Cezar, VE3LYC provides exclusive report and pictures for DX-World readers of his recent IOTA DXpedition to Pukapuka Atoll, OC-098 [tnx Cezar!]
E51LYC operated from Pukapuka Atoll between May 12 and 23. Located about 1200 km north of Rarotonga, in the North Cook Islands, this remote atoll counts toward the IOTA group OC-098, which was confirmed by only 8% of the IOTA members prior to this operation. Last activation of OC-098 was in Jan 1995, more than 22 years ago. The atoll is home to about 400 people, but is not a touristic destination. The radio station was installed in Wale, the inhabited islet, within the proximity of island administration.
The propagation conditions were best during the first 3 days, May 12 to 14, when I was able to log about 3,400 QSOs. During the remainder of my stay I logged another 2,200, for a total of 5612 QSOs with 79 DXCC in 6 continents. More than 76% of these contacts were in CW, while the rest in SSB, using all bands from 40 to 10m. More than 47% of all QSOs were on 20 m, with a relatively similar number on each of 40, 30, 17, and 15m.
One of the difficult paths was to Europe. During several days, 20 m band appeared reliable, providing some propagation between approximately 5 and 8:30 UTC to various areas of the old continent. While I did operate both CW and SSB at first, I settled for the former mode, because it seemed easier for my signals to be replied to. Every day I looked for possible openings to Europe between 12 and 16 UTC on various bands. While I was able to copy lightly some activity on the bands from 40 all the way to 17m during this period of time, I was only able to log the EU stations during this period of time towards the end of my stay, on May 21 and 22, but only on 40 and 30m.
Given the fact that the propagation conditions were tough, I noticed that some stations decided to beat them using either remotes located on different continents, closer to me, or third parties who called on their behalf. When signals from European stations were coming at S1 to S3, all with a certain QSB, and many of them with some flutter, it was impossible to accept that European callsigns whose signals came at S9+10dB or stronger, without any QSB or flutter, were legit. At different times, when the propagation was only open to Asia and North America, I could copy a powerful station making a call on behalf of an European one. I removed from the log several QSOs which I had no doubt that fell unquestionably into these categories. I believe that having kept them would have harmed the integrity of the IOTA Program.
Since propagation conditions to Japan were good for long periods of time during the day, many Japanese stations seemed compelled to compete with themselves and each other for who will log me on the most band/mode slots. I never indicated prior to the operation that chasers should limit their QSOs, and as such I went along with the above for a few days. Later on, however, I alternated periods of time when I accepted any call to periods when I would only take new stations, who never logged me before. The chasers understood my intentions pretty quickly, and acted accordingly. I hope that anyone located in the far-east or south-east Asia, North America, and Oceania who wanted to make the log of E51LYC was able to do it.
I wish to express my gratitude to all the group and individual donors who generously supported this project. The full listing will be updated shortly on the expedition website, http://e51lyc.weebly.com. Additionally, I would like to thank Andy (E51AND), Kath, Jim (E51JD), and Anna Katoa for help with the logistics required by this project. I remain indebted to Milan (E51DWC), Alice and Natalie for hosting me during my stay in Rarotonga. A huge thank you to Pio Ravarua for not only his invaluable assistance with everything I needed on the island, but also for sharing with me some of the local legends, myths, and facts of life.
More information about this operation, along with additional statistics, will be available very soon on the expedition website. QSL cards will be designed, printed, and mailed in due course to those who requested them. Please visit the expedition website from time to time to find out the status of these cards.