MARCH 5 — The 3YØZ team members are safely home. We have been home about two weeks now, after 31 days aboard our vessel M/V Betanzos.
We have been to Bouvet Island, and as a result, we have a better appreciation for the challenges we face. It is a dark, dismal and dangerous place. Yet, when the sun shines, it is magnificent.
The most difficult thing to reflect upon is the final day offshore, when we saw the island, crystal clear in calm winds, less than a mile away. The conditions were perfect for our first reconnaissance flight and possible landing of men and camp infrastructure. But, during the violent night before, the Captain had made the decision to abort. In retrospect, his call was clairvoyant. The mechanical, propulsion failure on the ship that occurred would have brought disaster, if it resulted in some of our men being stranded ashore.
We are sure you are wondering what happens now? Well, we are not the kind of people to give up. The same thing happened when we were trying to activate Peter I in 2005. We came back the following year and with DAP’s (the vessel owner) help, we got it done.
We are optimistic about a fair settlement and a resulting refund of some of our money paid to DAP for this recent attempt to activate Bouvet. That money, and what we still have in the bank will allow us to begin making plans to try again. We have begun the difficult task of looking for a suitable vessel, and would hope to go back to Bouvet in the next year or two. Obviously, we will keep you informed.
Thank you for the hundreds of favorable and encouraging comments from our financial supporters and sponsors. No one has asked for any of their contributions back, and, in fact, many have offered additional support for the next chapter in this book. We are hopeful that those of you who have invested in this project will see fit to “roll over” your financial support to the next attempt.
So, if we can pull all the moving parts together, we are going to try it again. Hopefully, this time, with a different outcome.
73, Bob, K4UEE
FEBRUARY 18, 2018 – Cape Town radio amateurs hosted a reception at the Royal Cape Yacht Club today for the 3Y0Z team (as if they hadn’t had enough of boats!). What a great opportunity to meet an amazing group of dedicated DXpeditioners. The occasion was organized by Paul, ZS1S, and Dennis, ZS1AU, as well as many others who assisted them. It was attended by the Presidents of the South African and the Namibian Radio Leagues, both of whom flew into Cape Town for the event.
With DXers, CW ops and old timers in attendance, the collective radio experience in that reception room today, both overseas and local, was phenomenal. And even though the 3Y0Z expedition was ultimately aborted, it was clear today that this team had been prepared to go the full distance. I learned an immense amount about how these expeditions are organized and I have to say I admire the commitment of all involved. Even though weather and engine failure intervened, it should still be viewed in so many ways as a successful attempt. [John ZS1ZC]
- Photos below by Jeff, NM1Y and Werner V51JP
FEBRUARY 16, 2018 — Bob, K4UEE sent the following as to what they expect in the coming hours…
ETA at Capetown harbour is 0930 on Saturday morning. We understand that immigration and customs will come aboard at 1700 and we will likely be cleared to depart the vessel.
DAP has us all booked into a local hotel near the waterfront. On Sunday, there will be a reception held at a local yacht club sponsored by a local radio club and numerous DXers. We are very much looking forward to that and certainly honored.
The first of the team will begin departing for home on Sunday night and the majority will be on their way Monday evening/early Tuesday morning. A few more will straggle out and on their way home on Wednesday.
When we depart the vessel on Saturday that will be our 31st day aboard the ship. Needless to say, we are ready to set foot on dry, unmoving ground once again. Ralph and I are very proud of this team, they have endured many hardships since departing home in early January. They have been patient and resilient and good company. There will be more updates in the future as we begin to unravel this attempt and plan our subsequent strategy.
FEBRUARY 8 @ 2045z — Position: 49.32 degrees South, 6.73 degrees East. 1,058 nautical miles from Cape Town.
We are continuing our slow voyage to Cape Town, currently making 6 knots, with one of our two engines out. The team is healthy, with plenty of food and water, and working to keep our spirits up. We cannot, however, escape the cloud of disappointment hovering over us and the DX community. We traveled 2700 nautical miles to Bouvet, but the last mile proved to be the most difficult.
As we type this, a tugboat is on its way to assist our vessel to the port of Capetown. We will continue to keep everyone informed, as this saga plays out. We would like to thank all of our friends and families who have been with us every mile of the way. Your good wishes, thoughts and prayers have sustained us over the last three weeks. [K0IR]
FEBRUARY 5 @ 14:45z — Position: 53 degrees 42 minutes South, 0.41 degrees West. Heading 58 degrees. Speed 7 knots. The wind is from 165 degrees and pushing us along in moderate following seas.
Our ride is now considerably smoother than earlier, today. We did pass through some ice between 1200 and 1300 UTC. The sea is clear now.
We are headed for Cape Town, South Africa. This is the safest and most expedient course for us. We thank those who have expressed concern and good wishes. We are, of course, very, very disappointed. We are slowed, but safe. [KØIR]
FEBRUARY 5 @ 0900z — Our captain has decided that it is in the best interest of safety and expediency to proceed directly to Cape Town, South Africa rather than Punta Arenas, Chile. We are currently heading north to avoid the possibility of encountering ice. Currently there is no ice in sight or on radar. In due time we will head easterly toward Cape Town. Our entire team is safe. Most are resting in their bunks and in good spirits. We will keep the amateur radio community and our families informed as we continue our journey.
FEBRUARY 3 @ 21:30z — During the last 72 hours we continued to experience the high winds, low clouds, fog, and rough seas that have prevented helicopter operations since our arrival at Bouvet. No improvement was predicted in the weather forecast for the next four days.
Then, last night an issue developed in one of the ship’s engines.
This morning the captain of the vessel declared it unsafe to continue with our project and aborted the expedition. We are now on our long voyage back to Punta Arenas.
As you might imagine the team is deeply disappointed, but safe.
There is already talk about rescheduling the DXpedition. [Co-leaders K0IR, K4UEE, LA6VM]
Winds have increased to 80+ mph this afternoon. Hold on NM1Y and team !
Posted by Shelley Jolie on Thursday, February 1, 2018
FEBRUARY 1 @ 22:00z — Hal, W8HC reports the ship moved to the NE side of the island earlier today to get some [WX] relief. He also mentions:
This is an amazing place… beautiful, yet brutal at least today. We hope Madame Bouvet is more cordial tomorrow..
FEBRUARY 1 @ 13:00z — Our ship is still at anchor off the east side of Bouvet. Winds are 35 to 40 knots, and the ship is pitching and rolling up to 30 degrees. This makes flying and a landing attempt impossible today. The temperature is hovering at around 0 degrees C. Visibility has improved.
62 mph sustained winds. Ship is rockin and rolling at anchor. Video courtesy of NM1Y
Posted by Shelley Jolie on Thursday, February 1, 2018
We are poised and ready when a weather window opens. We had our maritime mobile station up for a few hours, but had to take it down again to avoid damage caused by the extreme motion of the ship. Winds have increased to 45 knots. Unsecured items are again sliding across floors and tables. Some team members are again feeling seasick.
The barometer has risen, slightly. We are anxiously awaiting calmer conditions. Hang in there with us! [KØIR]
JANUARY 31 @ 1500Z — Bouvet Island came into view at about 0600 UTC today. We dropped anchor at 0810 UTC in approximately 25 meters of water off the east side of the island between Kapp Meteor and Swarthamaren.
The temperature is 2 degrees Centigrade. Thirty five knot winds are blowing out of the northeast with a driving rain. Visibility and ceiling are estimated at 1 mile and 500 feet, respectively.
We are poised and ready when our weather window arrives. Our first “strike” team selecting and securing a site will be EY8MM, KØIR and Alejo Contreras (Chilean Antarctic explorer, guide and mountaineer).
JANUARY 31 @ 0600Z — The team have arrived Bouvet! Fog and freezing rain greeted them. QRX now.
JANUARY 30 — We are less than 100 miles from Bouvet in moderate seas and visibility of about 100 meters. Scattered icebergs remain on radar.
Today, we removed most of the contents of our sea containers, re-sorted and staged it, and then put it all back in the containers, again, before a light rain started.
We hope to be anchored shortly after daybreak tomorrow, and will anxiously await a weather window that will allow us to start our landing operation. We are ready whenever Mother Nature gives us the green light.
JANUARY 29 — We had another night of rocking and rolling. A strong southwesterly wind produced high following seas resulting in the stern of the ship rising on the approaching wave or swell, the ship surfing down the front of the wave, and the bow plunging into the wave ahead of it. The change in motion produced a change in the migratory pattern of gear and furniture, but the chaotic end results were similar to our last rough ride. Entropy exists.
Last evening, we met with the helicopter pilots to be sure we understood each other. Safety first, and then get everything ashore as quickly as possible with never more people than our infrastructure can support. We parted with the “one team” commitment.
We continue to bounce around, but for the soaring sea birds around us, it is just another day. Onward! [KØIR]
JANUARY 28 — The seas have calmed somewhat. The predominant motion of the ship remains a moderate roll. We have not restored our maritime mobile stations, due to difficulty in securing the equipment to prevent damage. There are occasional breaks in an overcast sky. Visibility is estimated at 15 to 20 miles. Our current forward speed is 8.8 knots; a compromise between creature comfort and structural stresses and getting to Bouvet.
Attendance at breakfast this morning was sparse, with most team members preferring their bunks over caloric intake. N9TK, N4GRN and KØIR continued working on flight sequencing last night, and should complete the process this evening. We have a lot of “stuff” to get ashore as fast as possible in the weather windows Mother Nature sees fit to give us.
Our forecast is for moderate snow ahead, followed by clearing. Icebergs remain visible but have decreased in number. Satellite navigation shows the ship 623 nautical miles from Bouvet. [K0IR]
JANUARY 27 @ 19:00z – Last night was a tough night for us. The full fury of the South Atlantic was unleashed upon us. Shifting winds and turbulent seas changed our ship’s motion from severe pitching to pitching and yawing to very marked rolls. That which was not secured is no longer where it was. Some of those who were up and about yesterday are down and out today. Personal items are scattered, and some small items are lost in the mix. Bathroom floors are wet from water splashing out of the toilet bowls. It was a tough night, but we knew this was likely when we signed on. We will persist and continue towards Bouvet. [Ralph, KØIR]
JANUARY 27 @ 05:30z – Thursday night, our weather took a major turn for the worse, as we were overtaken by a low pressure system with winds about 35 knots and confused seas at 5 meters. The ship has been pitching quite a lot, but is riding well. This short video courtesy of Jeff, NM1Y best tells the story of our day yesterday, and why we have remained below decks.
— Valerie NV9L (@Valerie_WI) January 27, 2018
We had to QRT our maritime mobile operation and secure the radios, because of the ship’s rolling. We did not want to risk damage to the radios. We have yet to ascertain the status of our ship-mounted antennas for possible damage. The Hustler vertical is mounted on the bow, and took many salt water baths yesterday (as you can see in Jeff’s video). Today’s forecast looks a little better. We hope to be back at full speed, and have 3G9A/MM QRV again, after checking and repairing the antennas. [Hal, W8HC]
JANUARY 26 – The forecast for worsening weather was accurate. The seas are an estimated 15 to 20 feet, and we are in heavy snow, as we continue toward Bouvet. There will be fewer of us at breakfast this morning.
Yesterday afternoon, the team and ship’s crew moved our rod anchors, T-post anchors and the DX Engineering antenna masts to the rear of the ship for faster access during landing operations. This was a good thing, since these operations would not be possible today. Last night, N4GRN, N9TK and KØIR began planning the loading and sequencing of helicopter flights to the island. We plan to run one helicopter with only sling loads and one with only interior loads and passengers. One aircraft can operate off of the rear helicopter pad and one off the hanger deck.
Today, we will continue to work on load sequencing, and continue our packing and re-packing of the personal gear we will each take to the island. The landing process will focus on safety and building of our infrastructure, so that it can support the number of people on the island at any given time.
JANUARY 25 – The seas remained relatively calm, but the temperature has dropped significantly, and the wind velocity is increasing. We passed another iceberg today. The weather is supposed to deteriorate tomorrow.
We spent the day moving our anchorage systems and support masts from the cargo hold to an area closer to our helicopter staging area, hoping to make our loading and flights to the island more efficient and faster.
Propagation is becoming closer to that predicted in our model. Once we are on the island and have better antennas with no noise, we expect we will hear much better. Right now, signals are fairly weak, but definitely there under some local noise from the ship.
After tomorrow, it looks like the weather will calm a bit. We are hopeful this will coincide with our arrival time at Bouvet. We are well past the half-way point of our voyage.
JANUARY 24 – Hal, W8HC reports:
“Sunny, clear skies this morning provide clear view as we pass the snowy peaks of South Georgia Islands 20 miles to the south of us. Spectacular!”
Meanwhile, here’s the latest chart made by F2DX showing the voyage to date.
JANUARY 22 – Regular updates also appear on the 3Y0Z website
JANUARY 21 – Homemade map by Pat, F2DX. He mentions the projection helps to better understand the difference between the initial starting point (South Shetland) and their actual point of departure (Punta Arenas). This gap was caught up in a little less than 48 hours of navigation. [On the other hand, of course roads plotted on this map cannot take into account possible changes, notably because of ice or particular weather conditions].
JANUARY 20 – We had an uneventful traverse of the Straits of Magellan, and are currently just southeast of the Falkland Islands, making approximately 11 knots. At the moment, we have fair winds and following seas, and our weather forecast looks good for the next 12 hours. However, the weather can change quickly in this part of the world.
Our team is in good spirits, but one or two are feeling the effects of moderate seasickness. We have one maritime mobile station active, with most of our QSOs on 20 and 40m. We are running 100 watts to a Hustler vertical on the bow of the ship and an OCF dipole hung from the bridge area. Our transmissions include grid square information. We hope to add a second station, soon.
JANUARY 19 @ 21:30z – 3G9A/MM now QRV. First station in log LU4AT.
JANUARY 19 @ 17:30z — Pictures by W8HC showing the MV Betanzos navigating the Magellan Strait. Boat tracker
JANUARY 19 @ 12:30z – With the aid of tugboats, the team have now departed port and the long voyage to Bouvet begins. Follow their 3G9A/MM voyage here or here. Good luck ! Departure videos below by W8HC and NM1Y.
On our way…..
Posted by Jeff Jolie on Friday, January 19, 2018
Posted by Hal Turley on Friday, January 19, 2018
Short interview with co-leader K0IR in video ^^.
JANUARY 18 – EMBARKATION
Posted by Hal Turley on Thursday, January 18, 2018
[pictures credit: NM1Y]
[pictures credit: W8HC]
Posted by Jeff Jolie on Thursday, January 18, 2018
JANUARY 17 – Helicopters heading to the ship.
JANUARY 16 — [TEAM say] Preparation for our departure continues, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than we had hoped. However, the vessel is now fully fueled and all our DXpedition gear, food, and medical and survival gear is aboard. And, you have likely read that team members completed their cold water survival, CPR, and fire-fighting training.
Two team leaders and our merchant marine captain team member (W7IV) have been aboard the vessel. They observed the crew and contractors working hard to complete their projects.
We are awaiting final clearance to sail which will be issued by the Chilean Navy, the regulatory authority for maritime safety.
We remain confident in our success and are anxiously waiting to get underway. Whatever delay we encounter will not impact our results on the island.
JANUARY 14 — 3Y0Z team leaders review current sea ice conditions in the Antarctic. These satellite images will be made available on a daily basis along with other advanced weather data and will be useful “tools” for identifying and avoiding sea ice as the team navigate toward Bouvet.
JANUARY 13 — [TEAM say] Heavy sea ice east and north of King George Island has made navigation between King George Island and Bouvet slow and of increased risk. We will therefore depart from Punta Arenas and sail directly to Bouvet. This has necessitated changes to preparations. That process is underway and moving as fast as possible.
Our sailing time to Bouvet is now estimated at 14 days. We estimate that our sailing date and QRV date will move back 24 to 36 hours. Our QRT date will be extended as necessary to provide everyone with the best possible chance of working Bouvet.