Bouvet…so far away…

Posted: June 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 Bouvet-Island1 (2)

If you follow my Blog, you probably saw Nigel Jolly’s comment that he would like to go to Bouvet. I too would like to go to Bouvet, along with Nigel and his crew.

During our VP8STI/VP8SGI voyage, we had many conversations about going to Bouvet. The VP8STI/VP8SGI DXpeditions would be great practice and preparation for activating Bouvet.

We have a lot of useable equipment and many team members willing to make the trip. So what’s the holdup then?  Why isn’t the Intrepid DX Group announcing plans to activate Bouvet?

It all comes down to money. Lots of money is needed. For the VP8STI/VP8SGI DXpeditions, our total budget was $425,000. We had hoped to raise $215,000 up front of the activation. As hard as we worked and as generous as the Global DX Community was, we were only able to raise $161,000 before our departure.

When we signed our charter contract, the Braveheart charter was $308,000. We were to pay in the equivalent amount in New Zealand Dollars.

Fortunately for us, the exchange rate for the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) against the USD declined dramatically and our charter ended up costing us $259,000. Before this decline, our fundraising was going poorly and we had serious discussions about cancelling our DXpedition. At one point, Nigel even agreed to let us out of our contract without the required $54,000 penalty.

We hung in there and worked hard at our fundraising and due to the decline in the NZD we were able to make it all work. Our efforts were nicely rewarded through the OQRS system after the DXpedition and we are extremely grateful for all of the support we received.

Now then, back to Bouvet. We have the charter cost for Bouvet including the use of a helicopter. That cost is $500,000 or almost twice the cost of the VP8STI/VP8SGI charter. We would also need to hire a helicopter pilot, certified for heavy sling lifts and a helicopter mechanic. We would need to pay them approximately $10,000 a month each for two months. This would require us to bring two less radio operators.

Our total budget to activate Bouvet would be something close to $600,000. We know from recent experience that we can raise $161,000 from the global DX Community, however we know that we would have a significant shortfall required to meet a budget approaching $600,000.

While we thoroughly enjoy leading DXpeditions to rare and remote places, none of us can place our financial well-being in jeopardy by signing contracts that we cannot financially support.


3Y5X DXpedition, December/January 1990. Five men operated for 16 days.

The Norwegian Polar Institute is reasonably willing to allow a DXpedition. The permit process requires a comprehensive plan very similar to what we provided to gain permission for South Sandwich and South Georgia. I have spoken to many DXpeditioners who have activated Bouvet in the past. I’ve explored ways to do it without the benefit of a helicopter and unfortunately my findings are that a helicopter is essential. The NPI will allow a helicopter landing near Cap Lollo and the Eastern slope of the glacier. They will not allow any approach to Nyroysa where the NPI Science Base is located. The NPI is also not interested in sharing passage on their ship.


The NPI Science base is located in Nyroysa (above) no landing can be made here.

So we have transportation available to us, we have a team and equipment. We have the desire and the experience to pull it off. We lack only the confidence to raise enough funds up front to be successful.

There may be several leaders or groups interested in activating Bouvet. They must have a huge commitment to succeed. In return, the DX Community must reward that commitment with sufficient up front financial support for them to push forward through the many obstacles in order to achieve success.


I’m delighted by the news this morning from K0IR, K4UEE and LA6VM of their plans to bring a team to Bouvet in late 2017 or early 2018. This is most welcome news!

What do you think?



  1. ky6r says:

    Great post and something I have been thinking about as well – so much so – my response is on my blog:

    I do think you have all the makings for a serious fund rising campaign that can work. I list in detail HOW this can be done . . .



  2. Robert Batchelor says:

    This my turn out to be the most expensive QSL card so far but I think I can commit to 100.00 USD. It is only a drop in the bucket. However if 6000 other people can do the same you can start packing your bags.

  3. I think part of the fundraising problem for 2016 was the sheer number of top-10 activations that happened in a short span of time that quickly drained the global donation pool. Perhaps in a quieter year it might be more feasible financially, but then you run into the rapid decline of the solar cycle, of course, or waiting an extended time to the uptick of Cycle 25 and hoping resources, ship availability and health are still going strong. In either case, you’ll have a donation from me and most likely the NJDXA as well.

    • Mike K9NW says:

      Agree 100%. Strange as it may sound, a project like this may be most viable in a year when there’s not much else happening. Of course it’s hard to predict that….there are always other ongoing projects, and permissions happen when they happen. And when they do happen it’s best to say “let’s go!” rather than “now, can we wait a bit?”

  4. Aurel Cristian Ciobanu, YO7LCB says:

    Robert idea is very good ! I will donate for sure 100 dollars for activating Bouvet, one of my last two.And I do the same for activating Kure.I am sure that will be more than 6000 hams around the world who will do the same.

  5. Roger AC6BW says:

    I would definitely donate $100+. I missed the 1990 3Y5X operation, so it is on the top of my needed list.

  6. Jamie WB4YDL says:

    West TN DX Association would definitely support this operation – and probably more than our usual $250. Each of our members also contribute via OQRS after the operation.

  7. w9rpm says:

    I think that you would get a lot of support for this, but I certainly see that it would be a big gamble. I understand the planning and commitment that you have to make before any fund raising is even viable. After your recent dxpedition, I know that with that success it should help.

    73 John W9RPM

  8. Richard Barnett says:

    You have my support and the LSDXA.

  9. Roger Simpson says:

    Bouvet is needed here. So I would chip in $100.

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

  10. Delwyn says:

    I normally donate before a DXpedition but for the past several like South Sandwich/South Georgia, Palmyra Island, Heard Island and Juan de Nova I’ve donated during or after the Dxpedition due to several financial obligations. I would commit $100 USD before the DXpedition since all of my obligayions have been satisfied.

    Aloha and good luck!

    73 Delwyn KH6DC

  11. W4KK says:

    Perhaps it might be worthwhile to consider and explore the possibility of a landing on Bouvet that does not require a helicopter. Take a look at the available images on Google – there appears to be a landing location on the northwest side of the island, near Cape Circoncision Nyroysa or Nyrosa it is called. While it is true that you would have cliffs and the rest of the island behind you, blocking a radio signal, at least you would be on a beach with salt water close by – no worse than some other island DX locations. And lots of amateurs live north of Bouvet! A boat landing would put a Bouvet DXpedition within much closer financial reach….

    • n6pse says:

      Yes, a boat landing is possible at Nyroysa, however that is where the NPI Science Base is located and they will not permit a landing there.

    • Ken says:

      Cape Circonsision is not accessible by zoodiaks. You need a heli to access there, what is Alex 3Y0F got permission to do this year. There is a large wildlife of seals and penguins there which NPI protect so you can’t stay down there.

      Look forward to the 3Y0H (?) DXpedition…

  12. HB9BGV says:

    There are just 2 entities I worked on only 1 band. And both of them only in SSB. And they are the last ones I need for top of honor roll CW. And I need them to enter the honor roll digi. 3Y/B and P5 are these two entities, so I bet I will contribute. And I am sure this team is able to do it.

  13. Bill Gibbons K2TQC says:

    I also will commit $100 up front.
    73 Bill K2TQC

  14. Paul - vk4ma says:

    I would also commit $100 for this

    That said, if $600,000 of ham community money was to be spent, may be it would be better to wait until the peak of the next sunspot cycle.

    May be we have “missed the boat” for Bouvet this cycle – Bouvet in say 2017 would be a 160 through 15 metre dxpedition (at best) which would be a bit sad.

    I think we should try and align dxpeditions to these super rare entities with the peak in the cycle if we can.

    Why wont the Norwegians allow landing at NPI? What if they were paid $10K toward one of their environmental projects?

    Paul – vk4ma

    • n6pse says:

      Paul, the NPI has weather and science instruments at Nyroysa. They also track wildlife growth and they don’t want anything to effect their studies. A boat landing could be done at Nyroysa but will not be allowed.

  15. Art Burke - N4PJ says:

    DXing as we remember it from “the good old days” is no more. Inflation, even higher need for “greased palms”, an aging amateur society (with essentially less and less income as they age), etcc. We need a “sugar daddy” in the worst way. Someone like Mark Zuckerberg – i.e., someone who creates something worth a billion dollars and likes amateur radio.

    With the mindset and reluctance of the polar institute, perhaps a revisit of the rules is in order. If a set of rules can be created to prevent the return of Guys like Romeo (yes, there are others), we could perhaps allow “non-landing” operations. A decent-sized boat/ship without having to support a helicopter crew/equipment might go a long way toward enticing an expedition.

    It’s really kind of amazing. Now that many entities are under the control of a US government agency, permitted landings are getting fewer and further between. But experts like N6PSE (and, in fairness, a number of others) have been able to make arrangements and foster cooperation with these organizations (like the NWS). But we can’t come to any kind of agreement/assistance from the Norwegian group? Wow!

    Rumors have for years circulated that either Prince Edward or Marion Island is where a lot of highly secretive activity takes place. If we can’t come to grips with an ecological group on Bouvet, would anything ever happen again with Marion Island?

    Those of us who still need North Korea may get lucky. They’re going to blow themselves up some day, make the land uninhabitable for 10,000 years and maybe, just maybe, the ARRL DXAC will remove them from “the list.” Unfortunately, removing something seemingly unobtainable from the list seems like the coward’s way out!

    • n6pse says:

      Dear Art-N4PJ, Thank you for your interest in my Blog.

      Just to clarify, the NPI is very cooperative and communicates freely. They are most concerned with the safety of any landing party. They will allow near full access to the island with the exception of Nyroysa where their science base is located. I wish that more Governments were as cooperative as the NPI.

      Thank you,

      Paul N6PSE

    • Ken says:

      NPI is more concerned about the environment than our DXing. If you give it a thought, you understand that is a correct priority.

      • Art - N4PJ says:

        Yes, I do understand the environmental concerns take precedence over our DXing. Additionally, I’m not one of those types who would run over their mother to work a new one!

        As for the person who suggested that a DXpedition to a place like Bouvet should be scheduled when the solar flux is good (or better – i.e., propagation is better). Really?

        It doesn’t take too long to identify the logistics involved for a trip like that – people to go, money to fund those people, even if they have their own funding, a boat/ship to get there, cooperation from the Norwegian group – it doesn’t take too long to build a list that decreases the odds of all of that taking place at the same time.

        As someone pointed out in this thread, there apparently is a commitment to put some guys on Bouvet in the next year or two. Those of us with some trans-equatorial capabilities may have a reasonable shot – a ton of others are going to be left out in the cold (no pun intended!.

        Art – N4PJ

  16. Roger says:

    An hour ago I received an e-mail that was sent out via W3UR to all Daily DX subscribers. In this email — which originated from K0IR, K4UEE, and LA6VM — there is an announcement of a plan to activate Bouvet in late 2017 or early 2018.

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

    • Art - N4PJ says:

      Around the time the Bouvet expedition takes place, many of us will be complaining about the paucity of signals (the solar cycle will likely be at its nadir/lowest/P.O.S., etc). Realistically, I suppose it’s a lot better to have someone going under terrible conditions than to have no one going at all.

  17. […] ADDED NOTE FROM EDITOR: Earlier in the week, the following two articles about Bouvet had shown-up before the above announcement was sent out: * Paul, N6PSE, posted to his blog on June 5th — “Bouvet, So Far Away”: […]

  18. […] ADDED NOTE FROM EDITOR: Earlier in the week, the following two articles about Bouvet had shown-up before the above announcement was sent out: * Paul, N6PSE, posted to his blog on June 5th — “Bouvet, So Far Away”: […]

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