Almost Secret Mission to Mt Athos SV/A

  • 5
  • Idea
  • Updated 3 years ago
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
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3595 Posts
  • 1450 Reply Likes

Posted 3 years ago

  • 5
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3595 Posts
  • 1450 Reply Likes
@Walt

How did you get course, speed and location of Sea Dream I ?
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3595 Posts
  • 1450 Reply Likes
Thanks. That's cool actually sitting at a bar in the port of Myrena now using adult beverages to calm down post adventure
Photo of Ross - K9COX

Ross - K9COX

  • 340 Posts
  • 104 Reply Likes
Indiana Jones had nothing on you.
Photo of Walt

Walt

  • 236 Posts
  • 74 Reply Likes
#Howard,

Shipfinder.com
marinetraffic.com (the one I used)

There are others  -   Easiest is just google the ship name with the word location and one of the above sites will pop up.  All ships in the world above a certain size (depends on country) are required to have the AIS tracking system - military and government / public safety vessels may turn theirs off ( of course).

Some tracking sites use volunteer radios to listen - if you pay big bucks you can use the commercial tracking that includes sat. tracking that is available to see where ships are far at sea.

Have a safe continuation of your voyage.

Cheers
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3595 Posts
  • 1450 Reply Likes
Next big Stop. Istanbul Turkey.

Yes I have Turkish Visa.
Photo of Ken - NM9P

Ken - NM9P, Elmer

  • 4033 Posts
  • 1251 Reply Likes
Too bad the weather was bad.  I was up listening until about 05:40Z, and worked several ZL's & VK's on 20 while watching for your signals.  I had to get to bed before you landed.  The 20 Meter band was still very good to places "down under" when I quit.  There was even a VK DX net on 14.185 that had several stations booming in to my location at S7-9 levels. Several other VK & ZL stations at 14.163, 14.193, 14.200. 14.205,  14.225, and others.  Also a big W6 near 14.220 who was S9 +20 dB.  The band must have died quickly after I went to bed.

Please post time and frequency you will be on from Turkey.

Ken - NM9P
(Edited)
Photo of KY6LA - Howard

KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

  • 3595 Posts
  • 1450 Reply Likes
What is My Thrill,at remoting

As you may not know, I already have DXCC for multiple bands and modes from multiple countries and with multiple local call signs using the traditional process of schlepping radios with me. I have a Ic706 go kit to schlep but I have been doing foreign DXpeditions since 1965 when I built a 40M rig into my motor cycle and drove from London to Mysore India. During my professional career I worked and/or lived in over 40 countries. And played ham radio in my spare time.

So clearly regular DXpeditions are not much of a challenge for me anymore.

BEEN THERE DONE THAT. BORING.

So in 2011 I was looking for a new challenge. I was inspired by my Flex 5000 and Joe KC2TN to try a transcontinental remote from Dayton...we failed the first year. So it clearly was a challenge that needed to be solved.

With much experimentation we worked out mechanisms that finally worked reliably. Since as you may not know XYL and I travel as much as we physically can I was inspired to try to collect Remoting DXCC FROM 100 countries. I now have 26 countries with #27 Turkey likely Thursday/Friday. FYI. Except for Vietnam and Bali I have already previously done regular.Dxing From the other 24 counties on my current list

Surprisingly this quest has been much more technically challenging than my old style DXPeditions. For example here were some of the challenges at Mt Athos

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

The weather did not cooperate

2. The Zodiac could miss the rendezvous - very possible especially with the weather and the change of schedule.

They were late
3. The local authorities could be waiting for us to prevent a landing - unlikely

We got luckily long enough.
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.

It worked as a slow 3G. But with Stu's new slow speed data mode I still made a Q

5. A myriad of technical glitches either at my end or in La Jolla...not likely as it worked 100% from Skiathos today.

There were major technical glitches. My audio was over processed. So I had fix things 7,000 miles away which was very hard over slow connections

6. 20M propagation from La Jola will suck. probably great to VK at that time.

20M was dead. Nobody heard me on 40m until I saw on my panadapter somebody tuning up

Perhaps the best thing about this new quest is that I am having fun again.