There are many islands in the west of Padang city in West Sumatra Province, Indonesia. Most of them are inhabited. The plan and idea to go there and to activate this new IOTA came from Adi YC3MM and Yusnanto YC3DIK after Madura Island OC-237 expedition on last December 2002.
We contacted Roger G3KMA and got confirmation that those islands meet the criteria for new IOTA group of Sumatra Coastal Island – South. After that, we contacted HAM friends in Padang city, but unfortunately could not get the answer earlier. (Finally we got the answer from them 1 week before the date!). During that time we collected the information about the islands near Padang city. Actually there were two islands, Sikuai Island and Pisang Island for tourism purpose. There were many hotels, beautiful beach, and full electric 24 hours.
Adi YC3MM started from Batam on 10 May 2003 by ferry-ship and bus, arrived in Padang on 11 May 2003 morning. Yusnanto YC3DIK started from Surabaya city 10 May 2003 by train and bus, arrived in Padang on 11 May 2003 afternoon. Thomas YC3BDJ started from Malang city on 11 May 2003, arrived in Padang on same day afternoon. We start to discuss with Padang HAM friends on the evening of 11 May 2003, and at that time we got information that currently the hotels and other facilities on Pisang Island were destroyed due to the hotel license being cancelled by government. Sikuai Island is impossible since it was a privately owned island. We also discussed with Indonesia Navy people and they suggest doing activity in Pisang Island since there are a well and fresh water source, and it is not so far from Padang city (about 15-20 minutes from Padang harbor)
On following day 12 May 2003, we started our preparation. We brought 2KW kerosene-electric generator, 4 tents and other equipments. We departed from Padang harbor at 15:10 WIB (08:10 UTC) and arrived at Pisang Island 20 minutes later. The first group was Adi YC3MM, Yusnanto YC3DIK, Thomas YC3BDJ, Oyong YB5BO, Zainal YC5JAX, Budi YD5JAU, Oyong YD5GOD, Erni (SWL, currently YD5NGQ). At that time the weather was very very good, blue sky, low tide and the wind was not so strong.
Pisang Island is quite small. The length of the beach is about only 2.5 km. There are 3 houses with and a total of 7 inhabitants. They are making a living as fisherman and farmer. The main productions from the island are Cakalang (fish like skipjack), Coconut, Clove and Cow. (Pisang means Banana, but we could not find any banana tree. Hi!). Fresh water is unlimited, there are quite big water-source. Pisang Island is very quite, unless in afternoon many fishermen take a rest while drinking coconut water in this island.
Immediately we erected the tents, start the electric generator and erect first antenna (dipole for 20m band) to make first QSO. YE5A and OC-262 was finally on the air and our first QSO was on the 20m band with Yuri UA9YE on 11:29 UTC. He helped us by spotting us on the packet cluster. While the first station was making QSO’s on the 20m band, other people erect the second antenna (ECO vertical for 10, 15 and 20m bands). The first QSO on 15m band was also with Yuri UA9YE on 12:44 UTC). The sky was becoming very dark, so we stopped erecting the antennas, and we concentrated on operating the two stations (20m and 15m) until the both band closed 20:30 UTC. The total QSO on first day is 969 QSOs.
Second day 13 May 2003 was not better that the first day. We continue to call CQ on both bands during the morning but no takers. Second group of the team Bachtiar YB5BLB, Badaruddin YC5BDR Chairul YC5CH joined the team but Oyong YD5GOD went back to Padang city. We built the third station and several other antennas (yagi for 10m band, dipole for 40m & 80m band, dipole for 15m band). The fourth station special for 2m band was also prepared, using a vertical antenna. The first QSO on 10m band was made at 09:09 UTC with BV6DF, the first QSO on 40m band was made at 19:09 UTC with XU7ACE, and the first QSO on 80m band was made at 22:15 with YD8OSR.
We now had all stations operating at full power now! The first station QRV on 20m or 10m, second station on 15m or 10m, third station on 40m, 80m or 15m, fourth station on 2m. Fortunately the electric generator was quite enough even though we did it simultaneously. But, suddenly the storm came. We shut down the stations after the strong wind, and high tide came. Second day result is 626 QSOs only.
On third day 14 May 2003 morning, we found our ECO vertical, yagi were fell down and broken due to storm. The third group of the team Asbond YB5CT and Zuandi YC5DAB came to join the team, but Zainal YC5JAX, Thomas YC3BDJ must back home. Fortunately we could repair broken antenna and we start again with totally 1,063 QSOs. The storm came again in about midnight until early morning.
Fourth day 15 May 2003 we started very late (about 10:00 UTC) due to problem in electric generator. We also started to do split CQ on 40m band following the request of HAM friends in NA, but the propagation decreased and we got only 416 QSOs. Asbond YB5CT, Zuandi YC5DAB, and Chairul YC5CH went back home and another group Rusdy YC5DAB, Safrudin YC5JIS joined the team.
Fifth day 16 May 2003, the propagation was still poor. We got only 590 QSOs mainly on domestic QSO in 80m and 2m band.
Sixth day 17 May 2003 is the final day of operation. The condition slightly better but we have serious trouble in electric-generator, which finally we could not repair and gave up. We stopped the operation after QSO with VU2OCG at 14:37 UTC. Total QSO of the operation is 4,060 including 175 domestic (YB) QSOs. We went back to Padang on Sunday 18 May 2003, 07:00 WIB morning with very high tide sea level and strong wind.
In addition, many other activities are very interested in Pisang Island. During “skip” or “band close” we did some fishing, joined the fisherman to look for fish etc. Food was no problem. Since Pisang Island is not so far from the mainland, every morning we go to the market by a traditional boat and buy food and kerosene for generator. There are many big and small islands that can be seen from Pisang Island, and we will go there in the next opportunities.
We thanks to Roger G3KMA and Ant IZ8CCW who supported us with conversation via SMS during this operation. We will not forget the hospitality of all HAM friends in West Sumatra Province. Thanks full to Mr. Edi, “Senior” inhabitants in Pisang Island who support with everything. Finally we want to express our gratitude to ECO Antenna, MDXC and IREF for general support. With all of your kind support we could make this YE5A operation
Adhi Bimbo YC3MM