Bouvet (3Y/B)

If you've ever dreamed about getting away from it all, then you could do worse than head for the island of Bouvetøya: it's the most isolated island on earth. It has one tiny neighbour to the southwest, Larsøya, but that excepted, the nearest land is over1,600 km away. Bouvetøya lies approximately 1,600 km south-west of Cape Agulhas on the continent of South Africa, and 1,400 km southeast of Gough Island .

Another island (Thompson Island to Bouvetøya's north east) was sighted by 19th century sealers, but is believed to have been destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1895 or 1896. Proof of the islands volcanic origin is that sometime between 1955 and 1958, a low-lying shelf of lava appeared on Bouvetøya's west coast, providing the only bird nesting site of any size on the island.bouvetoya_from_the_air.gif (21080 bytes)

Bouvetøya lies at 54º 26' South, 3º 24' East and is roughly seven kilometers long by five kilometers wide. It lies on the southern extremity of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and like Tristan da Cunha has shown signs of recent volcanic activity. This can still be seen by the fumaroles and vents common on the island.

Bouvetøya was placed under Norwegian sovereignty by a decree of January 23, 1928. The island is uninhabited, though attempts have been made to establish a meteorological station.  As one might imagine, the weather at this location in the 50th latitude is awful. The island is in the path of the "Furious Fifties", with frequent storms in all seasons. Bouvetøya's weather is nearly always cloudy or foggy with a mean temperature of-1ºC in the autral summer: the average high is 2.2ºC.

Bouvetøya covers about 54 square kilometers. The highest point is Olavtoppen (780m), aned after King Olav of Norway; it and another high peak surround the ice-filled caldera of an inactive volcano known as the Wilhelm II Plateau.
Glaciers cover most of the island and prevent landings on the south and east coasts, while steep cliffs as high as 490m block access to the north, west and southwest. The presence of numerous offshore reefs make navigation hazardous.
The slopes of the central cone terminate on all sides in steep cliffs and glaciers which descend abruptly to the sea. The two largest glaciers are the Posadowsky Glacier on the north coast, west of Cape Valdivia, and the Christensen Glacier, 2 km east of Cato Point, the southwest point of the island.
The east coastis entirely covered with an ice sheet which reaches the sea as an ice wall some 122 meters high and extends up the slopes of the caldera to about 425 meters.
The north and west sides of the island are almostfree from ice, but are much steeper than the south and east sides.
The island is composed mainly of black lava. Norvegia Point, on which there is a conspicuous point, is situated 3 km south of Cape Circumcision - named after its discovery on Circumcision Day. There's is hardly any vegetation.
The surrounding seas stay close to freezing all year round, and often strewn with icebergs.
The only occupants of the island are seabirds, penguins, seals and Elephant Seals , principally on the western coastline

BouvetØya was discovered on January 1, 1738 by Monsieur Jean-Baptiste Lozier Bouvet with French ships Aigle and Marie, but the island's position was not accurately fixed and because Bouvet did not circumnavigate his discovery, he remained uncertain whether it was an island or part of a southern continent. Though he remained in the neighborhood for ten days, he was unable to land. 

In 1772, Captain James Cook aboard HMS Resolution found no land in a position 300 miles south of BouvetØya, thus proving that Bouvet's discovery was not part of a southern continent. 

In 1774, Captain Furneaus, aboard HMS Adventure and again in 1775 by Captain James Cook on HMS Resolution again unsuccessfully searched for this island.

In 1808, Captain Lindsay of the enderby whaler Swan, in company with the Otter, searched for this island along the parallel of latitude 54 degrees southeast from longitude10 degrees west and sighted it on October 6th, 1808. The position of the island was then fixed with the island center measured at 54 degrees 22 minutes south latitude, and 4 degrees, 15 minutes east longitude. Owing to bad weather, no landing was attempted during a week long stay nor was any anchorage discovered, the island being surrounded to a distance of 3 miles with field ice. 

On December 10th, 1825, the island was again sighted by Captain Norris aboard the ships Sprightly and Lively. On December 16th, a difficult landing was made on Bouvet. The crews of two boats sent ashore for seals were weather bound on shore from December 18 to December 24. 

By 1918 there were four different islands shown on charts in this extreme southern part of the South Atlantic - Liverpool, Lindsay, Thompson and Bouvet Islands respectively. A Lieutenant Gould of the Royal Navy Hydrographic Survey considered that they were all the same, thoughthere was a chance that a volcanic island had appeared and subsequently disappeared. Britain eventually waived all claims to the island in favour of the Norwegians, as they already possessed a far more suitable whaling station on South Georgia .

In December, 1927, the Norwegian vessel Norvegia, (Harald Horntvedt), visited the island, staying for a month and landing several times: an emergency depot of food on Cape Circumcision (54º 35' South, 3º 21' East) for shipwrecked sailors was established.

In 1929, the Norvegia again visited the island and another hut with provisions was established on Lars0ya off the southwest extremity of BouvetØya but on a visit by the same vessel in 1931, this hut and the one erected on Cape Circumcision (54 degrees, 35 minutes south, 3 degrees, 21 minutes east) had also disappeared.

In 1934 Admiral E.R.G.R.Evans, Commander in Chief of the British Naval Base at Simonstown, made a dramatic dash to Bouvet in HMS Milford to make sure that no hostile power was operating there: none was, the sole occupants being seals, sea elephants, penguins and seabirds.
The island has only rarely been visited, so its history is extremely brief. Two events, however, are rather mysterious: first, a sunken lifeboat and assorted supplies were discovered on the island in 1964, but their origin could not be determined.

Then, on September 22, 1979, a thermonuclear bomb test very probably occurred in the vivinity of Bouvetøya and Marion Island. Though no country ever admitted to setting off a nuclear device there, an orbiting satellite detected a very brief, intense burst of light and magnetic, seismographic and ionospheric evidence all point to a nuclear blast. Personnel at Australian Antarctic stations later detected radiation and radioactive debris. It is now believed that the test was carried out by the South Africans.

Establisment of Weather Stations

Little was heard of Bouvet during World War II, but in 1955, interest revived in South Africa in establishing a weather station there. The Transvaal was sent and her crew made several landings on the island to chart it and scout for a suitable site for a weather station. No suitable site was found, and Transvaal returned to South Africa.

The American Research Ship Westwind was asked to "have a look" at Bouvet when she sailed south from Cape Town in 1957, and her helicopter photographed a large plateau south of Cape Circumcision.This had formed as a result of volcanic eruption, and was later called by the Norwegians "Nyrøysa" , meaning "New Rubble".

The South African Weather Department made a further expedition to Bouvet in 1964 in the RSA , which rendezvoused off Bouvet with HMS Protector on March 29th, 1964. The concensus of opinion was that a Weather Station could only be established and operated by a major power, with extensive backup.

However, the positioning of an automatic weather station was an attractive alternative. This was established by the Norwegians from the MV Polarsirkel in 1977, sited on the Nyrøysa, and transmitted for a while to the Nimbus 6 Satellite. A temporary five-man station was established the following year, superceded by another automatic weather station which continues to operate.



Bouvet Island 1990
South Atlantic

Bouvet Island is located at 54 Degrees 25 Minutes South and 3 Degrees 21 Minutes East in the Mid-South Atlantic, South-Southeast of the Cape of Good Hope. The island is mostly covered by ice and steep cliffs. The expedition landed on the West Coast of the island which is the only safe place for camp at about 50 meters above sea level.

The operators were: LA1EE, LA2GV, JF1IST, F2CW, HB9AHL plus two scientists, a 2 man film team, a 2 man helicopter crew and a camp assistant. In 16 days the operators made almost 50, 000 QSOs on CW, SSB, and RTTY on 160 through 10 meters.

{3Y5X QSL}


Information... January, 2000

The South Sandwich Island DX Group previously released information that it intended to activate Bouvet Island in a major DXpedition during 1997-1998. SSIDXG has been working for some time on landing permission for another extremely rare Antarctic island and that landing permission was granted. However, there have been problems because the Norwegian Government, through the Nordst Polarinstitute, has notified us of plans for major environmental/wildlife impact projects on Bouvet Island. Because of their environmental concerns and planned activities, the SSIDXG operations director, Tony DePrato, has officially postponed the planned operation until the conflicts with the scientific studies at Bouvet are resolved. Tony has recently advised me to list the dates of the planned expedition as during the Antarctic summer period of December - January 2000-2001. SSIDXG has not given up on the expedition, and has recently filed additional papers and information to secure authorization for the landing, however the situation is largely not under out control.

The SSIDXG is an organization committed to organizing and conducting world class expeditions to sub-antarctic islands that are extremely difficult to activate. As such SSIDXG's primary role is to activate DXCC countries which are virtually never activated due to their inaccessibility and remoteness. However, SSIDXG also has as its highest priority maintaining the ecological integrity of the islands that it activates. The Antarctic islands are pristine ecosystems which support complex interactions of geography, wildlife, marine life, and for which, man's intrusion can be an unwanted disruption. However, SSIDXG is dedicated to minimizing or eliminating the impact of a manned expedition to any island it visits.

Although SSIDXG had anticipated a landing date during the December, 1998/January 1999 Antarctic summer-weather window, this intention was placed on hold. The major problem with the planning has been in getting official authorization from the Norwegian Polar Institute for the landing. The Nordsk Polarinstitute is conducting a major scientific investigation of the breeding of the seal and animal colonies on the island and has placed restrictions on landing access by any means during the breeding period, which coincidentally, happens to be during the major time periods for most Antarctic landings (the austral summer). The Polarinstitue is most concerned about helicopter overflights but any disturbance of the colony is banned for the duration of the study. SSIDXG is evaluating a number of alternative options and has delayed the proposed landing to conform to this government policy

It appears that any permission to land on Bouvet will have to wait until the completion of the CEMP scientific study. This means that the earliest possible date for the expedition would have been the Antarctic Summer of 1999-2000 (December - January 1999-2000) however, that date has also now been put off. At this point, the plans of SSIDXG have been delayed until 2000-2001.

When conducted, the operation is planned as a two week stay on the island. As in the past two DXpeditions under the SSIDXG banner (VP8SSI in 19922, and 3Y0PI in 1994), the SSIDXG plans a very comprehensive DXpedition with operation on all bands and all modes including satellite. Our plans are to again have four stations operational around the clock during time on the island. The team will consist of at least 10 operators made up of both seasoned DXpeditioners from the previous ZP8SSI and 3Y0PI operations, plus other skilled operators new to our expeditions. It is anticipated that a multinational team will be supplemented by other members of SSIDXG and the crew roster will surely fluctuate as we approach the DXpedition departure date.

Bouvet Island (Bouvetøya) is a Norwegian territory located in the sub-Antarctic area. Bouvetøya is located at 54 degrees, 24 minutes South, and 3 degrees, 25 minutes East. Formerly known as Bouvet Island, Bouvetøya is the southern-most island of the mid-Atlantic ridge and consists of a single volcanic cone with a wide indented crater and attaining a maximum elevation of 2,560 feet at Olaf Peak at the island's center. The area of the island is approximately 19 1/3 square miles. Bouvetøya was placed under Norwegian sovereignty by a Royal Norwegian Decree on January 23, 1928. The island is uninhabited, though attempts have been made to establish a meteorological station. As one might imagine, the weather at this location in the 50th latitude is inhospitable at best. Bouvet Island lies approximately 1,370 miles south-west of Cape Agulhas on the continent of South Africa, and 1,020 miles southeast of Gough Island. Bouvetøya is clearly one of the most isolated pieces of land on the earth's surface.

The goal of this expedition to Bouvet Island is common to the goal of all SSIDXG expeditions: To work each population area of the world as evenly as possible so that all DX chasers from all countries will have an equivalent chance of working the expedition. It is anticipated that all QSL confirmations and all financial contributions to support this SSIDXG DXpedition will be handled by Ron Lago, AC7DX.


Previous Expeditions to Bouvet Ø ya
(Bouvet Island)

Bouvet Ø ya (Bouvet Island) has been activated only three times for significant amateur radio operations making Bouvet one of the most consistently sought-after and rare "countries" for DXCC credit in the award's history. The remoteness of the island and the difficulties in activating this island will continue to keep this island near the top of the "most wanted list" under the current country criteria. Bouvet Island was first activated seriously in 1977 by 3Y1VC and 3Y3CC, and then several years later by 3Y1VC and 3Y5DQ during the austral summer 1978-1979. Previous expeditions have been done largely as part of official scientific and governmental activities of Norwegian Polar Exploration efforts. The initial two expeditions by Norwegian amateurs produced a total of approximately 2,500 QSOs. The first major expedition to Bouvet Ø ya was conducted once again by two Norwegian operators supplemented with three visitors. The two leaders of this expedition, Einar (LA1EE) and Kare (LA2GV) formed a support group named Club Bouvet (along with Erling, LA6VM) to provide emotional and financial support for a major DXpedition to Bouvet Island in 1989. These two operators were joined on the expedition by Jin Fujiwara (JF1IST), Jacky Calvo (F2CW) and Willy Reusch (HB9AHL).
The following is quoted from the 3Y5X QSL card:
"This challenging expedition included five radio amateurs, two scientists, a film team of two, a helicopter crew of two, and a camp assistant. The expedition arrived at Bouvet ø ya December 25, 1989 and started landing operations the 27th. The amateur radio operation commenced December 28.
During the next 16 days, the radio amateurs made nearly 50,000 contacts on CW, SSB, and RTTY, 160-10m. The scientists mapped the census of penguins and seals and studies the behavior of penguins. The film team shot seven hours of 16mm film for cinema and TV. The 250th anniversary of the discovery of Bouvet ø ya was celebrated and a commemorative plaque in the honor of Consul Lars Christensen was bolted to a rock on the island's western shore (Nyr ø ysa).
This expedition was organized by three Norwegian radio amateurs who founded Club Bouvet on May 17, 1989. The founders were LA1EE, LA2GV, and LA6VM. The project was supported by the Norwegian government and a number of organizations, clubs, and individuals in 30 countries. Club Bouvet wishes in particular to acknowledge the initiative and support by Mr. Thor Christensen, Sandefjord, The Ministry of Environment, Norsk Polarinstitutt, the Japanese ham community, and the LA-DX-Group. We hope you enjoyed the show!"

The team landed on Bouvet Ø ya from the motor vessel (MV) Aurora, captained by M. Berentsen on December 25, 1989. The expedition crew flew to Montevideo to meet with the Aurora for the trip to Bouvet. The Aurora was equipped with a small helicopter brought from Norway which was used to assist in the landing of gear and equipment. Although there was an intention to establish two different camps, one on the west side of the island (favoring Europe and North America) and the other on the east side of the island (to favor operation toward Japan, Asia, and the Pacific area) due to the mammoth mountain peak occupying virtually all of the island, a visual inspection of the island showed that there appeared to be no suitable location on the east coast of Bouvet. All locations were considered too dangerous. Consequently, the operation was done from only one location. This decision was to have major ramifications since Asia and the Pacific would now be most easily worked over top of North America short-path on the Asia and Pacific long-path (of course, the same path). The operation was based in Nyroysa, the only location on the island considered by the expedition leaders to be safe for a camp. Nyroysa was composed of a large rock slide on the west coast of Bouvet. Nyroysa is a plateau which rises to an elevation of approximately 150' above sea level. The camp, antennas, and operating tents were positioned among the boulders and rock of Nyroysa. The massive rock face of the volcanic island provided a virtual shield to radio signals propagating short-path to Asia and the Pacific.

The first QSO was made with Erling (LA6VM), the third member of Club Bouvet on December 28, 1989. There were four stations manned as much as possible on the air throughout the operation. Essentially, each operator had his own tent and station. All equipment for the expedition was ICOM and consisted of ICOM IC-751A transceivers, ICOM IC-2KL Linear Amplifiers, and ICOM AT-500 antenna tuners. Six meters was also activated using an ICOM IC-575D 6 meter transceiver. Antennas were four triband yagis IHidaka VS-33, Nagara TA-351, TH-3 Jr, and three Butternut HF6-V verticals. Low bands were activated using the venerable Battle Creek special (on 160, 80, and 40). Five generators were taken along (three Honda generators, and 2 Roheico generators).

The expedition was able to maintain digital communications with supporters via an INMARSAT satellite link, which provided the ability to have 24 hour secure and dependable communications, receive weather advisories, etc. The operators also used a non-amateur commercial HF links for communication and coordination.
The expedition made over 47,000 QSOs during their stay on the island. The break down of those contacts was: 16,800 CW QSOs, 30,000 SSB QSOs, and 291 RTTY QSOs. Geographic distribution shows the inherent difficult of working the Pacific and Asian areas via the long-path: North America involved 47.3 percent of the QSOs, Europe involved 31.3%, Asia had 15.8%, while Central and South America accounted for only 3.9% and Pacific/Oceania and Africa accounted for only .9 and .8% respectively.
The Club Bouvet expedition departed Bouvet Island on January 13, 1990 and departure was facilitated by numerous flights of the helicopter to ferry supplies and crew back to the MV Aurora. All QSLing was coordinated by Erling (LA6VM). Full color QSLs were donated by Onoue Printing Company in Nagano, Japan. Corporate/government sponsorship involved the Norwegian Polar Research Institute, The Nordnorsk Filmsenter, the University of Trondheim, and The World Wide Fund for Nature. Other sponsors included: A/S Thor Dahl, A/S Ambra, A/S Bulls Tankrederi EB Norsk Kabel A/S, Hvalfangstens Sekretariat, Hvalfangernew Assuranceforening, jotun A/S Levahn Industrier, Sandefjord Kommune, TBK, Televerket, Victor Norse A/S, Bouvet-Ladubay S.A. (France), Clipperton DX Club, CQ ham radio (Japan), Danish DX Group, EUDXF, Ham Radio Outlet, Heard Island DX Association, Hidaka Denki Works (Japan), ICOM America Inc., INDEXA, JA DXers, LA-DX-GROUP, Lake Vettern DX Group, Lynx DX Group, Maspro Denki (Japan), (Nagara Denshi (Japan), Norther California DX Foundation, OH DX Boys, 59 Magazine (Japan), and JA1BK, VE3MR, K2ON, and KA8ANQ.

This operation clearly made the most impact to date on the Bouvet Island needs of the amateur radio community, and the operation was pulled-off with a tremendous personal and financial cost to the Club Bouvet organizers. Bouvet was one of the most eagerly awaited major expeditions to come on the air up to that time. The operators and sponsors of the Club Bouvet operation merit the admiration and appreciation of every DXer who worked them for a new one, or a new one on a band or mode.
However, a number of factors also made the 1989-1990 Bouvet Island dxpedition one of the most controversial of all time, due to the need to work Asia and Pacific areas long-path over top of the short-path opening to North America and Europe. This factor, combined with band-plan QSX, and atypical listening patterns led to massive amounts of frustration and problems. However, tens of thousand of DXers around the world also had all time new counters on modes or bands that they did not have before, and the goals of the dxpedition were realized.
The SSIDXG planned 1997-1998 DXpedition to Bouvet Ø ya has the goal of providing the same or more QSOs, distributed to all areas of the world equally based on relative population, to add satellite modes, to incorporate some of the recent technological advances in dxpeditioning, and to produce the absolute minimal disruption to the non-DXing amateur radio community.
(The narrative description of the 3Y0X Dxpedition was based on the material contained in an article authored by Einer Enderud (LA1EE) and Kaare Pedersen (LA2GV) which appeared in QST magazine, October, 1990 issue, pages14 - 17 (pictures also involve the cover picture), and from the QSL card provided by Club Bouvet for QSOs made with the expedition. This narrative was written by Gary E. Jones, Ph.D., and involved my description of the information. Any inaccuracies are my responsibility... .