Thursday, October 4, 2012

Swains Island Surprise!

Most of the operators on the 2012 NH8S DX'pedition to Swains Island have been on other DX trips.  Some have been on many trips to some of the most desired DX locations in the world.  You need only look at the Team Roster to see those who have operated from places like: Kermadec Islands, Pitcairn Island, Pratas Island, Scarborough Reef, Midway, Lakshadweep Islands, Kingman Reef, St. Brandon Island, Clipperton Island, South Orkney Islands, Bhutan, Comoros Islands, Desecheo, Spratly Islands and Malpelo.  Do those locations make your mouth water?  You can only imagine how difficult and dangerous some of those operations were.  These operators had to endure numerous untold hardships in order to make that all important QSO so you, the person searching for that rare DX station, could add one more QSL to your collection. 

But, we do it because it is fun for us as well.  We get a kick out of overcoming the hurdles and being that rare DX at the other side of the world.  It gives us pleasure to know that we helped you achieve that basic DXCC or your 5BDXCC or to reach the Honor Roll or even the Top of the Honor Roll and know we had some part in that.  One of those great memories for me at NH8S was when ZS6EZ told me I was his "Last One" on SSB.  That QSO put him on the Top of the Honor Roll on Phone for the first time - only the 3rd ZS station to achieve that goal!  Fantastic achievement, Chris!

However, on the trip to Swains Island, I'll venture to say that NONE of us had any idea of what waited for us upon our return to American Samoa.  Once we struck down our camp, packed all our gear, left the island and traveled across the sea for a day on the Lady Naomi,  we were treated to a totally unexpected reward.  First, one of the co-owners of Swains Island, Alex Jennings, showed up at our hotel in American Samoa with a tour bus and gave us a personally guided tour of American Samoa for a day!  Then, he took us to his home where the three gorgeous ladies who had prepared our food on Swains Island, Uti, Rowena and Sula, had prepared a fantastic farewell dinner for us! 

Before the dinner, Alex Jennings presented each of the Swains Island team with a T-shirt.  These shirts had the NH8S web site banner on the back and our name and call signs on the front along with a logo they created for our trip.  You can see the front of the shirt being worn by Hal in my Blog Post below.  We were then each presented with personalized coffee mugs and a Certificate of Achievement!  You can see photos of my mug below and the Certificate above.  Click on any image to see it larger.  Note that both the certificate and the mug contain photos from our own operation!  The T-shirts, Certificates and mugs were the creation of Dale Gandy, the son of the late Larry Gandy, AH8LG, and Uti Gandy who accompanied us on our trip and headed up our kitchen staff.  Dale - you did GREAT!

I think I can safely say that not a single one of us expected such a thing!  It was a marvelous gesture on the part of the owners of Swains Island and their team who had worked so hard to help us achieve our goals and was the capstone of a truly amazing adventure!  I doubt that any of us will ever forget the contributions of Alex Jennings, David Jennings, his son, Dalen, Uti Gandy, Rowena Jennings, Ursula, Tim, Junior, Cecil (Chase), Palapi, Joseph (who became a grandfather for the first time while he was on Swains Island with us), Capt. Wally and the rest of the Swains Island crew made to the success of our operation.  Yes, without them we would have made many QSO's - just not as many, we would have eaten enough to survive - but not anything nearly as tasty, we would have traveled there and back - but never seen the real American Samoa, and we CERTAINLY would never have the fabulous memories these people have given us.

Before I left on this trip I was asked by several, what will you do if your equipment fails to arrive, or if it rains every day, or if propagation sucks, or . . . whatever.  I always responded that if I were able to do 100% of my wildest imaginings on this trip I would have a wonderful time - but, if I only got to do 1%, I would still have a wonderful time.  That was my mindset going into this.  However, not in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to get to do 120% of my wildest imaginings!  That extra was due to the amazing efforts of the Jennings family, friends and crew.  The last line of the Certificate above says "Fa'afetai Tele" which in Samoan is "Thank you very much."  I would like to say "Fa'afetai Tele" to all those on American Samoa and Swains Island who made this trip an unforgettable and unbelievable journey which FAR exceeded my wildest expectations. 

In my next Post I'll give some more details about some of those memories that are very special to all of us who were there.  You really will not believe it!

1 comment:

Col MM0NDX said...

The NH8S EU pilot station sure would like one of those mugs, hihi!