Monday, April 28, 2014

OC-272 Kisar Island DXpedition YF1AR/8 YB4IR/8 Dec 21-27,2013

OC272 New IOTA Kisar Island - ID0376 LH Tanjung Tutunmahin

After the success of new IOTA OC275 Kimaam in September 2013, I started planning for another new IOTA expedition. The experience of working pileups from a new IOTA was exhilarating.

I originally located Kisar island as part of OC246. However, it is actually administered separately from Kecamatan Leti (Kecamatan is equivalent to District), Kecamatan Sermata, Kecamatan Moa, and Kecamatan Lakor. I also learned that there was a pending petition for Wetar and Pulau Terselatan Districts to become a new regency separate from Southwestern Maluku (Maluku Barat Daya) Regency. This area although a part of the province of Maluku is geographically closer to Nusa Tenggara Timur Province (which includes Timor).

On November 16th, after several correspondences through email with G3KMA and review of submitted evidence, Roger confirmed that Kisar will be added to OC272 and removed from OC246. I also received a confirmation from KD3CQ stating LH Tanjung Tutunmahin received a reference number of IDO-376. Mission accomplished. Kisar is now rightly included in OC272.

After working with the regional airline Merpati field offices in Ambon, Kupang, and Kisar, eventually a round trip ticket from Ambon to Kisar was secured.

I contacted my close friend, W2FB, for a fundraising event to sponsor this activity. I also asked YB3MM, YB0AI, YB8XM to join in this new IOTA DXpedidition, but they were unable to attend the event due to work schedule. The expedition was set to take place between December 21st-25th after I confirmed the round trip plane ticket from Ambon to Kisar.

On December 4th, W2FB announced the plan for the event on an IOTA-chaser forum mailing list. Following this, I launched the website for the event and then I posted the information to all the dx news websites including Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from YB4IR Imam who wanted to join me and operate CW; I spontaneously responded to him “Why not?”, as I will be operating SSB. The team will be complete with a CW operator.

On December 20th, YB4IR had arrived in Ambon first, meanwhile I was still preparing for my travel. Later on that evening I departed Jakarta and arrived in Ambon on Saturday morning December 21. Not long after that, Merpati Airlines alerted the passengers that the flight was delayed due to weather condition and would depart on Sunday December 22. I immediately updated the information to dx-news regarding the delay in my itinerary. Fortunately, after some negotiations we were able to fly out of Ambon to Kisar that Saturday with a plane that was chartered by local government officials travelling to Kisar.

The flight to Kisar was originally scheduled at 10:00 but then it was delayed to 14:00, we arrived in Kisar at 16:00 local time. During the transit in Ambon, YB4IR managed to get in contact with his acquaintance, H Agus, who would be able to help facilitate a power generator if we needed it. While awaiting to board the plane, I had a conversation with Maria, who is the wife of a DPRD (Regional Legislative Body) member of Kabupaten Maluku Barat Daya (Southwest Maluku Regency). She was very supportive of our plan and radio event. She introduced us to her son, Wanto, who would become our guide and companion during our stay on Kisar island.

After arriving in the town of Wonreli, 12 km from Jonh Bakker airport, we visited Wanto’s house and he proposed that his house could be the operating site. Unfortunately, the noise level was too high due to its location which is in the middle of an urban area. We decided to go to Nama port which is located in the western part of the island. We were welcomed by Syahbandar (Port Commissioner) and were allowed to use one of the empty rooms as our operating site. There was electricity service in the building for 22 hours a day, with a break between 16:00 to 18:00 daily for fuel refill. Thank God for electricity on the island.

Without any rest, I went ahead and prepared the vertical antenna ⅝ wavelength with whip 12.5m which would be able to work on 10-15-20-40 with the help of tuner. We planned to assemble HB9CV in the morning the next day. Meanwhile, YB4IR assembled the HX52A. The first QSO in the log was at 13:31 UTC on December 21st with JM1LVN on 20m, then G3KMA came in at 15.13 UTC. In the first two hours, I made over 200 QSOs from 5 continents. I went QRT at 17 UTC because I had been awake close to 44 hours straight since Friday morning when I was in Jakarta. I do not sleep well when I travel. I took a short nap.

On December 22nd, after waking up we went straight to assemble HB9CV 2 EL and operated 15m band. Later in the afternoon, we had our lunch in Wonreli town where Wanto had met us. There was no restaurant around the port. At a local restaurant, we once again met H. Agus and stated to him that we did not need his generator after all and thanked him for his offer. After maghrib (evening prayer time, just after sunset), we had time to contact YB8XM Yoppie, who at that time was in Saparua island and just arrived from Canada. He was travelling back and forth from Jakarta to Ambon and therefore would not be able to join us. In the evening, the performance of HB9CV was tested on 20m which resulted in 500 QSOs during the 5 hour span, our highest record yet. Later that night, a torrential rain and thunder storm took place which took down one of the antennas. Later on the electricity failed and we went to sleep. While sound asleep and dreaming about pileups, we were awakened by cold water that rushed into our operating site. We moved and saved all of the equipments that were on the floor. We slept inside our sleeping bag that night.

On December 23rd morning, we repaired the fallen antenna. There were no serious damage except for one unrepairable part. After lunch, we had time to visit Emanuel church ruin dated back to the 17th century. We also visited the ruin of a Dutch fortress, and a large cross on top of the hill on the southern part of this mostly Christian island near the border of Timor Leste. We also made time to visit the older part of Wonreli town. There we met Rudi who is of mixed race, his eyes were blue with fair skin and taller than most locals. I can safely assumed that he might be the tallest guy in the whole island of Kisar.

In the evening, the propagation in general was very good, with vertical ⅝ wavelength antenna, I made 400 QSOs in 5 hours on 40m band, this is one of my personal best rate. When I was on 20M, Roger G3KMA, IOTA program manager, checked in and we chatted about this Kisar activity from OC272.

On December 24th, we went to the city to reconfirm our return flight on rented motorbikes. We learned that our return flight has been rescheduled to 26th, our tickets were no longer valid because of their “24 hour policy” which we have never heard before. We had to rebook our flight and buy another ticket from Ambon to Jakarta on 26th instead of the original date which is 25th. To our chagrin, Merpati later rescheduled our flight to 27th due to weather. Propagation was pretty decent, with the 10 and 15 M bands open in the afternoon and we operated on 20m and 40m band in the evening.

On December 25th, we went to the city to purchase our return flight from Kisar to Ambon and received a sticker shock; the ticket price had gone up 3.5 times the normal price because the they no longer offered discounted ticket fares. The flight on December 27th would be the last flight from Kisar to Ambon for Merpati airline (All Merpati Airlines flights are grounded as of February 2014 due to heavy debt- Ed). The extra days on Kisar did not yield much more QSOs since propagation tanked with decreased solar flux and increased A and K indexes.

On December 26th, we tried our best to persist on calling CQ and try to make more QSO even though the propagation was pretty lousy. We struggled to break 100 QSOs that day. After maghrib, suddenly we were visited by an uninvited guest, whom the local referred to as “orang gila” alias psychotic person. That was different, we certainly did not expect that. After dinner, YB4IR disassembled the HX52A antenna and I took down the HB9CV and G5RV, packed them for our return trip. The OC272 Dxpedition was coming to an end. I was still making contacts with the vertical antenna that was up until around 18 UTC; ER4DX on 40m was the last QSO in the log. At dawn, I lowered the vertical antenna, disassembled and packed all of the equipments. At 22 UTC, we were all set and ready to go to the airport. Wanto took us to the airport.

Our plane from Kupang was lated due to bad weather but at 03 UTC on December 27 2013, we left Kisar for Ambon for a two hour flight. After a two hour layover, we departed for Jakarta via Makasar. We arrived in Jakarta at 13 UTC safely exhausted but very happy. Another new IOTA in Indonesia has been activated and is now history. We accomplished double mission to activate OC272 (and LH ARLHS IDO-376) and operated from one of the outermost islands of Indonesia (bordering Timor Leste) . The total QSOs was 2420 all SSB with 5 continents and 125 DXCC entities. Thank you for your calls and a special thanks to our supporters.

See ya in the iota pileups, Budi YF1AR

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