There was always considerable risk that the 3Y0J DXpedition to Bouvet in 2023 would be called off. The list of possible reasons is long and begins with it being a very difficult place to go. Bouvet is a sub-Antarctic island in the South Atlantic. After all, it’s the second-most-wanted DXCC entity, behind North Korea for a reason.
Beyond that there could have been funding problems, health issues, bad weather, rising seas, global pandemic, etc.
But what killed the operation was somewhat unexpected:
Today, we were informed that Braveheart will be sold. As a result, Nigel Jolly will no longer be associated with the ship, our contract with the ship has been cancelled and our deposit will be refunded. This is a very disappointing development to all involved.
The Braveheart has been the primary transport for large-scale amateur radio DXpeditions for years. It’s importance has been such that the owner was inducted into the CQ DX Hall of Fame. When asked about contracting another charter the reply has been that other than the Braveheart, a suitable charter to Bouvet would cost a million dollars and that’s just not a “ham radio” kind of budget.
This reminds me of the days when amateur satellite enthusiasts finally had to come to grips with the notion that the launch industry had become big business and getting a payload into a high-earth-orbit could cost as much as $20 million dollars. The days of the free ride were over and it wasn’t long after that the days of amateur satellites in highly elliptical orbits ended too.
Satellite enthusiasts trudged thru a long and dark season before finally having to make other arrangements by moving on to other things that they could do in lower, less expensive to get to orbits.
In an oddly similar fashion, it seems reasonable to suspect the days of the big DXpeditions may be over for a season and serious DX chasers will also need to make other arrangements in order to fuel their passion. At least until a practical solution presents itself.