ZL9HR Equipment Inspection Complete

Yesterday’s inspection of the team’s equipment by DOC (NZ Department of Conservation) went well – no unwanted critters, seeds, etc. Here are a couple of pix which Glenn, KE4KY, took of the inspection process.

The equipment had to be unpacked from the shipping containers, inspected, cleaned if necessary, and then repacked into fish-crates, bagged or wrapped so that no unwanted contaminants could get in. Everyone had been very careful beforehand to clean their personal equipment, and similarly the radios, antennas, etc shipped from Australia were also shiny-clean. Result – a pleased DOC staff, and an inspection completed in less than half the expected time. So far, so good.

In the afternoon some of us took a drive down to the port of Bluff to check out the Evohe, the vessel we’re sailing south on. She has just returned from transporting a scientific team to the Auckland Islands, so it’s a quick turn-around for her crew and then off back down to the sub-antarctic with ZL9HR.

Assembling in Invercargill

Most of the team is now assembled in Invercargill. Here are nine of the ten team members – from left to right, 9M6XRO, KE4KY, K3EL, HA5AO, K5GS, VE7DS, VK3YP, W2LK and ZL3CW.

Just as important, all the equipment made it, too. So, we are pretty much ready to go. Next steps include getting fuel and a quarantine inspection of equipment (radios and personal) to ensure that we don’t transport any unwanted plant or animal visitors to Campbell Island.

Invercargill is quite busy since we’re here during the Burt Munro Challenge, an annual motor-bike rally named after one of Southland’s famous sons. Munro set the world speed record for an under 1000-cc motorcycle in 1967, a record which still stands. The Christmas decorations are up in Invercargill, and don’t seem quite so incongruous here as they did in sunny Auckland. We found this Christmas penguin on the main drag in town (there are three species of penguin on Campbell Island):

There is a marked contrast in the weather between the warm sunshine of Auckland, and the cool, wind and rain down here in Invercargill. The weather forecast for the next few days is not great, nevertheless, an on-time departure is expected.

Packed and ready to go…

So, now it’s time to go! The weather looks fine tomorrow (no hurricanes in the forecast!), so with luck my journey will start on time. A few of us will meet in SFO and cross the Pacific together, after which we’ll meet up with more of the team in Auckland. Finally, the entire team should be together at the end of the week in Invercargill, where we’ll undergo an inspection of all of our gear to ensure that we don’t inadvertently transport any soil, seeds, vegetation, insects or rodents to Campbell Island. I’ve been scrubbing my boots, hope they meet the quarantine officer’s standards! I found a bit of space to fit a KX3 in my luggage, so perhaps will find time to operate from Invercargill, or even /MM on the way down to Campbell Island. Operating from the boat may depend on whether any of us are in a fit state to do so – my new favorite website is oceanweather.com to check on the wave heights in the southern ocean!

On the propagation page of this site there are a variety of plots showing expected likelihood of openings from ZL9 to various parts of the world. These were generated using voacap.com – and there’s now a new service available at that site, a propagation planning tool which will allow prediction in tabular format to all parts of the world. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to use this prior to formal release to help in planning for ZL9HR.

PT0S has been very busy this week, I was pleased to catch them on a few bands and modes. Given the hardships that team is facing, they’re doing a fine job. Originally their schedule overlapped with ZL9HR. We’d coordinated frequencies to minimize interference, but even so it would likely have been problematic, so it’s good that in the end their dates moved up a little.

Finally, a thank you to all the companies, dx societies, clubs and individuals who have have supported ZL9HR. We hope to see you on the bands.

Brief update

I’d planned to add some more info related to propagation here, but plans over the last several days have been disrupted by Hurricane Sandy. Currently no power/cable/phone, however cell service has continued to operate so I’m getting used to making all internet communication via the 3×2 screen of an iPhone. As far as ZL9HR is concerned, things are pretty much in place and we’re looking forward to departing – most of us are starting our travel in a couple of weeks. Hopefully catch PT0S on the air before then – have to work on my top-band antenna first, since that took a beating in the storm.