Lloyd and Iris Colvin are living a dream that all DX-oriented amateurs have envisioned at least once It’s a dream of unlimited travel toward receding horizons, of financial security and international celebrity status. It’s a dream of going to the sun, setting up a shack, and, tor once, operating as the hunted rather than the hunter. It’s a dream of being DX.
For the past 16 years, the Colvins have been on the move The statistics listed on their Yasme Foundation QSL card tell the story: traveled to 142 countries, worked over half the active amateurs in the world, achieved DXCC 56 times under various callsigns, received over 350,000 QSL cards, worked 354 countries, won 400 awards including the first CQ Magazine WPX Certificate
Tanned and healthy, the Colvins approach retirement age with energy and enthusiasm instead of dread. Part of the reason is their lifestyle. Financially secure and unfettered by family or business constraints, they are free to roarn the world together in an ongoing DX odyssey.
Under the auspices of a tax-exempt foundation called Yasme, they have made a career of amateur radio DXpeditioning With an affinity for travel gained during a 23-year military career and a love of radio communications spawned in the early days of amateur radio, the Colvins are uniquely equipped to meet the demands of their gypsy lifestyle Operating from seldom-heard cora! atolls, newly-established African countries, or lavish Caribbean island playgrounds, the Colvins have long fascinated those less-fortunate souls on the opposite end of the circuit.
But what does it take to globe-trot constantly, to be without home and family much of the year? How is it possible to be so dedicated to amateur radio that, no matter hov^ unusual or ex otic the locale, rarely a day goes bv without time spent at mike or key?
And what of Yasme? Where does the family stop and the foundation begin? How does this tax-exempt corporation tunction? Is it a building or a box in the Castro Valley, California, post office? How are the donations used and whal degree of financial support does Yasme sponsorship entail?
i hese questions are just a few of many asked during an afternoon spent with Lloyd and Iris Colvin —the DXpeditioners,
“73” Magazine: Lloyd, what is Yasme all about?
Lloyd: Actually, it all started in 1954. A young fellow named Danny Weil built a 19-foot boat with his own two hands. Danny was an Englishman, and he hoped to sail around the world in the little boat that he had built
When he got to the US Virgin Islands, he met Dick Spenceley KV4AA Dick said to Danny, “Why don’t you become a radio ham? Then, as you go around the world, people who enjoy speaking wtth exotic countries would have the chance to do so. They might even help you financially in pursuing your trip around the world.”
W6QL Iris Colvin (now SK)
“73” Magazine: So you ‘re operating as independent hams under the umbrella of the Yasme organization?
Iris: Yes, that would describe it well,
“73” Magazine: Are there other people in the same situation in Yasme or are you two the only active DXpeditioners? Lloyd: There have been others tn the past. One of the most noteworthy is George McKercher W0MLY He is now a director of Yasme. He made a Yasme-spon-sored trip to many of the countries of Africa in the 60s. There have been a couple of other people who have gone out under the sponsorship of Yasme, also We are finally approaching the activity of Danny Weil. He was out continuously for nine years, you know. We have been out actively from 1965. 16 years in all We frequently take a few months off and go back to California for a rest. We still have a business there that we’re connected with.
“73” Magazine: I see. Is Yasme headquartered in California ?
Lloyd: It is, but it is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in Florida.
“73” Magazine: Does Yasme have an office and phonei; or is it just a mail drop?
Lloyd: Well, for nearly 16 years now we have had the same PO Box —2025, Castro Valley, California — that’s been a help because people always know that they can get a card from us at that address.
“73” Magazine: So, no full-time, paid office staff? Lloyd: No.
“73” Magazine: You must receive thousands of QSLs each month. How and by whom are they handled?
Lloyd We have had a number of Yasme people who have helped with the QSLs.
Today, Iris and I have the largest QSL collection in the world. I don’t think there is anyone else who has more cards than we do. All of them are arranged in alphabetical order and stored in a huge metal cabinet. Our files number in excess of a third of a million cards at present.
“73” Magazine: 7hat ‘s amazing! Lloyd: T here are some other amazing statistics about ourQSL collection. For one, the weight. We’re a little worried about the structure of our home which, incidentally, we built. It was designed to carry a good load, but the QSLs we have amassed weigh over a ton!
Also, putting this collection in the state it’s in now has taken lots of work. For example, if it takes a minute and a half to answer a card, file it, etc., when we receive one, it would take one person working forty hours a week three years just to file the cards we have received to date.
“73” Magazine: How do you confirm a contact for a new country? Do you check back against the log?
Lloyd: Yes, we do. We use a log system that Yasme has used ever since we’ve been connected with it. We can thank the infamous Mr Don Miller W9WNV for designing it. In fact, he gave us the f Erst copy of the log we use. It’s a good system and we have used it for as long as we’ve been operating
It consists of a small form with attached carbon, about five by seven inches in size, Each sheet holds 100 entries and when a sheet is full, we send the carbon to Yasme for filing and verification.
“73” Magazine: And the folks at Yasme verify the contact and then QSL?
Lloyd: Yes, and Yasme has had over 100 people help with this over the years.
“73” Magazine: Are all these people volunteers, or are they paid? Lloyd, They are all volunteers. Nobody gets a cent. Nobody has ever received any money in the headquarters of Yasme, either. Right now, we have one lady who is single-handedly answering all of our cards. She is Carolyn Brand WA6AKK.
W6KG and W6QL, Mr. and Mrs. Colvin (YASME) in Moscow with RU HAM’s : W6KG, George, R3AR, W6QL, UA3AGW, RW3AH
“73” Magazine 1981
Note: The foundation was established 1960 and named after the legendary yacht “Yasme”, the boat that took famous DXpeditioner Danny Weil, Watchmaker, Pilot, Yachtsman to many remote places from which he operated amateur radio, sometimes for the very first time. Initially the main purpose of the YASME Foundation was to help raise money for Danny’s expeditions and to organize the distribution of his QSL cards. When Danny retired from amateur radio, the foundation closely cooperated with the radio expeditions of Lloyd und Iris Colvin.
CY9C St.Paul Island DXpedition 2016
Callsign: CY9C DXpedition
Date: 21 August 2016
QRV: 10.114 KHz
QTH: St. Paul Island / Canada
P5DX-what could have been….
This morning, I had to cancel a DXpedition. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. It was not for lack of permission, it was not for lack of a team and equipment willing to go.