DXpeditions to remote frozen islands like Bouvet 3Y0J are extremely dangerous. Bouvet happens to be the most remote island on the planet. More people have flown to outer space than set foot on Bouvet.

On January 31, 2023 myself and three others landed on the island. Our mission was to secure our route up the glacier to our camp site and install a buoy and rope system to get gear ashore. Each of us only carried a small bag to the island with extra gloves, socks, and a few personal items. No big deal at the time because the next zodiac run would bring us our essential supplies. Suddenly the seas became very violent and rough. There was no way to get any more gear on the island. Several attempts were made, but the conditions were life threatening for the zodiac team and the resupply mission was aborted.


Now we were faced with the fact we had to spend the night on Bouvet island without any shelter, extra cold weather gear, or sleeping bags. The rest of the team was safely aboard the Marama but worried for our safety. We sheltered at the bottom of a narrow ravine which provided some shelter from the wind. We used our waders and rope from our climbing gear to provide some insulation from the cold wet ground. We stacked up the climbing gear bags and our small personal bags across the ravine to provide some protection from the wind. Lastly we deployed our two emergency blankets to lay on. Then we hunkered down for the long cold night. It was bone shaking cold and uncomfortable but we survived the night as probably the only people to sleep under the stars at Bouvet. Actually none of us got much sleep, we would doze off only to be awakened by the cold.


Day two finally came and it was nice to see patches of blue sky amongst all the clouds. We were all exhausted and cold, but the toughest day of my life still lay ahead. While the rest of the team aboard the Marama was busy preparing our zodiac which entailed quite a lot of work, we had time to explore Cape Fie. This tiny sliver of land next to the enormous glacier which covered approximately 95% of the island was very rugged terrain. There was a small penguin colony near the edge of the cliff with Chinstrap, Gentoo, and Emperor species living together. They were fun to watch and photograph. We surveyed the area and found a semi flat location to erect the tent, and choose some places where we hoped to install antennas. We also found a good location to install the winch system to bring equipment from the beach up to the camp area. While we waited, the sun appeared and we found ourselves catching a most needed nap.


Once the zodiac was ready, the team on Marama would communicate with us on the vhf radio and we would coordinate the plan. This was a risky operation trying to land the zodiac, but we needed the basic essentials like food, water, our bags with cold weather gear, sleeping bags, and the tent to survive. The sea was again rough with large swells. This was going to be a fight.

The Marama crew did an incredible job getting a line to us on the beach. Charles was a skilled and brave zodiac driver. We were wearing our waders in an attempt to stay dry, but the swell was high with waves rushing up the beach all the way to the glacier.

The team on Marama loaded the zodiac and tied down all the gear. Next, the Marama crew would use one of the boats zodiacs to tow our zodiac out to the bouy and attach it to the line so we could pull it to shore. With the huge surf and high swell, this was going to test our ability to the limit and beyond.

The fight began. The four of us on the beach went over the procedure we planned. We were to pull in the zodiac and anchor the lines. Then unload the gear and secure it at the glaciers edge. As the zodiac neared the beach, we were fighting the swell and the weight of the zodiac loaded with all the gear. This was incredibly difficult and dangerous. We had to time it just right, but Bouvet had different plans. Once we landed the zodiac on the beach, we had to hold it while at the same time un-tie the straps and ropes securing the gear. The waves kept coming and there was little time to do this. As we battled the next wave would hit and drag the zodiac back out to sea. We would pull it back to the beach and secure the anchors only to have the next wave pull the anchors and zodiac back to sea. This became an ongoing war and during the fight we were all pulled under the sea multiple times. Finally we managed to use a knife to cut loose the gear and stow it next to the glacier. Then the next wave came pounding in. We see our bags of cold weather gear and sleeping bags being washed back to sea. No choice, let go of the zodiac and try to grab our bags near the next breaker. We got lucky and saved them. We found a ledge on the glacier to secure them so the tide could not grab them and wash them back to sea. The fight intensified. The next wave came blasting in and now the zodiac filled with water. The next wave pulled the zodiac back over the anchor and we heard the rupture. We all dug deep and fought hard. This was one fight we were determined to win. We set the anchors many times securing them with huge rocks. The swell was intense. We used the bag of stakes which weighed 100 pounds and huge rocks together with us pulling the line, but the sea just launched and pulled the anchors and zodiac away. The fight seemed to take hours and hours . Finally with most of the gear secured on the glaciers ledge, we focused on securing the zodiac. By now we were exhausted, cold, and wet. Still fighting the waves we finally managed to drag the zodiac to the glaciers edge. Then a huge wave rolled in and the four of us held the zodiac with all our might. In the mayhem we could only watch as the sea claimed our tent and bag of stakes washed out in the bink of an eye. They were gone forever. From our climbing gear we used three large stakes driven deep into the beach and secured the zodiac into place. Then we finally secured the loop line anchors. Now it was time to haul our gear to the ravine where we slept the night before. We changed into some dry clothes and had a bite to eat.

When I packed my gear for this DXpedition, I included a small two man tent in my duffle bag. Not Bouvet rated, but good enough to keep us out of the wind and rain. We carved out the area at the bottom of the ravine and set up the tent. With our air mattresses and sleeping bags three of us climbed in and enjoyed a warm nights sleep. Ken, also resourceful packed a tarp and erected a nice shelter which kept him dry and warm. This experience told us how hard it would actually be to activate Bouvet.


The wildlife on Bouvet consists of seals, penguins, and other bird species. The beach at Cape Fie was occupied by a number of fur seals. They are quite territorial and if you get to close they would show there tusks and teeth as a warning to stay away. If you got to close, they would chase you and try to bite you.

As day one reached dusk and the resupply attempt was aborted due to rough seas, we were walking down the beach toward the ladder to make the short climb up to the glacier. There wasn’t much light and I had my parka hood up. Mike AB5EB was a few steps ahead of me and looking back, he yelled “Dave”. I knew instantly to run towards him as a fur seal was about to have part of me for dinner! I lunged forward taking three steps falling down on the last, but avoided the beast. We all laughed.

On day two after our fight with the swell and big waves securing the zodiac and setting the loop line, we were happy to have our gear and a chance to rest. Later in the afternoon, the team on Marama prepared two barrels with additional supplies and a container of water. One barrel held four survival suits and the air pump for the zodiac. The other barrel contained trail mix, protein bars, sandwiches, a few oranges, thermoses of hot tea, four cokes, hard boiled eggs, and other miscellaneous items. The Marama crew brought them out to the bouy and attached them to the line. The barrels were air tight and floated well. We pulled them on shore and immediately took them off the beach and up onto the glacier. We were all exhausted and hungry. We ate the sandwiches and eggs washing it all down with the cans of coke followed by the oranges.

We stowed the barrels and brought the water, protein bars, and trail mix to the ravine where we set up camp. It was time to calculate how many calories we had and how long the supplies would last. We were set for a few days. The rest of the day we rinsed our wet clothes in the glacier stream to get the salt water out and set them on the rocks to dry.

On day three, we all woke up early. We wanted to check the swell and see if the zodiac was still on the beach. Fortunately the zodiac was still there, but the anchors holding the loop lines had washed out to sea. We could see the rope floating in the water.

We had a patch kit and air pump to repair the hole in the zodiac. There was a tear some four inches long. We formed a plan so we could do the repair safely while keeping dry. We would each wear our survival suits while on the beach. The beach was clear, there were no seals to contend with. Once we dried the area around the tear, we installed the patch and inflated the zodiac. The repair was a success.

There would not be any attempt today at trying to land more equipment. Conditions would not allow it. We spent the remainder of the day drying out more clothes and exploring Cape Fie. Trail mix, protien bars, and water we on the menu. Would we be able to get off the island and form a new strategy? This was what we were thinking about and discussing among each other.

Day four the swell was manageable. We called Marama and requested they try a beach landing with the zodiac to bring us back to Marama one at a time. I was first to go. I wore the waders in an attempt to keep dry. When the zodiac beached, we had to turn it around and wait for the best time to go. Of course I got knocked down by the breaking swell and sea water entered my waders getting my clothes wet. Seems like you could never catch a break. I arrived back to Marama with team members offering any assistance. They knew we had been through hell and it was a good feeling that my teammates and the Marama crew where there for us. The remaining three were all returned to Marama but in survival suits after seeing how I got drenched. We still intended to activate Bouvet, we weren’t giving up.

After being stranded 4 days on Bouvet – we decided the DXped had to be downscaled. We needed to adapt to the WX at Bouvet and go onshore when Bouvet allowed us during the short wx windows that occured. 2 days later we went onshore with a minimal amount of equipment: 2 radios, 2 PSU, 2 computers, one tent, 5 antennas, 60m coax, no amplifiers + essential supplies to survive.