We’ve just completed our 50-day long training and preparation period prior to our DXpedition to Amateur Radio’s “Mount Everest”: 3YØI from Bouvet Island.

No wonder South Africa became our “little homeland”. Fine weather, exceptional hospitality from the locals and especially the warm welcome offered by local Hams resulted in good vibes across our entire team. There is nobody rushing us. Being independent creates more chances, opportunities and flexibility in terms of our project’s goals. We approach our goals in small steps, but yet we’re always moving forward.

As a team, we’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort into improving our condition and practical skills at:

  • First Aid Training
  • Marine Fire-Fighting Training
  • Water Safety Training
  • Rescue Techniques
  • STCW95, ENG1, First Aid

All training we’ve participated in (and all certified by SAMSA – South African Maritime Safety Authority) were completed successfully and all participants have received their graduation certificates. Despite the high cost ($1.600 USD), taking part in this training mattered deeply to us for two important reasons; first, we wish to provide the highest skill measures for all team members and by doing so – to meet all requirements of international marine regulations. Very few folks are aware sending non-trained teams as crew members to locations like Bouvet, is illegal. Individuals taken on board all commercial (non tour) vessels must receive proper certified training and prove they qualify.

Secondly, we wish each and every team member to have – at a minimum – an idea of what we expect to deal with during our cruise and during landing at the island. Each team member must know the crucial basics of providing safety and support to others. The Rebels are not the type who arrive 1, 2 or 3 days before departure without any preparation and basic knowledge. The experience we’ve all just gained will last forever and be useful on our next project (not just Ham Radio).

Certainly some of you are familiar with our landing plan at Bouvet Island: with zodiac “type” high power boats. With these type of boats we can safely transport up to 200kg of gear to the shore while facing 2-2.5m waves. Nobody has said it’s going to be an easy task, but we are ready. Additionally, by splitting our gear into rounds, we’ll minimize the risk of accidents in the rough water and we’ll be able to take more items. There’s another big advantage of zodiacs over helicopters: cost reduction and much more flexibility in terms of weather conditions. In case of worsening conditions we’ll be able to “wait it out” and to proceed with our “Bouvet attack” under a more suitable and safer “weather window”.

Once ashore, our equipment will be transported up the glacier with professional alpine gear. An interesting fact:  the glacier at Bouvet contains a lot of salt water. That’s because waves crashing Bouvet’s cliffs create sea water droplets taken by strong winds that fall over the islands ice cap. Our camp will be ice covered up to several dozen meters above volcanic land. These two factors mean our antenna environment should be genuinely radio-suitable and effective.

Today, we continue preparations of our expedition vessel for this demanding trip. Taking part in these preparations has been a part of our plan from the very beginning. This is an entirely refurbished and refitted ship at a cost north of a million dollars. It is extremely suitable for running the deep South in rough sea conditions. Our vessel is able take up to 300 tonnes of cargo and 160.000 liters of fuel, making is fully self-sufficient for up to a 4-month long trip – without the need to refuel at a sea port. The ship will wait off-shore while the team stays on the island and will be in reach in case of medical support or evacuation. Its vast and spacious interior has allowed us to pre-assemble some of our antennas and even our dome tent. A new hydraulic crane will help us load/unload the zodiacs. Our vessel is fully equipped with all new electronics, including redundant radio, satellite and navigation systems.

Many of you ask for details regarding our Ham Radio and technical “backstage”. We’ll utilize the following while at Bouvet Island:

  • 3 x 2-element directional multiband Yagi antennas by Kohjinsha,
  • 3 x 8-band verticals
  • 2 x verticals for 80 and 160m bands
  • Sloper for 80 and 160m, elevated from a cliff towards ocean beach
  • Dipole antennas (backup)
  • Over 2km of coax
  • 4 diesel power generators 6.5 kW each (+ backup)
  • 4 transceivers (+ backup)
  • 4 x 1.3 kW power amplifiers
  • For logging:  military grade robust laptops by Panasonic Toughbook
  • 2 x BGAN satellite modems
  • Iridium satellite phones and communicators
  • Professional gear for image and 4K movies taken from the ground and air

In addition to the above, there is over a ton of outdoor and technical equipment (eg ladders, tools), alpine gear (crampons, lifts, pickax, harnesses, lines, helmets, sledges) and marine (sea water suits, vests etc.) loaded in the cargo hold. More than 1 year of preparation and 4,200 lbs. of cargo already loaded.

Our contacts made at Bouvet Island will all be confirmed with unique QSL cards designed by Stan SP8S (there are no such cards in the history of ham radio, yet) and via LoTW. Stan is known for his QSL for such major DXpeditions as K5D, FT5ZM, HKØNA, XRØY, JX5O, VK9LA, TI9/3Z9DX, P5/3Z9DX, T31T and many others.

We are very thankful for ALL donations received, thank you, thank you, thank you! Sponsors of 3YØI.

All the best of sunny greetings from South Africa. Stay tuned for more exciting 3YØI news in the following hours/days.