*DXPEDITION REPORT* 43DA/OC-137, North Stradbroke Island

Day 1: 19 December 2011

We rendezvous at the seaside village of Cleveland for our IOTA DXpedition at 23:30 UTC and drive our vehicles onto the barge, bound for the world’s second biggest sand island and the largest in the Queensland State (South Coast) South group IOTA group.

The subtropical WX at this moment is a balmy 27 degrees celsius and a salty sea breeze welcomes us to Moreton Bay, as we coast towards our picturesque island DXstination 15km off the South East Queensland shoreline.

The bay on this beautiful summer’s day is dotted with yachts, prawn trawlers and small fishing vessels, all enjoying the spectacular Queensland sunshine and wondrous lagoonal waters of the Moreton Island National Park.

The backdrop for visitors to the island here is spectacular, with scenic headlands providing perfect vantage points for whale watchers and kilometres of rolling surf and white sandy beaches providing endless opportunities for recreational fishermen.

After a short drive, we are soon unloading the vehicles at our ham friendly accommodation, a 2 story holiday house named the ‘Green House’ nestled within bushland on a hillside overlooking South Stradbroke Island in the distance. 

This island, incidentally, was separated from the north by a massive storm in 1896 which ripped the island in half. 

It’s only connection now with the North though is sharing the same reference number of OC-137 in accordance with the Radio Society of Great Britain’s IOTA Program.

By 02:00 UTC we have the IMAX 2000 vertical antenna in the air, some 25 meters off the ground and our transceivers and accessories on a table in the whale watching tower with magnificent 280 degrees of the surrounding blue waters providing delightful eye candy.

Our first CQ DX call produces a contact with 43DA050 Jeff on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, a DA-RC member famous for being first in the log for many OC DXpeditions.

Jeff is a solid 5/9 on the ground wave and he is soon followed in the log by a number of stations in south eastern Asia (302, 91, 153, 25 and 79 divisions).

At 04:15 UTC we are super excited to work 266DA101 Sam, a school teacher living on remote Washington Island (also known as Teraina), in the central Pacific Ocean. 

Part of the Northern Line Islands which belongs to the Republic of Kiribati and belonging to the rare Tabuaeran and Teraina Islands IOTA Group (OC-084), this is a diminutive sand and coral atoll with an area of just 14 km²; one that is densely covered with coconut palms and forest trees. 

Sam is just as excited to work us as we are to work him and obliges with some fascinating photographs of his island home and station via email soon after the contact is made.

Other notable signals in the afternoon are logged from 60VR022 Tang in Hong Kong, 266ET001 Mr Bio (OC-084), 41ET133 Sean on New Zealand’s North Island (OC-036), 224DA057 Jake in the Gilbert Islands (OC-017), 91DD018 Dave on Java Island (OC-021) and 153AT063 John in Thailand. 

John drops in to say g’day and give signal reports on a few occasions in the fading daylight hours which is very much appreciated.

From about 05:30 UTC, the band is bubbling with telltale pops and harmonic bells and whistles and we listen intently for our first noises from Europe, home to some of the world’s best known IOTA Hunters and many DA-RC members monitoring the progress of our IOTA DXpedition on our club’s mailing list.

At 05:45 UTC, it is smiles all round in the shack as 18AT119 Theo from the famous Alfa Tango club is logged at 5/9. 

This proves to be the entree for an amazing night’s DX with a monstrous pileup of EU stations smashing our team on North Stradbroke Island for the next 5 hours. 

The IMAX antenna is doing an amazing job and appears to be the perfect tonic for our seaside QTH!

Rotating between spells on the mic, real time log duties on the DA-RC website and monitoring the Cluster dk spot board for propagation checks, we enjoy contacts with a large number of Europe, Asia and Middle East DXCC.

104AT151 Steve on Corsica Island in the Mediterranean Sea is a booming signal into North Straddie, as is 47DX101 John in the Scandinavian country of Denmark whose thumping 5/9 signal commands an instant QSO. 

John later provides us with some fascinating recordings of the pile up via email.  Thanks heaps, John!

Antenna guru 30DA016 Dave is also logged from his home in Spain, as too is renowned IOTA Hunter 14DA007 Chris in the southern part of France.

A short while after working 116KI009 Kaya in the Western Asia DXCC of Turkey, our IOTA station is closed at 14:00 UTC.

We are soon back on the air after a few hours sleep at 19:00 UTC, however, waking to a glorious sky painted with the pink and orange hues of sunrise, as the sun starts to rise from beyond Moreton Island in the distance.

While 43DA148 Peter sleeps like a baby, Darren enjoys a nice opening with the Americas, logging US big gun 2DA120 Tom and a host of other US operators. 

Among the contacts are 347IR684 Bart on Curacao (SA-099), the largest and most populous of the Lesser Antilles, 25SD103 Toshi on the island of Honshu (AS-007), 33ET101 Larry in Alaska, 10ET555 Ed and 9VDX222 Steve in the Quebec city of Montreal who kindly follows up the contact with a superb eQSL soon after (See right).

Day one finishes with 119 stations in the log and the team is delighted with the results so far and the excitement this activity has generated in the world 11m DX community!

DAY 2: December 20, 2011

Day 2 of our awesome Islands on the Air (IOTA) activity on North Stradbroke Island starts off where day 1 finishes, with the band providing superb opportunities for the 43DA/OC-137 team to work North American stations and a handful of others in the North Pacific Ocean area too.

The WX today is just what you’d expect in a Queensland island paradise – 27 degrees of sublime sunshine and a gentle salty breeze, with crystal clear blue water and the familiar sound of white-capped waves surging and receding in the distance from one of North Stradbroke’s golden sandy beaches.

From our station atop a ham friendly whale watching tower overlooking Moreton Island and others in the Queensland State (South Coast) South group, the breathtaking outlook provides the ideal start to our day of DX and after a couple of coffees (thanks to the XYLs Melissa and Kerry) the Yaesu FT-950 transceiver is fired up and ready to go!

Early on, 2LV357 David (5/6) and 2LV407 Martin (5/5) from the Lima Victor Radio Club are good signals, logged by 43DA148 Peter at opposite ends of 27 MHz.

David is participating with gusto in one of his club’s contest events and we gratefully accept a progressive number for our log to help him on his merry way.

With 43DA148 Peter on the mic and me (43DA001 Darren) on log duties, members from the World Radio DX Group are also prominent on the band with 43WRI04 Phil (5/5) and 2WR0360 Ray (5/9) worked on 27.385 MHz LSB, amongst a wall of US stations on the popular Americas’ calling frequency.

Veteran Big Gun DX Hunter 43DA021 Brian in South Australia is also logged at 00:30 UTC and Oscar Delta DX Group member 79OD150 Seth on Negros Island (OC-129) in the Visayan Islands group follows soon after at 5/5.

At 02:20 UTC, after a bucket load of delicious king prawns straight off the trawlers in Moreton Bay for lunch, we celebrate a very special contact with 133DA329 Mr Botoy in the Northern Mariana Islands.

In modern times, this is one of the rarest DXCC in the Pacific Ocean and, therefore, high on the hit-list of keen IOTA Hunters such as 43DA148 Peter and myself who would no doubt trade in one of our 7 holidaying children for a postcard direct from the isle!!!

A licensed amateur radio op with years of experience on ham and 11m frequencies, 133DA329 Mr Botoy is positioned on the island of Saipan (OC-086), the largest of the 15 strong archipelagos in the Western Pacific.

At 02:50 UTC, with 43DA148 Peter on the mic, we’re again surprised to work another exceptionally scarce island station, 266CR001, on remote Kiritimati Island (OC-024).

Also known as ‘Christmas Island’, this is a raised coral atoll in the northern Line Islands which is part of the Republic of Kiribati.

According to the operator of 266CR001, the entire island is a wildlife sanctuary too, which only adds further intrigue to the contact for our team and so inspires some captivating research into the island on the internet in the minutes which follow!

At 07:16 we’re stoked to log our first EU station of the day, 233MU106 Victor in Romania, at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe. After Victor is logged with a low 5/1 report, the pile up begins and it’s all systems go for the OC-137 DXpedition team!

With 43DA148 Peter on log duties and me on the mic, whopping signals are logged from prominent IOTA Hunters 14IR001 Didier, 19DX056 Twan, 161EX016 Mariusz, 14DA024 Fabrice in the portable, 1SD019 Alex, 108AT019 Leigh-Ann, 56KP101 Peter, 30AT318 Emilio and many others, with an impressive 61 EU stations logged in total between 07:16 UTC – 11:23 UTC.

Obviously our team is ecstatic with the result and it’s XXXX beers all round in the whale watching tower as we monitor the band until the early hours of the morning and chat about the day’s events on the island; events that included a near miss with a wandering koala on the road and the opportunity to hand feed a pair of Laughing Kookaburras who decided to drop by the whale-watching tower for a snack of shrimp.

After sunrise, Big Gun DX Hunter 43DA020 Geoff in Far North Queensland is logged with a solid 5/9 signal and gets the ball rolling too with a spot on Cluster dk.

Geoff also gives us some great news about a pending DA-RC IOTA DXpedition to 2 islands off the Northern Territory coastline in January 2012 with news set to be announced on the DA-RC website soon!

43DA020 Geoff is soon followed by 351 in Honolulu at 5/5 on the island of Oahu (OC-019) and 172AT115 Jean on Grande Terre Island (OC-032) at 5/7 whom is the last station in the log for Day 2 of 43DA/OC-137.

A credible 96 stations have been logged on this day, making it 215 in total in less than 40 hours of DX.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to Day 2 by calling in to make the log, emailing audio recordings of our activity, or offering words of encouragement via text message, email, forum and/or mailing list.

73 de Darren, 43DA001