By Ghis, ON5NT

On Feb 21 we left Montevideo at 0400AM local time, for a 300+ km drive to Carmelo, where we bought fuel for the generators, food and water supplies. The boat trip from Carmelo to Timoteo Dominguez Island under a nice blue sky and sunshine, took one and a half hours, passing several other uninhabited islands in the Rio de la Plata counting for SA-057 and SA-055.

During landing on the island, the water came up to our chest but all went smoothly. After having put up our tents and some antennas, the first QSO was made on 30m at 2102utc. In the early morning the weather turned into heavy rainfall. Waking up soaking wet as we had not closed the outside protections of the windows of our tents. Not a good start but our own fault. All went well until the evening of Feb 23 when it started raining heavily again and the wind became strong. Hours later with extreme high tide on the Rio de la Plata, heavy rain still pouring down, strong winds coming from the south east, the water was pushed back from the sea into the Rio de la Plata and onto the island.

With the highest point of the dune of Timoteo Dominguez being at only 2.5m (8ft) above sea level, at 5AM, the peak of high time, the water had risen up to 1.5m (5ft) forcing us to move our tents higher on the dune. Not much sleep that night. At sunrise we found our 30m vertical and 14AVQ, which we had installed on the beach, floating in the water. Our 17m wire delta loop had fallen down from a tree. Fortunately the 15/10m 2 element cubical quad survived, although the small tower it was installed on, was standing in the water. Also, the 12m inverted vee hang up in a tree stayed alive. All coax cables were buried under up to 30cm (1ft) of sand.

When checking the weather forecast, even stronger SE winds and more heavy rainfall was announced for the coming night. We then decided for our safety, as there was no more safety of higher ground to hide, to leave the island.

After a last long run with Europe on 10m (last QSO was Feb 25 at 1333UTC) we took down the remaining antennas and tents. Despite all misfortune, we ended up with over 3000 QSO’s, having heard a lot “thank you for a new IOTA”. The boat to pick us up arrived at 5PM. By 7:30PM we set foot safely on ground in the Carmelo harbour. The day after, we heard that the night between Feb 24 and 25 on the Rio de la Plata was even worse than the night before. So looks like we made a wise decision to leave one day earlier. We are sure though that everyone needing SA-057 had a fair chance.

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