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Author Topic: The Very last news from Ducie I  (Read 1639 times)
N6AJR
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Posts: 9930




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« on: February 29, 2008, 03:53:22 PM »

-----Original Message-----
From: Christian Janssen [mailto:cjanssen@bndlg.de]
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 7:15 AM
To: newsletter@vp6dx.com
Subject: [newsletter@vp6dx.com] VP6DX - News #23- 2008 Feb 29

News #23- 2008 Feb 29
Highlights:
.... On-air operating phase of expedition ends ...
.... Equipment packed and transfered to M/V Braveheart ...
.... Everyone transferred from shore to ship ...
.... Equipment stowed ...
.... M/V Braveheart departs ...

Around 4:30am Wednesday (Feb 27 Wed 1230z), a rain shower drenched Ducie
Island.
On-duty operators scrambled to close up the radio operating tents, which had

been left open to enjoy pleasant nighttime breezes.

Two hours later, at dawn, Eric and Carsten *the expedition co-leaders) and
Nigel
(captain of the Braveheart) stood at the top of the shoreline, coffee cups
in
hand, discussing the recent rain. Bands of rain showers had been seen the
previous sunset, and more were evident in this morning's eastern sky. The
discussion was short, for each man had already privately concluded the
on-the-air phase of the Ducie Island expedition should end immediately. The
generators were switched off, and the roar of the surf against the shoals of
low
tide became the predominant sound.

The decision scuttled plans for a second night of limited on-air operations
by a
skeleton team of 3-4 operators, focused on the 160m-30m low bands. Instead,
after a quick, light breakfast, teams focused on packing all equipment and
exiting the island promptly, before the weather and sea conditions
deteriorated
further.

The men returned to their sleeping tents to pack personal gear into
watertight
cannisters for transfer back to the ship. Bedding was folded up. The tents
were
left standing for the moment: they were soaked from the early morning
downpour,
and if some sunshine developed, they might have a chance to dry before
packing.

Thereafter small groups of radio operators fanned out along the northeastern

coast to take down all remaining antennas at the east camp and pack them in
their shipping tubes. Three men spooled thousands of meters of coaxial
transmission cable and antenna control lines back onto their shipping reels,

wrapping each completed spool in protective film. Two disconnected the
electrical power distribution system, coiling up thick cables and packing
distribution boxes, outlet strips, and lighting. Another packed computers,
radios, antenna control boxes, footswitches, filters, DC power systems, and
other miscellaneous radio apparatus into pre-assigned watertight shipping
cases.

When each tube and watertight shipping container received the last of its
items,
it was closed, sealed, and tagged. The annotation scribbled on the
florescent
green tape stated the container was ready to leave the island, indicated
whether
it could be stored outside on the ship, and whether access during the return

voyage was required. The containers were placed by the path to the beach,
and
"Braveheart" crew loaded tagged materials onto a hand trolley for transfer
to
the beachhead.

Others of the "Braveheart" crew disassembled and packed the camp
infrastructure:
food storage and preparation areas, eating tables and benches, washing
stations,
protective tarps, the beloved fresh water shower by the lagoon shoreline,
and
the Toilet With The Outstanding Scenic View.

Fortunately, the remainder of the morning was sunny and pleasant. Tents
dried
out by late morning. The "Braveheart" team emptied them of bedding and cots,

swept out the accumulated bits of trash and dirt, and then sealed each tent
after spraying the interior with an insecticide. An hour or two later the
tents
were struck and packed in fadges (large sacks), to be stowed outside on the
"Braveheart". New Zealand environmental regulations require precautions to
reduce the chances of importing insects. Later, when "Braveheart" is in
French
Polynesia, the tents and tarps will come out of the fadges to be washed
down,
scrubbed, rinsed, dried, and repacked.

With the arrival of high tide, a jet boat from the "Braveheart" came to the
eastern shore's landing point to start the long process of transferring
equipment from shore to ship. Sea conditions and the on-shore breeze
combined to
make this task a tricky one. The "Braveheart", pitching and rolling at
anchor,
lifted items off the transfer boat with a crane onto its rear deck. Careful
timing was required to get materials hooked onto the crane, whose heavy hook
and
block swang around the bobbing jet-boat.

By 11:00 AM the radio teams had walked over to dismantle the west camp. The
cable team extracted out of the low forest and underbrush the kilometers of
wiring used for low band receiving antennas, packed the remotely controlled
receive antenna switching hub, and reeled up several thousand meters more of

coaxial and control cables. More watertight cases filled up with
equipment...
and everything rolled down to the lagoon shoreline on the hand dollies over
the
rough coral paths.

At mid-afternoon, the jet boat traveled around to and surfed across the
shallow
southern lagoon entrance. West camp materials were shuttled to the lagoon
side
of the east camp, then rolled or carried over the atoll to the seaside
beach.

Low tide had arrived. The jet boat returned to the seaside eastern beach,
but
with low water could carry only a few items on each trip to the
"Braveheart".
The pile of material on the beach slowly shrank until nothing remained...
and
then the remaining "Braveheart" crew and radio operators shuttled to the
ship in
pairs.

Last to leave, Carsten and Eric took a quick look around the east camp site.
All
had been cleared away, even trash left by previous, unknown visitors. The
jet
boat returned, and Matt reported that all men were safely aboard the ship.
Carsten and Eric shook hands on the beach and then, having been first to
land,
became the last of the 2008 expedition to depart Ducie Island. As a parting
gift, the island's surf timed a wave set to completely drench them in a sea
water bath on the way to the ship.

No rest for the weary! The "Braveheart" crew spent the first few post-sunset

hours stowing everything for the ocean voyage. At 9pm the windlass lifted
the
anchor, the ship rounded the northeast shoals of Ducie Island, and set a
course
west-northwest in following seas.

By 10pm, all but the on-duty watch were asleep. Apart from a few minor
bruises,
scrapes and sunburns, to date no one had been injured. After a long day and
an
exciting life on a beautiful island in the South Pacific, the expedition was
on
its way home.

We would be delighted if DX editors would publish this information as widely
as
possible and DXers bring it to the attention of their clubs and fellow
DXers.
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