Our transport to the island. The Yacht Martha.
The phosphate miners have left a lot of waste material on the island. Barely anything that was left behind can be used today.
Here are the two operators. Left SM6CAS and right SM7PKK.
The QSL-card that was used by both operators.
Backgound about the islandBanaba Island is located at Lat 0 52´S, Long 169E, 2480 Nautical miles(abt 6420km) SW of Hawaii and about 440 km SW of Tarawa. The island is amlost circular with a diameter of about 2.5 km and it´s highest point is 86m asl. In 1900, following the discovery of phosphate there, Banaba Island was annexed by Great Britain. Once rich in phosphate the deposits where mined out from 1900 to 1979 by British intrests (B.P.C) During WW II Banaba was occupied by the Japanese who massacred all but one man of the gilbertise labour force. The native inhabitants were relocated (deported) to Nauru and Kusaie. When peace came these were resettled to Rabi Island, Fiji where many still live.At present there are some 300 people living on Banaba where they are supposed "to take care" of what was left by the BPC in 1979 which means an enormous junk yard. It is a shame that BPC left the island the way they did.
The Banaba DX-pedition:Nils SM6CAS and me had long talked about doing a DX-pedition together but nothing had come of it. So in 1993 my travelbug was getting very itchy and we started drawing up the guidelines for an operation. We had desided not to go full scale but instead do a two man operation. Ofcourse we wanted to visit a rare location aswell. After long discussions we desided to head for Banaba. It should not be any particular propblem to go there as I had been there before and we already had a potential boat for the trip. After about 4 months of intense planning we had everything set.
Nils had desided to bring his wife and daughter along to give them a lifetime adventure. At the end of march we left and headed for Tarawa our point of departure with the boat. We gathered up the last items like foodsupplies and such and headed for the boat. The trip should take about 30 hours. Nils had not told me whether he easily got seasick or not but we found out rather quick. Both him and his wife got very seasick but me and his daughter was in better shape. We arrived about 0200 in the night but the captain was determined that we should go into the harbour as quick as possible anyway. So we did.
We sat around waiting for the night to pass and almost fell asleep when one of the two cars on the island arrived. Obviously someone had gone up to the houses to wake the people up. They asked me to join them to visit the chief of the island. I told them it was too late and we should wait until people was awake. No problem they said and after a few minutes of hesitating I went into the car. We drove up past Banaba guesthouse where we stayed last time and toward the village. Right in the middle of the village the driver honked the horn like crazy. I told him to keep it quiet but he kept honking. We arrived at the chiefs house and ofcourse by now everyone was awake. I sat in the dark talking to the chief who told us we where expected but they had not been sure when we would arrive. After about one hour we was finished and we was able to enter our home for the next week. Banaba house. We got the others and after a short tour of the house we all fell asleep. Early next morning we started moving up all our equipment. The heat was extreme and we had to keep drinking like a horde of camels. We built one station each and got on the air. The pileups where heavy and it was great to be in control again. Being in the low end of the cycle we had to concentrate very much not to miss the european openings. We found a operating schedule that worked out fine. This meant me on CW and Nils on SSB. Ofcourse none of us could operate 24 hours but then we didn´t have propagation that long either. We managed to operate about 12-15 hours a day per person. Totally we made about 17000 QSO´s of which 9500 was on CW. We had a lot of fun and Nils who previously had been on V63 had seen the heaviest pileups he ever encountered.
His wife and daughter had had enough of this so called adventure and wanted to see some civilisation again (meaning they wanted to see some shops to spend money in) Before getting to those though there was a small matter of a 30 hour boatride back again. As previously Nils and his wife got very sea-sick while the rest of us was ok. On our departure from the island a flock of dolphins came and greated us. The stayed with us for about 30 minutes while the sun was setting and then we sailed in to the night. It took a little longer tiome going back and we finally reached Tarawa at another sunset.
We were glad to be back to get a real shower and some food that was not out of cans. Nils must have recovered quickly because during dinner he asked me the inevitable question "Where do we go next?" He had caught the bug and no seasickness was about to stop him. Even before we reached Sweden we had desided that next Easter we should go somewhere again (ended up being 3D2CU/CT DX-pedition) However before that operation we should visit Iceland TF4 for a contest-operation.
Sponsors and supporters:We wish to acknowledge the contributions and assistance of those who helped ensure the success of this operation, including:
Mote T30MT, Chiltern DX-club and RSGB DX-fund (lent us a nes A3WS beam),G4WFZ who handled all the QSL´s for T33CS. This was except for a WARC-band beam an unsponsored trip.
Statistics and data about the operation:
Operators:Mats Persson SM7PKK
Nils-Göran Persson SM6CAS
Equipment:IC-735, TS-450, TL-922, HL1K, 2 x A3, 1 x A3WS, HF2V, Dipoles 80/40 2kW Yamaha and a 3 kW Chinese Generators
Dates:March 26 - April 3, 1994