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ZD9ZS Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island flag Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island

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QSL: Clublog and ZS1S for information/direct mail

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THE ZD9ZS EXPEDITION HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR DXCC CREDIT, THANKS TO THE STAFF AT THE ARRL FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE WITH THIS AND THE LoTW.

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THE ZD9ZS QSL PROCESS HAS BEEN COMPLETED.

All the direct and bureau cards have been done.

I am very grateful for the assistance I received from GENNADY UX5U0, who printed the cards.

Thank you also to the Clublog people and Michael G7VJR in particular.

If you have not received your card within a reasonable period of time, please let me know.

THE OQRS ON CLUBLOG REMAINS ACTIVE.

MANY THANKS - 73 DE ZD9ZS/ZS1S

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Hearty congratulations to Nigel G3TXF, my co traveller whose ZD9XF operation was ranked fifth on the 2014 list for the most successful DX expedition. Nigel did an astounding one man operation, I am pleased that I was able to assist in getting the antennas, coax cables and the extensive radial system in place as well as providing cups of 'rooibos" tea in the wee hours of the very early mornings. 

Nigel also received the Cass Award recently for his efforts, I am glad that I was able to assist him, in a small way, with his dxpedition.

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Paul ZS1S, using the call sign ZD9ZS(South Africa and S, it seemed a good combination) and Nigel Cawthorne G3TXF, using ZD9XF visited Tristan da Cunha in September/October 2014, travelling to and from Cape Town on the South African Antarctic supply ship, the SA Agulhas II.

The ship undertakes three major trips during each year, the longest being in the southern hemisphere summer for two and a half months to the South African Antarctic base and other scientific destinations, a trip in April/May to Marion Island (ZS8) to do the annual team change and a five week trip in September/October to Tristan da Cunha and onward to Gough Island (both British ZD9) to do the annual SA team change there. It is a very modern, comfortable ship, diesel-electric powered, built in Finland to ice breaking standards, with all the creature comforts you could hope for including a sauna!   

The co-ordinates of the QTH on Tristan da Cunha were 37 degrees 04.063 minutes South, 12 degrees 18.792 minutes West.

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ZD9ZS IS QRT AND I AM BACK IN CAPE TOWN.

I am very pleased to have given many radio amateurs a "new one" and I am sorry that I could not have satisfied everyone during the time on the island. The greatest satisfaction is hearing from someone that has been looking for ZD9 for fifty years, someone to get into the DXCC  honour roll, a 9M6 mobile station, a few pedestrian mobiles, another station who tuned up his aluminium guttering and a good few more who really needed at least one contact with ZD9.

The longpath contacts to radio amateurs on the other side of the world were most rewarding, they are the ones who struggle.

There is a huge mountain, rising to over six thousand feet directly to the south which makes RF conditions very challenging.

Many stations were worked on multiple bands, I hope that they gain credit for the extra contacts.

It was a once in a lifetime experience for me to visit such a unique place, it is not easy to get there, a long time in the planning and organisation of such a trip with the ever present possibility of being bounced off the passenger list.

You have to have a really good reason to want to visit the island and official permission has to be obtained about a year in advance.  

I was very honoured to have spent five weeks with Nigel G3TXF who is one of the best DX people that the world wide radio amateur community could ever hope for. I am indebted to Nigel for his friendship and kindness.

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HERE IS A SAMPLE OF THE ZD9ZS QSL CARD.

This picture is taken from the grounds of the Residency, the superimposed emblem is unique to Tristan da Cunha and also features on the flag. There are two crayfish (lobster) on the sides of the centre and at the top is a "longboat" which was the traditional sailing boat, yacht, that the fishermen used to catch fish and crayfish, fetch guano from the neighbouring islands or merely as transport. There is a long term plan to refurbish one or two of the boats to be used for "pleasure" sailing.

 The SA Agulhas II lies at anchor following her return  to TDC from Gough Island.

The SA Agulhas II  berthed at East Pier in the Victoria Basin in Cape Town, prior to our departure.

 

 

The ship departed on 4th September and we arrived back in Cape Town on 9th October.

The two pictures below are courtesy of James ZS1AIE. A beautiful spring day in Cape Town with NO wind.

 

I used an Elecraft K3 with an Elecraft linear amplifier up to the power limit on the island which is 250 watts.

The antennas consisted of a rotatable TA33 Jr beam on an eight meter sectional pole, a dipole for 5260 kHz and vertical dipoles for the other bands.

Nigel G3TXF used a Beverage on the low bands.

My pilot station was Dennis ZS1AU, I would like to thank him for attending to the day to day enquiries on my behalf, the email and internet connectivity was mostly non existent on the island.

Likewise I am very indebted to many amateur radio friends who have helped me in many ways to get this project together, Martin G3ZAY and Rob M0VFC who sowed the seed two years ago, Robert ZS1FF and Andy GM0BZS for their assistance in getting the Elecraft K3 radio to Cape Town, Mike ZS1CO for the loan of the Elecraft KPA 500 amplifier, the kind people on the island, Shaun ZS1RA for the loan of the bandpass filters, my son Bruce ZS1IF for his assistance with a lot of the necessary hardware and software, Barry ZS1FJ for the loan of the SVD antenna and last but certainly not least my long suffering XYL Glynis ZR1GW for putting up with the chaos at home and hearing about the plans as they unfolded over the course of two years.

Tuesday morning 9th September we were doing 15 knots at about 35 degrees south and 7 degrees west and the weather on route was generally very good with a maximum of 3 metre swells.

The synoptic chart for 10th September shows Tristan.

There were numerous times in excess of three hours when the ship stopped to conduct scientific experiments. These "Argo" floats were deployed overboard and are designed to gather oceanographic data over a prolonged period, upload the data to a satellite system and then sink. The seafloor in most of the area where we stopped was in the region of 5000 metres below us. The two scientists are on the right, the bosun of the ship is on the left. 

The passengers were afforded the opportunity to visit the engine room and the bridge, below is a picture of G3TXF.

 

One of the main diesels.

 

This is a view of the aft section of one of the motors driving one of the propellers, each motor's power rating is 4.5 megawatt running at 3.3kV, typical rotation speed is 140 rpm. In addition there are two bow thrusters and one stern thruster.

The lounge on deck seven.

The dining saloon

This is a typical menu from the galley, cheese and biscuits follow dinner every day! This was the day we left from Tristan, some passengers did not make dinner however, the seasickness had got to them.

 

The aft helicopter deck, the two Bell 212 aircraft are behind the hanger doors.

A picture of the bridge and superstructure of the ship taken in bright moonlight with a time exposure.

Very modern laboratory space is available on the ship, this is one of the labs.

This is a view from the crow's nest looking aft over the golf ball radome.

Our first glimpses of the island before dawn on Wednesday 10th September, taken with time exposure hence a grainy picture.

The light visible on the right hand side is at the harbour which is on the northern side of the island.

A clearer picture of the inhabited part of the island, the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

A map of the island, note the height of Queen Mary's Peak which is not visible from the village of Edinburgh.

The helicopter, a Bell 212 that took us off the ship, a two minute ride.

A view of the ship taken from the helicopter, picture by G3TXF.

The harbour and the ship anchored off in the distance, good sea conditions at the time.

Fishing for crayfish, lobster, is the main occupation on Tristan da Cunha and the surrounding uninhabited islands of Nightingale and Inaccessible. These are some of the open boats in the harbour.

A "fishing day" is determined by the resident experts well before dawn, (highly dependent on the weather and sea conditions) and announced to the village by the beating of a gong which in fact is a suspended gas cylinder.

The export of lobster, tails and sashimi grade, all shipped via Cape Town.

This is the MV Edinburgh which is a regular visitor to the island, it carries cargo and a few passengers but mainly brings the lobster back to Cape Town.

The other ship which calls regularly is the Baltic Trader, see here together with the SA Agulhas II.

Off loading stock from the SA Agulhas II. The Baltic Trader is off the starboard quarter.

The barge "Tight Lucy" coming into the harbour, sometimes a treacherous place. The factory is seen above the harbour.

 

The weather changes rapidly......... the day after we arrived, only vertical dipoles were up.

We had 40 knot winds in the lane outside the QTH with the rain lashing down almost sideways.

 

We got a break in the weather a few days later and I was able to put up the TA33Jr beam with the rotator at ground level with  a homebrew swivelling head turned out from HDPE just below the boom to allow full movement. 

The rotator and the rotating head in the next pictures......

A couple of days and many QSO's later, the wind and rain were back, the mast and beam somehow survived this storm.

 

The operating position, a gas heater held the temperature inside at about 14 degrees C.

You can only refill the cylinder on a Tuesday or a Thursday, so if you run out in between it is just tough ! 

 

The gas bottle farm......

The level of RF noise is virtually nil, an idyllic situation, YES, there is an antenna connected to the radio.

The view looking east, picture by G3TXF.

The quarter wave verticals for 80m and 40m were in the adjoining field, we had two kilometres of wire on the ground as the radials. The ground is quite damp most of the time, the mountain is a huge reflector and the sea is about 300 metres away.

These worked fantastically well!

Nigel is standing next to the 80m antenna which is on the 18m Spiderbeam pole.

The dark wall on the edge of the field is entirely made of lava rocks, the round light circle on the mountain is the result of an avalanche.

Probably the most photographed sign on the island, which is placed in position on Wednesdays, weather permitting!

 

Nigel standing up, sideways, to the ever present westerly wind, this is not an optical illusion.

The link to the outside world, apart from amateur radio, is a one meg circuit to the UK, the surrounding wall is there to keep the cows away from the domes. The telephone numbers on the island are London ( England ) numbers!

The "internet cafe", in the picture below, which consists of two desktops, is immediately to the left.

Keep the door shut otherwise you might have a visitor! The cows roam freely.

 

Stamps are an important and significant part of life for Tristan, there is a display of the current issues in the Post Office and Tourism Centre. More information is available on the official TDC website.

A metal plaque depicting one of the old TDC stamps.

Postcards and Tristan first day covers are also on sale.

The mail to and from Tristan comes from Cape Town and is subject to the labour dispute situation.

 

The power station, delivering 230 volts 50 Hz twenty four hours a day, consists of four diesels driving three phase alternators with a total capacity of about 1.5 megawatts. It could be called "Tristan Power and Light" in some parts of the world. 

A major consumer of power is the fish factory which has extensive freezing capacity. Also a facility which requires continuous power is the installation of the CTBTO (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation) monitoring station which forms part of a global UN system feeding back data to Vienna in Austria regarding any suspicious activity.

The picture below is of part of the installation near to the settlement, remote stations are located in various parts of the island.

In the same field to the left of this picture is part of the nine hole "golf course" , see below, note the strong wind on the sea.

We had the 40m and the 80m verticals just to the left of the field below the hospital in the picture below.

The colours evident on the mountain behind change as the sunlight varies, quite stunning sometimes.

 

 

The air monitoring part of the CTBTO, thousands of litres of air per day are sucked through this filtering system and analysed.

 

The bus which runs a regular schedule six days a week from the village to the Potato Patches is below. Licence "plate" TDC 1

THE (one and only) policeman, below, is Mr. Conrad Glass, MBE, he was very happy that I took the photograph at the entrance to the Administration building.

Look out for a book, "Rockhopper Copper" published in 2005, telling of the life and times on the island.

A walk up to the top of the 1961 volcano, a view of Edinburgh, looking west.

The weather was kinder to us this day and when the opportunity is there you have to explore, there may not be another chance.

The total population is under three hundred, there are seven surnames on the island.

 

The Residency is where the Administrator (and family) of the island lives, this is a view from the lawn looking seawards, out to the north east with the SA Agulhas II  anchored offshore. The upturned boat just visible above the hedge is one of the original (sailing) longboats which were used for fishing. At least two may, sometime in the future, be restored to sailing condition.

I have used this picture for the front of the ZD9ZS QSL card.

This is a model of a longboat, kept in the entrance hall of the Residency, it has a unique rigging system.

There are a limited number of older residents who sailed these boats from when they were in their teenage years and who now as a retirement pastime make models. I was fortunate to be able to obtain one of these. A really special TDC memory. 

The 1961 volcano from the Residency lawn. The red roofed building is the school.

 

The longboats aside the road next to the Residency, taken while we were waiting in the rain for the airlift to the ship.

 

A shed tucked away, no idea what is kept in there?

A view looking east towards the settlement from the top of  The Hillpiece, (see The Hillpiece in the map above).

A view towards the west, The Hillpiece is the rounded hill on the left. Inaccessible Island is just visible.

A view to the west (from an area to the west of the Potato Patches) looking towards Nightingale Island.

Nightingale on the left and Inaccessible on the right. Twenty odd nautical miles away.

The view from the top of The Hillpiece looking towards the Potato Patches looking west with Inaccessible Island afar.

The beautiful fresh water on the island comes from springs which appear from the lower slopes of the mountain. What is not pumped into storage tanks runs away into the sea.

One of the water sources is shown in the picture below.

 

There is (unfortunately) quite a lot of scrap lying around, not only in the dump which is on the eastern side of the 1961 volcano, this is a regrettable part of the human activity, I believe a lot more effort should be made to address this.

Clearly the end of the road for these items.....................

This digger appears to have stopped in its tracks with a hydraulic problem.

Some wrecks make for interesting photographs...............arum lilies grow in abundance.

 

There is a "supermarket" located in Government Avenue, it closes early on Fridays and totally on Saturdays and Sundays.

The section of the shop which specialises in handicraft, woollen gloves, hats, scarves and "love socks"

 

The Prince Philip Hall, the foundation stone of which was laid by the present Duke of Edinburgh in 1957.

 

Nightingale Island sign, I am indebted to a fellow passenger from Cape Town for the Nightingale pictures.

Yellow nosed albatross just sitting

Rockhopper penguins on Nightingale.

A view from Nightingale looking east towards Tristan da Cunha. Note the height of the top called Queen Mary's Peak.

 

 

A reconstruction of a traditional Tristan da Cunha house in an effort to preserve the heritage of this very unique island.

The thick walls are constructed from softish stone and the roof is thatched with New Zealnd flax which still grows abundantly on the island.There are very few trees on the island, probably due to the persistent wind.

The interior as it could have been........

 

The day before we departed, the ship visible through the misty, filthy weather.

The helicopter on "final approach" for the heli deck, stormy weather to say the least.

The day of our departure, very skillful flying on the part of the pilots with the ship pitching so much.

My last view of Tristan da Cunha disappearing into the mist.

 

A six meter propagation beacon, ZD9SIX, power supply and the antenna were handed over to Andy ZD9BV who will be installing it. Here is a picture of ZS1S/ZD9ZS and Andy ZD9BV inside "Tristan Radio" callsign ZOE.

 

Our arrival back in Cape Town..........

73 de ZD9ZS / ZS1S

6200228 Last modified: 2015-07-16 00:23:53, 31082 bytes

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