May 5, 2016. You probably know most of the news already: We sailed from Cape Town on schedule (March 10), and arrived at Heard Island March 22, after a rather rough, and long, ride on the Braveheart. The next day we began transporting our gear and the team to the island, and setting up our camp. In less than 15 hours, we went on the air and started logging contacts, displaying them in nearly real-time on our special graphic online log DXA.
Over the next 20 days we erected the full set of antennas, and worked into a routine of activities. Most of the team worked the pile-ups, logging around 4000 contact each day with up to six stations. Two team members were there to explore the island, document glacier retreat, collect samples of the rocks, soil, and water, and provide additional manpower for the myriad tasks such as filling generators, repairing equipment, and transporting our supplies from the beach (about 500 m away). The Braveheart crew made extraordinary effort, supplying us with food and transporting the field scientists to remote parts of the island.
Finally, on April 11, a month after we left South Africa, we struck camp and beat a retreat as winter weather began closing in on us. The entire campsite was dismantled and transported to the Braveheart in less than 9 hours, and as is our requirement, we left the campsite completely clean. Altogether we accumulated 75,000 radio contacts, about 50 rock specimens, about 20 soil samples, and about 15 glacial water samples. The team also came back with 450 GB of photographs.
Thanks to our Inmarsat BGAN terminals, we had a reasonably fast connection to the internet, and we were able to carry on extensive communications with family, the support team, and many individual DXers and scientists. Much of our effort was made possible by the extensive and innovative support teams: The Diablo Dxers organized and led by so-Organizer Rich Holoch KY6R, by souvenir manager Manny Rodriguez K4MSR, and by support teams in Cape Town (Paul ZS1S) and Perth (Keith VK6RK). In particular, the extensive outreach via social media, implemented by the Diablo DXers, clearly was a major advance, and (we hope!) represents a new standard for future DXpeditions.
Although there was the usual interference and criticism of the VKØEK operation, and we were not able to obtain the number of QSOs and hydro-bio-geological specimens we had hoped due to the extremely challenging weather and disappointedly poor radio propagation, we are quite happy with the operation, and hope you agree it was worth the effort and the support. For all of you who did support us financially and in other ways, thanks you so much. All of us, and all of you, can say:
“I helped make it happen!”
We’ll soon be presenting more details of the Heard Island Expedition, and we invite your continued interest and interactions.