Almost Secret Mission to Mt Athos SV/A

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Greetings from Skiathos, Greece. (Zulu + 3 Hrs)

I know this is not what many of you think of this as a traditional DXpedition but it has taken me similar costs and planning to try to pull this off.

XYL and I are on board the Sea Dream 1 a small cruising Yacht in the Agean Sea heading towards Istanbul.

Tomorrow September 08, we will be sailing by Mt Athos SV/A a particularly rare DX location because the only licensed ham is Monk Apollo who is limited on the number of days a year he can speak. Mt Athos is a celibate religious principality where women are not allowed and landing is only permitted for men with permits reserved for adherents to the local religious practice.

Needless to say I do not qualify for a permit and Monk Apollo jealously guards his ham exclusivity so they never authorize third party ham operations To add to the difficulty the yacht captain refuses to land on Mt Athos because he would be fined and lose his transit permits.

However if you are willing to throw enough money at a problem there is invariably a solution.

I have engaged a Zodiac (large rubber boat) to rendezvous with the yacht to take me and my equipment (Ipad, Bluetooth headset, 4G Wifi Hotspot, MacBook Air, external Wifi Hotspot antenna) as close as possible to Mt Athos.

It will be remote country #26 for me via my Flex SDR radios.

I hope to actually put a foot or two onshore while making a QSO albeit everyone locally seems to be rather afraid of the religious authorities. However a few extra €$ seems to have mitigated those fears somewhat.

The Zodiac Rendezvous is supposed to be at 0500Z 09/08/15. I should be ashore around 0515 bit could be delayed by weather for hopefully 5-15 minutes or as long as the Zodiac owners are comfortable that they won't be hit with a big fines (I get to pay any fines)

I plan to use 14.195 BUT the the Over the Horizon Radar blazing away, I may move up 10-20Khz.

I will be remoting to my station KY6LA in La Jolla, CA somewhere around 0500-1000z...to my Flex 6700. I will be using one or two of several different Remote Apps....Parallels Access for IPad, K6TU remote for iPad, and Don Agro's MacBook App for Flex. .. Amazing how many remote options there are for the Flex now without the need for any extra equipment at home.

What could go wrong?

1. Weather may not cooperate. It's supposed to be windy and raining tomorrow and we are in a small tropical storm right now. The captain already told us we will be at Mt Athos at 0500z instead of 0700z as planned
2. The Zodiac could miss the rendezvous - very possible especially with the weather and the change of schedule.
3. The local authorities could be waiting for us to prevent a landing - unlikely (Free KY6LA fund for Bail soon)
4. The wifi hotspot could be out of range of a 3G or 4G signal. (Most likely) albeit I have had very good results with the outside gain antenna. Or the 3G connection could be just too slow or unrealizable.
5. A myriad of technical glitches either at my end or in La Jolla...not likely as it worked 100% from Skiathos today.
6. 20M propagation from La Jola will suck. probably great to VK at that time.

So please listen for me and hope I make it

I need at least 1 Q from Mt Athos to make it from Country #26
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Posted 3 years ago

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Photo of Kuby, N6JSX

Kuby, N6JSX

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What an ego.......
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Yes I agre n it takes a great deal,of self confidence to try to pull off something as difficult as remoting from SV/A


Thanks for your approval. Hope to work you tomorrow
(Edited)
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k0eoo

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It's amazing what a guy can do when he puts his mind to it....  Hope you make it Howard....
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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Stay out of jail, Howard. It doesn't count for DXCC, anyway!
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Robert Karz

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As George says, it won't count for DXCC.  You need permission from the local authorities which you clearly won't have.  I do admire your creativity however.
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Ali - 9K2WA

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I will be listening for you Howard,  me, 9K2GS and W6lG  have a round table on a daily basis usually  on 14.200  starting close at your sunset time for a good hour at least at around 3:00 Z to my region if there is no black out and if you can stay out of trouble!
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Richard McClelland, AA5S

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Too cool, Howard!  Are you posting details of your trip on a travel site?  If so, let us know so that those who are so inclined can follow along there.
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Walt

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I would have more fun to take a Flex 1500 or KX3 over there to operate in a new location (like maybe on the ship) and enjoy the propagation of the area.  But trying to get internet connections in remote areas would have its fun and challenge too.

Cheers Howard, and be safe - not sure if the local constable would grant you the same civil rights as back in the homeland.  I hope to stay up and listen for you - do not want you to go to all that and not get a new country count for your remote ops.
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Steve W6SDM

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Now imagine some poor monk wanting so desperately to escape the evils of humanity that he dedicates his life to God and sequesters himself on one of the most remote places on the planet - only to be hunted down by a guy in a rubber boat with a bunch of ham radio gear.  When it comes to DX, nothing is sacred.  Nothing. 

I have started a bail fund at the Bank of Athens.   Credit cards, PayPal, and bitcoin are accepted.  I am told that we can only withdraw $65 per day, so it may be a while before Howard and his XYL are re-united.  :)
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KM4CQG

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Howard

I for one admire your efforts and will try and contact you.

So what if it doesn't count to some made up contest rules it's still cool and a challenge.

Ian
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Simon Lewis

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you admire someone's effort to a) pirate by operating from a country illegally, withut any approval and  b) upset the possibility of any future operations from there after the recent upset of other misg-guided illegal activities and c) act like some  egotistic nut job

sorry your target for admiration is very much mis-guided

but cements what impresssion I already had

Nothing is this is anywhere near heroic - its foolhardy and without thought of the consequences

Simon ZL4PLM 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Simon

It does NOT jeopardize anything. It's only making a phone call to La Jolla from Mt Athos.
Last I heard there is no law against making phone calls

Definitely does not count for DXCC or any current measure for ham Q's.
Albeit some day it just might

FYI gave the Zodiac Captain €30 to pay authorities post facto landing permit fee for Non Orthodox males. To make sure there were no issues.

I think I shud put ZL on my list for future Remote Q's.
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Simon Lewis

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so how do you think your actions will be taken by Monk Apollo? Do you think the Mt Athos council will care how you operated, or where from, if news gets out of your little stunt ... you stated you landed illegally? without permit?  You operated from Mount Athos ... regardless of HOW you operated, do you think that will even considered by them if they hear new about it ... It will be entirely overlooked ... given the sensitivity of Mt Athos just now over past months events even the suggestion of operation from there regardless how how it was done is liable to inflame things.

"I think I shud put ZL on my list for future Remote Q's"

yawn

 
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Sounds like I need to try remoting from P5 next or would that upset the powers that be there too much too so that they never let anyone actually DX from there? Oops. I forgot,,,they already don't let people DX from P5 or SV/A.
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Walt - KZ1F

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Howard if you don't tell ARRL, I won't either. You're in the same class as those using RHR. "What's good for the goose..."
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Walt - KZ1F

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That was somewhere between sarcasm and facetiousness. It's actually more and less than a phone call to La Jolla, its testing internet connectivity from points around the globe to La Jolla. It has virtually nothing to do with ham radio, IMHO. Frankly, I feel the same way about RHR. If I rent their La Jolla contest station with 120' stacked monobanders and log contacts as kz1f, that is just incredibly unethical. IMHO. I am surprised ARRL doesn't call that what it is.

However, having said that, Howard knows he's making an internet connection from interesting places around the globe to his home in CA. Just like when Amir calls cq as 4X-whatever and in the course of the qso says, "I'm actually not in Israel right now, I'm in my New Mexico office".

I wish I could afford to do that too. It sounds like a fun thing to do.
(Edited)
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Joe - KC2TN

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It has everything to do with ham radio! He made an RF contact between La Jolla and Alaska!No different than if I was sitting on my back deck using my Maestro to talk to Alaska! HIS back deck just happens to be Mt Altos! Nice job Howard, I just wish it was I that worked you via my iPad from NJ again! Lol
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Walt - KZ1F

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Yep, as you worded it, yes, you're correct. I was referring to the internet connection from Mt Olympus. I would have said no different than had he been sitting at his operating position at his home with yes, be it Maestro or RDP you are no longer tethered to you stations desk. You are, however, tethered to you stations radio, and antenna. The 'virtually nothing to do with ham radio' is the form the tether to your radio takes.

The issue with RHR is if you connect to one of their contest stations and use their station call sign, great. If you start using your own, not so great...IMHO. In Howard's case and yours, the 'distant' station call is yours. If I use my Maestro to connect to your station I should use your call. So the entire issue with remoting, as I see it, is what callsign should be used.
(Edited)
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Joe

Thanks for the original remoting inspiration. I will always remember our first attempt at remoting coast to coast frommDayton in 2011.
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Steve K9ZW, Elmer

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Way cool. Technically not operating, so no actual violation?

Hope to get to see your travel pictures too!

GL and 73

Steve
K9ZW
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George Molnar, KF2T, Elmer

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As long as you are there legally, have fun. If that's not the plan, don't do it. A ham (even if not technically "operating") there without proper permissions and such could hurt efforts to activate this rare one later. Heck, I've worked KY6LA, but don't have Mt Athos in the log. I'd prefer both to count for something.

Seriously Howard, be safe, be prudent, and have a grand time.
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W7NGA

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ethics aside .. I just don't get this? 

I just returned from the Vietnam border with China. Great internet connection at my small mountain hotel room in Sapa, an outpost of the previous French occupation. I then traveled to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Everywhere I went I had much faster internet connections than I have here on San Juan Island, Washington. 

I sincerely hope this isn't a trend ... working the world via the internet. Yawn ...

W7NGA  dan
San Juan Island, Wa.
(Edited)
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Walt - KZ1F

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Wow...I haven't been to that part of the world in ages. But I suspect you are correct about coverage in the developing world. The whole offshoring thing came about from huge excess capacity in the fiber laid into India and I am sure it continued through Asia. People with money go to Thailand for surgeries now, better outcomes, or just as good, for pennies on the dollar.
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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I already operated as 3W8/KY6LA. Remoting is more fun
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Ross - K9COX

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Let's just use the WhatsApp
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Walt

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30 min ago, the ship was at  39.94683° / 24.25267°  (Lat / Long )   doing 8 knots - the winds were at 19 knots - a bumpy ride in a zodiac (depending on size)

Cheers
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David

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Sounds like you will have some excitement. The linking to a radio for remote operation and many other challenges you are overcoming are impressive though I think I'm missing something. Isn't the contact from amateur radio to amateur radio with your station in La Jolla, CA not Mt Athos directly? The radio to radio is what I find more exciting.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Sorry David. I have already done the radio to radio thing 40+ year s ago. Nth is. Is more fun
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Walt

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I, for one, would take my little QRP and loop antenna with me and actually enjoy the propagation of a new country rather than connect to the old radio at home.  I will love trying the remote parks in Cornwall the next time I am there. 

But Howard is on a quest and so I will listen for him and see if he can get a contact from me or someone else so he can check off another country to his list.  If he can get off the boat without Customs dragging him away.  It seems pretty risky and being able to buy your way out might not work.  But I hope he stays safe.  Doubt if there is any 4G internet in the internment camps . . Let alone a place to set a laptop !

Cheers
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Turn the beam towards Indiana early on. I am listening for a little while before I go to bed!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Beam was at 30 degrees.
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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14195. Is blasted

Try 14207. Almost ashore
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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20m dead. Moving to 40M
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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7.180 call CQ
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Success. AL7KV QSO. Running like heck got back to Zodiac. 7.185. This is nuts
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Alex - DH2ID, Elmer

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Glad you made it Howard, running faster than those monks gunning for you ;-)
And even better that you used internet, because the bands are D E A D here,
because of major storm...
(Edited)
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Local time is Zulu +300. Following is in Zulu

FYI. To all the people who say schlep a radio and make QSO. That is so 20th century. I have already done that. I have a travel go kit with an IC706 that I have made QSO's from 50+ countries. I am notorious for renting cars so I can removing the battery to my hotel room to make Q's in comfort. Plus I have been to many more countries and used local,ham stations to make Q's.

This is the 21st century. I am trying to do the first REMOTING DXCC

0500. Seas very rough. 6'-10' waves. No Zodiac in sight. No Internet Connection

05:32. Zodiac radio contact. 10' waves. It's bouncing like crazy. Captain says it's far too rough to safely transfer to Zodiac No Internet connection except over Satellite which is far too slow for remote. Yacht will change course to bring us closer to shore and perhaps calmer water so I can transfer safely.

05:40 Both Zodiac and Yacht are now on parallel course towards shore but the seas seem very rough. Putting my equipment into ziplock bags to protect them from seas. Don't have a big enough Ziplock for MacBook so it stays on board. Seas calming but 20mph winds.

06:00. Sighted Zodiac. Seas down to 3-5'
06:15 transferred to Zodiac bouncing like heck. 5' still big waves

06:25 on shore SV/A. That was an exciting bouncy ride. Ipad and stuff dry

14.195 is destroyed by Over the Horizon Radar. Move to 14.207 calling CQ

06:40. 20M dead moving to 40M.

Using K6TU App as it has least bandwidth. Big issue every time I drop connection, app retuned the SteppIR to 20M so it takes 20 seconds for MonstIR to get back to 40M.

Calling CQ on 7.180. No takers.

06:45. I love the Flex Display...SEE a strong station tuning up on 7.185. I call him
QSO with KL7VA. This so cool! Country #26. FYI. My audio is crappy but heck it's a Q.

6:55. Zodiac captain see authorities. We need to leave. Still in QSO with KL7VA. While running down the beach. This is NUTS!!!!!

07:00 End QSO. Ziploc iPad, headset, MIFI. Back on Zodiac
07:15 back on Yacht.
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Ernest - W4EG

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Howard,
I could just imaging seeing you running. LOL
Fantastic accomplishment!
Congratulation, will see you at your next conquest...
(Edited)
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k0eoo

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What a story Howard....  Would make a great cartoon in QST, your running to the Zodiac iPad in hand making Q's with the monk police in hot pursuit....
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Here is proof of location