The Bouvet Island DXpedition
Attempted January 2018
The Longest Mile
We were this close. The island lay there in front of us; smiling at us, beckoning us. The skies were clear and the wind was calm. Conditions were ideal for a landing, but it was not to be.
We had arrived three days earlier. Bouvet was shrouded in fog and clouds hung low over the island. Our ship rolled in the waves and swells driven by 39 knot northeast winds. With time the weather cleared but the winds persisted and a landing was not possible. On the following 2 days fog and clouds again obscured the island. During short weather windows the ship moved along the east coast of Bouvet to assess landing possibilities until nightfall. The third night all hell broke loose.
Winds were 60 to 70 knots and the sea was angry. The ship rolled up to 32 degrees port and starboard, a 64 degree excursion, and anchorage close to the island became difficult and dangerous. The captain’s weather forecasts predicted no change in conditions for a week. After a coupling in the drive train of the starboard engine failed, the captain declared that the DXpedition could not be carried out safety and made the decision to abort the mission.
On February 3rd, we awoke to what you see above, a pristine island in the sun. But the captain had made his call. By happenstance or divine intervention, the captain’s call may have averted disaster. Had the mechanical failure occurred after some team members had landed on Bouvet, the outcome of this project may have been even more disastrous.
We initially set our course to return to Punta Arenas, Chile. Battling the oncoming seas and strong westerly winds was a daunting task with a single engine. We changed course for Cape Town, South Africa, 1000 miles closer, to avoid the foul weather and ice that lay between us and Chile. After slogging along at 4 to 6 miles per hour for 14 days, we were welcomed to Cape Town by the local hams who sailed out into the harbor to meet us, blasting “CQ” on the horn of their 32 foot ketch. After a long and disappointing 31-day journery in the cold South Atlantic, the 20 sea-weary members of the 3Y0Z team were ready to set foot on land.
Over the next few weeks our future plans will unfold. We will keep you informed. Thank you for your support and for following us during this journey.
We were so close, just a mile away. But it was one very, very long mile.