With the number of new countries dwindling as I near the top of the DXCC there were even fewer new ones than last year but the lack of numbers didn't dampen the excitement of logging 11 all-time-new-ones in 2016. Several dxpeditions to top-ten most wanted entities were on the calendar and I didn't plan to miss any of them.
The year started with a nail biter. I was in KH6 for most of January and would be back just in time to work K5P from Palmyra Island. Any travel delays and I'd be hooped as they were scheduled to shut down the day after my return. Just for fun I worked them with my QRP portable setup in Hawaii and did make it home in time to work them on 20m SSB. As a bonus, I even managed to get them on 80m CW the next morning before they went QRT.
Following right on the heels of K5P was the top-ten-double-header of VP8STI and VP8SGI. It had been a long time since a dxpedition had visited South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia Islands. Conditions on South Sandwich (both weather and propagation) were not very good but I got in their log before they evacuated the island early due to the deteriorating weather. The situation on South Georgia was much better and from there I picked up several new bands and modes.
Ken LA7GIA and Nobu JA0JHQ are outstanding operators who have traveled to several rare entities in the past few years. In 2015 I worked Ken from Comoros Islands and Nobu from Cocos-Keeling Island. This year Ken's trip to Equatorial Guinea resulted in a new one for me and my last "Guinea" (there are four: Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Papua New Guinea) and I was also lucky to snag Nobu when he was in Bhutan as his working conditions there were not very good.
The big one that everyone was waiting for was VK0EK, the once in 20-years opportunity to work Heard Island. Conditions to North America on the higher bands were poor and with the 400W output power limit imposed by the Australian regulations for many they were a tough one to work. Luckily for me they came up on 30m the first day right at our mutual greyline time and I was one of the first North American stations in their log.
Right on the heals of VK0EK was an operation by large team of French operators to another top-10 most wanted entity, Juan de Nova Island. Conditions were great for this one and they were loud everywhere which was a big relief after the somewhat sketchy signals from Heard Island.
After the string of blockbuster expeditions in the first quarter things slowed considerably. I was very busy the remainder of the year with other things although I did manage to put Spratly Islands, Saint Paul Island, and Temotu Province in the log for #312, 313, and 314.
At the end of October the antennas all came down in anticipation of putting up the new tower. Unfortunately, several unexpected trips combined with deteriorating weather and dwindling daylight to stall that project until the New Year. I did see a few semi-rare new ones go by but I'm sure I'll have an opportunity to work them again soon (famous last words, right?).
73 and Good DX to everyone in the New Year!