VK0IR: A Watershed DXpedition

I was completely off the air when VK0IR was on the air, but it was a historic event for sure. For some it was one of their first DXpeditions, and for others it was further on in their DXpeditioning “career”.

The team had made an attempt prior to 1997, but had to abort due to problems with a ship owner. SO what has happened to 3Y0Z is by no means is a first (logistics wise quite a few DXpeditions have had to postpone, but the cost of 3Y0Z is by far a first – it was twice what VK0IR was, which I think is a tipping point).

I was involved with trying to find a ship for VK0EK – but really, more for moral support than anything. I was intimate with every step that Bob, KK6EK made as far as vetting transportation. I was more than that in regards to switching over to the Braveheart, but that’s all said and done now.

VK0EK was also postponed several times. We were going to book these ships (before the Braveheart):

  1. Forcault
  2. Agulhas I
  3. Akademik Shokalskiy

I was quite shocked by how each of these carriers would give a price and then right before signing we heard things like “well, that doesn’t include the “re-positioning”, or “we will drop you off, go to Kerguelin on some other business and then come back” and “we have two agents you have to go through – one with the South African Government and the other a private concern.

What shocked me was how disorganized and “loosey goosey” the negotiation was. There was a lot of bait and switch and it drove us nuts. The best thing about Nigel Jolly and the Braveheart is that everyone involved is a straight shooter, and there were no bad surprises.

VK0IR used a helicopter – VK0EK did not

Future polar DXpeditions depend completely on finding a suitable ship – and this is not easy, and it is getting astronomically expensive. VK0IR had so many DXpedition Team members who went on to become legends in the DX world, and so VK0IR was a veritable “who’s who” on the Roster as far as giving DXers ATNO’s. Check out the team at their site:

http://www.cordell.org/HI/

I don’t know any other DXpedition that has the legacy that VK0IR does. It is probably the #1 DXpedition as far as “legacy” is concerned.

Like I said yesterday, several from VK0IR are now retired from DXpeditioning – as they enter their mid and late 70’s as far as age is concerned. Luckily, there are also a new crop of possible future leaders who are about the same age now as the team members were when they went on that VK0IR DXpedition. Many are on the 3Y0Z team, but also on quite a few other current DXpedition teams.

I used to think the aging of the DX community would be the biggest limiting factor to the longevity of the ARRL DXCC program, but now I think its all about getting that ship – for polar as well as tropical places – because the upcoming Baker Island DXpedition has about the same budget as VK0EK did – which is a bit of a bell weather. It used to be only polar DXpeditions were that costly – but transportation has become the #1 issue now – and I expect moving forward.

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