Compte-rendu – F5KAQ/P – St Nicolas – 2009

Nous y voila vendredi 11/09 il est 9H et une grosse partie de l’équipe est rassemblée au port de BEIG MEIL et attend le bateau qui doit nous transporter vers ST NICOLAS EU-094. Depuis la veille F6ENO F6ACH F6CMC F9ZG et F5NKX se sont retrouvés à QUIMPER pour faire quelques course en vue de notre séjour sur l’ile. F8PDR et F5RJM devant nous retrouver en soirée. les push pool sont térriblement chargés antennes, coax, émétteurs, linéaires, alimentation, couchage etc etc c’est fou ce qu’il faut prévoir pour une semaine complète en quasi autarcie HI. Donc ce vendredi le soleil brille et la mer est peu agitéece qui me rassure je me voyais pas faire la traversée avec des creux de 4 m. Nous faisons connaissance avec notre capitaine et commençons le chargement du bateau, pendant ce temps F6ENO et moi recevons la presse locale LE TELEGRAMME DE BREST et OUEST FRANCE qui sont venus à notre rencontre et qui publieront un article sympa sur notre expédition. 09h30 tout est paré, et c’est partipour 8 jours. la traversée dure 1h15 et ce fait avec plaisir, ma mer est peu formée, le soleil brille, bref c’est super.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10h45 arrivée au port de ST NICOLAS, l’ile n’est pas vraiment déserte, il y a des menbres de l’école de plongée qui font eut entrainement l’eau est limpide mais pas très chaude. Nous nous apercevrons pendant le séjour que l’ile est assez fréquenté avec beaucoup de plaisanciers venu faire une virée sur l’archipel pour un jour ou deux. Nous prenons posséssion de notre QRA de la semaine qui est en fait l’annexe de la mairie de FOUESNANT l’ archipel des GLENANS étant rattaché administrativement à la commune de FOUESNANT. Nous avons de la place, cuisine et salle au rdc et 4 chambres à l’étage qui nous sont réservées. L’heure suivante est occupée à débarquer et transporter notre matériel à l’annexe de la mairie. Premier gastro sur l’ile et vite fait nous attaquons le montage des antennes (qui va s’avérer à rebondissement) nous avons prévu 2 beams 14/21/28  1 four square 40m 1 bazzoka 80m 1 dipole 30 m et 1 R7 pour les bandes warc. Rapidemment Benoit F8PDR et Denis F5RJM dresse la 4 square pendant que le reste de l’équipe monte les 2 beams et la Bazzoka. 18 h nous avons bien avancé et là PATATRAS le capitaine du bateau qui fait également office de responsable sur l’ile nous annonce qu’il nous faut tout démonter car nous avons installé trop près de la piste servant à l’hélicopter de la sécurité civile et il ne faut pas d’obstacles en cas de venue de l’hélico ? vu l’heure le démontage est remis au lendemain. En attendant nous installons le shak dans un local abritant les pompes servant à alimenter l’ile en eau non potable. l’installation prend du temps nous avons prévu 3 stations actives en même temps CW / SSB et DIGIMODES, et le nombre de coax à tirer est impréssionnant et pour comble des ennuis nous avons été obligé de changer l’arrivée des coax (suite aux changement de place des antennes) finalement la nuit arrive et il n’y a vraiment que le dipole 30 m qui soit vraiment opérationnel .

 

Le 12/09 après un p’tit dej rapide c’est reparti on démonte la 4 square, la bazzoka le dipole 30m pour les changer de place du coup les premiers QSO ne se feront qu’en début d’après midi, c’est galère galère. les beams étant restées (provisoirement) en place, l’activité commence en CW et en DIGIMODES peu de client le propa n’est pas terrible et de + nos avons un QRM S9 ce qui nous obligera à déplacer également les 2 beams. Si la propa n’est pas bonne le WX lui est superbe et il fait même chaud. Vers 15h nous récupérons en provenance de BENODET les 2 derniers menbres de notre équipe F4FFH et F5HVI ce qui porte à 9 le nombre d’opérateurs prêt à en découdre HI. les stations HF sont prêtes et fonctionnent il nous reste encore à trouver un emplacement pour Rolf F9ZG qui opérera de 144 à 10 GHZ. Rolf s’installe le lond d’une jetée en bois au bord de la mer et en plein air dans un endroit bien dégagé. le soleil ne se dément pas et c’est certainement Rolf qui est (pour l’instant) le mieux installé.

 

Le rytme est parti, les 3 stations fontionnent bien mais la propagation sur les bandes 21 / 24 et 28 n’est pas au rendez vous? nous avons beau appeler, nous n’avons que peu de réponse, seulement 21 qso iur 15 m et 1 sur  12m, c »est d’autant plus désolant que la semaine suivante ces bandes seront ouvertes. Par contre le WX lui est eu rendez vous il y a pas mal de touristes sur l’ile qui viennent avec leur voilier passer une soirée, nous avons d’ailleurs eu la visite d’un OM du 29.

Sur VHF et UHF le rythme n’est pas le même qu’en HF , mais la qualité est au rendez vous, Rolf F9ZG est QRV jusqu’au 10 GHZ et a contacté 3 oms de la région parisienne sur cette fréquence ce qui n’est pas rien

Il s’agissait d’ailleurs de la première activation de l’archipel sur 70 / 23 et 3 cm et il y aura peu d’élu dans le log. Rolf a bénéfiicié de 3 à 4 beaux jours, mais à partir du mardi après midi le temps c’est gaté, nous n’avions pas de pluie, mais du vent et du temps gris.

En HF nous montons en puissance 654 qso le 12/09 – 978 le 13/09 – 1354 le 14/09 avant de redescendre petit à petit 1132 le 15/09 – 879 le 16/09 – 914 le 17/09 et finalement 342 le dernier jour .

Nous avons contacté 37 stations d’afrique, 239 d’asie, 784 d’amérique du nord, 6 d’océanie, 34 d’amérique du sud et 5462 d’europe.

 

Le 16/09 Alain F6ENO a eu un coup au coeur, la station FT5GA nous appelait ( cela correspondait au démarage de ses émissions ) malheureusement il faut se rendre à l’évidence, il semblerait que l’on nous ai joué un vilain tour car après vérification nous ne sommes pas dans son LOG.

 

Sur l’océanie nous avons contacté 3 ZL sur 40 m / 1 VK sur 40 M / 1 FK et 1 KH6 sur 20 m. la four square à bien fonctionné malgré un problème de connexion pour réperer les directions.

 

Dans l’ensemble nos antennes étaient bien réglées peu de TOS mais un QRM pas possible qui nous a beaucoup handicapé en réception. La R7 qui était réservée pour les bandes 17 et 12 m nous a permis de contacter environ 280 stations dont 1 seule sur 12 m. La semaine s’est ainsi déroulée rythmée par les coups de propa, Notemment la soirée du 14/09 avec une soirée US en SSB avec un allongement de la propa et 2 autres coup au coeur avec 2 KH2 de contactés mais malheureusement hors de GUAM  hi.

 

Nous sommes déjà arrivé à la fin de la semaine et c’est déjà l’heure du démontage F6ENO Alain qui ne dormait pas s’est offert sur 40 m une dernière ligne droite en beauté en contactant de bonne heure de nombreuses stations EUROPEENNES bien sur mais également US et 2 ZL. Le démontage commence sous une fine pluie ( la première de la semaine ) mais cela ne dure pas et c’est vers 12 Heures locales que nous faisons le debriefing sous un beau soleil. Dernier repas sur l’ile ( merci au cuisinier F6ACH ) qui s’y est collé une bonne partie de la semaine et nous voilà prêt a charger le bateau. le soleil à le bon gout de revenir et le vent s’est quasimment arrêté de souffler au point que l’éolienne de l’ile ne tournait plus. Le voyage du retour s’est déroulé sur une mer d’huile et a permis à Rolf de récupérer un peu du coup de froid attrapé sur l’ile les 2 derniers jours. 16 Heures arrivée à BEIG MEIL et après déchargement du bateau et rechargement dans les voitures, il est l’ heure de nous séparer et de renter à nos qra respectif.

 

le bilan est positif 6262 qso en HF et une centaine en VHF / UHF

CW: 3736 qso dont 383 NA / 15 SA / 3118 EU / 13 AF / 5 OC et 202 AS

SSB: 1850 qso dont 356 NA / 12 SA / 1444 EU / 16 AF / 3 OC et 19 AS

PSK31: 667 qso dontt 47 NA / 7 SA / 586 EU / 9 AF / 0 OC et 16 AS

RTTY: 2 qso dont 1 NA et 1 EU

 

Bref nous sommes heureux d’avoir pu nous retrouver pour cette 3èeme expédition de F5KAQ et d’avoir pu permettre à de nombreuses stations de contacter EU-094. Les QSL vous parviendront pour le début 2010

 

73 qro de toute l’équipe, Jean-Jacques F5NKX

HI9/EA3BT et HI9/EA3WL

After so many years being active in the world of ham radio, and mainly realising DXpeditions to different parts of the world, many of you already know us and when we have the pleasure to meet you personally, we always receive similar questions: When are you going to make a new operation? Where are you going next?… And our answer is always the same: We don’t know !  I must recognise that sometimes we do not tell the complete truth, as there is always a project in mind, but lately, when we answered that we were not going to start any radio project at least till 2010, when it is expected that the propagation conditions improve a bit, I can assure that we were telling the truth.

 

Our last DXpetition experience in Bangladesh, which took place in January 2007 left some kind of bitterness in us, not because of the human quality of the team, but the reason was because it was a bit disappointing that all the effort that we invested in that project didn’t get a reward with good propagation that could have given a QSO to all those who wanted to contact with that DXCC entity. Because of that, Josep and I decided that we wouldn’t plan anything seriously till the conditions improved.

 

After a hard year of work and after having spent all the summer studying for my competitive exam at my job, December arrived with a good new: I passed the exam. And because we were going to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary by the end of January and the 1st of February our “little” child Marc would be 18 years old … we had a lot of things to celebrate and decided that we deserved a good prize: a fantastic journey.  As this winter has been quite crude, we wanted to go to a place with good temperatures where we could relax and disconnect from the outside world. I had to be a place easy to reach, as we didn’t have plenty of time for preparing the trip, and quickly we decided that we wanted to go Dominican Republic, as this was a place where we also wanted to go, but for different reasons we always chose a different option. Decided: we were going to the Caribbean. I started to surf in internet, trying to find a good offer and a nice place where to expand our bones! Originally, this was going to be a relax trip, but as many of you that have taken part in a DXpedition, it is hard to go to a far place and not thinking of bringing the radio with you. So we decided that something of radio should be done during our spare time, and contacted with INDOTEL, the ham radio authority in the Dominican Republic, and got a quick response: there was no problem to obtain the licence, but we had to apply for it with no delay, as Christmas Holidays were close and they couldn’t guarantee them. It is recommended to apply for a licence with a month in advance.

 

We had to take a quick decision. As we were going to do radio, why not operating from an interesting place? . The Dominican Republic is not a very demanded DXCC entity, so we had to find another option, and finally thought that an IOTA reference could be a good option. Those that take part in the IOTA Program will already know that HI has only 2 references: NA-096 for the main island, and NA-122 for all the coastal islands. The second reference had more demand as it was only credited by the 28% of the IOTA participants.

 

We got it: NA-122 was our option. We remembered that many years ago we already have thought to make that operation, and there was a small hotel in Cayo Levantado (Levantado Key), but finally it was rejected as we were told that the conditions were not very good (it didn’t have 24-hours power supply) and the hotel finally closed. That island was our only option, as all the other coastal islands are inhabited and some of them are Natural Reservation, and you can only stay there with official permit and we didn’t have enough time for all that matter.

 

Surfing in internet we had a great surprise: a spanish hotel chain bought the old hotel and built a fantastic luxurious hotel which was already inaugurated in 2007. The place was idyllic … but we quickly had a doubt: would they allow us to install our antennas in a place where it is supposed that people go to relax? We soon got an answer from the Resident Manager of the hotel, Mr. Victor Pérez, saying that before giving us an answer he had to know more about what we were asking, as no other guest had asked those things before. We sent him a picture of the antenna that we were going to bring, a Cushcraft MA5B, and after a pair of days he answered that there was no problem.

 

We had the OK from the hotel and we just needed the licence. If finally arrived before the end of the year, some days in advance of what it was expected. We must say that we always received a great collaboration from Mrs. Patricia Heredia at INDOTEL, who always had a kind answer to all our e-mails.

 

Everything was in its way, and during Xmas holidays, Antonio (EA3AON) helped Josep to prepare the antennas and invented a system that should let us easily raise the beam. We expected to place the mast directly in the ground, as for the pictures that we could see and after consulting it with Mr. Perez, we rejected to place it in the balcony of our room, because of the structure of the buildings. We had to take a mast not shorter than 7 meters high, and we had to bring it from EA, as we didn’t want to repeat the experience that we had in Bangladesh, where we bought some tubes in a local market and they didn’t bear the weight of the beam and doubled nearly 90 degrees the first time that we tried to raise it.

 

They worked hard in the adjustment of the beam and in the special hoisting system, which was a system of pulleys placed in the top end of the mast, which finally worked.

 

But … what about 40 and 80 meters? And digital modes and CW?…. Finally, what it should have been a simple trip of relax was becoming a full DX-pedition … and finally we decided to travel loaded as a donkey once again. We choose to go with the  Butternut HF2V for 40 and 80 meters.  And due to the pernicious conditions of propagation we couldn’t forget the lineal amplifier, an Ameritron ALS-600. Well, finally our luggage was overcoming 100 Kg and we had to go on with the preparations. Jorge (EA8TL/3) and Jaume (EA3JW) help us with the software that we were going to use … and we just had to wait for our plane.

 

Finally the departure date arrive, and on January 20 we started our own marathon: Barcelona, Madrid and finally Santo Domingo. We landed and we just had to wait for our luggage. While we were in front of the luggage belt, we expected that nothing was forgotten in another airport. We smiled when we saw a man coming with our antennas  … we were lucky. Luggage started to appear, hundreds of huge suitcases, but no trace of our damned red suitcase where we carried the lineal amplifier and other material. After half an hour we were unlucky … but there were more people in the same situation so we didn’t lose the hope. The belt stopped and everybody thought that no more luggage was coming. We couldn’t believe it: our damned red suitcase was lost once again. That suitcase is damned as it usually never arrives at its destination … but normally this happen on the way back!!! We were resigned to doing the claim, when one of the keepers went into the hole where the suitcases were supposed to appear and told us that something was obstructing the belt. He fixed it, but after 2 or 3 more the belt stopped again. They tried it several times, but finally decided to change to another belt. Chaos and confusion. Another belt was opened and …. eureka, after a while our wonderful red suitcase appeared.

 

Now, with all the luggage in our hands, we just had to go through the customs. If our luggage had appeared quickly we are sure that we wouldn’t have had any problems because of all the initial confusion, but after having been waiting more than 40 minutes with a skiing bad and a big box … we were not going to cross the customs so easily as the officers had been observing us for a long time. They asked what we were carrying and after a long explanation and showing all the permits, the officer decided that we should leave the antennas and come back in the next morning, as all the offices were already closed (it was 8 pm). Without losing our calm and with good words, we convinced him that that was impossible for us to come back in the morning as our hotel was situated 200 km far away from the capital and we had no way to come back. In the end, he allowed us to pass, not before telling us that although Indotel had told us that we would have no problems with customs, the rules are established by another department and they could decide what to do. So, we recommend that if you want to go to HI land with a radio equipment, you should get in touch with the Custom Department in advance.

 

After flights, links and waits, it took nearly 24 hours to reach our destination, and we already had 3 more hours of bus from Santo Domingo to Samana, without forgetting the boat to the island. It was dark night and all those who have already visited that country will know that roads are not very good and that native drive in a special way. With a lot of patience, we get accommodated in the van with a pair of couples that were going to the same hotel, and looked at us with some surprise at the vision of a skiing bag in the middle of the Caribbean, so we were a bit obliged to break the ice and told them that we didn’t expect to ski in the Caribbean mountains, but we were going to make some radio and that the antennas were in the bags. ‘How interesting!!!’, was their answer, although it didn’t sound very convincing.

 

The journey was quite long, although luckily the Government has constructed a toll motorway connecting Santo Domingo and Samana Peninsula and now the trip last 2 hours less. But that fantastic motorways was just a simple road with 2 rails, one for each way, but with good pavement, considering the average situation of the other roads. And the price is so high for local people that there was few traffic. The journey was easy and after some sleep, we finally arrive at our destination.

 

It was midnight, and we were 2 hours late from our expected arrival time. So there was no trace of the boat that had to take us to the island, and we had to wait for the boat that brought the staff of the hotel that had finished their shift of work, but they were singing and joking. After 15 minutes on the boat, we finally disembarked in the island. We made a quick check-in and took a small electric train (which is the way of transportation for all the guest in the island) to our room. We got a luxurious individual villa, with a TV room, a huge bathroom with jacuzzi, a huge bedroom with another TV and a porch looking to the sea and another external jacuzzi, and we also had 24 hours services. What else could we want?.

 

While I was strolling in the house, Josep looked for a place for the beam… and in the middle of the dark detected that the only possible place was a small clear in front of the house.  Although it was past midnight and we have been more than 30 hours without sleeping, we decided to try how the 24 hours service room worked and ordered a pair of cheese burgers and some drinks, and started to unpack part of the luggage in order to being on air as soon as possible as we only had 6 days for operating.

 

We woke up very early, before 7 am and after checking that, in fact, the clear that Josep had discovered the last night was the only possible spot were to install the beam. After a good breakfast, we immediately started to build up the beam. Personally, I could never see the hoisting system before so I had quite curiosity to see how it would work. At a first glance, the system was simple. We mount the mast, with the pulley and the system of flying ropes and fixed the beam to it. We started to pull up … but it didn’t work: we had tighten the beam to the PVC tube that it had deformed a bit and the tube wasn’t slipping. We slackened and finally, not without effort, we could hoist it. The system worked, but Josep took note of its failures and decided that it should be modified if we wanted to use it in future activities.

 

The beam was well tied, so we could start to be on the air. We connected everything and checked that there were some European station in the 20 meters band. We decided to send our first CQ de HI9/EA3BT on 14.260, the IOTA frequency but… no answer at all. He sent several CQ but no answer at all, so we started to be a bit upset … Was anything wrong? We chose for the easiest solution: calling Antonio for checking if he could hear us. Luckily it was lunchtime and he was at home, so he quickly appeared in the frequency and could checked that we were crossing the ocean and could be hear at EA3 land. But we had a small problem: the switched power supply that was supposed to work with 110 V it didn’t work properly and the equipment couldn’t work with 100 W … so we had to use just 40-50 W and then the lineal amplifier just showed 300 W output. That was a nuisance as the propagation conditions were very poor and we needed as much power as possible if we wanted to reach EU or … even JA where NA-122 is one of the most wanted references as it is nearly in its antipodes.

 

Josep decided that the only easy solution would be trying to find a car battery to connect it between the equipment and the power supply. The equipment would have 12 V from the battery car and this, while connected to the power supply, would get charged without interruption.

 

But we had to get the battery. I left Josep with a good pile-up, organized after Antonio put the first spot in the cluster, and went to the lobby in order to greeting Mr. Perez, the director, for his kindness and for the great emplacement that he gave to us … and also asking him another thing: achieving a battery. His answer was affirmative, but there was a problem: it was holiday in Samana and all the shops were closed so he couldn’t buy it till the next day.

 

Resigned, I went back to the villa and told Josep that we had to wait till the next day, but showing a nice smile he told me that we didn’t need the battery any more. Just when I left, the chief of maintenance came and asked him to tie the ropes in a different place from the lamppost as it was a bit fragile and he couldn’t guarantee that it would resist, and he was also interested in all what we have already installed, as no other ham radio operator had already been in the hotel since it was opened again. Josep explained him the problems that we had and he told him not to worry anymore as he would send an electrician to put us a 220 V direct line to feed the station. We were lucky again … although the electrician didn’t appear till the next day, but we finally achieved full power with our lineal amplifier.

 

Later, I started to operate so Josep could continue mounting the vertical antenna for 40 and 80 meters as we wanted to be on the air in those bands as soon as possible, and so we did that night.

 

We must say that during the six days that the operation lasted, the pile-ups were continuous and the signals in 20 and 17 metres towards Europe were very good, so we could work a great amount of EA stations and from the rest of Europe. Obviously, we could enjoy the best conditions with North America, the Caribbean and some parts of South America, but we must say that every afternoon, just before de sunset, we had very good openings towards Japan, and some of them lasted several hours, so the JA friends could make a QSO with this wanted reference, but only in the 20 meters band.

 

We were active in all bands, from 10 to 80 meters, except 30 meters, mainly in SSB, but Josep also operated in RTTY and CW. Daily, thanks to the collaboration of Xavier, EA3BHK, the logs were available online. We totally made 5.066  QSO, and, although it seems impossible, we had no problem at all during all the operation, except a pair of tropical storms with heavy rain and winds, very common in those places.

 

Unfortunately, good things always arrive at its end and we had to finish with the operation. The disassembly was quick and easy, we packed the antennas and equipment and got ready to start our long way back, which was placid … So we just can wait for our next adventure!!!!

 

We don’t want to finish without thanking all the staff of Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado Hotel for their kindness, and specially to Mr. Victor Pérez (Resident Manager) for allowing us to stay in one of the best places of the island and Mr. Joan Pizá (Subgeneral Manager) and Mr. Ivan (Chief Engineer) for all the facilities. Also Antonio (EA3AON), Jaume (EA3JW), Marcel (EA3IN) and Jorge (EA8TL) who helped us with the technical stuff before our departure, and Xavier (EA3BHK) who took care of our online logs. We also want to thank URE, Clipperton DX Club, DX4DX Team, Lynx DX Group, Consell Terriotorial URE Catalunya, Sección URE Barcelona-Baix Llobregat and Sección Comarcal URE Garraf for trusting in us once again. And, of course, we cannot forget our beloved son Marc, who, during his 18 years old, has always encouraged to do what we like to do: RADIO. TNX to all.

 

Núria Font, EA3WL

(ea3wl@ure.es)

XV4D – Phu Quoc Island

Our journey was supposed to start on November, 2nd to the vietnamese island Phu Quoc, IOTA reference AS-128 southwest in the country. Planned was  an overnight stay in Saigon (Ho-Chi-Minh-city) to pick up our license.
However, before we can start our journey we had to take care of the inevitable formalities. First of all we applied for a visa for the “Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. In addition everybody of us needed a “Harmonized Amateur Radio Examination Certificate” (HAREC)“, an english written formular with stamp and signature of the German Federal Network Agency.

After taking this small barrier the big ones were closer. We planned to take the aircraft from Berlin via Doha in the Emirates of Oatar to Saigon, there we wanted to change to a small aircraft to Phu Quoc. To Doha we planned to travel by “Qatar Airways” but they were really strict with their baggage allowance, exactly 20kg per person and the carry on luggage should not exceed 7kg. In a small expedition group of 5 people, this means 100kg and a small carry on luggage. There was no way to talk to the really nice service personal of Oatar airways, every additional kg is pricy with 31 EUR per kg. Meaning our cash-budget is going to swell, we still don´t know how the “Vietnamese Airline” would react concerning this problem. Now we had to optimize our luggage: “Everything for the technic, but nothing for the operator!” was our new device. After all we need everything for 160m to 10m, to cover all bands and modes, and we have to have three complete stations und amplifiers available. Our final weight was some kilogramm heavier. Included was an 18m and a 15m tower for low band verticals, a Spiderbeam for 20 to 10m, lots of wire and a Butternut HF-9-V as an allround antenna. We had our inevitable K2-transceivers from Elecraft, and an IC-7000 from ICOM for the digimodes. Some netbooks with WinTest, filters and a bunch of coaxcables completed our equipment.

The 2nd of November arrived and we started from Berlin-Tegel. Our luggage was checked through to Phu-Quoc, according the information we got.

We had an relaxed night flight via Doha to Saigon, lasting 16hours. After 16hours, we were really surprised looking to the baggage claim. Our luggage was not on his way to Phu Quoc. However, we had to take care of it and abandoned it for one night at the airport. Hopefully there won´t occur any problems the next morning. Frank and Sigi took care of organizing the licenses and the rest of the team went by taxi to the hotel in the city. My travel guide spent a lot of pages explaining how to cross streets – now I know why. In Saigon the streets are crowded with motor bikes, nobody takes are of any cross light or traffic rules. There are some rules for surviving: walk slowly, never ever turn back and do what the loals do.

2 hours later, Frank and Sigi were back, showing the certificate of our license: XV4D. Next morning our journey continued and again nobody paid attention to our luggage weight restriction. We arrived at the small island airport, outside temperature 34°C and almost 100% humidity. The guy from the “Sea Star Resort” Mr. Wunderbar expected us already. We named him after the only German word he knew and used often for the next two weeks “Wunderbar” (wonderful) – meaning awesome.

Within two days we were QRV on all bands. We focused on the low bands. The demand on 160m and 180m was exceptionally high, therefore we optimized more and more the antennas. Afterwards we got usable signals acknowledged. For the higher bands we got only the Spiderbeam to operate. Whenever another band was open, we used a wire beam adjusted for Europe for 17m and the HF9V as universal antenna. The conditions were as expected on all bands bad. Higher than 20m we had only short openings. The signals were really weak, so we were limited to CW. For SSB the signals didn´t suffice. Therefore we couldn´t fulfill the expectations unfortunately. However, even here the “cluster mentality” appeared. We called for minutes on a most likely dead band, until suddenly we reached the pile up after a cluster spot. Fortunately our shack had a more or less stable internet- and therefore a stable DX_cluster connection via wireless LAN. We even could actualise our online log on our homepage.

We consequently tried to use every short opening to North America. But we couldn´t satisfy everybodies wish for a QSO.

For most of the days the bands opened the earliest in the afternoon, so that we arranged some trips in the closer  surrounding area.

Phu Quoc is the biggest Island of Vietnam and is situated in the gulf of Thailand, 40km in front of the southwest coast. In only 12km distance you can find the mainland of  Cambodia and even only 4km away the Island Kaoh Ses belonging to Cambodia. The highest with rainforest covered elevations north and south of the island reach 600m. The island with 70.000 inhabitants is 48km long and between 3 and 28km wide. Most of the residents live in capital of the island Duon Duong. There is a small airport, some asphalted streets and some more dusty pists, some banks, an hospital, a post-office, a police station and a small lovely market.
The inner island of Phu Quoc harbored palmtrees covered beaches, crystal clear water and an almost deserted jungle. The west-coast was the perfect place to spot the sunset over the sea, a real rarity within Vietnam.

During our expedition we had always a tropical climate with day and night long high temperatures around 30°C. Even in the night we found our glasses foggy, due to the high humidity on Phu Quoc. What else can we do than use some brewed water to balance our fluid loss. The cheap, native, icecold, “Saigon” beer fitted perfectly.

The native people were friendly and open-minded. We always felt save and enjoyed our trips in the closer surrounding area. The best way to move around was to rent a motorbike at the hotel for only 100.000 Dong (3,75 EURO) for the whole day. We spent a mornings at the south and the north tip of the island, visited a pepper plantage, a bead-farm  and some waterfalls in the middle of the rainforest. Always followed by different smells: brackwater in the small sleepy harbors, fishy on places where billions of small fishes were dried in the sun, palmoil-aromatic and chicken when you pass by cookshops. Most interesting was the market in Duong Duong. Here we experienced how lively a small village like this can be. Everybody who is able to walk,  is visiting this place once a day for shopping. Vegetables, chicken, spices, meat and fish, everything is in rich amounts. For West Europeans the mat and fish market was a real adventure. Some of the selled components of the vietnamese cuisine were let´s say- unusually. Here I would count for example frogs and toads alive or nicely gutted and skinned. Luckily we never had to deal with this in our hotel cuisine.

After two weeks of amateur Radio our expedition ended. JN3TRK was the last in our log. Disassembly and the flight back to Berlin on November 17th didn´t make any problems. Our QSL cards are already printed and on their way to their recipients, when this article is in press. You can find some more details and photos to our expedition on our homepage dl7df.com.

After this DXpedition to Asia, I still have a dream: Attend a amateur radio team to Oceania. Hopefully this will happen one day.

Andy, DL5CW