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Solo DXpeditioner Says Operating from Crozet is Limited by Nature

11/11/2021

The recent announcement of a pending 3-month DXpedition to activate Crozet Island (FT5W) in 2022 – 2023 has generated enthusiasm within the DX community. Right on the heels of the announcement, the Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF) pledged $20,000 to support the DXpedition. The point person for the planned event, Thierry Mazel, F6CUK, wants to temper any overblown expectations, as demand will be extremely high for the third most-wanted DXCC entity — right behind North Korea and Bouvet Island. Thierry says nature-related factors, including climate, will dictate the manner in which the DXpedition takes place.

“The wind blows almost constantly at 70 kilometers per hour (43 MPH), with gusts that can reach 150 kilometers per hour (93 MPH) within a few minutes,” Thierry and co-planner Paul Granger, F6EXV, said in a recent news release. “There are no real seasons on Crozet, so these conditions apply all year long, even if, during the austral summer, nicer days can be expected.”

Added to the possibility of gale or hurricane-force winds, the “fairly hard” volcanic rock that covers the archipelago and “very strict rules” in place to protect fauna and flora, will severely restrict the sorts of antennas that might be deployed. “For bird protection, antennas, guy wires, and anything that could be an obstacle are forbidden,” Thierry and Paul said. Just securing guy lines for a four-square would require more than 30 concrete blocks, [because] digging holes is not permitted. The original idea to erect four-square arrays for 40 and 20 meters was refused, they said. The French Austral Islands are United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites and declared as protected areas.

“The only possibility that the administration allowed, was to have an [antenna] attachment point to an existing building and have wire antennas from there,” they said. “No beam! This is clearly stated in the permit we received.”

As if those weren’t enough roadblocks, any equipment brought onto the island must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the introduction of pollen, seeds, or non-native organisms.

DXpedition planners are pondering the “best solution for the best antenna possible.”

The last ham radio activity from Crozet was in 2009 by Florentin Bard, F4DYW, who operated as FT5WQ. Contrary to earlier accounts, the 2022 – 2023 DXpedition has not announced its call sign, which will not be made public in advance. The solo DXpedition in is anticipated to cost as much as $58,000.

The Twitter account is @crozet2022, and a website is expected to be online soon. When it’s up and running, it will include details of how donated funds will be applied. Thierry has pledged that all contributions will be refunded if the operation does not take place. 



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