Most of us work DX casually. We jump into a pileup and fight and claw our way to the top of the heap. We grin knowingly when our call comes back from the DX station. Then we fill out our QSL card. Drop it into the mail to the bureau or the DXpedition with an SASE and maybe a buck or two.
But have you ever thought what it costs to actually get to that rock or island in the middle of nowhere. What is the cost to get that boat, those gas cans, generators, antennas, radios, feedlines and people to that rare and exotic place? All of this effort just to spend 3 weeks or less operating 24/7 just so you and I can put a new one in the log!
Let’s examine a DXpedition from the beginning.
All DXpeditions begin with an idea. This is the only free part of the entire process. After the initial idea someone starts the process of putting together a team, figuring out what parts of the world need the chosen entity, the best time to go and on which bands and modes to concentrate.
OK, so the easy part is done! Now, how do we get there? How much is the boat going to cost? What kind of radios and antennas do we need? Where can we get them and how much will they cost? How much gas or diesel is needed? Do we need special permission to land on the location? What about licensing fees? Do we have a multinational team? What of the potential politics involved? Will we have internet access to update logs?
As you can see a DXpedition, just to put that new one in the log, can be daunting and expensive. So, if you’re a DXer, casual or serious, it’s up to you to help out. Be polite and gracious on the air. Fight fairly and diligently to get in the log. And consider a financial support of the DXpedition beyond a buck or two for a QSL card.
On that note, there is a DXpedition in the planning stages for late March 2014 to Mellish Reef. And a Kentucky ham is one of the DXpeditioners. Glen KE4KY will be journeying to Mellish Reef with a multinational group. Mellish Reef is a miniscule spit of rock and guano with a peak of a whopping 2 meters above sea level (high tide). But since it is far enough away from its controlling political entity it counts as a separate country for DX purposes. The individual cost for each of the operators is nearly $9000 just for the boat. Now add air fare, special clothing for the location, medical issues (immunizations etc), and incidentals and you can see the cost rise to $12,000US or more for each operator along for the ride. And all this out of pocket just to go work 16-18 hours a day handing out a new one to deserving amateurs around the world.
Needless to say, unless one has fairly deep pockets this can present a financial burden. The last part of the article is provided by Glen KE4KY and is a plea for financial support. Please consider lending a hand.
Mellish Reef in March/April 2014, using the callsign VK9MT.
We request that your organization consider sponsoring this DXpedition.
Mellish is an isolated, uninhabited reef located in the Coral Sea, 1150 km from Brisbane, Australia. The only part of Mellish Reef permanently above water is the small sandy islet of Herald’s Beacon, around 600 m long and 150 m wide, rising to a height of 2 m above sea level. Mellish Reef is currently 25 on the ClubLog and 32 on DX Magazine’s Most Wanted List. This highly-ranked status reflects the challenges involved in activating this entity. These include accessing this remote island, establishing multiple stations equipped to serve the high numbers of callers across the amateur hf spectrum, and setting up suitable living facilities.
Preparations for the DXpedition are progressing well. So far, we have:
- Received the necessary landing / use permissions and radio license from the Australian authorities
- Project management team established, station and antenna plan developed
- Webpage: www.VK9MT.com
- Expedition yacht Evohe partnering with the team for transportation and logistics
- Efficient QSL management including LOTW via M0URX
In keeping with the team’s lightweight/high-performance/low-cost philosophy, we have:
- Chosen a cost-effective vessel with a proven track record of expedition support in harsh environments
- Chosen lightweight, high-performance K3/KPA500 stations, mostly supplied by team members
- Chosen to use verticals on the beach or in the water to take advantage of the “saltwater amplifier”
- Decided to hand-transport high-value items (avoiding major shipping fees), and to rent locally low value, heavy items
As you know, DXpeditions to rare entities are expensive ventures, with monetary support graciously donated from international foundations, radio clubs, and individual DXers around the globe. Each DXpedition team member commits substantial personal funds up front, with the hope that the international DX community will in part share in this financial burden by the aid of direct donations, physical resources, or additional funding through online QSL services. Although we have chosen the most inexpensive suitable vessel, the expedition budget is still $125,000 (US) (not including individual operators’ travel to Australia, and their accommodation and living expenses while there). We are requesting that individuals, Foundations and Clubs within the DX community provide sponsorship to VK9MT in order to partially-offset our expenses.
The Mellish Reef 2014 project will practice full financial transparency. When we close the books, all Foundations and Clubs that provided sponsorship will receive a financial recap. Funds received will be equally divided across the team after legitimate DXpedition expenses are paid.
We hope your organization can help us with a donation. Donations in US funds can be made by check or money order to: Mellish Reef 2014 DXpedition – Gene Spinelli Treasurer, C/O Gene Spinelli K5GS, PO Box 189, Divide, CO 80814, USA, or PayPal to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks in advance for your consideration.