Severe Weather, Out-of-Turn Callers Hindering VP8SGI DXpedition
[UPDATED 2016-02-07 1445 UTC] The South Georgia Island VP8SGI DXpedition has been cut short by bad weather. “VP8SGI Team back on Braveheart. Big storm right now. Everyone is OK. More news later,” was the word earlier today from VP8STI/VP8SGI Chief Pilot Toni Gonazlez, EA5RM.
VP8SGI and VP8SGI/mm were still being spotted or heard on 30, 20, and 10 meter CW after the announced shutdown, but those signals appeared to be from pirates, showing up briefly on the DXpedition's announced frequencies.
In an update several hours later, Gonzalez reported that the VP8SGI team had returned to the R/V Braveheart "for security reasons," and that the team was waiting for a change in the weather to return to tear down their campsite and pack up their equipment for the trip back to the Falklands, where logs will be uploaded.
"VP8SGI is now QRT," he concluded.
Bad weather also curtailed the South Sandwich VP8STI leg of the Intrepid-DX Group adventure into the South Atlantic.
Stormy weather continues to plague the VP8SGI DXpedition team on South Georgia. High winds and snow have caused damage to antennas and tents and even interrupted operations as team members took time out to make repairs. But, stations calling out of turn or not heeding operators’ instructions also have been slowing things down.
“Our biggest challenges are the high winds, which are destroying our antennas and tents, and the many out-of-turn callers that continually call while we are trying to work others,” DXpedition Co-Leader Paul Ewing, N6PSE, said, echoing a familiar refrain. “We are particularly frustrated by those European callers that continue to call as we are trying to work Asia/Japan.”
Ewing called on operators around the world to “show our best ham spirit” so that everyone gets a chance to work VP8SGI before it shuts down on the morning of Monday, February 8. Ewing pointed out that the 14-member team, which operated from South Sandwich as VP8STI on the first leg of its DXpedition, will have spent more than 45 days away from home “risking their lives in one of the hardest places in the world,” by the time the DXpedition concludes. VP8STI logged 54,642 contacts during its stay on Southern Thule Island, before having to cut short its operation due to issues related to severe weather.
Chief Pilot Toni Gonzalez, EA5RM, said that plans to focus on working operators who need South Georgia as an all-time new one (ATNO) will be changing due to day-to-day as propagation shifts. Sunday, February 7, VP8SGI operators will be asking for ATNO contacts “from time to time.”
“[P]lease follow operator instructions and respect those for whom VP8SGI is still an All Time New One,” Gonzalez said. The DXpedition operators do not listen for callers on their transmit frequencies, but listen above (UP) or below (DOWN) their own frequency.
Six meter operation remains a possibility, but there are no firm plans. The operators may start up on 160 meters earlier than they have been, to improve the odds for stations in Western Europe.
VP8SGI has been on South Georgia for 9 days. “We are pushing forward to our goal of 80,000 contacts from the South Georgia Islands,” Ewing said on February 5, at which point VP8SGI had logged some 70,300 contacts.