Tour the RV Braveheart…

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

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The R/V Braveheart at anchor, South Georgia Island.

The RV Braveheart has been the subject of intense interest lately with her recent voyages to South Sandwich and South Georgia and soon to be underway to Heard Island. I thought my readers might find it interesting to learn a little bit more about this ship and her amazingly dedicated crew.

The Braveheart was constructed in Japan for the Japanese Government as a fisheries research vessel. She is 39 meters in length and has an all steel hull. The Braveheart has a massive 1200 HP Niigata engine and a single screw (propeller).

The Braveheart carries a crew of six and twelve passengers. She also carries two smaller boats, a jet boat and a rigid inflatable boat (RIB).

The Braveheart has a crane on the rear deck and a second crane on the second deck. She is a working boat, built not for comfort or speed but for getting there and back. Safety is the most important concept on the Braveheart.

The Braveheart is owned by Nigel Jolly.  Neil and Nigel’s son Matt alternate voyages as the Captain. The Braveheart is based in Palmerston, North Island New Zealand and they seem to be willing to go anywhere!

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Our crew: Charlie, Nick, Billy, Jason, Neil and Nigel.

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The Braveheart is very “radio friendly” They will allow you to set up a station and an antenna. Here, our Hustler vertical antenna is mounted above the aft deck.

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Our gear and equipment is stored in the containers on the Helicopter deck.

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There are two cranes. The aft crane is under the blue cover.

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A view of the “wheel house”

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Always on watch for ice bergs.

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Neil was our Captain. A very fine man!

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The chart table just behind the Captains chair. VP8_trip_CanonSD1200 135 (2)

This is the Comms area. Bravheart has low-speed Iridium, VHF and HF communications.

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I enjoy a moment in the “best seat in the house”

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When at sea, the bow area is often awash.

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Charlie and Neil watch the electronics for ice bergs.

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This is the RIB boat.

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Billy prepares the jet boat.

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David-K3LP operates as VP8IDX/MM in the Library.

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Nigel discusses potential landing spots for Southern Thule Island.

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Breakfast is at 7AM, don’t be late!

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Team members assemble the Hustler vertical for /MM use.

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The Braveheart has quite a wall full of DXpedition of the Year awards.

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Many mementoes of past DXpeditions.

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You are invited to hang your card on the wall.

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The main hallway from bow to stern.

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Charlie makes some tasty and interesting meals in the galley.

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Libations are enjoyed…

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Followed by a song or two or three…or twenty or thirty.

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The aft deck. This area is off limits in heavy seas for safety reasons.

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A nice BBQ was enjoyed at South Georgia.

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Visiting ships were invited aboard.

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Through the work shop to the shower.

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Hang your wet stuff here or else!

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Chief Engineer Nick gives us an engine room tour.

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The 1200 HP Niigata engine.

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This is a high noise environment.

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Electrical panels.

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Auxiliary generators.

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Down below, bunk rooms on each side.

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The bunks are small and cozy. There is minimal storage. Barf buckets provided.

I spent many hours lying in my bunk thinking about those famous and fearless Dxpeditioners that had gone aboard before me. I wondered who had occupied this bunk before I did? What aspects of life aboard the Braveheart did they enjoy? Your time on the Braveheart is not easy. Ceilings are low and you will bash your head and knees frequently. The Braveheart ride can be quite rough. Many of us experienced being “airborne” in our bunks during rough seas. You can have a hot & steamy shower in calm seas but you will have cold sea water washing over your feet. Time on the Braveheart is not for the meek or timid. If you come with a tourist mentality, you are in for quite an awakening.

The best aspects of the Braveheart are not the comfort level or the food. The best aspects are her Captain and crew. They have an amazing “can do” attitude. They are completely focused on safety and on success of the mission. They are strong, even stronger willed and determined to achieve success. I was amazed at the willingness and the vitality of each and every member of the crew.

I have many more photos and stories of life aboard the Braveheart, but there is a saying:

“what happens on Braveheart stays on Braveheart”


What do you think?


  1. Very nice post Paul…I really enjoyed the tour of this famous boat. It has served the DXers of the world well. Hope it keeps on serving for many more years going to rare places with great DXpeditioners. INDEXA was glad to be a large part of the DXpedition.
    73, Gary, K4MQG

  2. Mike, K6MKF says:

    Nice article, Paul, that really gives the reader a sense of what it must be like steaming off to a DXpedition on the Braveheart! Thanks for posting this.

  3. Axel says:

    You nailed it down, Paul. Nigel and the Braveheart crew make these unordinary trips like to the South Sandwich and South Georgia Islands unforgetable! Many thanks to them. I’m happy to had the change to be on board with them and our team too of course.

  4. Russ Guidry Sr. K5OA says:

    Thanks for the tour!. You are the best!!!

  5. Declan Craig says:

    Fine story Paul, and for the record I occupied the first lower bunk on the port side on my voyages – 73 Declan EI6FR/ZL9CI/VP8THU/VP8GEO/ZL8R

    • n6pse says:

      Hi Declan, my bunk was the second room on the left from the stairs. Big mistake on my part taking the upper bunk! Best wishes, Paul N6PSE

  6. Gary K9GS says:

    Very interesting Paul. Thanks for the tour!

    Well done!

  7. Don N1DG says:

    Oh the memories this brought back…..Thanks Paul.

  8. Dan White says:

    Paul, great tour of the Braveheart for those of us that have not “cruised” with that line before. This adds much depth to my appreciation of all the many QSOs and new entities that she and all those that have sailed her have made possible. Thanks for sharing! 73 Dan W5DNT

  9. Brian Biggings says:

    love every minute. I was just across the hall from Declan, she can be a though ship in high seas.

    73 de Brian

  10. Guenter Fassl DJ4MM says:

    Hope there is enough space for the next Expedition of the Year Award !!!!
    Thanks for the great events

  11. hunkinguest says:

    Great to see guys. The ZL9CI team were the first DXpedition for the Braveheart and Nigel was the skipper giving us all the nick name of the “Teletubbies”. In 1999 it was a fantastic trip to Campbell Island and setting a new world record at that that time was one of the more memorable events for the team. The Kermadec DX Association would like to wish the upcoming Heard Island team all the very best for a successful DXpeditions. Regard

    Ken ZL4HU

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