By Gus Browning, printed in 73 Magazines in 1967reprint by PA0ABMGus Browning story, Part 28Bouvet Island About the 2nd or 3rd day out from Gough Island, the first iceberg was spotted, Just a cold, white hunk of ice floating in the sea. The first one looked to be about the size of an automobile, and they tell me that only about one fifth of it is above water. The further South we went, the more icebergs were seen. You can be sure that they had their special iceberg spotter sitting on the radar all night long. That night, I went out on deck as usual and the old Southern Cross was nearly overhead. We were getting there, and the winds had that icy feel when they struck me in the face. The next morning when I went out on deck for my usual look around, the sky was completely overcast and it was downright cold, with a capital "C'\ That was when I went back to my little cabin and hauled out a pair of those "long handles" that K8TRW had sent me, and when I went back out on deck, I felt a lot more comfortable. All during this part of the trip, I spent as much time on the bands as possible to give the fellows a running account of our progress to the island. I think it would make DXpeditions a lot more interesting if every DXpeditioner would do the same thing. This gives the fellows a chance to follow your progress as you get near that rare spot. I suppose this is what you might call part of the "chase/' As you g?t nearer and nearer to the spot, the fellows will know approximately when they can look for you from the island. This gives them a chance to phone the boss to pull the, "I am sick", deal. I think this is much better than just popping up from some spot without warning and making many of the gang miss you, unless they take off three or four days. When we were about 100 miles from Bouvet, the sea was completely covered with ice floes. The little ice breaker just plowed into the floes and broke them up into smaller pieces as we went through. They told me about getting caught in the ice once in March, and had to have an American ice breaker come to their aid and break a path for them to get out, I think it was the 4th day out that we at last saw Bouvet Island in the distance. I got on the air that night and told the boys that I had at last arrived and hoped to land the next morning. I had found that it was sun-up at about 2:15 AM (local time, that is) down there. I got into the sack for a short night's rest at about 11 PM, I was too excited to do more than get an hour or so of sleep before they woke me up to say, "This is it . . , let's go'.Everything was loaded into the big lifeboat, very carefully wrapped in canvas and oil cloths and secured with rope to keep it from sliding all over the boat. We had found a spot on the map which was on the northwest corner of the island, called "Circumcision Point" Just the right spot for propagation to the USA, Europe, Africa, South America, and even some of Asia, But, the VKs and ZLs were very well shielded by sheer cliffs, both to the south and southeast. This spot was about the size of two city blocks and was well above high tide. It took about two hours of hard work for us to go the 1000 feet or so from where the ship was anchored to where we wanted to land. The temperature, I estimate, was about 20 degrees and the wind was absolutely murder when it struck me in the face, I had on the following clothing: regular undershorts and shirt, then two pair of those red long insulated underwear, a flannel shirt with long tails, two pair of woolen pants, one pair of regular socks, and then a pair of woolen socks coming about 6 inches above my knees . * . then a very heavy turtle neck sweater, I also had a wool headpiece covering all but my eyes, and a big heavy overcoat and last but not least, a pair of fur lined gloves coming almost to my elbows. And I way still cold! Getting all my stuff ashore was no easy task and to this day I'm surprised we didn't lose some of it in the rough swells which kept hitting us. But we made it ... I was at last on Bouvet!!! I had an African chap, and lots of penguins to keep me company. We had lots to do after the lifeboat departed, A tent to put up, an antenna to install in frozen ground, the putt-putt to get cranked, a fifty gallon drum of petrol to roll up to the point I had selected for it, a tank of compressed gas, and even a small gas heater had to be moved to the camp site* At last I had arrived at this bleak, frozen, ice and snow covered island some 1,500 miles southeast of Capetown, South Africa. We were there in what they call mid-summer around the fifth of December. The ice pack was some 150 miles or so north of the island, and it took a South African ice breaker to get through all that frozen ocean, I sure would hate to try going there in a smaller boat even in their "warm season". The island from a distance looked like a very large chocolate cake with white frosting on its top side. The top of the island (at least about 9/10ths of it) is a high plateau, and this portion was covered with a glacier some 200 to 300 feet thick. This glacier was making all kinds of noise all day long and all night long; cracking, popping and snapping. Then there was a tremendous splash when a big chunk of this frozen snow dropped off to the ocean below. These chunks at times Svere as large as two or three moving vans. When the bands quieted down, it was interesting to watch and listen to things happening to that ice. But to me the penguins and other bird life were even more interesting, as well as a number of seals and sea lions which hung around all the time. At times these sea lions would have a fight and what a lot of roaring and grunting took place! Trying to count the penguins was an impossible task since they were always on the move. At first they were very friendly, in fact this business of being friendly was the biggest trouble with them. It got to the point where we became the center of attraction to them. They were not afraid of us at all, even when we had to use a small piece of aluminum pipe to keep them a distance away from us. Everything we did there was difficult— did you ever try driving a piece of aluminum pipe into frozen ground? Well we finally got it down, not too deep of course, but when we got ready to depart it was frozen solid and we could not get it out of the ground. If s probably still right there where we drove it in! Getting the tent anchors in that frozen ground was a little difficult too, even though they were made out of sharpened pieces of steel. We put up our little "pup tent", size about 4 by 6 feet Not enough room for our two folding cots and the card table for the rig. This card table ended up being placed at the entrance, when the flaps were extended, the operating position was about 50% shielded and about 50% out in the open* I operated with my folding chair right up against the end of the cots facing out, I was in the shelter, but the rig and most of the operating table was outside the tent The antenna (a vertical Hy-Gain) was 33 feet from the rig and the "putt-putt" (power plant) was 250 feet away-.After battling those doggoned penguins every step of the way we finally got everything put together and connected up. My hands were nearly frozen, even though I had on a pair of fur lined and covered gloves. You can be sure it crosset my mind that no one back in the states, in their well heated houses or apartments had any idea of all this happening to me. Even to this day, it's amazing to me that I stuck to the task, freezing, with teeth chattering, doing all this to give the boys another new country. The DXing bug must have given me encouragement to overcome all this and to put up with all this "ungodly" hard and miserable work to give the boys all over the world a little more excitement and something to chase again. I don't think there is a thrill in the world that's more exciting than to be the center of attraction to thousands of DXers with all of them in there madly calling you for that "new one". I sure wish I had a better command of the English language so I could describe this feeling to you- If you are a true DXer and have snagged some new ones, you have just a small idea of how I felt at Bouvet as well as at the other Brand new countries 1 put on the air for the first time, Even right now, sitting here in Cordova, South Carolina, writing this article gives me another thrill, thinking about it again. Even with all the things that happen each day to make these events slide to the back of vour mind, you still have time to lie in bed at night just before you go to sleep and think back on all these wonderful experiences. Up to this time I am quite sure that Bouvet island is the high spot on my list of experiences I have gone through, at least up to this time — of course later on putting Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, and even Red China on the air, almost exceeds the excitement of the Bouvet Island operation. Just like the Gough Island operation; right after the tuning up, there was ZS1RM (Marge-in Capetown again) in there, she just said (on C\V), "Gus?" Back I came and said "yep, it's me Marge." Then the world fell in on me, More doggoned stations calling than I have ever heard, even up to this day of DXing, I had kept everyone well informed as to my progress on the way to the Island by operating MM all the way from Gough Island until Bouvet was sighted. Since my "ETA" had been given out to the boys, they all were on hand, standing bv for me when I fired up. Many of them I found out later had stayed at home, playing sick, or taking their vacations so they would not miss this one, 1 know, with all those thousands calling me every minute of every day I operated, that some of them never did make the grade — to these I say I am sorry — I sure wish I could have stayed longer. I did stay 4 and % days and operated practically around the clock while down there- total number of QSO's at the end of that time was almost 5,000 and still the pile-up sounded larger than the first day there* It was great fellows! The thrill is still with me when I sit or lie back and think of it all. The first night there was "something**, yes sir. When the sun went down (about 10:30 at night), those darned penguins crowded around the tent when I turned on the light over the operating table, and it was a continuous battle, with both me and the South African chap beating them off trying to keep them from coming into the tent. Those pretty little fellows, that look so tame and helpless, are real rough ones when they struck us on our legs with their little stublike wings and it was not beyond them to, at times, take a nip at you with their beaks either. We soon got to the point where it was no fun battling these creatures all night. I kept the South African chap rather busy most of the time pouring 'petrol" in the 'putt-putt", and trying to control the penguins. In between times he would crawl into the sack to keep warm. The little gas heater sure did come in handy. When I was operating, I usually had an army blanket over both me and the whole rig; with a kerosene lantern burning between my legs to attempt to keep warm. The second night there we had a snow storm. It must have been a five or six foot snowfall When it started falling and started to get real cold, the wind felt like it was directly from the South pole and the temperature fell down to about 15 degrees (F), To me, it felt like minus 15, and snow came down it seemed in "chunks"— it was so darned cold, I just QRT, and to keep warm, crawled into the sack, putting the little heater at the foot of our cots and closing the flaps. The heater was turned up "wide open'* and I was so doggoned tired I am sure I was sound asleep in about 2 minutes, I had set the alarm clock to go off at 5 AM the next morning and I am glad to say I am a very light sleeper. I think the bell on the clock clanged about once and I reached over and turned it off and leaned over and turned up the lantern which had been burning all night. I intended on going outside to crank up the putt-putt and get going on the air. I found that I could not even open the test flapl I woke up the helper in the other cot, and we both finally got the tent flap open and found that the tent was almost covered with snow. It was broad daylight at this hour down there, and the sun was up nice and bright We went out to the power plant, and after trying about 15 minutes we could not get it cranked at all. Then we drained out all the oil and took it back to the tent and put it over the little single burner gasoline stove to get it about to the boiling point. We rushed it back to the power plant and poured it in quickly and then primed the engine by pouring raw gasoline directly into the spark plug hole. The very first pull on the cranking cord, she started off and I was back in business as LH4C. I went back to the Rig and found the SWR up to about 5:1 then it dawned on me that the snow had the antenna base drowned— we practically dug our way to its base and found the snow about 4 feet deep and away we went with our snow shovels and removed the snow from around the antenna (we did not worry about the ground plane radials being covered). The first "One by one CQ" produced the right results— sounded like a thousand fellows calling me— and before that first call I had only heard two stations having a rag chew. Everyone must have been standing by just for me!— The "Gus watchers" were really on the job that morning. Every time you worked one, it seemed two took his place and the pace never did seem to slacken even up to the last day of operation. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and to this day I still get a thrill thinking about it all, read on in part 2A man should keep his friendship in constant repair (Samuel Johnson (1755).
Gus Browning , LH4C
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.