By K5PO, Wishing he was on the scene
HOWLAND ISLAND, central Pacific Ocean — The ham community is relieved today to hear of the safe arrival home of silent DXpedition KH1DX to Baker Howland, but disappointed no contacts were made. “We’re all just fine… great, in fact. I feel wonderful!” cited DXpedition leader Orson Menton.
The Baker and Howland Islands remains near the top of the “most wanted” DXCC entities after the DXpedition failed to net any contacts. The Boxley Valley DX Club, of south Connecticut, lead by Menton, along with fellow members Sam Watts, Roger O’mally and Georg Milli set out over a fortnight ago on the long multi-part voyage to Baker Howland. The original goal was to land on the Baker Island side of two islands, set up their gear, and operate from 10-13 days depending on weather conditions.
The KH1DX QRZ.com profile said the Boxley Valley DX Club would maintain a website of operating frequencies, stations worked, and news via a satellite uplink. The last update was a whimsical shot of the DXpedition team on the boat, just two hours after they left harbor from northeast Australia some 15 days ago, but then the site went without updates for days.
The online ham community feared the worst. Many were concerned their boat had capsized in rough seas reported in the area. An anonymous message circulating on reflectors and message boards claimed that the Baker Howland Islands, famed as an intended landing stop for aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, had claimed more beloved adventurers. As it turns out, the rumors couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“We made it to Baker Island on at 0600z and promptly went to sleep. We were awfully worn from the travel!” said a relaxed and tanned Menton. “Upon waking, we began setup of the operating tent and vertical bases. I was finalizing the setup of the Elecraft K3 in the third operating position when O’mally came in from the sweltering sun. He’d been pounding in the bases for the 20m four square vertical array with a huge mallet and was simply drenched in sweat!” recalls Menton.
“I was worried O’mally was going to pass out from heat stoke. He’s such a prideful man and I couldn’t get him to take a break,” said Menton with concern on his face.
“Menton was all worked up, telling me I was gonna die out there in that sun!” said a chuckling O’mally. “He kept pleading and begging me to take a break!”
Finally Menton coerced O’malley into taking a short rest. “I’ll tell ya what,” said Menton. “Why don’t we both sit down and have a beer together. I don’t think you’ve ever turned down a beer!”
Menton and O’malley both laughed heartily as they looked at each when telling the story of their island adventure. “After that first beer, things started to get blurry,” said a hesitant Menton. “The one beer turned into a couple dozen. And that couple dozen beers brought about a few liters of rum and, well… by the time we knew it, we were scheduled to depart the island! We just got so caught up in the gorgeous weather, sandy beaches and good times that we kinda forgot about the whole radio thing.”
The Boxley Valley DX Club admits they have some regrets about not ever setting up a complete ham station or making a single QSO, but noted that they all had a “really great time” and “thoroughly appreciate all the sponsors who helped make it happen.” They said they were already planning their next DXpedition, but would “probably bring less beer… though not much less.”