FO-ON4AXU, May-June 2004, French Polynesia, Austral and Marquesas Isl.

After retirement from the NL Army and settling in Belgium, one has the time to set up the trip of a life time…3D2, A3, 5W, C2, T30 and ZK (North and South) had already been activated…This time French Polynesia could be a nice target….Three DXCC entities with one call...........

Ready to go…………

So a trip has been booked with the travel agent to visit 3 DXCC entities and 4 IOTA numbers…Via Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles, Air New Zealand landed the xyl and me with 100 kilograms of luggage in the middle of the night safely in Papeete… A 4 hours sleep would immediately bridge the 12 hours time gap with Europe and would allow to set up for a short FO operation…

In the 100 kilograms I carried, my TS-450 that made me in our last year’s fall trip the continental winner for Africa (as EA8/ON4AXU) in the WAE RTTY contest, an ICOM IC-706 and the new YAESU FT-857. Targets for the trip: Be QRV in different modes, all bands and try to make 10k QSO’s, knowing that we are in the bad part of the cycle.

In the garden of hotel Royal Tahitien[1] quickly the windom was hung in the trees…. No signal at all … Without going into the details: internally the connector of the antenna coax was loose… After soldering all went OK… With the official of the High Commissariat [2] it had been arranged that the licence would be ready for pick-up at the Royal Tahitien swimming pool… The lady was there….”Sorry I forgot to bring the license…I will bring it tomorrow…”

On Sunday I received the license…The French Polynesian authorities changed my nationality from Dutch to Belgian… So what??...I am here for radio and not for bureaucratic stuff…

Conditions: very poor….Finally a little pile-up of JA’s…Suddenly the SWR jumped to ‘indefinite’…What was wrong now? The balun of the windom appeared to be the problem. The only thing I can say: the balun rattled …

It was in the papers first to travel to Tubuai (Austral) early on Monday…The ‘unnecessary’ luggage had been left behind in Papeete, however the total weight turned out to be 70 kilograms…No mercy…pay the overweight or leave it…and by the way each piece of luggage should not exceed 32 kilograms…The result of some discussions at the check-in counter…buy an extra bag, re-pack, pay 39.000 Polynesian Francs for all the forthcoming AIR TAHITI flights and off we went in the ATR prop.

On the TUBUAI air station we have been welcomed with the traditional flower crown by Yolande, and driven to the Pension “Chez SAM and YOLANDE”[3]. Four hours after landing, the ground plane was assembled, the G5RV hung and all was ready to go…Deep in the noise I heard some US-stations…but not workable…

AIR TAHITI on Tubuai Air station

In general I experienced very high noise levels, very short openings on 20, occasional possibilities on 21 and even one time about 1 hour activity on 28 MHz.

1634 QSO’s was the meagre score after one week as FO/A station…However; SM5EEP had his 251st DXCC entity in SSTV…

.....

After a “back to TAHITI “ for 2 nights, with a visit to the Papeete market ( thanks to Alain,FO5RH, for the transportation) and an eye-ball QSO with Michel, FO5QB, the second phase of the trip started: Island-hopping. Moorea, and especially Huahine and Raiatea (both OC-067) appeared attractive for IOTA-hunters. On Moorea[4] and Raiatea [5] the QTH’s seemed to be very good: on the north side of the islands, enough space for antennas and nice bungalows. It was a pity that we had only planned to stay 2 nights on each of the islands. Here too conditions hampered me to build a reasonable QSO-rate.

Antenna on the Raiatea shore

In 24 hours on Tahiti all equipment had to be re-shuffled to be sure of a successful 3rd part of the trip: FO/M. After a 3 ˝ hours flight to Nuku Hiva by ATR and 1 hour by Twinotter, Gaby met us at the Hiva Oa air station. By the way: Hiva Oa is the island where the French painter Gauguin and the Belgian singer Jacques Brel found their eternal rest. It is a very mountainous small volcanic island and no accommodation had been found on the north side. The Temetiu Village Pension [6] is located close to the ‘capital’ of Hiva Oa: Otuana, and overlooks the Hiva Oa harbour.

The Hiva Oa “harbour”

With co-operation of Gaby the place for the Ground plane and the G5RV quickly had been decided. Using the natural differences in height, and a palm tree the optimal possible antenna situation was created….

        Antenna work in the heath             

One of the targets for the trip was to be QRV on the low bands 160 and 80. Yes, I have been QRV, but made no QSO’s. On 160 no station has been heard. On 80 meters 2 US calls have been heard; W6RFL and WC6DX.Best DX I heard from FO/M on 7 MHz was DF2PY, Wolf, calling CQ on 7 MHz on the 12th of June at 03.16 GMT. Unfortunately he did not hear me... However, JA0SC who had been QRV from Marquesas earlier this year, made his own SSTV QSO, and PA0HVF, who missed JA0SC, also finally got his FO/M SSTV QSO...

Lucky me, that I reserved weight for the flight from Hiva Oa to Nuku Hiva upon arrival. As I had so much for the Twinotter, Polynesian passengers had to leave their freight for the next day’s flight....

After one night in Papeete, the long journey back home started. An eye-ball QSO, including dinner in an Italian restaurant, with Brad, W6TJI, who ‘escorted’ me during the trip, and his xyl in Los Angeles brought us back to the western hemisphere, where we finally could recover from all the bites by mosquito’s and other flying objects.

Thirty-six hours after landing the log search was available via www.qsl.net/on4axu .

FACIT

1. Overall a humble total of 5054 QSO’s have been logged with 97 DXCC-entities.

Frequency 7 MHz 10 MHz 14 MHz 17 MHz 21  MHz 28 MHz
DXCC Entities worked 13 5 96 21 11 5
  1. Conditions to Africa did not allow making QSO’s to that continent south of EA8 and CT3. Sorry to ZS8BBP and ZS6M.
  2. It makes no sense to comment on QRM-ers or discipline when working numbers/countries...Don’t have the illusion that it will ever change...
  3. Dolphins in the Pacific do not respond to a Belgian Dutchman calling CQ.... However it improved my skills to simultaneously call CQ and play ‘Solitaire’ on the computer....

Many thanks to all who supported me…

Gerard Dijkers, ON4AXU                        


[1] Royal Tahitien:Phone : 00689 504040, Fax 00689 504041

[2] License for FO : Cellule des Postes et Télécommunications, B.P. 115 Papeete Tahiti, Fax : 00689 46 86 33

[3] Chez Sam and Yolande Pension: Phone/Fax : 00689 950552

[4] Moorea:FARE VAIHERE ; Phone/Fax 00689 561919

[5]Raiatea:SUNSET BEACH Motel ; Phone 00689 663347; Fax 00689 663308

[6] Temetiu Village Pension : Phone : 00689 917060 ; Fax: 00689 917061