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April 24, 2017
Lady Moana docked yesterday at Pukapuka, and after leaving some cargo there, went on its way to Manihiki. The two power suppliers and other components lent to me by Andy and Jim arrived safe and sound, along with my food supplies carefully packed by Andy. All have been stored at the local school, awaiting my arrival.
A huge Thank You to Robert - a teacher at the local school, and Anna - the school principal, for their invaluable help in organizing my stay at Pukapuka.
April 14, 2017
Here is an update on the preparations and logistical work carried out during the last month. Andy (E51AND) informed me that a boat named Lady Moana was scheduled to leave Rarotonga at the end of March, sailing to Pukapuka. They were supposed to bring a communication repair specialist to Nassau Atoll to fix their Telecom link. Also, they planned to will deliver a lot of cargo and about 50 people returning to Nassau and Pukapuka. Andy and Jim (E51JD) lent me two power supplies, along with a 100 ft coax from Andy, which were packed together and marked for delivery to Pakapuka. Additionally, I purchased some food and drink supplies, which were packed separately. Within days of its announced departure, Lady Moana’s schedule was put back a week, and a few days later another week. With Andy and his wife Kathy currently out of the country, I won’t be able to confirm when the boat sails and when it arrives to Pukapuka until Andy returned back home at the end of April.
I am scheduled to arrive in Rarotonga on May 10 at 2:35 pm local time, and fly to Pukapuka on May 11 at 6 am, spending the night at the KiiKii Inn and Suites. I have researched and tabled the propagation openings forecasted for the time of this operation, using a solar flux SFI = 80. I will check these projections against actual propagation conditions once on the atoll, and will adjust the projected openings based on changes in the solar flux.
March 17, 2017 - TIME SCHEDULE
Operation will take place between 11 and 23 May 2017. I will operate on 10 to 40 m, SSB and CW, depending on the propagation conditions. Propagation paths will be studied to ensure that appropriate windows are identified to all regions of the world.
March 16, 2017
I purchased today the looong haul plane ticket. I will fly from Toronto to Los Angeles, from there to Auckland (New Zealand), and finally to Rarotonga. The return itinerary will be through Auckland and San Francisco. I also purchased the ticket from Rarotonga to Pukapuka, with the return through Manihiki. The good news is that I wasn't charged a share of the diversion fee because the Ministry of Education flies two consultants to the atoll and picked up the bill.
Regardless, this is a long and expensive project, and so any support will be highly appreciated.
March 10, 2017
Pukapuka is a remote atoll situated about 1200 km north-west of Rarotonga. The IOTA group OC-098 was last activated in January 1995, more than 22 years ago. Is in demand by 92% of the IOTA membership as per the IOTA Directory 2016. In view of the membership increase following the introduction of the paperless QSLing for IOTA credits in July 2016, I expect that this percentage is currently higher. North Cook Islands sits at #65 on the Club Log's Most Wanted DXCC list. Interestingly, it is #24 at Mixt, #34 in CW, and #16 in SSB for Europe!
There are no regular planes or boats to Pukapuka. It can be reached at any time by a charter flight from Rarotonga, for the cost of NZ$24k one round trip. Otherwise, Air Rarotonga has one flight every two weeks from Rarotonga (South Cook) to Manihiki (North Cook), which can be diverted to Pukapuka, upon request, for a cost of NZ$5.6k one way, additional to the cost of the return ticket, which is NZ$3,600. The ticket comes with 10kg luggage allowance and additional luggage requires the airliner's approval, against specific charges.
The atoll is home to about 500 inhabitants. It offers no touristic amenities. Visitors can stay with the locals, but conditions will be basic. There is no source of fresh water on the island. The locals treat rain water for drinking, but I was strongly advised against using it myself for anything other than washing and showers. Local villages have 240 VDC through a system based on solar power and a diesel generator. I am concerned of power surges and working with Andy on contingency plans.
Main hazards on the island are high heat, very high humidity, and mosquitoes.
March 5, 2017
I was interested for several years in a potential operation from Pukapuka. However, since other hams expressed an interest too, I didn't pursue it actively. Earlier this year, Andy (E51AND) took a trip to Nassau Atoll, which also belongs to OC-098, but he was unable to operate. The Lagunaria DX Group, which had announced their intention to organize a DXpedition to Pukapuka by the end of this spring, had to change their plans. It was in this context that I decided to learn more about the logistics of travelling to OC-098 this year.