The E51TAI and E51YNB expeditions

     E51TAI (Carrie, W6TAI) and E51YNB (Wayne, N6NB) went on two DX adventures to Rarotonga in the South Cook Islands during 2012--one for the ARRL International DX Contest in early March and another for the IARU HF World 
Championship ("IARU Radiosport") in July.

     For N6NB, it was a first-ever overseas HF DXpedition after 55 years on the air.  For W6TAI, it was a first experience as a single operator in a DX contest. QSL cards have now been sent by direct mail to all who supplied a self-addressed stamped envelope for either operation.  Here's Carrie's QSL:

     On both trips we used an IC-7000, a small THP amplifier and a 2-element Yagi on a mast mounted on a motel's second story balcony.  In March, we had a homemade 2-element Yagi for 15 meters that was broken into short pieces to fit in a 30" rolling duffel bag.  In July, we wanted to do an all-band effort so we shipped ahead a TH-2 tribander and a 16' mast with a TV-type antenna rotator.  Thanks for Victor Rivera, E51CG, for storing the antenna for us.  He and his wife Eleanor extended us wonderful hospitality.  It was also a joy to meet other Rarotongan radio amateurs, including Andy, E51AND, Kathy, E51SCH, and Bob, E51BQ.  Jim, E51JD, was away on a trip so we never met him, but we heard a lot about his DX exploits. We stayed at the same motel where the E51Z group operated CQ WW phone in 2011 and benefited greatly from their experience on the island.  The E51M DXpedition group also stayed there on the way to and from Manihiki in the very rare North Cook Islands. 

     I (N6NB) obtained the E51YNB license as a member of the E51Z team but decided to reschedule my trip because Carrie couldn't go then due to work commitments.  We chose travel dates that included part of the ARRL SSB DX Contest weekend even though we knew we couldn't be there for the full contest.  There's only one flight each week from Rarotonga to the United States--and it's on Saturday night.  We couldn't stay an extra week then and the only other practical way to get back would have involved flying southwest to New Zealand and then backtracking past Rarotonga to the US (a costly 4,000-mile detour).  While Carrie concentrated on hiking across the island and biking its perimeter during that first trip, I operated in the single operator, single band (15) category.  Unfortunately, I could only be on for 11 hours of the contest Friday afternoon and Saturday before we had to pack up to catch the plane.  Our time was so limited that we opted to plan another trip at a time for IARU Radiosport in July, 2012.

     In July it was Carrie's turn.  She was in the single-operator high power (unassisted) category on SSB only.

     We were both astonished by what we heard during the contests--there were huge pile-ups.  For N6NB, it was all North American stations because only W/VE contacts count during the ARRL DX test.  For W6TAI, it was a worldwide contesting experience, limited only by the effects of a solar flare that curtailed propagation (especially to Europe) during IARU.  THANKS to everyone who was so patient with us.  Some people waited 30 minutes or more to get through as we struggled to sort out many strong signals.

     Stations all across North America and Asia were loud on one band or another all day long and much of the night.  The suitcase station seemed to work really well and conditions were generally good (in spite of the solar flare that hit during IARU).  We each made over 1,400 contest contacts despite limited operating time  A surprising number of those contacts turned out to be with people using less than five watts of power or low-profile antennas in communities where outdoor antennas are prohibited by deed restrictions.  Probably a more experienced DX contest operator could have made far more contacts than we did in the same amount of time, but it was a memorable experience for both of us.

                                                                                -W6TAI / E51TAI and N6NB / E51YNB (K6YNB, 1957-77)

This is a view from the beach looking up to the motel balcony where the antenna was mounted. This 2-element monobander for 15 was carried in a 30" rolling duffel bag.

Here's the operating position in the motel room on Rarotonga.

Some Distances in Statute Miles

Rarotonga to Los Angeles - 4,692 miles
Rarotonga to Boston - 7,105 miles
Rarotonga to Rio de Janeiro - 7,197 miles
Rarotonga to London - 10,042 miles
Rarotonga to Johannesburg - 9,141 miles
Rarotonga to Tokyo - 5,550 miles
Rarotonga to Sydney - 3,122 miles
Rarotonga to Auckland - 1,888 miles
Rarotonga to Honolulu - 2,910 miles

<return to N6NB page>