UPDATE – VK9AR story here

[VK9AR OC-216 and VK9AR/6 OC-234 have both been accepted for IOTA credit]

NEWS UPDATE — After 3 days at sea we arrived at the Ashmore Reef Marine Park late in the afternoon on November 7 and were boarded by Australian Border Force personnel to inspect the boat and assess the permits and documentation of our operation, the bird researchers and the vessel itself. A key issue was to ensure that we had appropriate life support on Ashmore Reef and could safely arrive and leave the island based on the tides there. With 2 hours of sunlight left, Border Force Officers gave us approval to land on Ashmore Reef and build our camp and erect antennas, but it meant that by the time we were finished it was dark and they would not allow us to safely return to the boat. This scenario was ideal as it meant we could operate at times that were favourable to Europe and North America, this was the case for the first three days. The downside was that we could not operate for a fourth day because the boat needed to depart at 9am local time and the tides would have left us stranded on the reef.

AB5EB Mike, AD5A Mike and VK5CE Craig operated as VK9AR (OC-216) for 2.5 days (2 days 13.5 hours) and made 8167 QSOs. AB5EB and AD5A operated CW and VK5CE was on SSB. QSOs were Asia (50%), Europe (33%) and North America (13%) with. We would frequently ask for North America only or Europe only to maximise QSO’s to the harder to reach DX destinations such as the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and the north-east of North America. This worked well with many north-eastern W/VE, over 100 EI/UK stations and over 200 Scandinavians getting in the log.

On the return journey from Ashmore Reef to Broome, there was an opportunity for the bird researchers to do a quick 2-4 hour visit to Browse Island to do some bird watching. This presented us with the chance to do a quick activation there as well. We had no choice of the arrival/departure time or length of stay, this was purely for the birdwatchers. But considering this IOTA was activated once only in 2000 and was only claimed by 10.2% of chasers, we made the effort to get it on the air with 2 stations for as long as we could. The boat arrived at the island in the dead of night and we were on the back of the deck ready to go at 330am (1930 UTC). As Browse is surrounded with a rocky coral reef and there was a nasty swell at the reef, we could not land there during the dark. The earliest the captain could safely let us depart was 445am (2045 UTC). We landed on the steep beach and quickly brought up the tent, generator, antennas, rigs, amplifiers etc and 45 minutes later we were on the air with one station on 20m CW (300W) and the other on 17m SSB and CW running barefoot. Due to the safety issues of landing, it was unfortunately too late in the morning for Europe and only some got in the log. To our great surprise conditions on both 20m and 17m were good across the entire continent of North America (even with 100W SSB on 17m). We operated as VK9AR/6 (OC-234) for 3 hours and made 725 QSOs with Asia (72%), North/South America (21%) and Europe (1%) with 62% CW and 38% SSB.

The weather on Ashmore Reef and Browse was oppressive. Setting up these tent and generator operations in 35C and 80% humidity was incredibly tough but exciting at the same time.

The logs and OQRS for VK9AR and VK9AR/6 are now available on Club Log. For VK9AR/6, it shows the logs have not been uploaded yet, but it has been, so just type in your call to search VK9AR/6

The story will come out later and we’ll be designing and ordering QSL cards by the end of the month.

73s Craig, Mike and Mike