Tatakoto Atoll (OC-298)
29 OCT - 5 NOV
29 October 2020 - 16:45 UTC
All my luggage is now checked in with big 'Fragile' stickers - just over 60 kg, hi. Boarding is at 18:30 UTC.
28 October 2020 - 16:30 UTC
I am now at the guesthouse in Papeete. The arrival in Tahiti was uneventful, except that the passengers found themselves under a torrential rain pouring in just as they put foot on the tarmack. I managed to sleep for four hours during the flight, which allowed me to get here a bit refreshed. The covid-19 test clinics open at 8 am, and I'll have to find the closest one to go to right away.
28 October 2020 - 05:30 UTC
I arrived in time at the Air Tahiti check-in desk on the Los Angeles airport. Upon verification that I do have the correct and valid covid-19 type test, Air Tahiti issued me a new ticket from LA to Papeete. I am currently waiting for boarding, which will start momentarily. I haven't eaten much today, so I'm waiting for the 'dinner on the plane', hi. I don't know what other adventure awaits me in French Polynesia, but I hope that I left all mishap here in North America. I will arrive in Papeete at 05:05 am local time, after which I will go straight to the hotel. At 8 am I need to be at one of the local covid-19 test centers to take another test required for the travel to Tatakoto.
27 October 2020 - 21:00 UTC
Back on track, for the time being! After an extensive search, I was able to find a pharmacy which promised to do the regular test in record time, for a fee. The regular RT-PCR test is mandatory for travel to French Polynesia, the 'rapid' test is not accepted. I was able to change my itinerary from Washington DC - SF to Washington DC - LA. This gives me a chance to pick up the 11:55 pm flight from LA to Papeete. Unfortunately, my ticket with United is now useless, because the flight is with Air Tahiti, and they have no agreement between them. I didn't purchase the new ticket, because Air Tahiti recommended me to do it at the check-in, just in case my flight to LA is delayed and I cannot make their flight. The new one-way ticket is $2k, which I don't want to waste.
If my flight arrives on time in LA, I would have about 1h 45min to recover my luggage, move from Terminal 7 to the International Terminal and get to the check-in. They close the check-in 1h before the flight, but I would like to be there at least 15-20min earlier. Air Tahiti knows of my situation. Also, United Airlines have been helpful to put me in a very front seat, so that I can get out of the plane right away upon arrival. It will be a rather physically demanding run with heavy luggage, but there is a chance to make it.
27 October 2020 - 12:30 UTC
Bad news... United Airlines (UA) wanted to see a covid-19 test result dated no later than Oct 24. Despite my explanation that I have only one ticket, from Ottawa to Papeete, despite email correspondence that I had with the Ministry of Health of French Polynesia which clearly showed that they are OK with my testing as done, the airline was firm in not allowing me to board.
The head of the respective UA team indicated that he is absolutely convinced, based on the information I provided that French Polynesia authorities will allow me into the country. However, UA have their rules, and they can be fined if they don't respect them! Even if he will allow me to board, it is highly possible that his counterpart in San Francisco won't, and if so he will be blamed for making the decision to board me in the first place.
I have searched the internet and there is only one pharmacy, relatively close to the airport, which offers 'rapid covid testing', and it opens at 9 am. I will phone them in half an hour to see if I can get my results before 3-4 pm. If so, I will take the test, wait for the result, make sure that it is negative, and attempt to re-book my travel to Papeete with American Airlines (AA) if there are still seats available. AA have a flight to Los Angeles late afternoon, and from there to Papeete, but I cannot book and pay for them unless I have the test in hand.
If I cannot get the result sufficiently fast, so that I can be at the airport by no later than 4:15 pm local time (20:15 UTC), or if there is no seat availability to Los Angeles or from there to Papeete, I have no choice other than to return back home.
26 October 2020
I made it to Washington DC, along with all the bags. I'll spend the night here and depart very early tomorrow morning.
24 October 2020
Good news: the result of the covid-19 test I undertook yesterday was posted today on the specialize website and it is negative!
22 October 2020
All equipment is now packed and ready to go. I will have two large suitcases, a computer bag, and a long bag with the telescopic poles.
21 October 2020
In order to comply with current entry requirements of French Polynesia, I need to take a covid-19 test on Friday, three days in advance of my departure flight. I am scheduled for it at 9:50 am. There is no such thing here as a 'rapid' test, so the results are not guaranteed to be available by Monday morning, but I was told that most of them come within 24 to 48 hours. Fingers crossed!
14 October 2020
All equipment has been tested and performed as designed. While I do not intend to operate FT8 if propagation conditions allow for CW/SSB contacts, I have included a contingency for it, in case of unforeseen major solar disturbance that would seriously affect communication using these modes.
11 October 2020
Accommodation in Washington DC and Papeete was booked and paid for. All components for the CW/SSB activity were tested and found to operate as designed.
10 October 2020
The operation will be conducted from CH02SP grid square (~17.3428 S, 138.4500 W), which you should use when checking the forecast for propagation conditions at your location.
30 September 2020
All donors will automatically by mailed QSL cards directly if they made the log. Additionally, they will benefit from their contacts being uploaded and available for QSO matching 30 days after the expedition.
I will be working with Alfio (IT9EJW), who will do the QSL design and printing, to ensure that direct QSL requests will be mailed by early January 2021. Meanwhile, the respective contacts will also be uploaded and available for QSO matching within 60 days of the operation.
26 Septembre 2020
ANFR, the authority of French Polynesia, issued me the temporary operating radio amateur license, the documentation required for temporary importation of radio equipment, as well as the special callsign I requested. I have purchased the return plane tickets for Ottawa - Papeete, and Papeete - Tatakoto.
19 Septembre 2020
Located about 1200 km east of Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, Tatakoto is an atoll of about 14 km by 3.5 km, with a fully enclosed lagoon. It includes one large island and 65 islets (motu). The large island hosts the village of Tumukuru, which is home to about 260 residents. Tatakoto is the only counter of OC-298 IOTA reference, which still awaits its first operation after being designated a new group in June 2019.
Map of the French Polynesia
I will drive to Ottawa and then board a flight to Washington DC, overnight there. Then, I will continue my travel to San Francisco, and from there to Papeete. I am required to take a Covid-19 test in Canada 72 hours prior to boarding the flight out of Ottawa. Then, I am required to undertake another Covid-19 test in Papeete, prior to traveling to Tatakoto. There are only four flights to Tatakoto for the rest of this year. The one on Oct 29 is the first and the only one which will allow me to remain on the island less than 2 weeks. I will return to Papeete on Nov 5, after which I will fly to San Francisco, Toronto, and Ottawa.
My goal is to make 4000 QSOs with at least 2500 unique stations located on six continents. I will operate primarily on 17, 20, 30, and 40 m, using CW and SSB.
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