Viney Island Dxpedition - April 2004 ... OC-266
Viney Island from the air - the information we had to go on in making the decision to make Viney Island the dxpedition location was from these pics that Dan VK8AN got from a Helicopter pilot who had flown over the island. As you can see from these pics, only the large SANDY BEACH at the eastern end looks like a possible landing and reasonable camping location
Our four man,(there are three in this pic, Bruce, Wally and Dan), team arrived in Derby ready to head out on the following day. Dan and Ron had driven from Darwin, about 900 Km, Bruce flew from California to Broome via Perth, and I (Wally)drove from Perth some 2550 Km. However, the boat we had chartered to take us out to Viney Island was still 200 Km away in Broome! Many phone calls later, we were reassured that all was well but they would be arriving the next day after they had changed the trailer bearings. No problem except late that day we got a call to say that they were still stuck in Broome because they had only ordered two bearings, and all four were shot. Another day spent in Derby viewing the sights, but we did use the time to make contact with the Derby Sea Rescue volunteers. A great bunch of people who volunteer their time and boats and equipment to assist anyone who gets into difficulty in and outside of King Sound. They do a fantastic job and even the daily radio skeds with them provide a high degree of assurance when you are out in these places.
Just to give an idea of what an 11 metre tidal range is, these pics are of the Derby wharf at low tide, then high tide. A little different.
Finally on our way on the Friday morning. We were supposed to leave at around 0600 to catch the tide otherwise things can get a little tricky, however, our skipper could not be found. Finally at about 0830, we got the hotel management to open his room door, and sure enough, he was in there. He had met up with some of his old mates the evening before, and never got in until around 0430..and was basically comatose. We pressganged him though and with his crewman's help loaded him into the boat, making sure to stay upwind of him at all times.
Launching the boat, with the water level way too low. The guy standing on the ramp is at the point the water would have been if we had got away on time. Second is passing an island at low tide shows the tidal range.
On the roughly 200 Km run in the boat, we had a couple of exciting times! Firstly one of the 135HP outboard motors decided it would misbehave and drop out of gear. It is an electronic shift, so without totally dismantling virtually impossible to repair on the water. So lifted that one and proceeded accross Cone Bay, Strickland Bay, through Whirlpool pass, and then through Yampi Sound past my old home of Cockatoo Island and then past Koolan island out directly for Viney. Halfway out, between Koolan island and Viney, the one engine ran out of fuel. It had been working so much harder on its own, that it had almost doubled its expected fuel consumption, and to make it worse, there was no interconnection between the two fuel tanks, one in each hull of the catamaran. So we had to donate one of our 20 litre generator fuel cans to the cause. That got us within a couple of kilometres, then we added one more to get us finally on the eastern end of Viney Island.
Viney Island from about 5 km out
A photo of the beach, this time after we had landed !!! Notice the size of the sand particles!
Setting up the Force12 40XK verical dipoles. The team Wally VK6YS, Bruce KD6WW, Dan VK8AN,and Ron VK8NRI, and a pic of Bruce on the mike with GPS readout!
Bruce in a relaxed evening operating position. Dan hard at it. Operating during the 45+ degrees C during the day. and the overall camp and operating position.
Then we had some bad luck. Dan fell over and badly dislocated his left shoulder. After Bruce and I tried to relocate it, we decided that there was only one option as he was in great pain, and that was to see if we could get assistance from Derby, via the Derby Sea Rescue radio sked. Through them and their contact with the local police, a cattle muster helicopter was organised to come out from the nearest station around 80 km away on shore, and pick up Dan and drop him in at Derby to be taken to the hospital.
Unhappy Dan after dislocating his shoulder. Squeezing big Dan into a Robertson mustering helo with pilot...no room for any personnel belongings!
Because it was at the end of the "wet" season, I was able to find a freshwater spring to supplement out carried on water supplies. It made about 8 litres per hour of beautiful cool, clear clean water. Also great for a cooling wash down. And second last photo is Bruce standing alongside the apartments of some of our neighbours on Viney Island. A large termite mound. (Bruce is the shorter of the two!). And last pic is the two Force12 40XK antennas on the rocky rise with the setting sun behind them.
Overall, another one of those great adventures that all of us will remember. It all goes to make the IOTA programme such an exciting part of amateur radio.
Viney Island Location
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