The idea of discovering the Chiloane Island was suggested by Igor (UY5LW) a few years ago. The time passed by, the terms and staff were changing but because of the number of good reasons the expedition was constantly postponed.
And then at the beginning of the 2005 it became clear that there were no more reasons to postpone the expedition. Due to the favorable circumstances quite quickly the new staff of the expedition team was formed. The preparation had begun immediately!
The Ukrainian part of the team was busy receiving visas, buying tickets and preparing the equipment. I would like to express the special appreciation to Dima (UT7UJ), who couldn’t go to this expedition because of being engaged in very serious business, but till the last moment he took an active financial and physical part in expedition’s preparation.
The Eliseev’s were the host party of the expedition. They had been living in Mozambique for ten years. They also hadn't been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Due to their assistance the antenna towers were made, the generators were bought; the bus and ship were rented. Also they helped us to obtain radio-amateur licenses. As well, the Eliseev’s kindly offered to all expedition team members to accommodate in their house, showing the real Ukrainian cordiality and hospitality.
Dear Alexander Ivanovich, Sergey (C91EL, not without our participation and Boris’s UT7UT financial support) and Oleg, all members of the expedition are sincerely appreciating you for your support!
On the 22nd of July in the morning our team gathered in the Borispol airport. We have got the equipment, the weight of which exceeds 200 kg. It provokes dissatisfaction of the representatives of the airline company. After explaining the purposes and goals of our trip to the employees of the luggage department, we have received their consent. The label taps are attached to our luggage and it disappears in the luggage reception. Rather durable flight air-route Kiev-Dubai-Johannesburg-Maputo is ahead of us. Taking into consideration the time one spends waiting in the airports to change the airplanes, the duration of all trip from Kyiv to Mozambique is about 24 hours.
The flight from Kiev is delayed but we are calm, as we have seven spare hours in Dubai before the flight Dubai - Johannesburg. At last the boarding is announced! After 5 hours flight we are in Dubai airport! We become covered with unusual hot air. The local time is 2 a.m. but the temperature is +35 degrees above zero. Much better is inside the airport. Air conditioners are working everywhere and there are bars with soft drinks. The airport amazes everybody by its beauty, gorgeousness, richness. One can feel real East splendor, pomp, magnificence. But we can’t get along without adventures. During the customs examination the local security service finds two transceivers in Alex’s (UX0LL) handbags, which have been taken to the plane in order to keep them perfectly safe.
None of our arguments and explanations that it is amateur radio are convincing for the employees of security service. Even, may be they have intensified the situation. Alex has been taken to the police department and during an hour and a half his fate is unknown for us. A little bit more than an hour is left till the flight. We begin to worry. But in everyone’s joy Alex comes back and it makes all of us happy. He informs us that his bag with transceivers has been sealed up and he is promised that it would be loaded into the plane’s luggage department. We have got up on the board of the Airbus without any trouble. Now the nine-hour intercontinental flight to SAR is ahead of us. The plane belongs to the company “Emirates”. The flight is very pleasant, the passengers are shown films and nicely fed.
And now we are in Johannesburg. But the next in turn trouble has been waiting for us. The flight Johannesburg-Maputo is delayed because of the strike of the employees of SAA (South African Airways). We are offered to wait some hours hopping that the situation would improve. We are handed out with coupons for free of charge supper. Finally, our expectations are crowned with success. The managers of SAA has reached an agreement with Mozambique airline company “LAM” that it would deliver passengers to Maputo without any problem. We have got boarding tickets and inform airline company’s employees that rather big luggage is following us. We have got assurance that all our equipment would be loaded on the board of our plane. The shortest flight is ahead of us.
Fifty minutes have passed and we are in Maputo the capital of Mozambique. Here we are met by the Eliseev’s and Andy (OK8ANM), who has arrived in the morning. Everything is going according to the Murphy principle: our luggage hasn’t been loaded into the board of our plane and has been left in Johannesburg’s airport (we would receive it only in ten days after coming back from the island).
Lack of the bulk of the equipment adds our expedition serious troubles. In order to make our depressed mood bearable, we are taken away to the small cafe nearby our house. After the short supper we feel ourselves very tired and make decision to go to bed. Next few days we have spent visiting the airport several times a day hoping to receive our luggage. But we have managed only to get antennas. Roman (UR0MC) is disappointed more than others. He is completely unaware of his YAESU FT-1000MP.
Radio amateurs are radio amateurs even in Africa. We have bought accumulator unit for car in order to power supply the Kenwood TS-570DG, which is brought as a hand luggage. In the same shop we have bought 75 ohm television cable and the wire for electric wiring. After that our expedition is on the air. From all variety of received licenses we pick out the C91CW, according to our unanimous opinion this callsign is the best.
But we are in Maputo and our hearts call us to set out our journey, because our goal is IOTA NEW ONE CHILOANE ISLAND. Every day the expedition members’ mood is going from bad to worse. We are losing $150 per day for the rented bus for the trip to the Beyra port, situated in 1400 km from Maputo.
On the third day of expectation the strong-willed decision to depart from Maputo on the 27th of July is reached. By now all necessary equipment have been already bought, such as, tents, sleeping-bags, clothes and all necessary tools. A large quantity of food has been purchased. But we still do not have the equipment, which we terrifically need and which is practically impossible to buy somewhere in Maputo. The very good idea of visiting the «Motorola» representative office the «Spac» company comes to us. Due to its director Silvano (C91A) we have received the equipment for two radio amateur's workplaces.
Dear Silvano! Thank you very much! It was demonstration of real HAM SPIRIT.
In the preparation process of team departure to Beyra port we actively use the rented bus for our trips all over the Maputo. Our driver Cossa helps us to buy all necessary concomitant equipment and food. He has occurred to be a very smart gay with quite good command of English. We are sincerely appreciating him for his help and support.
On the 27th of July early in the morning we are loading all our equipment and food into the bus and the expedition members are taking their sits in the bus. Our luggage occupies one third of the spare place in our bus. I could say the most extreme part of the expedition begins from this moment.
Only in 200 km from Maputo we cross the famous African river Limpopo. It arouses a storm of cheers and bright memories about our childhood “about the Limpopo River where a hippopotamus walks”. Most likely not less than ten times every team member has his picture taken against the background of river’s name board. More than 1000 km are ahead of us so we take the bus and proceed our trip. Good-bye the Limpopo River!
We have expected that the road connecting the capital and the biggest port in the state would be much better but… alas... Not less than 300 km we have got over the earth road.
Before our trip we tried to learn as more as possible about Mozambique. The information that quite long Civil war left a mark in Mozambique in the form of mine-strewn fields quite often has stricken our eye. That is why every drive down from the asphalted road evokes some nervousness. The white strips on the trees along the road marking the most dangerous places redouble our anxiety. Everyone can notice the terrifying war heritage on local inhabitants. Here more often than in other countries one could meet disabled veterans, particularly legless or one-legged people. The majority of them were blown up on abandoned mines.
Heading toward the Beyra port we make some short halts in local small towns. It looks like local inhabitants make their living only due to the road. Everybody young and old alike sell something along the road. Local people live in want but it seems that they don’t worry about it. Even I would say they smile more often than citizens of the other countries with higher well-being.
At last on the 28th of August early in the morning we reached the terminal point of our trip by bus – the Beyra port. The port itself is very picturesque and colorful. In fact, it all is covered with semi rotted vessel hulls and shipwrecks. Here, just on the beach the biggest fishing market is situated where everybody can buy any kind of Indian Ocean’s gifts such as: mussels, huge prawns, octopuses and sharks. All these goods are in abundance here.
Sergey Eliseev’s friend Dinyu has expressed his wish to be our guide in Beyra. With his help we have bought 200 liters of petrol for all time of our staying on the island in order to maintain the regularity of generator’s work. Also Dinyu has acquainted us with the local sailors and they have agreed to deliver us to the Chiloane Island by their motorboats.
So, we are making our way towards that part of the port where our future transportation facilities are supposed to be. Here disenchantment meets us, because the promised motorboat has occurred to be just a big boat with a motor. (We were supposed to float across the Indian Ocean about 7 hours). Most members of our expedition categorically refuse to float by this vessel. And none of the arguments that the local people are regularly making the same voyages from the Beyra port to the Chiloane Island using such vessels are convincing for them.
So, we have made the decision to find more reliable vessel. We direct our steps towards that part of the port where more solid transportation and fishing boats are at an anchor. But none of those vessels has real owners and the sailors are not able to inform us about the possibility of renting the vessels and about the price. One man who looks like a midshipman says that his vessel makes transportation voyages Beyra-Chiloane routinely. On our question how much the rent of this vessel for five days may cost, he answers: “about four thousand dollars”. This sum exceeds greatly on-budget expenditures. We have planed to spend one thousand dollars for the ship’s rent. We begin to bargain. A man with a midshipman appearance advises us to meet the owner of the ship and gives us her address in town. We pick out a few representatives from our team for the ship rent negotiations.
The ship owner occurred to be a woman in her late forties with typically Portuguese appearance. After half an hour negotiations with Maria Otila Pereyro Americano (the name of the owner) we have agreed the sum: fifty seven million meticals, it proximately equals to two thousand and three hundred American dollars for the ship’s rent for five days.
We come back to the port and break good news to the team members about solving the problem of our transportation to the island. Straight away the owner of the vessel has come and informed the crew about the route they are supposed to make with us. The ebb starts, the vessel is in low water but we are not disappointed because a lot of work is ahead of us: to load the equipment and provisions into the holds.
It seems like good few of all people in the port have gathered near the berth observing the preparation of twelve white men to make the sea voyage. But we are used to it! It doesn’t surprise us that white people evoke sincere interest among local people.
During the interval after the loading of the cargo and before the ebb starts we have several hours to examine our vessel in details. It creates an impression upon us as rather solid and reliable vessel. But I would like to make one remark that there are no navigation devices, there is only old compass on the captain's bridge. There are some communication facilities such as well-known radio amateur transceiver ICOM IC-735 which the captain uses for maintaining radio connection with the port using the frequency around 4 MHz. There is an exotic clock on the wall of the captain’s cabin: on the paperboard there are figures numerated from one to twelve, hands are made from wood. Probably, there is a sailor on the boat who is responsible for altering the clock every five minutes.
While we are on anchor over side of our vessel sailors of the neighboring trawler are transferring plastic containers with royal shrimps. It is the first time we have seen so huge shrimps – twenty – twenty five centimeters long. Then they are carrying small shark. It is “only” two meters long. Everything proves that we are on the ocean coast.
Then we have made up our mind to install a radio station on board trying to make some Ñ93DY/MM QSO’s. We have hooked wire antenna on mast and start up generator on deck. While filling up generator with petrol we have spilled some fuel, as a result there is a petrol puddle on the deck. In five meters of a petrol puddle a sailor is welding and we are worrying about blazing up of the spilled fuel and gasoline cans which are standing along the board. Then the sailor takes a lathe tool. Sparks from the lathe tool are reaching the 10 meters radius. But Fortune is on our side. Without any harm for us welding and lathe works have been finished.
It is getting dark. We’ve made a decision to have supper. The table is set for supper, tinned food is opened and bread is sliced, surely, our glasses are filled with vodka. We drink vodka, raising our glasses to seven foots under keel, and don’t presume what the severe ocean has prepared for us.
About 9.00 p.m. of the local time, due to the flow at last we put out to ocean. The weather is nice, the ocean is rather calm, and we are sure that 7-hours sea voyage will not give us a lot of trouble. Some of the expedition team members have settled themselves in sleeping-bags just on the desk. Only Boris UT7UT is not sleeping, he is trying to make QSO’s by “home” callsign C91UT/MM.
About 2 a.m. our vessel rubbed into heavy gale. It seemed that our vessel would turn upside-down because of heavy waves. The expedition members felt keenly all delights of sea-sickness. Everybody who slept on desk got soaked to the skin and had to take shelter inside the ship. The heavy waves gushed over the desk, the heavy wind blew and it was raining cats and dogs. It was practically impossible to sleep during such heaving and most of our team members were strolling about the vessel like ghosts. For sure, gloomy thoughts like “Why am I here? It would be better for me to stay in Ukraine, to watch TV, being in warm, cozy bed, hit on most of team members. And only thirst for adventures and new discoveries justifies that kind of danger and risk we had exposed ourselves to. It was storm all night long and our faces were getting greenish look. The youngest team member Max (UR7HTZ) is only eleven years old. He is worthy of a monument to be erected to him during his life. The grown-up men were suffering a lot but the boy demonstrated fortitude.
On the 29th of August early in the morning the ocean stabilized. We are glad a lot to see the first beams of sunrise. The dawn in the ocean amazes us with its magnificence. The team members are back to normal and began to understand that we have navigated for more than eight hours and have not reached the Island yet. Moreover, we cannot see the land, even through the high-power marine binoculars and all that period of time we are supposed to float along the coast. We have realized that we are in the open ocean.
We are trying to find out what has happened. The captain confirms that we have lost the course during the storm. With GPS device we are trying to determine our position data. We shall have to do this procedure several times. But it seems that it has not inspired our captain. Even he has produced an impression on us that he isn’t familiar enough with navigation issues.
We have been floating for eleven hours but we still are not able to see the land. Ship’s radio station comes to our help. With its help we have communicated with navigation emergency radio service of Beyra port. Being based on our coordinate data the port employees have informed us that we have wrong course. The captain makes ninety degrees turn and we began to cherish hopes to see the land soon. The boatswain informs us that we have fuel only for four hours of floating. The next several hours we were in an agony of suspense.
All this time the sailor on the top desk uninterruptedly observes with binoculars. After four more hours of floating and we have heard joyful exclamation: “The land!” It is impossible to see the land with the naked eye but with the help of powerful optical binoculars we can see scarcely visible land outline. The closer to the coast the more often we can hear the geographical name “the Chiloane Island” - the goal of our expedition. After so many adventures fraught with danger it is fearful to ask sailors whether we really approach to the island or not. But every minute tropical island is getting distinct contours.
And now we are in half a mile from the island. Everything looks like in “Bounty” chocolate advertising: there is the island with a lot of palm trees, fluffy white clouds are floating across the blue sky, and splendid sandy coast is surrounded by the turquoise ocean. Exactly like this the Chiloane Island has appeared before expedition team members on the 29th of August 2005.
For the landing we are entering the bay opposite the fisherman's village. There are several fishing vessels at anchor. Now here, now there small fishing boats are darting about. Our visit excites intense interest among the local inhabitants.
A small motor boat has moored to our vessel’s broadside and we are proposed a help to land. We have made the decision to send two messengers for scouting. They have come back very soon and informed us that we are allowed to land. It took several passages by motor boat to ferry all expedition team members and all equipment. We were proposed to set up in the territory of a small tinned food factory. We pay a visit of courtesy to island’s governor.
We have got “OK”, after rather short explanations of our expedition goals and tasks. Before the expedition have started we agreed that only one C93DY callsign has to sound from the island, because opening the New One of such rank as Chiloane Island demands large financial inputs and physical efforts. We have set up tents and antennas during a few hours. A3S didn’t let down. Practically we didn’t need extra tuning, due to this antenna we were able to make about 7000 QSO from the island. And finally the first long-awaited QSO with JA8MS came about. Before we had time to take a deep breath, we were attacked by the Japanese pile up.
In fact round the clock from behind the fence, surrounding the territory where we had settled we were observed by scores of curious eyes. The weather was splendid and we alternated radio activity with island exploration and outing to the beach. We used our vessel for fishing trips and arranged excursions around the island with local fish men. During one of such excursions we landed to the continental cost opposite very small and poor village. There just on the beach we had football match with local children. The friendship won. Both teams got a lot of positive emotions. Four days that we spent on the island flew by very quickly. We wanted to stay one day more.
On the first of August we decided to send our driver Cossa with local boy by vessel to Beyra. Their task was to come bask by bus to the village situated on the continent opposite the island. And then on the 2nd of August expedition team members would float by fishing boats to the same village. In advance we arranged everything with local people. In such way we wanted to kill two birds with one stone: we stay on the island for one day more and cut down our way to Maputu, because the village was situated in 300 km from Beyra on our way to Maputu.
Finally the last day on the island came. We displaced our camp, dismounted antennas. We were a little bit upset. All provisions and generator we left on the island to repay the local people’s hospitality. Then, we got into the boat. And good bye Chiloane!!!
In an hour we landed the continent in the Divinhe village. We presumed that the bus had already waited for us. But we couldn’t do without surprise. There wasn’t any bus and the local people hadn’t seen it. We were waiting for it several hours. But there were no bus, we were really hungry, and the biggest part of our provision was left on the island. We understood that we had to go to the village to get something to eat. We were offered to catch ourselves two skinny chickens in one tiny peasant homestead. Their price was one dollar per one chicken. Of course, two roasted chickens didn’t sated twelve expedition team members’ appetite. Fortunately twelve years boy came and brought a goat kid on a rope. Apparently a goat kid’s suspicions were visceral because it took a firm stand and lamentably bleated. After a small bargain we had bought a goat kid for ten dollars. Expedition team members were sorry for it and at the same time uncompromising – WE WANT TO EAT.
When the feeling of hungry was satisfied we noticed that it was getting dark. The bus didn’t arrive. There was nothing to be done but to set the camp. Fortunately we didn’t leave sleeping-bags and tents on the island. Night duty had been organized near the fire.
That is real African romantics: the sky is covered with twinkle stars, the howls of wild animals are heard, now here, now there in the darkness jackals’ eyes are sparkling. Obviously, predators smell meat. But the night has passed by, everybody is alive and we have to think about our getting on the road. Fortunately, the vehicle has driven into the village and we managed to make the arrangement with the driver that he will take out the part of our equipment and team members to the route. And once again the Fortune has smiled to us. On our way to the route we have found our bus. It seems that our driver Cossa is glad not less then we. He tells us what has happened to him during his searching of the village. He had lost his way. More then twelve hours he had been roaming about the prairies until he ran out of petrol. Then at night wild monkeys were trying to take his bus by storm. All in all, Cossa also has had not the best night in his life, regardless of the fact that he was born and grown up in Africa. And there such “surprises” are all around.
We have taken away the rest of our team members and set out on our journey. We came back to Maputo safe and sound but very tired on the 4th of August. Seemingly, as a compensation for our suffering the Mrs. Fortune has decided once and for all take our side. The whole our luggage has safely arrived by the time of our returning from the island. After antennas mounting and amplifiers linking up we were able to work rather actively with the C91CW callsign during the last days of our staying in Mozambique. The previous expedition has focused not enough attention to low bands and that is why we have made special emphasis on 160, 80 and 40 meters bands. Some of the expedition team members have decided to visit Swaziland from the 5th to 7th of August and the other part have stayed in Maputo.
There were no problems to cross the board. No wonder that Swaziland is called African Switzerland. The country is mountainous abounding in green vegetation. Andy Cory 3DA0TM has met us in the capital Mbabane and kindly welcomed us to accommodate in his house. We are highly appreciating Andy and Meri Cory for their hospitality. The Corys have been living in Africa for thirty years. They like to travel very much. Owing to their assistance we were able to see the all beauty of African wild nature in three days.
In spite of being very busy we have managed to made about 150 QSO’s by 3DA0UY callsign. In fact most QSO’s were made from the point 1300 meters height above sea level. We have visited that fabulously beautiful place, when we paid a visit to the President of Radio Amateurs League of Swaziland Willy Long 3DA0BD. Frankly speaking, only two local radio amateurs have prefix 3DA0. They are Andy 3DA0TM and Willy 3DA0BD. There are about a score 3DA1. They can work only on VHF bands and they do it very successfully using repeater. There is VHF transceiver in Andy’s jeep and in the 3DA0UY log appears a good deal of 3DA1 calls.
7th of August it is high time to come back to Mozambique. On our way to Maputo we shall have to visit the biggest in Swaziland Royal national park of wild nature HLANE. The king of Swaziland Mswati III personally patronizes it. There we saw prides of lions, hippopotamuses, elephants and other animals. Also we had very “close” contacts. The herd of eight rhinoceroses was crossing the road and we had to wait for fifteen minutes till they would go home. The photos that we made there are SUPER!!! Good few of all African video and photo were made exactly in that park.
On the 7th of August we came back to Maputo which had become our native city. The 8th of August was our last day of expedition. We are displacing our antennas, packing the souvenirs, personal belongings and equipment. But the expedition has not finished yet. Andy OK8ANM flied away on the 10th of August, so two days more his call sign C91NM will be on the air. One more unpleasant surprise has been waiting for us at the airport. Our antennas were not been accepted to the luggage department. We were suggested to register them as out-of-gage load. It was cheaper for us to leave them in Maputo. Just so we did. It couldn’t have marred up the cheerful mood of expedition team members. Of course! Having so much hardships we were able to activate IOTA NEW ONE - CHILOANE ISLAND in a very high level!!!
73! de Alex (UT5UY)
Take a look for pictures from this DX-pedition here .