the foreboding cliffs of the Laurens Peninsula emerged as shadows, and the fog began to clear a little.  Our approach did not go unnoticed.  Many albatrosses, petrels, and prions glided around the Braveheart.  As we rounded Red Island, an eroded volcanic cone at the northern tip of the Laurens Peninsula, we spotted Heard Island cormorants, which are only found here.  Glimpses through the clearing fog revealed a glacier on the flanks of Mt. Dixon.  Further down the coast, several large waterfalls cascaded more than a hundred meters down sheer cliffs into the sea below.

Coming further into the lee of the Laurens Peninsula, we saw glimpses of the steep, rocky, glaciated flanks of Big Ben through patchy clouds and fog.  Many cormorants—perhaps 40—flew alongside the Braveheart, piloting us in to Atlas Cove.  Along the Azorella Peninsula, near what remains of the camp set up by the 1947 Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition, king penguins were lined up to welcome us.

Upon setting anchor in Atlas Cove, the Braveheart crew scouted the landing on the beach.  With safe beach access found, a small reconnaissance team was sent ashore to scout out the tent site and an access pathway for the ATV.  Through brief gaps in the clouds and fog, the rosy light of sunset danced on snowy Mawson Peak as the team returned to the ship.

After dark the skies cleared.  A nearly-full moon shone in the north, and the silvery slopes of Big Ben stood sentinel over Atlas Cove.  Now all is quiet, awaiting the dawn light and the three-week flurry of activity it will bring.

~ Bill Mitchell, AE0EE

P. S –

Here are the final stats on our maritime mobile operation as ZL/ZS9HI/MM on our way to Heard Island:

We made 7745 contacts, with 5011 unique stations, representing 101 DXCC entities.  The top 5 entities worked were K (1327), DL (867), UA (807), I (562) and UR (497).

4 thoughts on “Bill, AE0EE’s First Impressions of Heard Island

  1. musalvb says:

    It was fun contacted the Braveheart on you journey to Heard Island. Had 5 qso’s all on 40M into MI, USA

  2. Jan ZS6BMN says:

    Thank you for this report, Bill!

    So pleased that the local inhabitants came out to greet your arrival 🙂 Super too that the weather has cleared up so nicely. What a good start to the VK0EK operation that was!

    Having followed the trusty ‘Braveheart’ all the way from Cape Town I could not relax until I saw it sitting safely in Atlas Cove in grid MD66! Looking at the neat track of ‘Braveheart’ from Cape Town to Heard Island the expertise of Matt and his Crew could be seen.

    May you have a wonderfully successful operation on the Island and thank you for sharing this adventure with us!

    Good luck and once again a big ‘Thank You’!

    Thanks too to Rich for getting the latest news on the VK0EK Blog so speedily. All in all a textbook perfect operation!

    73 de Jan, ZS6BMN

  3. Kay Schmieder says:

    This gave me goosebumps.
    Hooray, They have arrived and what a welcoming committee.

  4. jackspace says:

    What a great way to culminate twelve days at sea! You guys are making history!

    Our thoughts and VFOs are with you! 🙂

    73 (Best Wishes), KB (Kick Butt), and GB (Go (Berkeley) Bears)!
    Jack, K6JEB
    Diablo DXers

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