Start: 07-09-2009 End: 26-09-2009, IOTA: OC016, Island: Viti Levu
My main target was to visit Tuvalu (T2) and West Kiribati (T30) and wanted to stay for about a week on each island. The only airline connection with both islands was provided by AirPacific, flying from Fiji. So my initial flight was from Amsterdam to Nadi on Fiji. I planned not to have the connecting flights too tight to avoid having problems if flights were delayed. At the same time, it gave me the opportunity to operate also from Fiji (3D2). AirPacific is flying only on Tuesdays and Thursdays to both islands so this actually formed the basis of the travel plan.
For Fiji I stayed at the “amateur radio friendly” Club Fiji Resort which is not far from the Nadi international airport and has a chalet very close to the sea.
As mentioned before, I used Fiji as the central location for the flights to Tarawa (T30) and Funafuti (T2) and using the available time for operating. In practice this meant arriving in the evening, taking some food, installing the antenna on the beach (during darkness), and assembling the radio station after which I could operate a couple of hours. The following day was used for some necessary shopping and operating until 10 PM. After 10 PM I first started to take down the antenna (again during darkness) followed by packing all equipment and personal gear to be ready for an early departure the next day.
Before departing from the Netherlands, I still did not have my license, so it was still to be seen how this would develop. I did have the temporary import permission so I could at least enter Fiji with my equipment. After arrival in the evening I had still no license on hand, so took a dinner and went to sleep after 30 hours of traveling.
The next morning I contacted the license officer in Suva again and fortunately received my call sign. This was the moment to get into action. I started to assemble the vertical antenna but found that one hose clamp was missing (and was still on the workbench at home). I rushed to downtown Nadi to buy three hose clamps from a hardware store. Within about 2 hours everything was up and running and I could start enjoying the pile-ups.
In one of the restaurants of the resort was an internet PC with a very slow connection. It was open from 10 AM till 9 PM and I went there a couple of times to read my e-mail and to update my web site.
On 7 September I started the first pile-up at 04:16Z on 30m. The band was very quiet and nice signals from the US. After about 1.5 hours I moved to 20m where I had a nice pile-up and a good opening to Europe. The next morning I started early to try on 30m and 40m but without results. As I was unable to make QSO’s I decided to dismantle the vertical and pack the equipment. This gave me some time to go to the internet cafe next door to read my e-mail and to update my web site after which I went to the Nadi International airport for the flight to Tarawa, Kiribati.
15 September – Coming from Tarawa I arrived at Nadi airport was around 7:30PM. When at the Club Fiji Resort after dinner, I decided against a nighttime antenna installation. Instead I went to bed to get some good rest. The next morning I installed the vertical on the beach which was done quickly as I knew the place for the antenna and the fixing points for guy wires. The rest of the day I spent on the radio and then did some shopping, e-mail and web site maintenance.
Working US and Japan was easy, of course, but fortunately there were also two good openings to Europe. Although my operating time on Fiji was limited, I had the impression that propagation was much better than from Tarawa and QSO’s could be made throughout the day and evening. Another observation was the high number of dupes.
In the evening at 10PM I started to take down the antenna again as I had to leave very early the next day. This was an exercise that had to be done very carefully so I would not lose any of the small bolts and nuts in the sand or stumble over the various wires that were on the ground.
I also had to be careful that other guests would not stumble over my coax cable when they were passing by my chalet.
The next morning I left early for the trip to Tuvalu which began with a domestic flight from Nadi to Suva.
September 25 – I arrived in Suva and had a connecting flight to Nadi but that was the schedule of the previous day (the flight from Tuvalu was postponed for one day). AirPacific had made arrangements to get their passengers to their final destination, but not for all. I was now scheduled to have a flight at 8 PM to Nadi but managed to get a connecting flight at 5 PM.
Because I also arrived one day late at Club Fiji, they did not have my preferred room 10 available.
I now got room 7 which was closer to the reception area and thus had more people crossing in front of my chalet. However, I could use the same location for the antenna. After I spent my last hours of operating of this Pacific DXpedition, I packed the equipment for the 7th time, but this time for the return trip home.
It was a wonderful experience to visit these small nations in the Pacific Ocean and experience the friendliness and hospitality of the people and relaxed atmosphere. I have enjoyed a fantastic DXpedition to a new destination. I hope this operation has given many of you a chance to contact one or more (new) countries and you enjoyed the pile ups as I did. I hope to meet you on one of my future trips.