Clipperton 2000 - The Story

CLIPPERTON 2000 - THE STORY

by Mike Goode, N9NS
Copyright 2000, Mike Goode

In the beginning

Every adventure has a starting point and this one is no exception. As one of the two instigators of the Clipperton 2000 trip I should say something on how it all got started. Lets flashback to March 1992 and the DXpedition to Clipperton organized by WA2FIJ and N0AFW. That trip was my first DXpedition, as it was for the other organizer of the 2000 trip, John/N7CQQ. That trip remained in our minds as a pleasant experience, and we both got the "DXpedition bug" to go on further trips. Now move forward eight years to March of 1999 when my eye caught an article in the local paper about an adventurer from Indiana who was just leaving on a trip to - Clipperton Island! It seems he is considered the "most traveled man in the world" having been to every place on this planet but three, one of those was Clipperton and he had chartered a ship to take him there (the other two are Bouvet and the Parasol Islands). A few weeks later I was on a trip out west and stopped by at John's place and showed him the newspaper article. That was the beginning of the end - John had already been thinking about heading another trip to Clipperton and we talked it over at some length. I was not real enthusiastic about it but departed with the remark "if you can keep the cost under $5000 I would go". Well John jumped at that challenge and within a couple months he had lined up a ship, the Shogun which had already been reserved by three tropical fish collectors who were interested in going to Clipperton to collect the rare Clipperton Angelfish. The time of the charter was just what we wanted, late February and the cost was $75,000. This meant if we could round up 12 hams to join the collectors, the cost would be $5000 each.

Anyone who has tried to find operators for a DXpedition knows what a job that can be. By August we had a dozen commitments and decided to make a formal announcement that the trip was a go. After that of course, we had some dropouts, and at one time were down to nine. This caused some anxious moments, however we eventually ended up with thirteen members, twelve amateurs with Willy/HB9AHL bringing his son. Three of these had previously been to Clipperton, John and myself in 1992 (FO0CI) and Willy in 1978 (FO0XA).

So far so good, the next steps were to try and round up some funding and collect gear. John and several of the DXpedition members were able to collect enough funds to buy most of the necessities - everything from generators and tents to fans and table lamps. We were fortunate to have support from several manufacturers of amateur radio equipment, notably ICOM loaned us six IC-756PRO radios, Alpha loaned two Alpha 99 Amplifiers, and Cushcraft donated several beam antennas.

By the departure date all the equipment was gathered at John's home near Laughlin, Nevada or at W6KK/Charlie's home near Los Angeles. The ship was to depart the docks at Fisherman's Landing, San Diego, at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, February 23rd. I arrived at John's home a couple days early, as did Mark/ON4WW, and helped load equipment into his truck and Mark's rental car. Things were packed pretty tight, but it all fit in so we headed to San Diego in a blinding rainstorm, a rare event in the desert.

 

We head out

Tuesday February 22nd was a busy day, as we loaded gear onto the Shogun and more of the DXpedition members arrived. The captain said if we were all ready by that evening, we could get under way at midnight - a few hours early. That is what we did, by seven everything was aboard and the ship's two cooks fed us the first of many excellent meals. At midnight we cast off and with everyone on deck watching the city lights we headed out of San Diego harbor.

It is about 1650 miles from San Diego to Clipperton Island. At the ship's cruising speed of 9 knots it takes a bit more than six days to cover that distance. We were all excited to be on the way. There was lots of planning to do, computers to check out and antennas to partially assemble so the time passed pretty quickly. Our first equipment failure occurred about 3 days out when the only computer with our satellite information crashed. This was nearly a death blow to our satellite efforts, as ultimately we only managed to catch one pass, on AO-10 and made 11 contacts. To help pass the time we set up a station on the ship and eventually made several thousand contacts as N9NS/MM. Everyone we talked to thanked us for going and wished us well, a great boost to our moral.

 

The landing and Clipperton greets us

Finally, at dawn on Tuesday February 29th, leap year day, we sighted our destination. "Sighted" is hardly the proper word as the island is so flat all we could make out were several groups of palm trees that appeared to be growing out of the water and Clipperton Rock, which loomed darkly on the horizon. As everyone was on deck straining their eyes to see details on the small island the captain cruised around to the west side, trying to find a spot he knew was suitable for landing. It should be noted the Shogun and its crew were no strangers to this place as they go to Clipperton once or twice every year on fishing charters. Also it was the ship NASA chartered in 1996 as their support ship during a 6-week scientific trip to the island. By 9:00 AM the captain had found a spot and sent in two crewmen in a launch to check things out. They were not happy with the landing conditions, the surf being rather rough, so it was decided to cruise around to the east side to see if the conditions were any better. So with all of us waiting impatiently we circled the island. We cruised about a half-mile offshore, which gave us a good look at various features like Clipperton Rock, two wrecked Mexican fishing boats and the small shack at the NASA site. Everywhere around the island there were huge waves crashing onto the reef! Sometimes they raised so high as to obscure the island, and when they broke they sent clouds of spray soaring downwind. The sight of these waves and the mist blowing across the island was sobering to us, to say the least. We were beginning to have second thoughts about whether this trip was a good idea! We were committed to it though, so eventually after the ship had circled around to the original landing spot, the captain announced we were going in here. So at 1:20 PM local time (we stayed on California time, PST) with life jackets donned and a weak grin on their faces, James/9V1YC, Willy/HB9AHL and Bob/K4UEE jumped into the Zodiac and with Bruce the ship's co-captain piloting were off! As the rest of us watched anxiously from the ship they approached the reef then disappeared briefly as a wave built up behind them. Moments later they popped back into view, dry and nearing the beach! We all sighed in relief to see that the landings could be accomplished safely. I was on the third trip in and what a thrill it was to approach the reef and watch the waves build up then crash down. How would we ever get through that I asked myself. It was quite a ride, a quick rush on top of the wave then boom we dropped down onto the reef as Bruce skillfully brought the launch up to the beach through a small gap in the reef. It sounds easy but as we found later it wasn't always that way!

Within an hour we had some of our gear and six members on the island when a new menace appeared in the form of a line of dark ominous-looking clouds approaching from the east. Our worst fears were realized when a few minutes later the wind picked up and sheets of rain began falling. As we struggled to put the first tent up the wind and rain intensified. The intensity of these tropical squalls can't be described, they must be experienced to be believed. Visualize yourself standing in front of an open fire hydrant. For the next hour the six of us endured periods of intense rain and near hurricane force wind. The rain at times struck us so hard the drops stung, we thought it must be hail! It was all we could do to hold on to the tent so it wouldn't blow away. What a welcome!

 

Setting up

Finally about 3:30 the clouds parted, the wind dropped and we were able to resume the landing operations. By dark everyone was ashore and about half our gear was piled up on the beach. Two campsites, about 1150 feet apart, had been selected and we had set up two tents with cots for sleeping. At dark, about 7:00, we had our first equipment failure. We had hauled one generator to the island, and when we fired it up it ran about five minutes and died. We had four 5-kilowatt main generators and a smaller backup, so we had to use our "backup" generator from the start. Everyone was exhausted so we crashed early with the plan of starting assembly of the camp and antennas at first light (about 5:30 AM). I have camped a lot and under difficult conditions at times and I must say this was probably the worst night in my life. We were lying uncomfortably on army cots with no blankets or pillows. Many of us including myself, had not gotten our personal gear onto island, so we hadn't washed or changed into dry clothes. So I was wet, uncomfortable and freezing cold all night as the wind was blowing briskly through the tents. Add to this all the crabs crawling about beneath the cots, (let your arm drop off the cot and within a few minutes they were nibbling on your fingers) and the constant honking of all the birds outside, well you get the picture. Few of us slept at all, and when I got up around 5:00 I found James, Mark and a couple others already outside assembling an A3 beam in the gray light before sunrise! Before long we were all up and busy. What an interesting experience it was trying to set up antennas and tents that morning! The birds are particularly active at sunrise and we had to shout at each other to be heard over the cacophony of noise. The combination of the bright orange land crabs crawling around everywhere on the otherwise barren landscape added to the screeching of thousands of birds made an almost surreal setting. I kept asking myself, "is this really happening or am I dreaming?"

We had decided not to start operation until we had at least two stations ready to go. Our goal was to have four stations, two at a "SSB site" near our landing site, and two at a "CW site" at our sleeping area. The two sites were set up about 1150 feet apart to reduce interference. This worked out well as we had few interference problems, however it was a nuisance having to walk and carry stuff between the sites. Actually we didn't have to carry too much as we had brought a pair of large two-wheeled garden carts to haul equipment around. One of our better moves, these carts really earned their keep!

I should mention that walking about on Clipperton is not easy. There are two types of surfaces; one is very hard and the other very soft. The hard surface is small coral fragments cemented together, with a covering of loose and very sharp pieces. It is fairly level but easy to step on a loose piece and turn your ankle or cut yourself on a sharp edge. The other surface is sand, into which the crabs have dug a virtual labyrinth of burrows. When walking on this almost every step is onto one of these burrows which suddenly collapses several inches down, throwing you off-balance.

To continue, by mid-afternoon we had tents, radios, antennas, and generators all assembled at both sites and were ready to go. We assembled about 4:00PM at the SSB site where John was to make the symbolic first contact. He picked 20 meters, 14.195 as a starting point and who's melodious voice did we hear on that frequency but good old V31JP "Joe Palooka" (K8JP) talking to none other than Pete/N0FW. Now the irony of this is that Pete was one of the organizers of the 1992 trip and held the license FO0CI. So John broke in and put Pete in the log as the first QSO for FO0AAA, and V31JP was the second. And more ironic, on the 1992 trip after our first QSO, which was with a KL7, Joe/K8JP broke in on us and was the second QSO for that Clipperton DXpedition as well! That guy just will not leave us alone!

After those QSO's, which were logged at about 0015Z on March 2nd, the band exploded and John handed the mike to Eddie/EA3NY then covered his ears laughing as we all scattered to take up an operating position. Doug/VE5RA took over the second SSB station, opening up on 12 meters where he made 677 QSO's on his first 3-hour shift. There was a mad rush down to the CW tent with James/9V1YC and Mark/ON4WW running the fastest so they became the first operators on CW. Also in the SSB tent we set up the RTTY station, with Doug/N6TQS doing all the operating and a 6-meter station with Koji/JK7TKE doing most of the work. Eventually we set up a third CW station to give us an extra station for low band work at night. A breakdown of equipment in the two camps looked like this:

SSB site:

Radios: 4  ICOM IC-756PRO's (courtesy ICOM),
2 for HF SSB, 1 for six meters & 1 for RTTY.
Antennas: 1 A3WS (courtesy Cushcraft)
1 A3S (courtesy Cushcraft)
1 Cushcraft MA5B minibeam used exclusively on RTTY (courtesy Cushcraft)
1 6m beam (courtesy M2)
1 Butternut HF9V
1 K9AY inverted L for 75M

 

CW site:

Radios: 2 ICOM IC-756PROs (courtesy ICOM)
1 Kenwood TS-850
Antennas: 1 A3WS
1 A3S
1 Battle Creek Special used on 160m
1 single HF2V for 40m (no 4 square) (courtesy W0GJ)
1 Inverted L for 80m in coconut tree (courtesy ON4WW)
1 Receiving antenna (like a combo K9AY, EWE and Pennant,
   computer enhanced by K6SE), built by ON4WW

 

 

Pileups forever!

To keep all the stations constantly manned it was necessary to set up an operating schedule. We had essentially ten operators for the job, since N6TQS was operating exclusively RTTY and JK7TKE was manning the six-meter station with an occasional shift in the SSB rotation. Four stations running 24 hours per day means 96 hours of operating daily. This came out pretty close to 9 hours per man, so James set up daily schedules putting everyone on three, three-hour shifts. This was quite a chore as some people liked operating nights, others days, some CW and some SSB but somehow he managed without getting too many complaints. The schedules quickly became polarized according to each individual's favorite mode, with K4UEE, N9TK, ON4WW, 9V1YC and N0TT being the CW men and HB9AHL, N7CQQ, VE5RA, and EA3NY becoming the "phonys" operating exclusively SSB. Somehow I became the lone hybrid, drawing both CW and SSB shifts.

For the next several days it seemed all we did was operate and sleep, operate and sleep, with an occasional meal thrown in. After spending the first two days on the island setting up with practically no sleep, all of us were very tired so were hitting the sack every chance we got. I had the additional assignment of seeing that the generators were fueled up. So often in between operating shifts I was hauling gasoline between camps and feeding generators. James arranged shifts so we sometimes had two in a row and I often ended up with one on CW and the second on SSB, usually late at night. So I would haul empty gasoline cans over to the SSB site where I filled them and hauled them back when my shift was over. This was particularly challenging at night with only a small flashlight for guidance as it was kind of tricky finding a smooth path for the cart. The route had to cross both soft sand and rough coral, not to mention dodging dozens of sleeping birds. Several times I was stumbling along half asleep and ran into one which rudely jolted wide awake by loud squawking and a peck on the leg!

Our first day of operating was Wednesday March 1st, after 5 days of this routine we were beginning to get rested up so by Monday the 6th we were feeling energetic enough to do some sightseeing and other things. Most of us slept at the CW site, and the original set-up placed the generators near the sleeping tent. Even if you are very tired it is not easy to sleep with two engines roaring away nearby. So on Monday, when we had to shut them down for an oil change, I used the down time to rearrange the power cords and moved the generators much farther away from camp. Several commented later they were getting much more rest. About this time we also put up some tarpaulins to give us a shady spot to sit and socialize and to eat. And eat we did! I must mention how well our two cooks, John and Mark from the Shogun kept us in food and drink. There were always two coolers at each camp filled with cold drinks and we never lacked something to eat. Twice a day they would send in hot meals, and usually one of them would come onto the island to check that we had enough. I gained two pounds on the trip! We even had live music as Renato, Willy's son, brought his bongo and digeridoo to play for us.

It was also Monday when our "Marathon Man" Doug/VE5RA made his attempt to set the record for circumnavigating the island. He donned his running shoes and at precisely 1:00 PM started off in the direction of Clipperton Rock. Shortly after 2:00 he reappeared approaching from the opposite direction and crossed our makeshift start/finish line at 2:17, thus setting a new record of 1 hour and 17 minutes to complete the approximately six and one-half mile circuit around the island. Everyone congratulated Doug on a fine effort and as we celebrated over cold beers he commented "that was the worst ground I ever had to run over!" Second place for circumnavigating the island goes to our other Doug - N6TQS who made it in about 3-1/2 hours. Note - no one knows what the old record was.

 

Exploring our QTH

There are some interesting things to see on the island. Not too far from our camps was the largest grove of coconut trees on the island. Within this grove are the remains of buildings built by the US Navy during World War 2. Relicts of this occupation are scattered in other places around the island in the form of old machinery and a large ammo dump. The latter consisting of piles of rusting 40mm and 20mm cannon shells and .50 caliber machine gun ammunition! Also interesting to explore is Clipperton Rock, a remnant of the volcano the island formed around. The Rock is about 320 feet long by 120 feet wide and rises 69 feet above sea level. It is rather grotesquely eroded, with many crevices and actual caves. Koji, John (the cook) and I explored one of these caves, starting at the base by the lagoon we wedged ourselves upward about 50 feet, only to end up in a large crevice that led nowhere, so we had to crawl back down to get out! On another side we found a way to the top, a rather precarious climb to the spot where Mexico kept a navigation light around 1900.

There were other things of interest that were much more recent. On the island's side opposite from our camp was a small hut, all that was left of the site were in 1996 NASA set up a radar station at the request of the French Government to track the first firing of the Ariane 5 rocket from French Guinea. After six weeks of preparation, the NASA crew had nothing to do as the rocket went off course and was blown up 12 seconds after launch! On the beach near the NASA site was a shipwrecked Mexican fishing boat. Named the Lily Marie it is one of two that are wrecked on the island. The other was much closer to our camp, and named the Oco. Nothing is known about them. The Shogun crew told us they were not there when NASA was on the island. We found some graffiti on the old navy ruins mentioning the ship's names with dates in February and September 1997, so perhaps that's when they were wrecked. I boarded the Oco and looked around but here is nothing much of interest. Everything useful had been either stripped out or washed overboard. On the beach was the ship's fishing net, now just a huge tangled mess of green and white monofilament nylon line. I found in it a souvenir, a large stainless steel snaphook used for holding the net to a float. Speaking of floats, there are dozens of round plastic ones lying on the beaches, but not far from the Oco I found a large green glass one, a real prize!

 

Our last QSO and for some an exciting departure

We had to depart the island the afternoon of Wednesday March 8th. We anticipated it would be slow and difficult to get off the island, so in order to be sure we could get away in time we started breaking camp at daybreak on the 7th. We intended to remove all but the bare essentials necessary to keep some stations going into the next day. Everything but the tents, antennas and one generator were taken down and hauled to the landing site. This took until mid-afternoon, so FO0AAA was off the air for about ten hours that day. That night I think everyone felt both sad that it was over and happy that we were leaving. I suspect if given a choice, we all would have voted to stay two or three more days. That night we decided to shut down for good at 10:00 AM or 1800Z the next day. As the hour approached we all gathered around the SSB tent to watch John make the last QSO. As for the first QSO he chose 20 meters, but had to tune around a bit to find a clear spot, ending up near the IOTA hangout of 14260 where he found a station on Revilla Gigedo Island - XF4LWY. A fitting end perhaps, one rare island talking to another we thought as John broke a pileup for the last FO0AAA contact.

After that we began taking everything down and hauling gear to the landing site, or should I say departure site? Things went fairly smoothly until mid-afternoon. The tide was going out and the water over the reef was getting very shallow when it became my turn to get in the launch and head back to the Shogun.

Let me describe more carefully the landing conditions on Clipperton and the way the Shogun crew handled it. The island is completely surrounded by a reef, which extends on average 100 yards out from the shore as a level shelf, "level" here meaning plus or minus a couple feet as the coral surface is not very smooth. The seaward side of this shelf ends with an abrupt drop-off to a depth of 40 feet or more. Waves approach from the ocean about ten to twelve seconds apart, and when they encounter this abrupt change in depth they rise rapidly to an almost vertical wall of water six to eight feet high, then crash violently down onto the reef shelf. This happens over a distance of less than 50 feet. To get away from the island it is necessary to pass through this dangerous 50-foot wide "surf" zone between waves. With the waves arriving 10 to 12 seconds apart there is only a five or six second window when this can be done without being flipped over or buried under tons of water!

The technique we used took advantage of a narrow notch or opening in the reef which extended shoreward about 50 feet. The water depth over the reef shelf was usually less than 3 feet. Not enough to safely run the outboard motor. So the launch had to be manually pushed out to the edge of the reef. Of course you can not go right out to the edge of the reef where the waves were breaking. Fortunately in this notch the water was somewhat deeper, so the launch would be pushed out to the edge of this notch, and then shoved out into the opening just as a wave broke. The operator then could lower the motor, start it and zoom through the danger zone before the next wave built up. The Shogun crew mastered the technique pretty well. While we were on the island there was only one accident when the Zodiac got sideways and was flipped over. Fortunately no one was hurt and all we lost was a day's rations of drinks.

With the above in mind you can understand we were all a bit nervous when it became our turn to don the life jackets and climb into the launch for a departure. The first several trips went without incident. There was one close call as the launch was a bit late and climbed up the face of an approaching wave, then went airborne for a few seconds. Doug/VE5RA was on that ride and got smacked in the face by something. The whole left side of his head was swollen up for several days.

So about 1:30 PM there were four of us remaining on the island, myself (N9NS), Jim/N9TK, Mark/ON4WW, and Eddie/EA3NY along our personal gear and a few pieces of camp equipment. At this time the tide was going out and the water over the reef was less than a foot deep. Jim and I loaded ourselves and our gear into the launch and it was pushed by two crewmen out towards the opening in the reef. With the water so shallow over the reef we had to move particularly far out, where we stayed for ten or fifteen minutes waiting for smaller set of waves to come in. Finally Bruce, our captain said "After the next one" and when the wave broke we were shoved out into the deeper water. He put the motor down, started it and off we went - for a couple feet -THE MOTOR STALLED! As Jim and I turned and watched Bruce frantically pulled and pulled the starter. After what seemed and eternity the engine caught, we turned around and were face-to-face with a ten-foot high wall of water! Bruce gunned the motor but before we could say "aw sh*t! we were buried. The experience was very similar to jumping off a high diving board and landing flat on your stomach! We were first smashed flat by the falling water then nearly washed out of the launch. Fortunately all three of us managed to hang on! This first wave pushed us back over the reef, so we couldn't use the motor. The launch was turned sideways and as the two other crewmen rushed over to try and move the boat back away from the edge we got hit a second time. Jim and I jumped out and helped move the boat out of danger, and we were a sorry looking bunch as we dragged it, now full of water, back to the beach. After reaching the shore and collecting our wits we checked that everybody was still in one piece and that most of our gear, now rather soggy, was still with us. After consulting with the Shogun, Bruce decided we could not risk another trip until the tide turned and the water over the reef got deeper. Unfortunately low tide was at 3:00, not for another hour. So the seven of us sat on the beach and waited in the hot sun for three hours. There was no shade, but fortunately we had one cooler with cold drinks! I sorted through the camp equipment and decided the crab fencing and two push-up poles could stay to cut down on the number of trips out to the ship.

At last Bruce decided to try again, we were pushed out and sat near the edge of the reef at least twenty minutes before we gave up. The waves were just too close together. We went back and waited another thirty minutes before trying a third time. This time we were able to find a space, just barely! We roared out of the notch in the reef and climbed a wall of water as the next wave built up. Zooming over the top of the wave the boat went airborne briefly before coming down with a bang that jolted us all. When we reached the Shogun Jim and I assured our colleagues we were OK and headed for a hot shower! Fortunately Mark and Eddy made it out on the next run without much trouble, and about 5:30 the Shogun weighed anchor and we headed north.

 

And while we were out there...

I must mention our pilot stations, an important part of any major DXpedition in this Y2K age. While we were concentrating on our activity on the island we knew that feedback from the other end of the pileups would be important. From the start Jay/W2IJ was involved in the project and volunteered (was appointed?) to be our pilot station to act as the liaison between us and our families and the DX community. With the help of Alex/PA1AW (who volunteered to be our European pilot) Jay gathered feedback from DXers around the world and relevant information was passed on to us on the island. Going the other way we could make the DX community aware of what we were doing by means of the excellent website provided by Doug/N6RT, and bulletins provided by Jay and Alex to the packet network and various DX reflectors and newsletters. While we were traveling down they were being asked "when will they be active?" While on the island the questions were: "when will they be on such-and-such band?" "Why don't they work more (your call area)" "How much longer will they be there?" And on our way home they took the usual complaints like: "Why didn't they work more (your favorite band/mode)?" and "When will the logs be available on the website"?

So our pilot stations were right in the middle of the action, from their own homes! Both say they were very busy, but are satisfied they provided an important part of the operation.

 

The l-o-n-g trip back

So the adventure was over, well almost. Now we had to endure the cruise of six days and seven nights back to civilization. It seemed to last forever. On the way down we were all excited as there had been lots of planning to do, computers to check out and antenna assembly to keep us busy. The return was anticlimactic. We were all burned out and just wanted to get home. You can only sleep so much, and after a while even watching movies on the VCR got boring. On about the fourth day Bob/K4UEE suggested we keep saying to ourselves "only three more hours" and it will be only "X" number of hours until we reach port. Then you could say the same thing over, only this time it was "X-3" hours. Silly as this seems it helped pass the time, as did the one exciting incident on the return trip.

It was Sunday night, March 12th about 1:20 in the morning when suddenly the engines stopped. When you have spent several days getting used to the roaring of the two diesels, the sudden quiet immediately gets your attention. I went up to the main deck, along with a couple others to see what was up. I was greeted by the strong smell of burning rubber at the top of the steps, and looking towards the stern I could see clouds of white smoke billowing out of the engine room hatch! Now this is something you don't want to see when you are a thousand miles out to sea! Several crew members were there talking among themselves and staring down into the engine room. Dan the ship's engineer was nodding his head and saying he was sure he knew what the problem was. It was decided the smoke was too thick to try and go down into the engine room, and all we could do was wait until it cleared before inspecting the damage. Someone came over and assured all of us passengers that there was no fire and the ship was not in any danger. Hardly reassuring with all the smoke pouring out of the ship's innards, but since the crew didn't tell us to "man the lifeboats" we felt a little better. Just the same those of us who were awake could not go back to sleep. After an hour Dan and Norm, the captain, went below to inspect the damage. They reported it could be repaired, and after drifting about 4 hours the starboard engine was re-started, to our relief. At least now we could get home, albeit a little late. A little before noon, the port engine was started and the captain assured us the problem was fixed and we would reach San Diego on time.

Briefly what happened was the flexible rubber pipe connecting each engine's exhaust manifold to the exhaust ports on the stern of the ship overheated. This was due to the failure of a water pump which pumps sea water into the engine exhaust manifolds to cool the exhaust. The hoses on both engines blistered and cracked, but were designed to withstand very high temperatures so did not catch fire. The water pump was repaired and the ship had one spare hose, which replaced the damaged one on the starboard engine. The port side hose was patched with epoxy and fiberglass.

Eventually our "only three hours until 3-X hours" became "only three hours" until we reach port. At 6:00 AM on March 14th we headed into San Diego harbor. We were not quite done, as it was necessary to check through Customs and Immigration who, we found out, don't open until 8:00 AM. So we sat at anchor passing more hours before checking in. All was in order so at 9:00 am the Shogun pulled up to its berth at Fisherman's Landing. Now the adventure really was over. All that remained was to unload the ship then shake hands one more time as each member departed for home.

We were all tired and glad it was all over. The excitement, the victories and hardships were all behind us. The question that is always asked - was it worth it? With over 75,000 QSO's in the log the answer has to be a resounding YES. We went there to put Clipperton Island in as many ham's logs as possible. I think we succeeded. Now on to the next one....

 

73/DX/Mike/N9NS

 

 

INFO ON QSO'S

The 14,136 QSO's in one day was calculated on a 24 hour basis, from about 0015Z on 2 March to 0014Z on 3 March, not exactly 02 March 0000Z until 02 March 2359Z, hence the difference

13,863 vs14,136.

14,136 is the more accurate number for first 24 hours of operation.

Total time of operation was about 6 days and 18 hours.

Here are per-day QSO numbers which include CW, SSB, RTTY, 6m, SAT, and PSK.

Day 1:

13,863

Day 2:

12,826

Day 3:

12,020

Day 4:

11,385

Day 5:

10,918

Day 6:

7897

Day 7:

6197

Total:

75,106

 

 

Operators

EA3NY

Eddie
N9NS Mike
HB9AHL Willy
N9TK Jim
JK7TKE Koji
N0TT Charlie
K4UEE Bob
ON4WW Mark
N6TQS Doug
VE5RA Doug
N7CQQ John
9V1YC James
And Renato
(Willy's son)

 


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Last updated on May 3, 2000