Almost Secret Mission to Mt Athos SV/A

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  • Updated 4 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

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Posted 4 years ago

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Photo of Kuby, N6JSX

Kuby, N6JSX

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What an ego.......
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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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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.