3Y0J Bouvet Island 2023 DXpedition is in the Books. Team is on the Way Home!

At 0300Z on February 14, the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet Island went QRT after making more than 19,000 QSOs under extremely difficult conditions—a testimony to the team’s commitment to giving as many hams as possible worldwide the chance at logging this rare entity. These contacts marked the first Bouvet Island QSOs since NASA astronaut and physician Dr. Charles E. Brady, Jr., N4BQW (SK), spent three months on the island in 2000/2001 as 3Y0C. Appropriately, Brady was named an honorary 3Y0J team member along with John Snuggerud, LA1VC (SK), who operated from the island in 1977 and 1979.

Most importantly, the operators and crew are safe and onboard the Marama headed for Cape Town, South Africa. All of us at OnAllBands and DX Engineering wish them fair winds and following seas as they travel the 1,600 miles to their destination. You can keep tabs on their progress here.

As we await everyone’s safe return, we once again offer our most sincere thanks to the 3Y0J members who dedicated countless hours, invested their own resources, and risked their lives to activate Bouvet Island for those trying to work the world. After 3Y0J, there can certainly be no questions as to why this most remote spot on the planet ranks as #2 on the DXCC most-wanted list. Unpredictable and violent weather combined with the logistical complexities—and grave dangers—of transporting gear and people to the island make executing such a feat a triumph of the ham spirit.

Whether you made contact or not with Bouvet Island, everyone of us owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the brave hams who gave it their all to make this possible. Bouvet 3Y0J also serves as an important reminder that the safety of DXpeditioners should always be first and foremost in our minds—not whether or not we log that long-awaited contact. It was heartening to see hams sending messages of support and understanding rather than expressing their disappointment that things hadn’t gone exactly as expected. High praise goes to the 3Y0J team for keeping operators everywhere in the loop on events as they transpired on Bouvet.

Throughout the adventure, DX Engineering was proud to play a part in this latest chapter in ham radio history as an equipment sponsor. Several hams from the DX Engineering team were also able to record ATNOs during 3Y0J.

Speaking of history, 3Y0J made one QSO that is not likely to be repeated in the foreseeable future. On February 11, Crozet FT8WW (Crozet is #3 on the most-wanted list) and Bouvet 3Y0J worked each other on CW.

Team co-leader Ken, LA7GIA, posted this message today:

“We activated Bouvet Island in extremely difficult conditions! Now that we leave Bouvet with mixed feelings, we also know that we did what we could to get Bouvet on the air.

Four members went ashore at Bouvet on 31 January in good conditions to set up the climbing route and install an unmanned zodiac rope system between a buoy and the beach, so that we could land equipment also in rough surf. During the day the surf increased, and the extraction of the team members was aborted, and we were thus stranded on Bouvet late in the evening. During 3 nights we slept outdoors under the open sky in cold and difficult conditions with little or no supplies. We prepared a simple emergency shelter on the island where we stayed (tarp). During the second day we got some supplies in a risky zodiac operation in high swell. We lost several objects in the surf and punctured the zodiac. The conditions on the beach were terrible. Due to the coming storm, we evacuated back to Marama on day 4.

Despite this, we decided to go ahead and scale down DXped. We could not fight against Bouvet, but had to adjust to the weather and go ashore when Bouvet allowed us. We called it “Picolite DXped” as pictures will show you we operated with 100W from a single tent, no chairs and no table, 60m coax, no amp, simple antennas, small generator etc. Our 2 Elecraft K3 radios were stacked on top of a bucket turned upside down, and we sat on the ground operating. All our wet clothes were dried outdoor on the rocks, and we had very limited heating. We went through a storm of 55 knots, but our tent had no problem with the windforce! The spiderpoles and the DX Engineering antennas also survived the storm w/o any issue.

We only took the equipment we needed, 620 kg in total including supplies. All our supplies to the island were via a rope attached to a buoy 100 meters from shore to beach. All objects were hooked to the line and floated to shore by team members pulling the rope. We named it the gym. The team members also went ashore in survival suits hooked to the line and floating to shore. What an experience!!

Radio Operation: Pileup was difficult as our signals were weak. We had good reception and very often we called 3 to 5 times to log a qso. Many DXers called us but couldn’t hear us, how frustrating! We focused on fewer bands to maximize ATNO and looking at the stats we achieved 19,000 QSOs and 50% unique calls. And many dupes! Many are satisfied, but some are also disappointed by the performance of either the team or the DQRMers. We had issues with the FT8 due to we did not have any device to sync against, and our clock were 14 seconds off – which meant we at some time were TX odd, while we thought it was even.

As for Bouvet, there is no guarantee at all, whether you use two helicopters or zodiac! We could have wanted to make more contacts, but safety was and will always be more important than trying to push our limits in a risky environment. In the coming months, you will be invited to hear more of our stories at conventions and in articles.”

Visit the 3Y0J Facebook page for some amazing videos.

Look for follow-up articles on 3Y0J in the days ahead on OnAllBands.


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