Amateur Radio Expedition to Remote Southern Ocean Island Aborted Due to Weather, Engine Trouble

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 22
February 5, 2018

Bouvet Island seen from the north side of the island. Photo: Bouvet DXpedition

A group of amateur radio operators’ month-long expedition to Bouvet Island, one of the most remote and sought-after locations on earth among hams, has been aborted due to weather and after the vessel the group was traveling on began experiencing engine trouble.

The expedition, known in the community as a “DXpedition”, was organized by a group of so-called hams, or amateur radio operators, and is being widely followed within the DX community.

Their destination is Bouvet Island, a small and uninhabited island smack in the middle of the Southern Ocean. The island, known among the radio community for its remoteness, is considered one of the top two locations on earth to “make contact” with other ham operators.

The group departed Puntas Arenas, Chile aboard the MV Betanzos on January 19 but, as is typical for the region, they almost immediately began experiencing large swells and strong winds during the voyage.

After a few weeks at sea, however, the group finally made it to within just a half mile of the island, only to be stuck at anchor just off the coast as they waited for the weather to clear (wind was reported as 35 to 40 knots at times). Over the weekend, however, all hope of making landfall on Bouvet was lost after the captain made the call to abort the mission altogether after one of the ship’s engines died.

With one engine down, the ship is now currently battling the elements as it heads to safety in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Our captain has decided that it is in the best interest of safety and expediency to proceed directly to Capetown, South Africa rather than Punta Arenas, Chile,” the group said in their latest update. “We are now 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 Capetown.

“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.”

You can get the latest on the DX pedition’s website

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