70DA / IOTA DXpedition Diary

Day 1:  Thursday, October 4

As the Samoa Airways Viking DH6-300 aircraft abandons the runway of Apia’s domestic Fagali’i airport, bound for American Samoa, I gaze in awe at the marvels below, the past 10 days of IOTA DX work for 223DA/OC-097  a distant memory…

A blur of traditional hut villages along rocky coastline gives way to submerged reef in aqua blue, to fishing vessels and an occasional container ship and then finally to tiny sand cays as we soar into the heavens.

En route to Tutuila Island for part 2 of the Samoan Archipelago IOTA Tour the excitement is starting to build and the DA-RC saying…

“You can’t cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water…”

…is at the forefront of my mind!

Early into the flight the 5 other passengers and I are warned by the pilot to expect a few bumps along the way and this proves to be somewhat of an understatement.

An onslaught of rain, wind and turbulence sees the Twin Otter plane, encumbered with heavy DXpedition gear, tossed around like a leaf in a twister for the entire 40 minutes.

In fact, when we touch down I thank the DX Gods we’ve made it here alive.

At this point, the Customs Staff in this remote US Territory are the most thorough I’ve ever experienced, going through all belongings + those of my fellow passengers with a fine-tooth comb.

Swipes for explosives residue are taken, sniffer dogs nose luggage and even transceiver/power supply cases are surgically removed to check for inserted contraband — most notably drugs.

Fortunately, they’re also re-wrapped just as securely as they presented!

Nothing inside, nothing to hide and nothing to report and after an hour or so I’m released from Arrivals to my waiting contact person who greats me with a warm smile and a welcoming shake of the hand.

The drive from American Samoa’s Tafuna airport to my ham friendly accommodation “Maliu Mai” isn’t more than 5 minutes and Melvyn is keen to share his experiences with past Dxpedition teams whom have utilized his accommodation.

Straightaway I’m overcome by the breathtaking location — a stone throw from the ocean with uninterrupted paths to the Americas and long path (LP) Europe, a cluster of towering coconut palms for antenna support and lodgings that prove to be every bit as perfect as the ‘ham friendly’ descriptions provided to me in recon.

In a couple of hours, I’ve installed antennas, thankful that the rain has cleared and a gentle breeze is alleviating the tropical humidity.

These consist of a homemade G5RV-style dipole in inverted V configuration with its summit at the crown of a palm and one of its arms extending down to the water’s edge and a 4 element Moxon 10 metres off the ground, with guys to nearby coconut palms.

3 runs of LMR-240 feedline extend from a carpeted ground of sand and shell to the balcony of Room 2 and in through a glass sliding door to the station where Yaesu and ICOM transceivers and a host of DXcessories lay in wait like a pack of crows eyeing off road kill.

With a beam heading of 100 degrees and the Sennheiser HD280 headphones on to block out the noise of waves crashing on the shore outside, 70DA/OC-045 is brought to life mid-afternoon with calls made on the international call frequency…27.555 USB MHz.

Instantly, log entries start flowing from Oceania (OC) and South American (SA) DXCC, in unison with multiple stubbies of the locally brewed Vailima beer.

Of the early admissions, 224DA036 Peter on Betio Islet, 3IR199 Flavio from his home in Sao Paulo Brazil and 201RC001 Chris on Bora Bora Island have the ear drums rattling.

Stations from the Caribbean Sea and Central America also enhance the log and by the end of the day I have a healthy plate of IOTA DX Hunters from 15 DXCC.

Despite all the tell-tale bobs and whistles of impending conditions with Asia and possibly Europe, not a station is RX/TX past 6pm local time.

Instead, I’m left to share the evening with a handful of coconut moths that have secreted their way through the partly open sliding door and into the shack.

Day 2: Friday, October 5

  • To Be Continued Soon