It's at the invitation of Alex UR5FAV, that I decided to join the Ukrainian team for the IOTA contest. As mentioned, by Alex in his invitation, I would be the first "non-Ukrainian ham" to operate from Ankudinov island. This, together with the curiosity of discovering a new country, was a sufficient motivation. The fact that Ukraine recently removed the visa requirement for the EU-citizens had also made traveling to Ukraine easier than ever. Alex, also took care of obtaining my license, which I believe could have been a long process on my own...
the EM5F team: UT0FT, UR5FAV , F6IRF, UX0FF
I left home Friday at 7:00AM local time. After Geneva airport and a 5 hours air trip through Budapest, I arrived in Odessa airport... Alex was there waiting for me, and after another 4 hours by car we arrived in Sylkove around 18:30 local time. The island owner was waiting for us with his motorboat. This black-sea island is located in the Danube's delta, just across the Romanian border. The island is wild and covered by swamps and the only permanent inhabitants are mosquitoes, boars, and birds. However, a small part of the island has been equipped with a few bungalows, mainly for fishers and boar-hunters and from time to time for radio-amateurs !
The larger part of Ankudinov island is covered by swamps: a Mosquito paradise!
On the island Nick UX0FF and Vlad UT0FT had already started warming up the pile-up... but bands conditions were obviously not in a very good shape. I did a few RTTY QSO's, but I also had to get familiar with the software; fortunately the PC keyboards were QWERTY's so I did need to learn the Cyrillic alphabet to make QSO's (I am only familiar with QWERTY, though the french standard is AZERTY). Communication between us, did not turn out to be a problem... I could even realize when Nick was unhappy about something (shouting is the same whatever language you use...). The main problems have been the temperature inside the schack, and the constant mosquito attacks.
the food? nothing simpler
the 15m delta-loop and Nick hunting mults.
At one point we suffered from a complete ionospheric blackout, and for a couple of hours after we could only contact "local stations". Fortunately conditions improved a bit during the contest, especially on day2 which allowed us to work a few DX's. We ended up the contest with 2227 QSO's for a total score of some 4.6M claimed Points. All together some 4000 QSO's were done over the weekend. After dismantling the station, the trip back, on Monday allowed a short visit of Nick's and Alex's city Izmail, as well as a quick visit of Nick's station. But we had to be in Odessa before 3PM... so we could no spend much time for tourism. I finally arrived home around 23h local time after a safe trip through the crowded Budapest airport (this weekend was also the F1 Budapest grand-prix).
Obviously Ukraine is not the best place for winning a IOTA contest, especially when the condx are poor (this contest participation mainly remains UK, and they are the stations to contact for the points). However this has been an instructive and pleasant trip. Again thanks to Alex UR5FAV who made it possible.