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Mar 18, 2013 new

All direct QSL requests received to date have been answered, and cards mailed this afternoon.

Feb 07, 2013

QSL design has been finalized and cards are now in printing.

Jan 21, 2013

Check updated Donors List at Support, and complete team composition at Team.

Jan 6, 2013

It is not our intention to present here a detailed account of this very eventful operation. However, for the record, we would like to offer a brief summary. After having taken a couple of accidents (Chochi – the boatman, and Jose/LU2WAZ), and after abandoning the primary gear intended for the operation (two rigs, many accessories, waterproof laptop, a tent, etc.), we succeeded to return to the island in the evening of Jan 4. Alex and Cezar landed first, swimming hard against the tidal current and hull, while avoiding the shallow rocks. After a quick check, we noticed that our fears materialized and everything we had left behind a day earlier was lost. We knew that this was likely to happen, but had no choice. As such, we asked Johan and Miguel (LU2WMM), who came with a second transport, to bring the spare rig and antenna. 

Pablo (Jose’s son) was phenomenal in identifying the most convenient swimming path and landing spot through the foamy waters, securing our position on the sharp rocks, and pulling the heavy drums from the water. Landing is possible when the tide decreases toward the minimum, and it can only be done on daylight in the evening. By the time we had everything on the island we were left with only half an hour to spare. We worked very hard to make a pathway through the “lobos marinos” (which are different than sea lions). It was Miguel’s determination and ingenuity which allowed us to get on top of the island just in time. We made a huge noise using two whistles and an improvised drum, and kept a heavy rope and a boat paddle handy.

The antenna was set up using flashlights and head-lamps. We decided to operate under the open sky, and keep the little tent we had with us for rest. During our stay on the island we only had water, a few cereal bars, and a couple of apples. Within half hour we worked on 20 m stations from five continents with was indicative of the good propagation conditions. Since the spare rig didn’t work with our only electronic key left, we had to remain in SSB. However, this allowed us to maximize the number of different stations logged. At any time we used one operator, two guys as guards, while resting one person. After 17 hours of operation, the team had to go QRT. Having already had a couple of accidents, the logistical team wasn’t keen to take any chances. Everyone returned safely to the mainland.

We had definitely intended a longer operation, so that we can give more chasers the possibility to put SA-096 in their logs. Unfortunately, a series of circumstances prevented us from doing so. Nevertheless, we made over 2,050 QSOs with stations in 6 continents. We take full responsibility for the decisions make, including those which led to so many valuables being lost at sea. This being said, any donations, any support from the IOTA community at large that will help us continue to defray some of our expenses, and replace our equipment will be highly and publicly appreciated on the DXpedition website. It is our belief that future attempts to operate from Escondida Is. will benefit highly from this experience.

Jan 4, 2013

Alex and Cezar landed with difficulty on Jan. 3.  On next transport, boatman suffered an accident and was taken to hospital in Trelew for stiches.   

Emergency boat was too small to bring necessary and additional supplies and so the men had to return leaving the gear on the island.  Protection against very aggressive "lobos marinos" very difficult.

"We tried to land again morning of Jan. 4 but not able to due to ocean swells .  On the return trip another accident occurred and Jose went to hospital with a bruised leg.   We will try again ..."

 Cezar VE3LYC - LU6W    ---  via  ---   VE3GHK - George

Jan 2, 2013

Everyone and everything is ready, the team is leaving Puerto Madryn on Jan 3 at 4:45 am local time (7:45 UTC). We will drive and park across Escondida Is., about 140 km from Puerto Madryn. Half distance is on asphalt and half on dirt road. From there, we will head to the island providing that wind and sea swell allows us to. If we can land, note that it will take us quite a bit of time to set camp, put up there antennas, and start the operation. Please be patient! 

Picking up the rigs and the IOTA flag in Trelew (L to R):
Cezar, Jorge (LU4WG), Jose, and Daniel. More in the Gallery

Jan 1, 2013

Beautiful weather today... on the mainland! Too windy and too much swell to put the boat on water. However, we have a very good news to communicate: Cezar´s luggage arrived with the two ICOM IC-7000 rigs and one antenna, and we picked it up in Trelew. We met with Chicho, the boatman, who appears supportive of our attempt. We maintain the plan I indicated in the previous message, i.e. to head out to the island on Jan 3. Until then, some of the operators will be infrequently on the air from the Radioclub de Pt. Madryn, LU6WG.

Dec 31, 2012

All operators arrived in Puerto Madryn and met at the Radioclub with the logistical team. Everyone is in high spirit, despite the fact that the two ICOM transceivers and one antenna, which were part of Cezar's luggage, didn't make it to Buenos Aires. The airline located the respective luggage and indicated that will arrive in Buenos Aires tomorrow morning (Jan 1). They will have the equipment shipped to Trelew by air during the day. There are no flights to Puerto Madryn tomorrow, but there are two to Trelew. As such, we have to go there and pick it up sometimes in the evening. The weather is windy and very unsettled. It was often changing from sunny to overcast, with torrential showers and... hail! We rented the wet suits, and plan to go to the coast tomorrow to have a close look at the island. All shops are closed on Jan 1, so food, water, and remaining articles will be purchased on Jan 2. The weather forecast appears good for Jan 3, and if so we will attempt landing. Happy New Year from Patagonia to all island chasers and DXers, as well as their loved ones! 

Dec 26, 2012

Cezar and Johan have received today their LU licences, valid until Jan 10. The boat rental has been confirmed, and all camping and power equipment has been purchased or rented. Food and water supplies will be purchased after the team gathers in Puerto Madryn. Landing on Escondida will require some swimming, so all the team members will wear wet suits.

Dec 24, 2012

Here is a brief summary of how the operations will be conducted. The team will attempt to land six people on Escondida Is., including the operators (Cezar, Johan, Alex, Luc), and two logistics crew (Jose, Jorge), who will camp there. A logistics team who will assist the landing, will then camp on the mainland, across from the island (Patricio, Miguel, Miguel A., Chochi, Armando). They will be on stand-by around the clock for the entire duration of the operation, until everyone is back on the mainland. We plan to have two tents on the island, and will operate with deep cycle batteries and generators. 

During the expedition, Maury (IZ1CRR) will act as the pilot. We hope to be able to send and receive short messages from him. However, we will not have internet access. As such, please refrain from posting requests over the DX Cluster. Instead, submit your requests to Maury, who will summarize them for us. 

Please respect our directional calls and allow us to give all regions of the world a chance to logging this very rare IOTA.

Dec 14, 2012

Cezar and Johan have purchased their plane tickets. They will travel together from Buenos Aires on Dec 31, arriving in Puerto Madryn at 12:50 pm, early afternoon. Alex and Luc will arrive in Puerto Madryn the same day, and so the operating and logistical teams will spend the afternoon and evening together, going over the equipment, logistics, and contingency plans. We hope to be operating between Jan 2 and 6. Once again, we would like to remind everyone that this expedition includes some very difficult logistics. Consequently, the above dates are approximate and can change depending on the weather conditions. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the team will be able to land. Rest assured that for us the safety of everyone involved is paramount.

Nov 21, 2012

Jose (LU2WAZ), Daniel, Juan, and Jorge, all experienced amateur divers, carried out a recon mission on Nov 21. They had out at sea at 6 am local time, in very good weather conditions, without wind. The team used a semi-rigid boat 5.5 m long with a 70 HP engine. They tried to find a possible landing site, navigating several times around the island, but it was extremely difficult to get close to the rocks, and they couldn’t land. Despite this, the trip allowed the logistical team to better evaluate the site conditions, and conclude that they will have to dive in order to ensure that the boat is solidly anchored and then the transportation of the operating team and equipment to the island. The attached photos were taken during this trip.

Oct 31, 2012

We have applied for the special callsign LU6W.

Oct 27, 2012

We are pleased to announce that an IOTA expedition to Escondida Is. (SA-096) is scheduled to take place in early January 2013 under the auspices of the Radioclub de Puerto Madryn. A team of four operators, including Cezar/VE3LYC, Johan/PA3EXX and two LU radioamateurs will attempt to maintain two stations on the air for up to 4 days, operating on all bands from 10 to 40 m, CW and SSB. The team applied for the special callsign LU6W.

Escondida is a small rocky island of approximately 250 x 100 m, located 5 km off the coast of Patagonia. At high tide, only a portion of about 90 x 30 m remains above water. However, the name of the island means hidden in Spanish, as its rocks are virtually covered by the sea in high winds at high tide. Wind and sea conditions are bad on a regular basis and can change rapidly. The southeastern wind known as Sudestada may rise at any time, reaching up to 80 km/h in a blink of an eye.

The presence of broken rocks, with deep crevasses, makes landing extremely difficult. Various types of wreckage in the vicinity of the island occurred in the past, reason for which the place is unconditionally avoided by local fishermen. The rocks of Escondida are home to large colonies of sea lions and cormorants, generating intense ammonia, which can create serious breathing problems. Camping is very difficult and requires careful logistics.

The project is based on 16 months of logistical work, with support from numerous LU hams, non-hams, and Government of Chubut officials. We are especially indebted to Jose (LU2WAZ), his colleagues from the Radioclub de Puerto Madryn, Federico (LU6KK), Carlos (LU1EBR) and Cristian (LU1WCR). We would also like to express our appreciation to Simon (IZ7ATN), Ezequiel (LU1EEZ) and Mark (LU7CAW), who independently were keen to embark on a similar project 5 months ago and graciously stepped down when they became aware of our plans. Thank you guys for your great sportsmanship!

Our scope is to give everyone around the world a chance to log us. However, we would like to underline that the operation will depend entirely on the weather conditions. Since in case of emergency the team cannot leave the island at night, if staying on the rocks after dark will be deemed unsafe, this will reduce our daily operating time, as the team will have to travel daily between mainland and the island.


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