ZD9M_PierreIt has been said so many times “when all communication fails, you can depend on amateur radio. This was again proven on 9 August when an important message from Gough Island to the department of environmental affairs could not be sent as their links were down.

The story started when Pierre Tromp, ZS1HF, volunteered to go to Gough Island in February 2014, after a member of the 2013/2014 Gough Team sadly passed away on the island. Pierre passed the necessary tests and was shipped to Gough Island, where he was allocated the call sign ZD9M.

Pierre and Trevor, ZS1TR started the 7110 SARL Hamnet Emergency Net in January 2014, and established daily communication on 30 and 40m depending on propagation. “We tried to maintain daily calls, but obviously due to the distance to Gough, we had to adjust our frequencies.” Trevor told SARL News. “In the summer months we could work all bands, but as the winter approached it was trickier, mainly favouring the lower frequencies.”

Communication later developed into a regular call-in at 10 minutes after the hour. As the winter approached the satellite signal from Gough to RSA became intermittent due to the cloud cover and other climatic conditions. Pierre’s more reliable communication with home became HF Radio with Trevor relaying messages to the DEA’s technician to try and get the satellite system reset and working again.

During the weekend of 9 August, a serious incident occurred on Gough Island. As the Satellite connection to RSA had been bad since the first week of August Pierre decided to radiogram it to Trevor for relay via email to Cape Town. The message contained 836 words, excluding the many email recipients, and was sent a few words at a time and corrected and repeated back for confirmation. The entire process took about 1 hour 45 minutes to transfer via HF radio, which forced them to alternate between 20 and 30m as conditions were fading in and out on both frequencies. “Cramping hands and wrists with worsening handwriting was the result, as typing is much easier, believe it or not! Thereafter the message was retyped into email format for sending to the recipients.”

It again showed that when all fails, use amateur radio. Congratulations to Pierre and Trevor. [source]