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It’s All in the Cards! QSLs from Prince Edward Islands

Editor’s Note: Every month, DX Engineering features QSL cards from our team members’ personal collections. Usually we showcase ones from entities that are currently active or will soon be QRV. However, with so many DXers homebound these days and the number of DXpeditions reaching all-time lows, we’ve altered the rules. Until things change, you can expect a bit of everything from our stockpiles of QSL cards, including the rarest of the rare, personal favorites, and recent QSLs of historical significance.

Located in the subantarctic Indian Ocean, Prince Edward Island and Marion Island (known collectively as Prince Edward Islands) have remained an elusive bounty for many DXers trying to “work the world.” As of this blog, these islands, declared Special Nature Preserves by the South African government, rank at number 15 on Club Log’s DXCC Most Wanted list (mostly SSB), while CW and data QSOs to this marine-protected area are almost as rare as contacts with North Korea (P5).

Mark, W8BBQ, DX Engineering customer/technical support specialist and avid DXer, snagged this ZS8M QSL card in 2010. Marion Island (ranked #3 Most Wanted at the time) was an All-Time New One for Mark.

His contact was made with Pierre Tromp, noted Ham and adventurer who was serving as a radio technician on Marion Island’s newly built meteorological/biological station, which replaced the original research facility constructed in 1948. In addition to studying the weather, scientists on the island research the area’s penguins, gulls, albatrosses, petrels, and seals. Concerns about the island’s bird population restricted Tromp’s antenna deployment to an inverted vee broad band dipole. Further, Ham radio activity wasn’t Tromp’s main purpose for being on the island, so reaching him during his stay between May 2010 and April 2011 was hardly a sure thing. Since Tromp’s departure, other researchers/Hams have periodically kept the island active for SSB and Digital QSOs. The island is accessible by both boat and helicopter, thanks to a helipad near the station. Other than research staff, Marion and St. Edward islands are uninhabited. The islands, which were claimed by South Africa in 1947/1948, are about 3,000 miles from the South Pole and 3,200 miles from the Equator.

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