By Einar Enderud. LA1EE, and Kare Pedersen, LA2GV printed in QST of October, 1990reprint by PA0ABMThe Club Bouvet, 3Y0X storyEvery so often, a DXpedition commands the attention of hams worldwide. The 3Y5X operation was controversial, dazzlingly expensive and ultimately successful. Here's the inside story!Bouvetoya (Bouvet lsland), a snowcapped and almost extinct volcano in the South Atlantic, has for many years been an attractive target for DXers and adventurers because of its remote and cold location, its wild and inaccessible nature and its position high up on the list of most-wanted DXCC countries.Norwegian government.al expeditions in 1977 and 1978-79 included radio amateurs, but they made only a small number of QSOs. Bouvet was in great demand. There was a need for a major DXpedition, but none was in sight . Would a private DXpedition be possible?lt would obviously cost a lot of money, $330,000 as it turned out. DXpedition members would have to contribute personally. and the whole operation would hinge on worldwide support from hams and others. We made up our minds to give it a try.To gain the necessary support, we (LA1EE, LA2GV and LA6VM) founded Club Bouvet in May 1989. We also formed a project team to prepare for landing on Bouvet in December 1989, By going in '89. the DXpedition would be able to celebrate the discovery of the island some 250 years earlier. We would also be taking advantage of the sunspot-cycle peak and could expect good band conditions.Too heavy to be carried to the helideck, the box with the coax and barrels ot petrol are lifted to the dinghy where the helicopter can pick them up and take them ashore. (LA2GV photo)Plans, Ships and PermitsI n early July, we made our plans public by distributing News Release #1, in which we solicited support from hams around the world. Club Bouvet grew and correspondence with all supporting members --nearly 1000 hams in more than 30 countries-- took up all our leisure time for months.Transportation was the major issue. How would we get to Bouvet? Because the island has no natural harbor, and because the weather is often severe, it would be necessary to use a boat with helicopter for a safe and efficient landing and departure. That would lead to high costs, but the size of such a boat would allow for more participants and a broader funding base.We contacted governments. embassies, and private companies in our search for a suitable vessel. We also were approached by an American group about possible cooperation which, unfortunately, did not materialize. In the end, we got the best deal by chartering the M/V Aurora. We knew this boat from our previous DXpedition to Peter l in the Antarctic three years earlier. Scientists (two), a film team (two), guest operators (three) and a camp assistant were invited to join our DXpedition. At the end of October, a lot of our funding was still outstanding. We knew we would be taking a personal economic risk, but we had to make a decision to keep the DXpedition on schedule.We had only two weeks to prepare all kinds of equipment, and petrol to be taken on board. Nevertheless, on November 14, the Aurora sailed from Sandefjord on its long trip to Montevideo, Uruguay, where it would pick up the DXpedition crew four weeks later. Necessary landing permits, including authorization to use the helicopter, had been obtained from the Ministry of Environment. (The Ministry asked us to update its 11-year-old map of bird and seal colonies in the Bouvet wildlife refuge.) A swell fills the dinghy as ît hits the unprotected shore. This was the only landing attempt made by boat. Escaping from the island was even more difficult. (LA1EE photo)Aboard the Aurora.Aurora left Montevideo on December 14, bound for Bouvet. We had 19 men on board, including the ship's crew of seven and a two-man helicopter crew.Through Raol, CX7BY, we received a lot of valuable assistance from the CX DXers in t he days prior to departure. We also enjoyed the hospitality and friendship of the local hams and the CX League.The guest operators were Jacky, F2CW; Willy, HB9AHL; and Jin, JFJIST. They joined the expedition on the condition that they bring substantial funding to the project from sponsors, primarily in their own countries.During the 11-day sea voyage we had time to get to know each other and to check out all the ICOM transceivers, amplifiers and tuners --there were six complete stations in all. Most of us were sick for several days in the heavy sea, but we still got on the air a lot and worked at preparing field equipment, practicing tent installation, playing with the Inmarsat satellite communication system and watching movies on video. The biologists were excited about seeing so many unfamiliar species of birds and whales. Each new one was duly noted in their logs, just like new countries among DXers.A pine tree that J in bought in Montevideo sat on a table in the mess. We knew that Christmas was drawing near. We all had a chance to say hello to our families via Norwegian and other European coastal stations. On Christmas eve, the Captain turned Aurora into the wind to keep her steady in the heavy sea during the traditional Norwegian Christmas supper. Later, Father Christmas came to see us, bringing presents for everyone on board.While operating LA5X/MM, we really felt how DXers the world over were sharing our expectations and excitement as we approached the island.Bouvet, at LastThe weather did not look promising. The winds were increasing and the waves were long and heavy, and at least eight meters high. The barometric pressure fell about 100 millibars i n 24 hours, putting us in t he middle of a 949-millibar low.Thanks to navigation satellites and radar. we sailed through the fog and reached the west side of the island on schedule the afternoon of December 25th. Landing by dinghy through the heavy waves breaking on the share was completely out of the question. We couldn't even launch the lifeboat or mount the helicopter because Aurora was rolling too much.We found a suitable place to anchor the first night just south of the Christensen glacier. On the 26th, the wind turned more southerly and we moved east and then north of the island, where we spent the second night onboard waiting for the wind and sea to subside.On the afternoon of December 27, after an exciting reconnaissance trip in the lifeboat, Aurora continued its circumnavigation of t he island and moved toward Nyroysa to find shelter behind a stranded iceberg less than 1000 meters from t he planned camp site.The helicopter, which had been brought all the way from Norway, was prepared for flight and the landing team got ready to disembark. We were determined to accomplish as much as possible before dark. At 1850Z that evening, Einar set foot on Nyroysa, the only location on the island where a camp is possible. Kare remained on board Aurora to organize the loading operations, while Einar coordinated the work onshore. Two hours later, nine men and most of the field equipment were ashore, but Kare, the generator fuel and some equipment remained onboard until the day after.It was overcast and just below freezing. With the biologist from the Norwegian Polar Research Institute, we located a small area where we could pitch our tents without disturbing the birds' hatching areas and get the best possible radio take-off to Europe, Japan and the US.Before dark , we were provisionally installed in our tents, which were pitched amidst the rough boulders-not an ideal site for a bed and a good night's sleep!We were lucky to be able to fly again the next morning. Ten barrels of petrol were brought in, along with the generators and the rest of the equipment. Kare made a reconnaissance tour around the island with Aurora to look for possible escape routes for the planned eastern glacier camp. (We had planned to establish a second camp on the eastern side of the island: The steep mountain effectively screened our view toward Japan, Australia and New Zealand from the base camp.) Unfortunately, after surveying the island in person, we found that a second site would be too dangerous. There would be only one camp.Kare's tent, pitched among the boulders at 3Y5X (LA2GV photo)We were faced with a new challenge: to try to make a reasonable number of QSOs with Japan, Australia and New Zealand when the long path to these areas was open only a few hours a day --when the bands were also wide open to North America. We knew this would be putting the understanding, cooperation and patience of operators in North America to the test.Preparing for the OnslaughtOn the evening of December 28, the entire landing team of 10 men and all the equipment was ashore and installed. Four stations were ready for operation; the fifth was ready the next day.Jin operates in Einar's tent to work 10-meter long path with japanese stations. The PC is used to log contacts and communicate via Inmarsat (LA1EE photo)After more than 25 hours of hard labor, punctuated by only a few hours of sleep, we were quite exhausted. Happy and ready for the DX operation, we moved up to14.145 MHz and Einar worked LA6VM as the first station. Some minutes later, we had four stations on the air. We were in business at last !!Espen, biology student and camp catering assitant, checks out some of the island's native inhabitants (LA1EE photo)The five stations were arranged in separate igloo tents which became our ''private homes" for our 17-day stay. The tents were designed to resist strong winds and to avoid condensation. Each tent contained two small camping tables with a radio station, a camping chair. a field bed with a sleeping bag. a 220-V ac heater and a lamp.A typical station consisted of an IC-751A transceiver, IC-2KL amplifier, tuner, keyer, rnicrophone, headset and heavy 12-V battery. Some of the equipment, including the Tono RTTY terminal, was recycled from the Peter 1 DXpedition. Einar used a PC and LA9UX software to log thousands of QSOs. Our antennas included four triband Yagis for HF, plus three HF-6V Butternut verticals. Kare also used a W0CD Battlecreek Special antenna for 40, 80 and l 60 meters. On 6 rneters, we tried a 5-element Yagi and 100 watts, but no QSOs were made and no beacons were heard.Our two Honda 3-KVA generators worked well, but two others caused a few problems. We used about 1800 liters of 100-octane fuel to satisfy all of our electrical requirements: ham gear. heating, lighting and some electric tools.The five stations were quite close together, so interference problems sometimes hampered our daily operating. The interference could often be eliminated or reduced, however, by changing antennas or beam headings.New Year's Eve was celebrated with meat balls and Bouvet wine. (The French winemaker had granted funding and wine.) We also celebrated the 250th anniversary of the ïsland's discovery and the first Norwegian landing by the Norvegia expedition in 1927. The Club Bouvet bronze plaque commemorating Consul Lars Christensen, from Sandefjord. who equipped that expedition, was unveiled and bolted to a rock.The new lnmarsat satellite system was impressive, providing two-way public telex .service from our laptop computer via a tiny omnidirectional antenna for weather reports, press releases and other project correspondence. We also had an HF voice link to Norway on frequencies outside the ham bands.On certain days, when low-pressure areas were passing north of the island, strong gusty winds from east bit us with tremendous force, tearing tent guys, creating loud noise, and forcing a lot of extra work and discomfort in the camp. More pleasant were the hot meals served each evening. Our camp assistant, Espen, a young biology student, also provided self service around the clock in the kitchen tent. The departure schedule was discussed and agreed days in advance. We decided to leave the island on January 13 if weather allowed. That morning, there was considerable wind and moderate visibility, but the weather improved and t1ying started at 1345Z. All equipment and personnel were brought back to Aurora ïn one smooth five-hour operation which included more than 60 trips with the small helicopter. We were happy to be back aboard, knowing that everything had gone according to plan.The AftermathAs we returned to Norway. the logs were handed to QSL manager LA6VM, who organized the computerization through club stations LA1K and LA1T. Some 700 pounds of 3Y5X QSL cards were printed in Japan and sent to Norway by air and sea for further processing. Incoming cards arrived in large quantities, peaking at 800 a day. More than 30 enthusiasts volunteered to help with logs and QSL cards. We were obliged to take up a major loan after our return to fulfill our commitments with our contractors. We hope to balance our books before the project's completion. 'f he generous support of others is essential for the success of an expedition of this magnitude. Major sponsors and contributors for the Club Bouvet 3Y5X expedition are listed in table 1. Companies and the public sector contributed about 50% of the funding. We also appreciated the company of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Norwegian Polar Research Institute, the University of Trondheim and the Nordnorsk Filmsenter as partners for this multi-mission operation The Macaroni Penguin, found on the western shore of Bouvet, was raising its only offspring while we were working the pileups (Vidar bakken photo)In all, we made more than 47,000 QSOs. About 30,000 were on SSB, 16,800 on CW and 291 on RTTY. Some 47,3% were with stations in North America, 31.3% with Europeans, 15.8% with stations in Asia, 3.9% with Centra! and South Americans, 0.9% with Oceania stations and 0.8% with Africans. Figs 1 and 2 show a breakdown of our QSOs by band and area.Of the total, 11.8% were duplicate QSOs (dupes). West Germany and Japan had the lowest percentage of dupes. West Germany had the highest percentage of different call signs logged. As expected, the dupe rate increased and the rate of different call signs logged decreased as the operation progressed, At the end, as shown in Fig 3, every fifth QSO was a dupe on average, and every third QSO on average was with a call sign not already in the log on another band or mode.Perhaps the most frustrating part of the operation was having to work Asia and the Pacific over the long path across North Arnerica. Short-path operation to these areas was virtually impossible because of the mountain in the way. When we had long-path propagation to Asia and the Pacific. we had to ask the loud North Americans to stand by so we could work the weaker long-path signals. The great majority of the North American Hams cooperated. We suppose they realized that North America had good openings to Bouvet 14 hours a day on one band or another, while the long-path opportunities to Asia and the Pacific were limited. Some operators, though apparently did not see clearly, or did not care, what was happening and did not cooperate. Or perhaps they panicked in fear of missing their opportunity to work Bouvet. After all, there might not be another chance in their lifetime.This challenging expedition succeeded thanks to a number of individuals who had faith in the project from the very beginning, and carried it through the critical phases to the end. The nearly 1000 supporting members of Club Bouvet laid the foundation and became essential parts of this operation. The project team wishes to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped3Y5X: In Retrospectlt was obvious from the start that the 3Y5X operation was not going to be routine. Bouvet, near the top of many DXers' most-needed lists, hadn't been on the air for more than 10 years. lt seemed everyone wanted to work it. Given the superb band conditions near the peak of the sunspot cycle and the magnitude of the operation, everyone would have a chance. With so many stations seeking contacts. and with the excellent conditions, It's no wonder that the initial pileups were immense. Then things turned ugly. As David Sumner. K1ZZ, noted in the March 1990 QST editorial, "While it's not the only current example and the situation is hardly the fault ot the organizers, the New Year's DXpedition to remote Bouvet island, 3Y5X, inspired some of the worst on-the-air conduct ever heard on the amateur bands."Letters complaining about the situation flooded ARRL HQ and the amateur media. The FCC issued more than 240 citations to people calling 3Y5X out-of band. The credibility of Amateur Radio suffered. After nine months, the controversy has abated but not yet disappeared DXers and non-DXers alike continue to debate the issues and to plead tor better education about pileup management-- from both ends of the circuit.There seem to be two issues: The intentional jamming and QRM. and the DXpedition's ability to control the pileups. Some say that the 3Y5X operators themselves are to blame. in part, for the jamming and QRM. A common gripe is that stateside ops were frustrated because the 3Y5X operators worked Asians tor hours on end, long path over the US, or that they didn't always listen on their announced frequencies. As Einar Enderud, LA1EE, says in a letter to ARRL's DX Advisory Committee, "Ultimately, every operator must be responsible for his own actions on the band. lf you go on an expedition and provoke me to the boiling point (with operating practices I don't approve off), that must never give me the right to interfere with your operation...." He's right: There is no excuse for deliberate interference. Period. Enderud continues, "I have noticed that it sometimes does ease the pressure just to imagine that the DXpeditioner has some good reasons for doing what he does, reasons that I have no right to know."Pileup control is something that all parties DXpeditions and those chasing DXpeditions can do better. DXpeditioners can benefit from G3SXW's excellent guidelines for pileup management that appear In the August 1990 How's DX? column. These guidelines; most of which are common sense, will help an expedition maximize QSOs while minimizing the impact on others using the bands.Those trying to work a DXpedïtion can benefit by Listening more and transmit ting less. Propagation between the US and Bouvet was excellent; almost anyone with a dipole and barefoot transceiver had enough signal to make the path. The trick was transmitting in the right spot. Successful operators patiently listened and learned the expedition's operating patterns, transmitting a few well-timed calls after zeroing in on the right frequency. Others simply called blindly, sometimes for hours on end, in the wrong part of the band. Or, they didn't let the DXpedition operators work stations efficiently (hundreds of responses to "the KA9XX station only, please"), Or, they worked the DXpedition more than once on the same band and mode, thereby depriving others of a contact.The kinds of problems that, at times, plagued the 3Y5X: operation can be resolved w1th patience, common sense and good operating, LA1EE says, "I believe that a ham's behavior and procedure on the occasion ot a DXpedition ought to be part of the lessons, training and exams of hams in every country. DX clubs, groups and individuals can also play an important role in setting good examples.". AA2ZTable 1Major Sponsors and SupportersNorway:A/S Thor Dahl, A/S Ambra, A/IS Bulls Tankrederi, EB Norsk Kabel,A/S Hvalfangstens Sekretariat, Hvaltangernes Assuranceforening Jotun, A/S Levahn lndustrier, Sandefjord Kommune,TBK, Televerket, Victor Norse NSOthers:Bouvet-Ladubay S, A. (France), Clipperton DX Club, CO ham radio (Japan), Danish DX Group, EUDXF, Ham Radio Outlet-W6RJ & WB6RZK,Heard lsland DX Association,Hidaka Denki Works (Japan), ICOM America Inc,INDEXA, JA DXers, LA•DX-GROUP, Lake Vettern DX Group, Lynx DX Group,Maspro Denke (Japan), Nagara Denshi (Japan), Northern California DX Foundation, OH DX Boys, 59 Magazine (Japan),JA1BK, VE3MR, K20N and KASANQ.A man should keep his friendship in constant repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).
The Club Bouvet, 3Y0X
Bouvet IslandThe island was first spotted on 1 January 1739 by Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier, after whom it was later named. He recorded inaccurate coordinates and the island was not sighted again until 1808, when the British whaler captain James Lindsay named it Lindsay Island.The first claim of landing, although disputed, was by Benjamin Morrell. In 1825, the island was claimed for the British Crown by George Norris, who named it Liverpool Island. He also reported Thompson Island as nearby, although this was later shown to be a phantom island. The first Norvegia expedition landed on the island in 1927 and claimed it for Norway. At this time the island was named Bouvet Island, or "Bouvetøya" in Norwegian.After a dispute with the United Kingdom, it was declared a Norwegian dependency in 1930. It became a nature reserve in 1971.