The Cruising Adventures of Seventh Heaven with Charlie and Betty

Cruising on Seventh Heaven

The last 30 days, or view the entire archive.

03 Sep 2006
        THE LOUISIADES ADVENTURE
The Louisiade Archipelago is a group of islands and coral reefs off the south eastern tip of Papua New Guinea

After a hectic two weeks transforming ‘Seventh Heaven’ from a bareboat to a live aboard cruising yacht fitting water maker, safety gear and supplies we finally departed Airlie Beach. With a 15 – 20 knot south easterly we made good time to our fist anchorage at Bona Bay on Gloucester Island. Left early next morning for Magnetic Island and covered the 104 miles in just under 17 hours. A lovely fine day which gave us time to unwind. Had dolphins visit us on a few occasions and caught our first mackeral.

Photo: Leaving Abel Point marina


+ Click to enlarge


05 Sep 2006
Arrived Breakwater Marina Townsville at 0930. Frank and Kerry joined us and we completed our provisioning, collected our duty free beverages  and cleared customs. Meet up with Laurie and his crew Rod and Bill off ‘Tropicali’ who we were sailing in company with to the Louisiades.

Photo: Breakwater marina at dawn


+ Click to enlarge


07 Sep 2006
Here we go. Woke to a perfect fine morning with 5 – 10 knot north easterly departing the marina at 0630. Outside Great Barrier Reef before sunset keeping Keeper and Grub reef to port. Light winds continued for two days slowly shifting to the south east sailing with asymmetrical spinnaker under full moon fantastic. Frank caught a dolphin fish north of Dart reef which we enjoyed for several meals. Late on the third day the wind freshened to 15 – 20 knots and with one reef  we were sailing along at 8 knots this caused a bit of a problem as ETA was now in the middle of the night so we had to reef down to slow us up arriving at Samarai early morning. We covered the 525 miles in 98 hours in near perfect conditions.

Photo: Crossing the ocean under spinnaker


+ Click to enlarge


11 Sep 2006
Anchored off  Samarai Island and went ashore to clear customs. Samarai Island was once a busy port but now only a cultured pearl business operates there. Spent a few hours stretching our legs exploring the island and purchasing a few supplies from the store and market. Motored  three miles to Magaikalova Bay on Sariba Island for first night. Beautiful anchorage in small bay nice not to be rolling after four days at sea.

Next day sailed down east channel inside Populai Island through Fortescue Straight and along north side of Basilaki Island to Babana Bay. Frank traded some snorkeling gear for a hand carved drum and we had the remainder of the dolpin fish baked in coconut milk and chilli yummy. Unfortunately not all the people in the village were honest with our headsail furling line being cut off and stolen during the night while we were asleep. ‘Tropicali’ were worse off having their dinghy outboard stolen. Not a good start to our adventure. Spoke to the village chief the next morning about this theft with no results.
This was the only such incident during our trip.
Laurie off ‘Tropicali’ had a satellite phone and was able to arrange a replacement outboard to be delivered to Misima Island with his wife Karen when she flew in to join him a week later.

Photos: Main street of Samarai and Frank's drum


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


13 Sep 2006
Still feeling very disappointed about the theft during the night and wondering what was still install for us we moved on to Skelton Island 17 miles to the east in what is known as the Engineer group of islands. The wind had increased to 20 / 25 knots from the southeast with showers which made for very uncomfortable conditions. We anchored on the north side of the island off Tewalai village. Several villagers came out in outrigger canoes and we traded for fruit, eggs and shells. We went ashore and were made welcome by Nemo and his wife Miriam who spoke very good English. There were many children in the village many of whom had not seen Europeans (Dim Dims) before and they attached to us very quickly. The children do not learn English until they go to elementary school at around eight years old only speaking in their own language until then. There are around three hundred different languages spoken throughout the Louisiades alone. We were shown around the village and the children sang songs that they had learnt at Sunday school (in English) with Betty and Kerry.

The next day we were given a guided tour of the eastern end of the island and during the walk were treated to fresh coconut milk via a young lad scampering up a coconut palm.
On our return to the village another young lad called Terrance had caught a large cuttlefish which we had for dinner.
The anchorage was very rolly so after the second night decided to move on. As a farewell gift the villages gave us some bananas and limes. After two days in this village our faith in the Louisiade people had been restored.

Photos: Tewalai Village, Singing songs, The cuttlefish


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


15 Sep 2006
Our next port of call was Powell Island. This is a small island on the eastern side of a large lagoon with crystal clear water and white sandy beach. The island is inhabited by one extended family Ginisi & Marida with their eight children, grandchildren and cousins. Ginisi is an excellent diver and we traded well for reef fish and crayfish.
Also anchored here were ‘Tropicali’ and Mike, Ross and Sue off ‘Jasmin’ another Airlie Beach yacht. The next morning we said farewell to ‘Tropicali’ who were on a timetable to be in Misima despite the bad weather.
The 16 September is PNG independence day and we were invite to have lunch with Ginisi and his family which consisted of boiled chook (not chicken) yams and bananas which was a memorable experience. We later learnt it was customary to take a dish when invited for a meal.
The next day we departed for Itamarina Island in the Conflict group sailing in company with ‘Jasmin’. After a couple of hours we diverted course to Hummock Island as condition were very rough and ‘Jasmin’ continued on. Hummock Island is also situated on a large lagoon. We located the entrance through the reef and entered the lagoon but the anchorage was rolly being exposed to the strong southeastly so decided to return to Powell Island. Frank caught a nice mackerel on the sail back which we gave to Ginisi for his family. Spent the next two days snorkeling, exploring the island and reef and spending time with our new found friends

Photos: Independence day,  The white sands of Powell island



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


19 Sep 2006
With the wind abating we were again making way for Itamarina Island. A few hours into our passage it was obvious that conditions had not improved but regardless we decided to push on. With  two meter seas the wind on the nose and a one and a half knot current against us  this turned out to be our worst sailing day or should I say motoring day that we had. It took eight hours for the journey of 46 miles and we were all pleased to reach our destination.  Itamarina is a small uninhabitant island surrounded by reef with a few fishing huts on the east side. Anchored in six meters and laid back in thirty meters.

Next day with weather not much better headed for Nivani Island in the Deboyne lagoon.
Again another hard day punching into headwinds and rough seas. The lagoon is approx 15 miles long with an average depth of 25 meters. Just off the island in about four meters of water is the wreckage of a Japanese zero fighter plane in surprisingly good condition and it was fantastic snorkeling on it. Traded for some crayfish and had a well earned rest after the last two hard days.

Photos: Approaching Nivani island, Exploring Intamarina island



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


22 Sep 2006
With the wind dropping down to 15 knots and a reaching course to Panasia Island we enjoyed our first good sail. Panasia Island for me is the jewel in the crown.  It is a beautiful island with high limestone cliffs and deep lagoon and on the south side  a magnificent white sandy beach with fringing reef. There was only one young couple Sam & Helen and her elderly parents living on the island and we traded for crayfish and vegetables.

Dinner: Crayfish tails with white wine and sweet chilly complemented with a paw paw salad.

Photos: They tell the story



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


24 Sep 2006
After two glorious days at Panasia Island it was time to move on. Our next destination was Utian Island commonly known as Brooker Island. Conditions were a little rough with 20 knot winds against tide. The entrance through the reef at Utian Island is only three to four meters deep and narrow and after surveying it in these conditions it was decided not to proceed and to continue on to Bagaman Island. About five miles from Bagaman Island the bilge alarm sounded and on inspection found the bilge full of water then Frank cries out “fish on” then BANG the head sail block has shattered and the sail is flogging. Betty take the wheel while I secure the head sail, Kerry start pumping the manual bilge pump Frank don’t loose that fish. Well the sail was secured, the fish (a Wahoo) caught and the bilge water from the galley tap mixer being accidentally knocked on pumped dry. What a team. We anchored in a beautiful bay together with ‘Tropicali’ who had arrived the day before.

Photo: Franks Wahoo


+ Click to enlarge


26 Sep 2006
Sailed to Pana Numara Island and anchored at Hoba Bay about two hundred meters off shore in fifteen meters of water where the bottom could be seen clearly. This was the one thing that took some time to get used to going into anchorages or through reef openings with twenty meter plus visibility. Many small reefs and bommies between us and the shore which made for great snorkeling.
27 September Charlie’s Birthday special breakfast of bacon and eggs followed by scone biscuits for morning tea. Presents galore from ‘Tropicali’ and ‘Seventh Heaven’ crew.
Spent next few days exploring island and getting to know the locals. Invited to Tarsi and Geraldine’s home for dinner boiled tuna and yams.

Photo: Dinner with Tarsi and his family


+ Click to enlarge


29 Sep 2006
Running low on diesel and trading goods such as rice and sugar we headed for Bwagoia Harbour on Misima Island via Wuri Wuri passage.  Bwagoia is a small harbour which is the main trading port for the Calvados chain of islands in the Louisiades and until two years ago serviced an Australian run gold mine on the island.  
After anchoring in the harbour we set off ashore to reprovision. Most goods could be purchased in the general stores even purple coloured ice cream cones. The fuel depot had diesel decanted from 44 gallon drums and there was fresh bread from the bakery run by Lynette originally from Mackay.  Unfortunately the bottle shop was closed from Friday to Sunday and seeing today was Friday Frank was devastated as he was low on scotch fortunately we saw Morris who we had met at Bagaman Island and he organised a couple of bottles through the back door.
Betty had an ear infection and had to visit the hospital. The hospital has no doctor and is run by a nurse who was able to supply some drop for Betty’s ear at a cost of three kina (A$1.50). There is also a large police station and airport with flights from Port Moresby a few times per week.
Sent some photos home to our daughters which arrived about six week later must have gone by canoe.

Fully stocked up and nearly out of money we headed back to Pana Numara with two passangers Jane the Sunday school teacher and Jacobette the pastors daughter.
Motor sailing into a 15 to 20 knot headwind and choppy seas broke a water pump belt and glad Frank was on hand to replace it as Charlie had injured right shoulder and in some pain. Belt replaced we headed back on course and Frank caught a salmon and a wahoo which we gave to Jane and some of the other villages.

Photos: Bwagoia Harbour,
        Main street looking towards harbour,
        Jane the Sunday school teacher



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Oct 2006
After exploring the western end of the Pana Numara we headed for Robinson Anchorage on Abaga Gaheia Island to meet up with ‘Tropicali’. Snapped first reef line during passage and with the wind increasing reef two was just right. Anchorage was very windy with 30 knot bullets making it impossible for the locals to come along side in their canoes to visit or trade. Laurie and Karen joined us for dinner and after returning to ‘Tropicali’ Karen caught a very large sweetlip. Frank went over to ‘Tropicali’ and cleaned if for her then accidentally dropped it overboard. Returning to ‘Seventh Heaven’ and feeling remorseful poured a scotch and wetted a line and in doing so caught two more sweetlip one reasonably large which he decided to clean and give to Karen. Fish cleaned and ready to deliver believe it or not Frank dropped this one overboard too. No more scotch for Frank.

Photo: Dinner on Seventh Heaven with Laurie and Karen


+ Click to enlarge


04 Oct 2006
Departed Robinson Anchorage for Gigila Island two yachts already in anchorage and lots of coral heads  so moved on to Panawina Island. Betty and Kerry went ashore and spent afternoon exploring the island could not get the dinghy outboard started and had to paddle back escorted by Robert in his canoe. Next morning Robert bought us four lovely mud crabs which we cooked in chilli and ginger. The women catch the crabs by hand at low tide during the night must be too dangerous for the men.
Anchorage was windy and rolly so moved on next morning to Hessessai Bay on Pana Tinani Island. This anchorage is very picturesque and is surrounded by reef. Climbed Mt Heibule with spectacular views of bay.

Photos: View from Mt Heibule, Sailing canoe used for island trading



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


09 Oct 2006
Stayed over night at Wanim Island commonly known as Grass Island in a small bay with a very tidy village. Lots of children who Frank amused by taking their photos on the digital camera. Condition were now near perfect with light winds and clear skies and we had beautiful sail to Hati Lawi Harbour  on Pana Tinani Island. This was my favorite anchorage it was so peaceful. The village was on the other side of the island and only a few locals came in their canoes to visit. The harbour has a small island at the entrance where we had a great BBQ on a deserted beach. Totally relaxed.

Photos: Sunset over deserted island, BBQ on deserted island


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


12 Oct 2006
After three days of total relaxation it was time to start heading back to Samarai revisiting some of the islands on the way.
First off was Bomalou village on Panawina Island where we spent the day visiting some of the other villages with many children in tow.  This village is very poor and even the simplest things can assist them. We meet the school teachers and gave them two recorders and basket ball. Most villages have no access to basis medical treatment so Betty treated a little boys knee that was badly infected and showed his parents how to dress the wound leaving antiseptic creams and bandages with them.
Next morning traded for crayfish and mud crabs then continued on to Bagaman Island catching two tuna on the way which we took a small portion for some sashimi and gave the rest to the village. Traded for some wood carvings and Chief Gulo gave us a baggi (shell necklace) as a parting gift.
Next stop Navani Island through the reef east of Utian Island fantastic sail on a reach in 15 to 20 knots. Had mud crabs for dinner around a fire on the beach. Went to the village church service on Sunday. The church is an open building with thatched roof sand floor and you sit on woven grass mats the children up the front, the men on the right and women on the left. The sermon (in their own language) was very emotional and the singing was like a choir. At the end of the service we were asked to leave and stand outside and to our surprise the whole congregation filed past us shaking our hand and thanking us for attending a very humbling experience.



Photos: Children joining us on a walk,
Panawina school  
Repairing Chief Gulo's canoe



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


17 Oct 2006
Another nice sail to Itamarina Island catching a small mackerel in the lagoon on the way which was eaten for dinner. Anchored on the edge of the reef and had a nice snorkel with an abundance of colourful fish. Frank put a line out on dusk with the mackerel head on the hook and within a few minutes something hit it and took off breaking the line so no more swimming after that. Caught a reef shark later that evening.
Setting off early next morning we arrived at Samarai Island at 3.00pm to clear customs but Filex the customs officer was nowhere to be found so we had to stay anchored off the wharf overnight. Following morning cleared customs, purchased 40 litres of diesel and a few supplies and departed for Skelton Island.

Photo: Southern end of Itamarina Island



+ Click to enlarge


18 Oct 2006
It is hard not to catch fish in the Louisiade waters landing another two mackerel on our passage to Skelton Island one for us and one for the village. As only a few yachts have visited this village our boat was easily recognised and we received a warm and excited reception on our return. Miriam and Nemo invited us for lunch the next day and early that morning there was a ruckus in the village and from the boat you could see adults, children and dogs chasing chooks all through the village the unlucky one ending up on the menu as well as yams, bananas and pawpaw. After lunch we introduced the village to the game of cricket thanks to Johnny’s generous donation. After the children got over their shyness it only took them a short time to master the game and a fun afternoon was had by all.

Photos: Skelton Island cricket team
PNG's future opening batsman


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


19 Oct 2006
Even though we only spent three days at Powell Island on our first visit we had the feeling of returning home. We had a few gifts for Ginisi and his family one being a soccer ball for the small children. To our surprise the young men soon had their soccer boots on and kicking the ball around the village. We were to learn that they have a team made up of family members and play every Saturday on neighboring Islands and invited us to their next game on Watts Island. We traveled the three miles to Watts Island in a banana boat which had a 30HP outboard and in Australia would be suitable for a maximum of about ten passengers we had around twenty with Ginisi, Frank and myself sitting on the only seat the women and children sitting in the middle on the floor and the young men on the bow moving backwards and forwards to trim the boat. Not a life jacket in sight. On the return trip we ran out of fuel just as we hit the beach either good planning or good luck I think more the latter. By the way we won the soccer two nil.
That night Ginisi and two of his sons went spear fishing and caught eleven maori wrasse which we loaded into our dinghy and towed it with Seventh Heaven to Skelton Island where they sold them to a fishing boat from the mainland.
Our time in the Louisiades was coming to an end and it was again time to say goodbye to our friends at Powell Island and head back to Samarai for some last minute supplies for the trip home.

Photos: Soccer by the sea side - boots optional
Eleven maori wrasse
Unloading fish onto fishing boat



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


24 Oct 2006
We set course for Samarai traveling along the north side of Basilaki Island and south through the China Straight were we had seven knots of tide gratefully it was with us.
At Samarai we got a few supplies such as butter and coffee then motored to Magaikalova Bay on Sariba Island for our last night anchorage.
Next morning we departed for Cairns 485 miles away. With a steady 15 to 20 knot south east wind and sailing at 60 degrees apparent with one reef in the main we set the auto helm on 209 degrees and settled down for the 3 day crossing. Conditions were a little rough and Frank must have had a bad oyster so nurse Betty had to give him a jab of stemetil which did the trick.  We arrived outside the reef at dawn and came through via Grafton Passage just south of Cairns and made our way to Marlin marina to clear customs and quarantine. Spent the next two days enjoying the sights and sounds of Cairns before saying farewell to Frank and Kerry who flew back to Airlie beach.  

Photo: New experience sailing 'Seventh Heaven'


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


31 Oct 2006
Home alone Betty and I started to make our way south back to Airlie Beach.
Cruising yachties often say that heading south from Cairns is crap but we had a glorious ten days with light easterly winds and sunny skies.

Our first anchorage was Fitzroy Island where we meet met some cruising friends Ross and Yvonne off ‘Halcyon’ heading south and Alan and Ann off ‘Jasmarrhi’ heading north. Had a nice walk to Nudey Beach through the rainforest then lunch at resort which is quite old and will be rebuilt in 2007.

After a nice sail with asymmetrical up and flat seas we arrived at Mourilyan Harbour. This is a natural harbour at the mouth off the Moresby River used for bulk loading sugar and offers all round protection. There was a lot of damage in this area from cyclone Larry and the heavily timbered hills have been flattened. Very peaceful anchorage close to fringing mangroves where Betty caught a nice grunter bream.

Next day we explored Kent and Stephens Islands before anchoring for the night at Dunk Island. The anchorage at Kent Island was very picturesque with a lovely sand spit and lots of shells unfortunately the rainforest that covers the island had been badly damaged by cyclone Larry. Stephens Island was inhabited by thousands of nesting terns and imperial pigeons on their migration from New Guinea. At low tide you can walk completely around the island on a flat rock shelf. Dunk Island has a very popular resort on it and also caters for day guests. The day guest area has just been rebuilt after being severely damaged by cyclone Larry.  

Cape Richards Resort is on the far northern end of Hinchinbrook Island and make cruising yachties welcome. Spent the day walking to Turtle Bay and lazing around the pool. The mini cruise ship ‘Orion’ was anchored off and passengers were visiting the resort. The ship has a maximum of 106 passengers and 75 crew mainly Philippians see www.orioncruises.com.au

Continuing on down to the Palm Isles we anchored in Juno Bay on Fantome Island. There was a leper colony here until 1971 and the ruins still remain so sad that people has to contract such a terrible disease to live in such a beautiful place.

Traveled through Fantome Pass and along the western side of Palm island on route to Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island. Totally glassed out day. There is a small village at Horseshoe Bay where we bought a few supplies (Gin and Beer) and had lunch at the Pub. Had drinks with our friends Murray and Caroline off ‘Double Time’ who were also returning home to Airlie after cruising north for six months.

The northerly came in about 2.00am so time to up anchor and head for Gloucester Island. Arrived at Bona Bay at 7.30pm. The following morning sailed the final 23 miles to Airlie Beach.

This was our first real cruising experience and one that we will never forget the fantastic sailing, islands and people that we have met.
After 10 weeks and over 2000 miles our adventure had come to an end or has it just begun.

Photos: Sunrise on the Great Barrier Reef
'Halcyon' saling past Hinchinbrook
The Louisiades Crew





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


10 Dec 2006
TRAVELING SOUTH
After four weeks in Airlie Beach giving ‘Seventh Heaven’ a mini refit and marina fever setting in it was time to head south for the summer. The Whitsunday Sailing Club put on a fantastic farewell party for us though someone said it was the commodores ball. Anyway after the hangover started to dissipate it was off to Nara Inlet to rendezvous with Johnny the internet guru on Dot Com for last minute advice and of course dinner and a few beers. Spent the next day punching into a 20 to 25 knot south easterly to Brampton Island and after 10 hours it was good to be anchored. With the morning came a 15 knot easterly which gave us a nice reach to Mackay. With favorable conditions and Christmas approaching quickly we decided to sail straight through to the Sandy Straights. With a southerly change coming up the coast and thunder storms forecast we took refuge at Urangan Harbour for two days in company with Paul and Maree off ‘A Vos Sante’, Neville and Barbara off ‘True Story’ and Ray and Liz off ‘Blue Magic’. After the change went through we all motored down the Sandy Straights to Inskip Point where we anchored over night and negotiated the Wide Bay bar next morning. With the wind veering to the east we sailed down the outside of Morton Island to Southport arriving at Hope Island Resort marina on 20 December.

Photos: Sunset off Gladstone
Crossing the Wide Bay bar


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


25 Dec 2006
CHRISTMAS ON THE GOLD COAST
With only four days until Christmas the great shopping frenzy has begun. What to buy? Decisions decisions its all to much. Finally the shops have closed and its all over and Christmas can begin.
For the first time in some years the whole family was together with Kathryn our eldest daughter and her husband Ken hosting the occasion. We started on Christmas Eve with a seafood extravaganza followed up on Christmas Day with roast turkey, bbq roast beef and a home cooked leg of ham. With lots of good cheer and presents galore a good Christmas was had by all.



+ Click to enlarge


26 Dec 2006
On Boxing Day Emma our youngest daughter and her partner Ben joined us on ‘Seventh Heaven’ and we motored down the Coomera River to Southport where we anchored overnight.                                          
The following day we motored up to Sanctuary Cove for lunch berthing right in front of the pub. Next morning Ben’s six year old daughter Monique also joined us and we went for a sail along the coast to Burleigh Heads and back. It was nice spending a few relaxing days together and introducing Ben and Monique to sailing.

Photo: Emma, Ben and Monique


+ Click to enlarge


01 Jan 2007
HAPPY NEW YEAR
With Ken and Kathryn on board we headed for Paradise Point the venue for our New Year celebrations. We rafted up next to Paul and Maree on ‘A Vos Sante’ and John and Karen on their Mustang 38 where we had the front row seat for the fireworks. On shore was a large park where thousands of people had gathered for an evening picnic and to enjoy the fireworks. Ken brought along his new fishing rod with the promise of fish for dinner just as well Betty had the marinated chicken breasts in reserve. Had a great night just relaxing and making new friends.



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


09 Jan 2007
After a fabulous three weeks on the Gold Coast spending time with family and catching up with friends the time had arrived to move on. Anchored in Bums Bay opposite Seaworld overnight and with the forecast next day for 10 to 15 NE it looked perfect for the passage down to Coffs Harbour but as usual the breeze dropped off after sunset and we ended up motor sailing most of the journey.
Spent two days in Coffs and with a forecast of 10 to 15 SE decided to sail the 35 miles down to Trial Bay. Three hours into the trip the wind was a constant 25 knots with rough seas, time to turn back and in just over an hour we were snuggly tied up back at Coffs. The following day the wind had swung around to the NE at around 10 knots so we decided to head straight for Port Stephens again motor sailing most of time. Our shaft seal had started to leak when we were in Cairns and now was leaking badly and with a strong wind warning issued for the next three days decided to haul ‘Seventh Heaven’ out replace the seal and antifoul at the same time. Living on board ‘on the hard’ when carrying out maintenance and with 30 knot winds is not recommended. Made the best of it eating out every night to Betty’s delight and going to the movies.
Back in the water we had a fantastic sail down to Newcastle in a 20 knot northerly with our newly antifouled bum giving us an extra knot of boat speed. We moored at the sailing club marina opposite a three masted super yacht called ‘Athena’ what a sight. www.yachtforums.com/forums/royal-huisman-yacht/3738-review-royal-huismans-athena.html                                
Next day the northerly was still in giving us a quick sail down the coast to Broken Bay surfing at 9 to 10 knots down waves and passing around sixty coal ships anchored off waiting to load in Newcastle. That evening anchored in Towlers Bay we met up with some old friends Dave and Jo on ‘Wyandra‘ and revisited our cruising adventures over a bottle of rum.
The short run down to Sydney was in perfect conditions light NE breeze and sunny skies and what a picture sailing down the harbour. Tied up at the CYCA it was time to clean up ‘Seventh Heaven’ as tomorrow it was off to Melbourne for the Geelong sailing regatta.

Photos:
On the Hard
Sydney Harbour
Super Yacht 'Athena'


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


23 Jan 2007
Geelong Sailing Regatta on ‘Out of the Blue’
As much as we enjoy sailing it was decided to do the Sydney to Melbourne leg of our trip with Virgin airlines. On arrival we were picked up by our host Terry and driven directly to the Sandringham Yacht Club for our pre race briefing which consisted of lots of hand shaking and cold beers.
Day one.
After suggesting the day before that the crew should be at the boat an hour before departure to ensure that the final checks were carried out the rock stars (Betty and I) arrive as the lines were being let go. Glad you could make it were the words I though I heard.
Race one around the buoys in 15 knots was not too bad considering we had not raced together for a year and there were a couple of new crew members. Not to worry team work will improve next race and a mid fleet result will help our handicap.
Race two Murphy’s Law what can go wrong will go wrong. We tried every position possible with the spinnakers, prawning, kite flying, rap dancing etc. and lost the brace and lazy sheet overboard needless to say the skipper was not a happy chappy. So after a day like this there is only one thing you can do get stuck into a VB.
Day two.
Around the buoys again in similar conditions. Race three and four we are finally working as a team and the boat is going along nicely. We are beating the other Farr 37 across the line and this makes the Skipper very happy which is important. After a good day on the water there is only one thing you can do get stuck into a VB.
Day Three.
Photos:
The Team: Chris, Ian, Betty, Gerard our Skipper, Russell, David, Caroline and Frank.
Up with the big boys


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


26 Jan 2007
Melbourne to Geelong bay race over 35 miles. What a fantastic spectacle with over 400 yachts lining up at the start from the big maxis to small trailer sailors with the Melbourne skyline as the backdrop. The race started in very light downwind conditions creating a sea of spinnakers then strengthening to 15 to 20 knots on the beam for a fast reach to the finish. We did quite well finishing third across the line in our division. VB’s all round.
Day Four.
Windward leeward in 15 to 30 knots. With a couple of the crew deciding to get there nails done rather than go out in 30 knots the boys took on the challenge. In conditions colder than a Whitsundays winter the skipper advises the crew that we are here to have ‘FUN’ and not to break the boat or ourselves and in these conditions  it may be wise not to fly the spinnaker. As we approached the first windward mark the skipper obviously thought we were not having fun and yells out “get the kite up” and the FUN begun.
As it turned out race six was our best result with race seven not so good but we were all having ‘FUN’. The only way to celebrate after a great regatta get stuck into a VB.

Results
5th Overall  OUT OF THE BLUE Gerard Young SYC Farr 37  Race 7 11th Race 6 3rd Race 5 9th Race 4 4th Race 3 4th Race 2 [13th] Race 1 8th  

‘Out of the Blue’ is a Farr 37 and was previously owned by Kevan Johnson.

Photos:
Melbourne to Geelong start
Ahead of the fleet



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


30 Jan 2007
Spent our last day in Melbourne exploring the city with Frank and Kerry and had dinner with Terry and Liz our fantastic hosts.
On departing Melbourne I flew back to Proserpine as I had a meeting in Mackay the following day and Betty retuned to ‘Seventh Heaven’ in Sydney. All was well until it was time to return to Sydney. It had been raining continuously for two days in Airlie and the rivers and creeks were rising quickly so suggested to Terry our house minder that we should take the Jackaroo for the trip to the airport just in case there was water over the road. The trip to the airport was uneventful with only about 100mm of water over the road in one spot. On arriving at the airport there was some confusion to whether the flight was cancelled or not and it was 8 pm before Jetstar confirmed that the flight had been cancelled.  By this time the water had risen another meter and we were fortunate to get back to Airlie as the police closed the road shortly afterwards leaving around 200 people stranded at Proserpine airport overnight.
Next day managed to book a flight out of Hamilton Island.

Photos:
Frank gets lucky in Geelong




+ Click to enlarge


03 Feb 2007
With both of us back on ‘Seventh Heaven’ we headed north to Pittwater meeting up with Murray and Julie on ‘Vanetta’ for dinner at Towlers Bay. This is a very popular anchorage on the western shore of Pittwater and is part of the Kuring Gai National Park.
Spent the next five days cruising Pittwater and Cowan Creek in perfect summer weather. Our first adventure was trekking up to Barrenjoey lighthouse.  We anchored under the headland in Fishermans Bay where the track begins. The track offers some great views of Pittwater and Palm Beach as it winds up to the lighthouse. After exploring the lighthouse and walking the length of Palm Beach to where ‘Home and Away’ is filmed we sailed up Cowan Creek to Pinta Bay where we picked up a mooring for the night. ( Pittwater and Cowan Creek are full of public moorings ).  Next morning still full of energy we decided to walk up the track from the end of Jerusalem Bay to Cowan railway station this track is part of the Great North Walk and follows a small creek for about half the 2.5 klm distance. After all this activity we spent the following two days enjoying the beautiful surroundings of Pinta Bay having a well earned rest.

Photos:
Palm Beach from Barrenjoey Headland
Beautiful Pinta Bay
The Great North Walk



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


09 Feb 2007
Growing up at Ettalong I was keen to visit Patonga where I had spent holidays when I was younger. We anchored off the public wharf and dinghied ashore to find a place that has stood still in time as it was nearly how I remembered it thirty or more years ago. We had a chat with an interesting old local bloke who had spent twelve years in Antarctica and who gave us some of his home grown cucumbers and told us that any new buildings approvals had to blend in with the existing architecture retaining the holiday village charm. After a feed of fish and chips we headed back to Towlers Bay for the night.

Photo:
Patonga wharf



+ Click to enlarge


10 Feb 2007
After a fantastic week cruising Pittwater and Cowan Creek it was back to Sydney to meet Richo one of our new boat owners. Had a nice lunch at the CYCA then off for a lovely afternoon sail on the harbour. Within ten minutes of leaving the dock the wind increased to 30 knots and the rain was so heavy that visibility was down to about twenty meters. Welcome to sailing. After about twenty minutes the rain stopped the wind drop to 20 knot and we had an enjoyable sail to Manly and back.
As the weather was a bit ordinary so we decided to venture up into Middle Harbour anchoring at Bantry Bay in the Garigal National Park. Bantry Bay was a munitions site during the Second World War and the buildings have been heritage listed. There is a lovely bush walking track up to Seaforth oval with lots of wild flowers. On our second night at Bantry Bay our friends Bob and Helen visited us on their cruiser ‘Lazyee’ an invited us to visit them at their weekender at Wagstaff.
Wagstaff is in Brisbane Waters on the northern end of Broken Bay and has a shallow entry which would require us to navigate at high tide. We had a lovely sail up from Sydney in a light eastly breeze and picked up a mooring in Coasters Retreat for the night which is surrounded by national park and has a beautiful picnic area and netted swimming lagoon. Next morning on the high tide we headed of for Wagstaff being extra careful navigating the shallow channel. The tide was still flooding and we were approaching the final starboard marks around Half Tide Rocks when I realized we were being pushed down by the tide. Too late ‘BANG’ we have just hit Half Tide Rocks at high tide. ‘SHIT’ with the wheel fully to port and full power we managed to slide off and after a quick check to confirm that no water was coming in the heart started to slow.
We tied up at Bob and Helen’s jetty and on inspection the only damage was a gouge in the lead keel. Feeling a little better we dinghied across the channel to my old home town. Ettalong has changed a bit with the beach eroded away and a monstrosity of a resort built on the foreshore and the old beach front weekenders being replaced with two story mansions but it still bought back some good memories as we walked the streets.
Had an enjoyable time with Bob and Helen talking about everything and nothing in the slow lane.  

Photos:
Bantry Bay
Bob and Helen's Place
The Keel




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


17 Feb 2007
Taking extra care rounding Half Tide Rocks now known as High Tide Rocks we headed for Bobbin Head where tonight George our chauffer would pick us up at precisely 6.30 pm to take us to the Sheer’s residents to celebrate Vanessa’s 21st. As usual Julie had organized a terrific party with a carnival theme and a great night was had by all.
The next day our friends Derek and Carol joined us for a hangover cruise and BBQ on Pittwater after which we returned to Sydney to carry out repairs on the keel.
Photo: Ben, Ogs and Ness


+ Click to enlarge


19 Feb 2007
We arrived at Noaks boatyard around 4.30 pm and ‘Seventh Heaven’ was lifted out and to our relief there was no apparent structural damage caused by hitting Half Tide rocks. We remained in the travel lift slings overnight during which time I repaired the ding in the bottom of the keel and we were back in the water at 8.00 am the next morning.
This happened to be the day the Queen Mary 2 the largest passenger liner in the world and Queen Elizabeth 2 were visiting Sydney. What a sight QE2 was coming down the harbour with a flotilla of pleasure craft escorting her. That night we were treated to a spectacular fireworks display followed by the departure of the Queen Mary 2 fully lit up like a city.
Photo: Queen Elizabeth 2



+ Click to enlarge


22 Feb 2007
Heading Home
After three weeks cruising Sydney and Pittwater it was time to start returning home to Airlie Beach.
First port of call was Refuge Bay off Cowan Creek where we met up with Murray and Julie on ‘Vanetta’ for a farewell dinner. Leaving early next morning we had a lovely sail up to Lake Macquarie with clear skies and a light NE breeze and had dolphins join us on many occasions. After entering the lake through the Swansea Channel we headed south to Chain Valley Bay to visit our friends Peter and Lisa. Had an enjoyable evening with some other ‘old’ friends Ken, Cathy, Martin and Wendy joining us. Unfortunately we had to depart the next day as the tide heights were getting smaller and we just managed to scrap in the day before. After giving the bottom of the keel a light sand in the channel we were finally through the opening bridge and making way for Newcastle again in perfect conditions.
Potos:
Dinner at Peter and Lisa's
Swansea bridge


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


24 Feb 2007
We arrived in Newcastle early afternoon and with daylight saving time gave us an opportunity to explore the city foreshore.
Newcastle was a convict settlement in the early 1800’s and by the 1850’s was a major industrial town and the largest supplier of coal followed by the establishment of BHP steelworks in 1911.
The foreshore was once the busy docklands and the old timber sheds and bond stores at the western end that had been derelict for many years have been replaced with shops, café’s, restaurants and hotels. The eastern end of the foreshore has been transformed into parkland with a heritage walk taking in historic buildings, Fort Scratchley, Nobby’s Head  and Newcastle beach and is well worth the effort.
After the walk we had dinner at a cheap little restaurant and then proceeded down Hunter  street towards the marina past the Civic Theatre. As we were passing Betty wanted to have a look in the foyer so dressed in our best shorts, tee shirts and thongs Betty with plastic shopping bag and newspaper under her arm standing in the foyer we were asked by a nice young lady if we were there to see the show (One Night Stand – comedy) and if we had tickets to which we replied no and explained that we just wanted to have a look at the foyer. She then approached us with two complimentary tickets and insisted we go in. We enjoyed the show very much though we did look a little out of place at intermission.
Nice place nice people
Photos:
Nobby,s Head
Newcastle foreshore




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


25 Feb 2007
Sailed up to Port Stephens and picked up a public mooring off the beach adjacent to d’Albora marina. Had a lovely meal at The Only Place Indian restaurant to celebrate Betty’s birthday.
Next morning the forecast was 15 to 20kn SE ideal for the trip up to Coffs Harbour but after rounding Seal Rocks the wind dropped out completely and we had to motor the rest of the way. During the day dolphins would come and play on our bow which we never get tired of watching.
With 20kn NE persisting we spent the next three days in Coffs before completing our last leg to the Gold Coast.



+ Click to enlarge


05 Mar 2007
The New Zealand Escape
With ‘Seventh Heaven’ safely tied up on Alan and Margaret’s pontoon at Hope Harbour we boarded our Virgin flight to Auckland.
Our first assignment was the Auckland Boat show manning the Cumberland stand. The show had 220 exhibitors with over 21000 people attending over the four days.
With the business end of the trip over we flew down to Christchurch hired a car and started our nine day tour of the South Island.
Photo: Betty selling holidays to the opposition



+ Click to enlarge


17 Nov 2007
Dehler Magic goes to Hobart

Dehler Magic and crew left Airlie Beach at 3pm on Saturday 17 November in the first leg of our southern campaign including the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, we are using the overnight sail to Mackay as an initial training run to prepare for the "serious" stuff down south.

Its a big effort to do the Sydney to Hobart from a home port so far north and we want to ensure that our efforts are not in vain. Getting to Hobart is a must, and doing well in the results is certainly one of our goals. Greg and I will not be helming during the night ahead to ensure that the crew maximise their time in control of the vessel. During the 4 odd days that it will take Dehler Magic to get to Hobart, its 4 hours on and 4 hours off, with 4 people in each shift. This pattern is often disturbed by rough weather, sail changes and unexpected occurrences. During a shift on deck, it is common place to rotate the helming to ensure that performance is optimised.

We have been overwhelmed by the support from the local businesses and community. In small ways there have been so many helping out with discounts on time and materials, while others have supplied prizes for fund raising and cash donations.

Photos:
Dehler Magic in full colours
Greg at the helm

You can follow our progress at www.dehlermagic.com





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Dec 2007
Dehler Magic Mackay to Southport.

Greg, his wife Sandy and son Matt sailed from Mackay to Yeppoon stopping to enjoy Middle Percy, Hexham and Great Keppel Islands on the way down.  Departure from Mackay was delayed due to strong SE trade winds and they overnighted in a few rolly anchorages.
 
To continue on with the delivery of Dehler Magic to Sydney, Charlie, Betty and Lyn Chalmers from Airlie Beach, arrived in Yeppoon on Sunday 25th, to join Greg, as Sandy and Matt had to returned to Mackay. 
 
After provisioning and fuelling Dehler Magic they left Rosslyn Bay Marina in 20k SE winds, for a little bit of a choppy sail to Great Keppel Monday afternoon. 
 
Tuesday they raised anchor at 5am, destination Pancake Creek.  Winds SE to 20 kts in confused 1-2 mtr seas. Seas were the roughest around Gladstone where they had to sail around 22 tankers at anchor, arriving into Pancake Creek at dusk. 
 
Wednesday departed Pancake Creek at 8am for a 5 hour sail to Lady Musgrave Is, winds SE 15-20kts.  Winds swung to E so instead on punching into the wind, a decision was made to sail to Bundaberg instead.  Dehler Magic sailed into Port of Bundaberg Marina at 6.30pm.  Crew looking forward to a hot shower. 
 
Thursday,today calm seas ENE 10-15 kts. Charlie gave Lyn a sailing lesson on how to sail by the tell-tales with little wind. Early afternoon sailed into squally showers with 20kt winds by mid afternoon they sailed out of the bad weather into the calm of the Great Sandy Straits.  They played with the new Asymmetrical spinnaker, but it only stayed up for a few minutes due to lack of wind - oh well, back to motoring. Anchored off Kingfisher Bay Resort at dusk.
 
Friday after waiting for a rising tide, they raised anchor at 9.15am - weather overcast, rain clouds, 5kt winds in the bay.  Forecast winds NE 10-15 kts Dehler Magic heading for the Wide Bay Bar.  11am  - they're in a convoy - Sandy Straits - hot, humid, no breeze,  1 mtr or less under the keel, a catamaran and small ketch in front of Dehler Magic and six 45ft Riviera powerboats behind them. Once through the shallowest part of the straits, the powerboats took off leaving the three yachts to amble  through the rest of the passage.  Anchored off Inskip Point mid afternoon.  Time for a cool drink after a long day of slow motoring through the Great Sandy Straits.
 
Saturday 1 December - Greg was up at 5am banging and clattering because he went to bed too early last night.  Decision made to sail overnight to Hope Island Marina on the Gold Coast.  Raised anchor at 6.30am to cross Wide Bay Bar - two virgins sacrificed - Greg and Lyn - their first Wide Bay Bar crossing.  Winds ENE 10-15 kts, skies overcast. Mid morning two reefs in main and sailing through rain squalls. In the afternoon winds eased and pleasant sailing, passing Cape Moreton at 6pm. Just after midnight reaching along at 9 knots 18 miles north of Southport the wind swung to the south and heavy rain set in dropped sails and motored to Southport Seaway to the quiet and calm of Bums Bay.  Time for a restful sleep. 
 
Sunday 8.10am race officials approached Dehler Magic as she was anchored in the swim path of a swimming race due to start at 8.30am.  They raised anchor for a slow motored through the Southport Waterways, past exclusive Sovereign Island to Hope Island Resort Marina.  Time to clean up Dehler Magic after a week of sailing.  Highlight of this passage - Greg accidentally self-inflated his lifejacket while wearing it in his cabin.     
 
Photos:
Lyn and Betty taking it easy
Greg toughing it out in a squall
Leaving Great Keppel Island



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


16 Dec 2007
A week on the Gold Coast......Greg flew to the Barossa Valley in South Australia for a so called business conference.  Betty and Charlie stayed on the Gold Coast, and enjoyed the company of their daughters Kathryn and Emma.  The stopover also gave Charlie the opportunity to make final adjustments to Dehler Magic.  Lyn went to Brisbane for a few days to catch up with family and friends.
Sunday 9th December 2007
After Greg and Charlie keeping a close eye on the weather, Dehler Magic left Southport Yacht Club Marina at sunset for an overnight sail to Coffs Harbour.  Wind NE 5 knots.  The crew enjoyed the night lights of the Gold Coast as they motored towards NSW.  We sailed into lightening and rain off Point Danger and by sunrise were off Ballina, We arrived at Coffs Harbour on dusk just ahead of a weather system of rain and strong winds moving up the coast.
We spent the next three days in Coffs Harbour Marina.  Greg had the opportunity to spend time with his Mum. Charlie and Lyn enjoyed a sail in the twilight races on a local yacht "Slippery when Wet", a Young 11, and Betty made one of her fabulous stews in preparation for the sail from Coffs Harbour to Sydney.
Dehler Magic sailed out off Coffs Harbour for a direct sail to Sydney early Friday morning.  Winds SSW 10 knots.  They sailed out to the East Australian Current hoping for an increase in speed, but instead found a backeddy and 2 knots of current against us so it was back closer to shore, with only 1 knot of current to contend with.  The scenery was superb, the NSW coastline has miles of isolated white sandy beaches, small coastal towns, the occasional rugged island and a fabulous mountain backdrop.  Dolphins played with Dehler Magic along the way, and at one stage a 3 metre shark came alongside. The night bought lovely clear skies, an abundance of stars and a bright 1/4 moon shining across the ocean, as Dehler Magic motored on. 
Next morning the winds swung around to NW 8 knots as we sailed past Seal Rocks and picturesque Port Stephen. Early afternoon bought a bit of excitement for the Dehler Magic crew, as the winds freshened to 15 knots NE.  Up went the mainsail and headsail goose-winged, and for the first time today the motor was turned off.  We had a celebratory drink and nibbles when we could see Sydney Heads in the distance. Dehler Magic motored through Sydney Heads just after sunset with the lights of the city greeting us always a spectacular sight.
 A bit of fun the next morning as some Japanese tourists excitedly jumped on Dehler Magic and videoed Charlie cooking bacon and eggs on the BBQ.  From their observations, Dehler Magic was the only yacht in the Sydney to Hobart with a BBQ on the back.  Today has been spent cleaning up Dehler Magic and taking down the cruising sails, and preparing the boat in readiness for the big race.  

Photos
Celebratory drink
Lyn under control
Cruising is a rum and coke.


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


30 Dec 2007: Sydney to Hobart

After 4 days, 3 hours, 55 minutes, 28 seconds, Dehler Magic finished her race to Hobart in this year's Rolex Sydney to Hobart race. Finishing within seconds of their "shadow" boat "Inner Circle", in 55th place, the Dehler crew universally resonated with the description of "cruisey", as the tropical racing specialists enjoyed 20 something degree temperatures during the Bass Straight crossing. Breeze strengths rarely touched 25 knots as all competitors enjoyed "off the breeze" racing throughout most of the event.

Dehler Magic got line honors and finished 6th on handicap in their racing class of "PHS B" with a corrected time of 4 days, 6 hours, 47 minutes and 32 seconds, some 6 hours behind division winner "Namadgi".

The crew of Dehler Magic accounted for their 4 days on the water, with 4 days of continuously partying as did the other entrants in the celebrated event.

Dehler Magic will now make their way to Melbourne for Geelong race week in the 3rd week of January.

Charlie, Greg and the entire crew would like to thank all those that have provided the sterling support, the well wishes and the welcome financial assistance in their first Sydney to Hobart race.

Photos:
The Crew
Sailing Across Bass Strait


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


28 May 2008
Airlie to Darwin
After spending four and half months on Dehler Magic doing the Sydney to Hobart campaign it was back on Seventh Heaven to sail to Darwin where we will take part in the Sail Indonesia Rally ( www.sailindonesia.net ). For the first leg we joined the Dent to Dunk rally which left Airlie Beach on 17 May. Our first night at Cape Gloucester Eco resort was a fun Blues and Pirate night. We then sail on to Cape Upstart and then Cape Bowling Green where we had a BBQ and bonfire on the beach under a full moon. We spent the next two days at Horseshoe Bay Magnetic Island. During this stay we had the ‘Magnetic Olympics, lots of fun and games around the pool at Magnetic International resort. Next was an overnight stop at Orpheus Island then onto Cape Richards on the north end of Hinchinbrook Island for a karaoke night. As we headed for Dunk Island the weather closed in with continuous showers but this didn’t dampen the Hawaiian night party. Our final destination was Port Hinchinbrook marina at Cardwell where the home made swimsuit competition and presentation was held. As usual this was a fantastic event.
Photos:
Cape Gloucester Blues and Pirates
Cape Bowling Green BBQ




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


01 Jun 2008
Cumberland Charter Yachts Ten Year Anniversary
It has been ten years since the purchase of Cumberland so we returned to Airlie Beach ( by car ) for celebrations on Lindeman Island. This was the first time all the partners and their wives had been together and we had a fantastic time just relaxing, playing golf, eating and drinking. Somehow we managed to fit in our annual partners meeting.
On a sad note Dee who had recently retired after 19 years with Cumberland managing our accounts passed away on the 2 June
Photo:
Cumberland Partners



+ Click to enlarge


03 Jun 2008: Port Hinchinbrook to Lizard Island 261 NM
We headed back to Cardwell in luxury by the tilt train definitely the way to travel. Back at Port Hinchinbrook we meet up with Chris and Jenny on Harbour Lights who also were in the rally. Over the next four days we made our way up to Half Moon Bay marina at Yorkys Knob just north of Cairns calling into Mourilyan Harbour and Fitzroy Island on the way. Here we provisioned for the trip across the top and finished those last minute jobs.
Next stop was Port Douglas a small tourist town with lots of bars and souvenir shops. From here the Quicksilver high speed catamarans take visitors out to the Low Isles for day trips.
By now we were experiencing the typical 20 to 30 knot SE trade winds and were sailing with two reefs in the main and poled out headsail and averaging between 7 and 8 knots making day sailing between anchorages easy.
Leaving Port Douglas we headed for Hope Island a cay 50 miles north. This would be a beautiful place in calm conditions but quite exposed in 25 knots with reef all around thankfully we were able to pick up a public mooring. After a very blustery night it was off to historic Cooktown were we anchored in the Endeavour River near the spot where Captain Cook repaired his vessel after damaging it on a reef. Spent the evening at the RSL cheering on Queensland’s 30 to nil win over NSW in the state of origin.
Next morning was an early start to sail the 55 miles to Lizard Island. We anchored in Mrs Watsons Bay which has a white sandy beach and reef to the south full of giant clams there are also many walking tracks around the island. The resort is off limits but we were welcome at the staff bar. This is truly a beautiful place and I can now understand why so many yachties come here.
Photos:
Chris, Jenny and Betty Cooktown RSL
Lizard Island



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


14 Jun 2008: Lizard Island to Cape York 386 NM
At Lizard Island we meet up with some of the other yachts participating in the Sail Indonesia rally and we were now sailing in company with three or four other yachts on each passage. We meet around forty yachts between Lizard Island and Darwin.
With the strong trade winds still blowing it only took us nine and a half hours to travel the 77 miles to Bathurst Bay from Lizard Island. Had a bit of excitement rounding Cape Melville with gusts up to 45 knots. Bathurst Bay is surrounded by amazing boulder hills with some boulders as big as houses. Just across the bay is the Flinders Group where we stayed in a lovely protected anchorage on Stanley Island with an abundance of oysters on the rocks.
Morris Island is a small coral cay a further 60 miles north and had remarkably good protection from the trade winds. Here we found the grave of a pearl diver from days gone by.
Next port of call was Portland Roads this was a supply base during the Second World War and the ruins of the old wharf remain but is now a small outpost of about half a dozen houses and of all things a coin operated public phone.
Margaret Bay (Cape Grenville) was another good anchorage with white sandy beach though supposed to be the heart of crocodile country. There were five prawn trawlers anchored and they gave us a couple of kilos gratis.
At the mouth of Escape River our motor decided not to start (dirty battery terminal) so had to sail up the river dodging pearl farms to the anchorage. Thankfully Harbour Lights were standing by if we needed them. Glassed out anchorage under a full moon but not a crocodile to be seen.
Excitement in the air today we go around Cape York. We head through Albany Pass and there it is Cape York we feel like early explorers until we look through the binoculars and see about thirty people on the end of the Cape (four wheel drive tours). We rounded the Cape and anchored on the western side where we went ashore and walked out to the end and had a vegimite sandwich and a cold beer. We then sailed down to Seisia which is a small community and port that services the Cape and Thursday Island. We spent four days here waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf during this time Betty did a tourist ferry day trip to Thursday Island.
This part of the Queensland coast is true wilderness with amazing wild life which very few people visit.
Photos;
Bathurst Bay Amazing Boulder Hills
Vegimite Sandwich on the Cape
At the top


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


03 Jul 2008: Cape York to Darwin 924 NM
With a favorable forecast of a 15/20 knot south easterly we left Seisa for the 380 NM trip across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Gove. After sunset the wind increased to 25/30 knots with a 3 to 4 meter sea which persisted for the next 36 hours not the most comfortable passage.
Gove has a large natural harbour and is a bauxite mining town with all services and a fantastic yacht club. We spent two days relaxing and socialising with other yachties going over the top.
The top of the Northern Territory between Gove and Darwin is known as Arnhem Land. The coast line is very flat and desolate populated by aboriginal communities.
From Gove we headed for the south end of the Wessel Islands passing through the Gugari Rip known as ‘The Hole in the Wall’ a narrow channel between two islands where the tide can reach nine knots. We arrived on the slack tide and slowly motored through the 1.5 nm passage enjoying the scenery. It would be a very nerve racking ride with nine knots of tide behind you as the channel is only eight meters deep and twenty meters wide in some places. After negotiating the rip we anchored a few miles south in Guruliya Bay on Raragala Island a beautiful bay with white sandy beach.
Our next anchorage was Galiwinku an aboriginal community on Elcho Island. This is a very remote town serviced by air and sea. They have a fully stocked supermarket run by the community where we purchased a few provisions. As all communities they have full mobile and internet service which was great for us to stay in touch. The arts and craft centre had a good display of artwork which is sent to Darwin and sold through the various outlets. The down side was the houses were all trashed and the whole town was littered with rubbish which was a shame as it could be such a beautiful place.
We left early the next morning bound for the Liverpool River where we anchored off Entrance Island near the aboriginal community of Maningrida where we had full phone, internet and TV coverage and were able to watch Queensland win the state of origin series.
Our next destination was Port Essington stopping overnight at North Goulburn Island and Valentia Island on the way.
Port Essington is located on the Cobourg Peninsula which is in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park and Marine Park. Port Essington is a large natural harbour with many well protected anchorages and it is believed that aboriginal people have been living here for 40,000 years. It is also an area where Macassan traders from Indonesia visited regularly for centuries. In 1838 the British started a settlement called Victoria but because of the isolation and hardship it was abandoned in 1849 the ruins show an interesting insight into their existence.
After a few days exploring Port Essington we headed for Darwin spending a night on the way at Alcaro Bay on Cape Don. We spent our first night in Darwin anchored in Fannie Bay opposite the yacht club that served good meals and cold beer.
Photos:
The hole in the wall
Cornish ironstone chimneys Victoria ruins
Red cliffs at Port Essington


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


25 Jul 2008
Darwin
We had never been to Darwin and after five weeks sailing from Cardwell it was a lovely place to have some R & R.
After negotiating the Cullen Bay marina lock we were given the V.I.P. treatment from our friends Mal and Carole who were kind enough to let us use their marina berth in front of their house.
Darwin is geared up for tourism being the gateway to Kakadu and the red centre and there is always plenty happening in the city.
It was very easy to settle into tourist mode great places to eat such as the Darwin yacht club overlooking Fannie Bay where you could watch beautiful red sunsets over the sea, crocodile watching up the Adelaide River and adjacent wetlands, having fun at the beer can regatta, wandering around the Mindil Beach markets, trying our luck at the Casino, sitting under the stars at the open air picture theatre and sunset cruising on Darwin harbour on Perrywinkle Mal and Carole’s Perry 43 catamaran.
Unfortunately our R & R had to finish and it was back to the task of preparing Seventh Heaven for the months ahead cruising through Indonesia doing final repairs and maintenance, provisioning a freezer full of meat and dairy items, organising visas and customs clearance and of course stocking up on unlimited duty free grog.
We were now ready for the next leg of our adventure.
Photos:
Seventh Heaven and Perrywinkle in Cullen Bay marina
Cricky Crocodiles  
Beer can regatta



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


26 Jul 2008
SAIL INDONESIA RALLY 2008
Darwin to Kupang West Timor
After traveling 1800 nautical miles to reach Darwin and six months in the planning the day had finally arrived for the 2008 Sail Indonesia rally to begin. There was an air of excitement around the Darwin foreshore as 110 yachts prepared for the start.
The rally began in ideal conditions under a clear blue sky in a following 8-10 knot south east breeze which made for a wonderful spectacle as the yachts made their way down the harbour.
The light winds continued for the entire passage dropping out during the nights at which time we had to motor.
We had a very comfortable voyage with fine conditions, calm seas, lots of dolphins and beautiful star lit nights.
The only incidents that we were aware of was the catamaran Raku accidentally running into a fishing net on the second night fortunately they were able to free themselves quickly and about 100 nm from Kupang when our friends on Harbour Light who we hadn’t seen since leaving Darwin after they took off under spinnaker reported an Indonesian fishing boat had crossed their bow and circling them suspiciously and when they gave their position guess who was only a couple of miles to their starboard so we changed course to intercept them by which time the fishing boat had moved on. That night we sailed in company with both of us feeling much safer.
Photos:
The Start
Under spinnaker at sunset






+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


05 Aug 2008
Kupang - West Timor
After 74 hours and 467 nm we arrived in Kupang.
The quarantine and customs officers were quick to board us placing a very large sticker on Seventh Heaven and informing us that we were impounded and could not leave the anchorage but were free to go ashore. This caused a lot of confusion throughout the rally fleet and took the Sail Indonesia organisers four days to sort out before we were free to sail on.
Apart from this minor bureaucratic problem our welcome to Kupang was absolutely amazing with flags and banners all along the foreshore and people came from near and far to greet us. There where many welcoming ceremonies, gala dinners, traditional dancing and entertainment all of which was hosted by the local government.
In addition to this bus tours were organised to traditional villages, museums and local attractions complete with guides, police escort and ambulance following incase of an accident or illness.
After five days of VIP treatment we had survived the culture experience and acquired a taste for most local food and dingin (cold) Bintang beer.
Photos:
Enjoying a Bintang – Adam, Kath, Bob, Betty, Jenny and Chris
None village welcoming dance



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


10 Aug 2008
Kalabahi – Alor
The 150 nm passage from Kupang to Kalabahi started in glorious light reaching conditions but as we entered the Selat Ombai between West Timor and Alor the wind dropped and the current was running at two knots against us then to make things worse during the night we were hit by 25 knot head winds. These conditions delayed our arrival at the Selat (strait) Pantar to just after dawn at which time the wind ceased to blow and the tide changed giving us 3-4 knots of current against us and it took eight hours to complete the last twenty miles up the selat to Kalabahi.
We managed to arrive in time to attend the opening ceremony of Expo VII Alor where again we were VIP guests and seated on the official podium. The afternoon was full of pageantry and entertainment.
No time to rest the next day the local people again gave us a fantastic welcome followed by a gala dinner consisting of local dishes and traditional dancing hosted by the Regent (local government leader).
Alor is known for it coral reefs and we had some great snorkeling off the western beaches.
Another place of interest that we visited was the Muslim village of Alor Besar the place of the Last Kingdom of Bunga Bali. The inhabitants here were once fierce warriors and would behead their enemy killed in battle then drop their heads in a well like structure located in the centre of the village. This structure still remains today and it is said that a thousand or more heads are there the last being those of Japanese soldiers during WWII (not so long ago).
Also on display in the village was a hand written 17th Century Holy Koran which is proudly kept in there Mosque.
Photos:
Alor Expo
Lego Lego (welcome dance)
17th Century Koran




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


15 Aug 2008
Lewoleba – Lembata
Leaving Kalabahi we sail up Selat Pantar and across the top of Lembata spending a night a Telok (bay) Balurin and Telok Lewaling two beautiful bays with fringing coral reefs and Ili Api volcano towering over them setting an impressive backdrop.
On arrival in Lewoleba we were given a very special welcome ceremony with a blessing of the fleet about 80 yachts followed by a procession around the town on bikes and small trucks lead by traditionally dressed warriors on Timorese ponies.
In the evenings cultural events were organized consisting of music, dancing and games with audience participation encouraged and what a clumsy lot we looked compared to the elegance of the local people. This bought much joy and laughter from the crowed and everyone had lots of fun.
The next day we headed off on an 8 hour 100 kilometre bus (very old and not air conditioned) trip over very rough and narrow roads across the mountains to the whaling village of Lamalera. This was a fascinating village very isolated and where people still hunt whales in small open wooden boats using bamboo harpoons. They catch around 40 whales per year with the majority being sperm whales. Nothing is wasted the meat for eating, oil for lamps and cooking, offal for trading for fruit and veggies and teeth and bones for tourist souvenirs.
Photos:
Anchored under Ili Api volcano
The welcome
Whaling boats returning home





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


23 Aug 2008
Maumere – Flores
As great as they are after two weeks of rally functions and tours it was good to have a week just cruising.
Just 10 nm north west of Lemolemba was a beautiful small island and sand cay called Kroko the water was clear with pretty reefs lovely white sand and to top it off the full moon would rise over Ili Api volcano.
We stayed here for two nights soaking up the ambience.
We made our way slowly west stopping overnight in two lovely bays at Tanjung Gedong and Pulau Besar.
The anchorage at Sea World Maumere was very deep 25 to 35 meters and crowded so we decided to anchor about 10 nm east at a place called Wodong off a small volcanic sandy beach opposite a boutique dive resort were we were made very welcome.
We made our way to the welcoming ceremony and dinner 15 kl away by bemo (local taxi van with very loud sound system) where we were entertained by tradition music and dancing. The New Zealand contingent of about 20 people performed a Maori song and the Haka which made the local Regent a little nervous until it was explained that it was a welcome dance and the spear was made of cardboard.  
Photos:
Full moon rising
BBQ on sand cay



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


27 Aug 2008
Mausambi – Flores
Our next official stop was Mausambi only 50 nm away which gave us a couple of days break.
We found a small bay at Tanjung Batu Boga with crystal clear water and excellent snorkeling. Children from the small fishing village visited by canoe and one evening when having sundowners on the beach entertained some young men by showing them how to tie a bowline how lovely are the simple things in life.
At Mausambi we were once again given a fantastic welcome by the Regent and local people.
We visited the traditional villages of Otogedu, Nuabela and Detuara where they produce local products such as palm sugar, cashew nuts, moke (a local spirit distilled from juice from the sugar palm) pottery and candle nuts which unfortunately gave many of the yachties including us upset tummies as we think they are to be used in cooking and not eaten raw as most of us did. At each village we were entertained by dancers and music and had the opportunity to sample some of their culinary delights.
Photos:
Betty learning new dance steps – Nuabela village
Young dancers from Detuara village



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


04 Sep 2008
Labuan Bajo – Flores
Took six days to sail the 150 nm to Labuan Bajo stopping on the way at Monkey Beach Untelue Island only saw one shy monkey, Lingeh where we were mobbed by children in canoes wanting presents and Gilli Bobo Islang a delightful anchorage with beautiful sandy beach, great snorkeling and no village. Enjoyed a BBQ on the beach with other yachts in the anchorage.
Labuan Bajo is a busy fishing port and the tourist gateway to the Komodo and Rinca Island national parks. There is also a large fleet of charter dive boats as this area has some of the best dive spots in Indonesia.
Labuan Bajo being more of a tourist town had many hotels, restaurants, and good markets to reprovision the boat. Things are so cheap in Indonesia compared with Australia dinner for two including a beer $5 to $10 Aussie dollars and a hair cut including shoulder and neck massage $2.
We enjoyed our stay here as the locals were used to tourists so we were not the main attraction as per our previous rally stops though the Regency still organised a lovely welcoming ceremony with the now familiar traditional entertainment and gala dinner.
We also said good bye to our friends Bob and Kath on Janner 2 who were leaving the rally here and retuning to Australia via the northern islands of Indonesia.
Photos:
Labuan Bajo harbour from one of the many restaurants
Saying good bye to Bob and Kath

Foot note: Bob and Kath arrived home safe and well in November.





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


12 Sep 2008
Komodo National Park
The islands of the Komodo national park lay just east of the Wallace Line which runs between Lombok and Bali. Alfred Wallace’s (1859) theory is that west of this line was once part of Asia and east part of Australia.
The islands with rugged hills and rocky coastlines are very barren and the only place where the Komodo Dragons (the worlds largest lizard) is found.
We sailed from Labuan Bajo through the Molo narrows to the southern end of Rinca Island anchoring behind Naus Kode Island.
The water here was cool and crystal clear and the snorkeling fantastic and in the early morning monkeys, deer and Komodo dragons (goannas on steroids) would come down to the beach an absolutely amazing place.
Our next anchorage was on the western side of Rinca at Teluk Ginggo where at sunset about twenty monkeys came down to the beach and just sat there looking at us (who’s watching who). Next morning we spotted a Komodo dragon on the beach so went ashore to get some better photos. Following the tracks up the beach into a lightly wooded area we nearly trod on one got a bit of a fright and some great photos.
We spent the next few days anchored on the northern end of Komodo Island snorkeling and taking in the fantastic surroundings.
We could have stayed in the Komodo for weeks as it was just so beautiful.
Photos:
Komodo Island from Gili Lawa
Komodo Dragon
Sundowners on Gili Lawa – Piet and Tory ‘Double Dutch’



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


17 Sep 2008
Lombok
As we went further west the wind was starting to change and we were now getting 10/15 knot south easterly during the day making sailing very enjoyable rather than the motoring we had come accustom to over the last month or so.
The passage to Lombok was accomplished by five easy day sails across the north coast of Sumbawa island.
The coast of Sumbawa is very scenic with a ridge of volcanoes some active stretching along its length.
The coastal fringe is sparsely populated so our overnight anchorages were very calm and quite with only a few children visiting in canoes and the odd fishing boat coming and going one of which we traded with for a painted cray and at Gilli Lawang an island off the north east tip of Lombok we anchored in a small lagoon inside the reef where at dusk thousands of bats left the mangroves and returned at dawn.
We anchored on the west coast of Lombok at Teluk Kombal a pretty spot but very close to a mosque that started prays over the loud speakers at 4am.
Lombok is a popular tourist destination and there is plenty to do and see. The main tourist spots are along the west coastline at Senggigi and the Gilli Islands a few miles off the north west coast. The north of the island is dominated by Rinjani volcano (the second highest mountain in Indonesia 3726m) which is the centre of the Mount Rinjani National Park.
We spent a day touring around the country side traveling through the Monkey Forest and down to Mataram the capital city returning along the scenic coast road through Senggigi visiting local pottery and weaving workshops along the way. The landscape was very different from the islands to the east green and lush with large areas of cultivated land more what we expected Indonesia to look like.
Photos:
The Monkey Forest
Planting Rice
Betty in traditional dress



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


24 Sep 2008
Lovina – Bali
Our passage from Kombal took us across the Lombok Strait where we encountered hundreds of small outrigger canoes with brightly coloured sails (spider boats) trolling for fish nothing too unusual except we were twenty miles offshore and it was blowing 20 to 25 knots and rough seas which was uncomfortable even for us.
After crossing the strait the wind dropped we had a nice sail along the northeast coast of Bali to Lovina under the shadow of Gunung Agung volcano the highest mountain in Bali.
Lovina Beach is an unspoilt layback tourist town on the north coast with small boutique hotels and many restaurants. During our week stay we were entertained each evening on the beach by traditional Balinese dancing and open air theater which was very entertaining even though we didn’t understood much of the dialogue. We were also guests at the local ‘Sapi Gerumbungan’ (bull races) a festive event held before the planting of the new rice crop. The bulls are elaborately decorated and harnessed in pairs pulling along ploughs.
We visited the town of Singaraja the old Dutch capital of Bali and spent two days driving down to Kuta the main destination for overseas tourists and the location of the Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005 from which the Bali economy has still not fully recovered.
The country side is truly amazing with large inland lakes and waterfalls, terraced rice paddys and many volcanoes some still active. The Balinese are mainly Hindu and hundreds of temples cover the island some dating back to the eleventh century.  
Photos:
Beautiful Balinese Dancers
Bull Races
Bali Bombing Memorial




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


30 Sep 2008
Karimunjawa
Our 800nm passage from Alor to Bali over the last two months was accomplished by enjoyable day sailing but now we were required to do longer legs requiring overnight sails.
Night sailing in this part of the world is quite a challenge with hundreds of unlit fish traps and small fishing boats combined with unlit barges towed by seagoing tugs and commercial shipping and just to make it a little more exciting we were now experiencing thunderstorms most evenings.
Karimunjawa is a group of islands with beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear water 50 nm north of Samarang central Java,s capital.
This was our stepping of point for an organised tour of central Java. We left Seventh Heaven anchored off the main village with fifteen other yachts for five days with the local coast guard keeping a 24 hour watch.
Photo: Fish trap




+ Click to enlarge


05 Oct 2008
Central Java
Thirty yachties on tour
We traveled the 45nm trip from Karimunjawa to Semarang by fast ferry where we boarded our air conditioned coach for our five day tour of central Java.
Our first destination was an overnight home stay at Temibi village near Yogyakarta where we experienced the Javanese way of life first hand.
It was also the time when Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan and travel back to their villages visiting family and with 125 million people in Java approximately the size of the south island of New Zealand you can imagine the traffic jams not a place to have an upset tummy.
We arrived at Tembi village around 10pm (three hours late) where our hosts greeted us with sweet tea and entertained us with traditional music before showing us to our rooms. We shared a two bedroom ‘bungalow’ with Stuart and Nanette (Truest Passion) our three-quarter beds were made of bamboo slates with a very hard thin mattress and our host who did not speak English must of sensed we were a little disappointed and promptly went away and returned with a large mat which he spread on the concrete floor (this would be much more comfortable) and just to add to our comfort the surrounding mosques had their loud speaker going continuously through the night at least this drowned out the buzzing of the mosquitoes. As daylight broke we were delivered breakfast six week old hard boiled eggs and roti (local sweet bread) then we joined the villages in making handy crafts (tissue boxes).
Tired, grumpy and hungry we boarded our coach for day 2.
Photos:
Grandma in the Galley
Betty making tissue boxes
30 Yachties at the Borobudur Temple



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


06 Oct 2008
Arriving at the Borobudur Temple our tiredness soon disappeared.
This magnificent Buddhist temple was built around 800AD and was buried under volcanic ash until 1815 when it was discovered and excavated and is one of the seven wonders of the world. We finished the day with a royal dinner at the Mangkunegaran Palace in Solo built in 1740 (now the hunger was gone) and were entertained by the Royal Gamelan (tradition instruments) orchestra before staying in a real hotel. What a different a day makes.
During the next three days we visited the Hindu temples of Prambanan built around 900AD another amazing site, batik factory, silver jewelry making, coffee plantation, Sam Po Kong Chinese temple built in honour of Cheng Ho and a city tour of Semarang the capital of central Java and main port originally colonised by the Dutch.
We also had plenty of time to sample some of the best Javanese cuisine and stay 4 star hotels.
On arriving back at Karimunjawa we were invited to attend a gala dinner hosted by the local Regent were we were treated to fine food and entertainment.
Definitely no time to be bored !!!
Photos:
Prambanan Temples
4 Star Luxury




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


12 Oct 2008
Kumai Kalimantan
After a pleasant overnight sail from Karimunjawa in perfect conditions we anchored about 15 miles up the Kumai river opposite the busy port town of Kumai.
Our first day we were given a tour of Pangkalanbun a town built on the Sungai River.
We were shown a traditional meeting house and visited the local market but the highlight was a V.I.P. longboat trip down the river through the town where all the local people came out to greet us this was followed by yet another gala dinner.
Photos:
Local market
Long boats up the river



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


13 Oct 2008
‘The Kalamantan Queen’
With Dave, Pattie, Ian and Lyn off ‘This Way Up, we left our boats anchored in the Kumai River complete with boat boy to look after them and headed up the Sekonyer River for three days on a Klotok (slow wooded boat about 40’ long) with guide, captain, cook and deckhand to explore the Tanjung National Park.
The national park was established in 1971 as a place to research and rehabilitate once captive orangutans and reintroduce them back into the wild unfortunately the natural orangutan’s habitat is depleting very quickly due to palm oil plantations, illegal logging and forest fires.
This was without a doubt the highlight of our travels through Indonesia.
Our orangutan experience was amazing these primates are so human like playful, intelligent, naughty, and very strong and have an amazing capacity to eat bananas and with the assistance of our guide Herman we were able to get up very close and personal.
Apart from the orangutans the leisurely pace exploring the river was fantastic tying up on the banks in the evening for sundowners, waking up to the sun coming through the mist and having fresh catfish for breakfast that the crew had caught during the night while being surrounded by Proboscis monkeys, Gibbons, Macaques, squirrels and even the odd crocodile.
Photos:
The Kalamantan Queen
Orangutans
Proboscis Monkey




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


18 Oct 2008
Belitung
The seasons were starting to change and afternoon thunder storms were now common place and we experienced quite a few during our two day sail to Belitung.
We anchored in a beautiful bay on the northern end of the island with nice sandy beaches and large grey rocky outcrops. Along the beachfront were bamboo and thatched roofed stalls and restaurants serving excellent seafood unlike we had seen or tasted elsewhere.
This was our last official stop and after the gala dinner and traditional welcoming dance the locals were entertained with songs and music from some of the talented rally members. This was followed by a parade of flags representing the fifteen different countries participating in the rally and a yachties sponsored fireworks display to the delight of the locals especially the children.
Photos:
Belitung foreshore
Betty enjoying the last Gala Dinner




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


24 Oct 2008
Crossing the Equator
We cleared customs and immigration in Belitung and departed for Singapore.
We day sailed for the next six days anchoring overnight at some delightful locations.
On the 22nd we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary on Nimbus II anchored off Lingga Island and at 08.55 on the 24th crossed the equator two amazing achievements.
Anchored off the south west end of Sebangka Island with eight other boats we had a celebratory equator crossing morning tea on This Way Up with culinary delights such as scones, pancakes and damper with golden syrup. The local village must still be wondering what it was all about eight boats anchor then all dinghy to one boat make lots of noise for two hours then bugger off.
That night we all anchored at Mesanak Island and continued our celebrations with a camp oven stew / BBQ and fireworks on the beach with the local villagers joining us.
Photos:
Wedding Anniversary
Equator Morning Tea
Mesanak Island BBQ



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


26 Oct 2008
Last Leg to Singapore
The Singapore Straits lived up to its reputation as being the busiest strait in the world and it seemed like there were hundreds of ships either at anchor or traversing the strait and there properly was.
Timing was important sailing parallel to the southern shipping lane it was time to cross and with a ship passing every ten minutes or so it is inevitable that you have to dodge a ship or two during the two mile dash.
After making it to the northern side of the strait without incident we motored up to the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club our final destination.
Photo:
Singapore Straits



+ Click to enlarge


27 Oct 2008
Epilogue
Our three months sailing the waters of Indonesia has been an amazing adventure.
We have covered over 2800 miles and visited many islands ranging from the most primitive to the most sophisticated from the driest to the wettest.
We have seen amazing sights such as anchoring under an active volcano, the Komodo Islands, the Borobudur Temple and the Orangutans just to name a few.
We have experienced Indonesian cuisine, culture, art, architecture, and community life.
We have been hosted by local Regents and Government, invited to gala dinners and treated as V.I.P’s.
But most of all the friendliness and hospitality shown towards us by the Indonesian people whether Christian or Muslim has been simply overwhelming and they will remain in our hearts forever.
Photo:
The Indonesian People
  



+ Click to enlarge


12 Nov 2008
Welcome to Singapore
The Republic of Singapore Yacht Club was our first marina berth since leaving Darwin and they do things slightly different up here. The first thing you notice is that there are cheerful marina staff to take your lines then there are the facilities modern clean amenity blocks, pool, gym, library, free internet, TV lounge, bars and cheap restaurants all for $23 per day.
One thing they didn’t have were trolleys instead when you came back from shopping your goods and yourself would be promptly loaded into a electric buggy and then driven to your boat (the fingers are built wide enough to accommodate buggies). The only downside was a lot of movement through the marina caused by the heavy harbour traffic during the day but one managed to survive.
We had twelve yachts from the rally staying at RSYC so marina life was always busy with outings to the cinema, restaurants, Nanette’s birthday (Truest Passion) and Melbourne Cup Day where the marina staff organised a satellite TV coverage for just us yachties. Meanwhile over at Raffles marina where there were about the same number of rally yachts berthed we were invited to a tenpin bowling night (we didn’t have bowling lanes at RSYC) which by the way was won by RSYC and to a very impressive gala dinner hosted by Raffles Yacht Club. Yes still being treated as VIP’s.  
Photos:
Jim, Warwick and Charlie Melbourne Cup
Victorious RSYC Bowling Team


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


13 Nov 2008
Singapore
Singapore has been a trading post on and off for centuries and in 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles of the British East Indian Company established Singapore as a British colony. This was the start of modern day Singapore with immigrants coming from all over Asia with the majority Chinese creating a diverse cultural melting pot.
On 15 February 1942 Singapore fell to the Japanese and during their three and half year rule tens of thousands of Singaporean civilians and allied forces were executed or imprisoned. After the war the Peoples Action Party won government and Singapore become independent in 1965.
Singapore today is a modern city which still has that mixture of race, culture and traditions and was fantastic to explore.
There are so many things to do in Singapore we visited Old China Town, Little India, did the Singapore River cruise, went to the night zoo safari, had high tea at the famous Raffles Hotel and spent countless hours just walking around. We also met up with local residents Eric and Sandra who we met on the 2008 Dent to Dunk rally and they chauffeured us around showing us many of the sights of Singapore including the very interesting Labrador Tunnels used by the British army and abandoned during the war and only rediscovered recently.
The one place of special interest to us was the Changi Museum as my father was a POW in Changi. It was a grim reminder of the brutality of war but told an amazing story of heroism and a spirit to survive.  
Photos:
Betty and the Merlion
Eric and Sandra at Labrador Tunnels
Raffles Hotel


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


17 Nov 2008
Sail Malaysia
After 18 days of R & R in Singapore it was time to head off on the next leg of our journey.
We joined the Sail Malaysia passage to Langkawi rally which traveled up the Straits of Malacca along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Our first port of call was Johor Bahru the southern most Malaysian city. We anchored at Danga Bay a popular tourist area with lots of cheap restaurants and shops about 5 klm west of Johor Bahru.
As in Indonesia we were treated as VIP’s with a coach tour of Johor Bahru and outlying areas complete with police escort and we were also treated to a wonderful welcome dinner.
Johor Bahru is the gateway to Singapore linked by the causeway (bridge) over the Straits of Johor. Although Malaysia is only 1 klm from Singapore, being a Muslim country the culture and food is totally different.
In the late 19th century Johor was ruled by the Sultan Abu Bakar and he was regarded as the father of modern day Johor.  During his rein he built the Istana Besar (Grand Palace) which today is the royal museum and the Sultan Abu Bakar mosque the two landmark buildings of Johor Bahru.
Photos:
Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque
Traditional Dancer



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


25 Nov 2008
Port Dickson
We continued day sailing up the Malacca Strait in light conditions to Port Dickson anchoring overnight on the way at Pulau Pisang and Pulau Besar (Pulau is Malay for Island)
Admiral Marina and Leisure club about five kilometers south of Port Dickson was a lovely complex with full facilities such as pool, gym, bar etc. and only a short walk to local cheap restaurants.  
We left Seventh Heaven in the marina and with Jim and Cheryl from Odyssey 9 drove down to the historical city of Malaka staying at the Chong Hoe hotel in the centre of old China town.
Melaka has a rich and colourful past. It was first ruled in 1403 by an exiled Hindu prince from Sumatra called Raja Iskandar then in 1511 conquered by the Portuguese and again by the Dutch in 1641 and finally the British in 1824 until independence in 1957. In the 16th century Melaka was the major trading centre in the region.
Melaka was a fantastic city to explore with all its old buildings, museums, churches, temples, night markets and great food.
Photos:
Trishaws
Night markets
Sultanate Palace



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Dec 2008
Lumut – Pulau Pangkor
We left Admiral Marina at day break and anchored of Kuala Selangor at sunset. As we still had 82nm to travel we up anchored at 2.30am to make sure we would arrive at Lumut in daylight. About one hour before dawn we came across a fleet of about fifty trawlers going every which way with very suspect navigation lights if any which made navigation interesting  for a few hours and definitely kept us awake.
Lumut is a quite coastal town with a natural harbour at the mouth of the Dindings River with its entrance protected by Pulau Pangkor and is the main base for the Royal Malaysian Navy.
We anchored in a branch off the main river opposite the yacht club ten minutes walk from the town centre. The town centre is small but busy with many shops and restaurants and is where the ferries depart for Pulau Pangkor a popular tourist destination.
We were again treated to a welcoming dinner hosted by Perak Tourism and a tour of Lumut including an interesting shell museum and turtle management and research centre where we released some baby turtles only to find out later that this is usually carried out at night to give them a better chance of survival. Bugger!!!
Except for Betty loosing her purse and credit cards and me catching a tummy bug our stay in Lumut was very enjoyable
We motored the 10nm from Lumut to Pulau Pangkor passing the fishing villages on the east coast and anchoring at Pasir Bogak on the west coast in a lovely bay with sandy beach. For the first time since Indonesia the water was clean enough to swim and we gave the waterline a good scrub. We hired a motor bike with empty tank of petrol and explored the island which was exhilarating to say the least even though we never got out of second gear. On return the proprietor quickly sent his boy down to drain the excess petrol out of the tank so the next customer would also have an empty tank. Such is life!!!
Photos
Releasing doomed baby turtles
Fishing Village Pulau Pangkor




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


05 Dec 2008
Penang
On arriving in Penang we anchored off Pulau Jerejak at the south eastern end of Penang where we were given a tour of Pen Marine boat yard and then dinner for eighty guests in the garden of the owner’s house. Amazing!!!
Next day we decorated our boats and sailed north in convoy to Tanjong City marina passing under the Penang bridge which was built in 1985 and connects Penang with the mainland.
The marina was not the most comfortable with lots of wave motion from the ferries and a disco on the adjacent pier but its location right in the heart of Georgetown was fantastic.
Photos
In convoy passing under the bridge
Jemimah all dressed up






+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


13 Dec 2008
Georgetown Penang
Penang became a British trading post in 1786 when Captain Francis Light landed at the site of Fort Cornwallis and took possession of the island for the East India Company and for over 100 years it was a major trading centre. During this time settlers came from China, India, Europe and many parts of Southeast Asia which gives Penang a muti ethnic society with a diverse culture, cuisine and architecture.
We spent many days exploring China town with its hundreds of shuttered two story shophouses, markets and temples. Also in the centre of China town is little India with brightly coloured sari shops and smells of incense and curry and loud bollywood music.
The north eastern end of town takes you back to the colonial past with many beautiful buildings constructed during the 19th century including the town hall, court house, St George’s church and the Eastern and Oriental hotel built by the Sarkies brothers who also built Raffles in Singapore.
We had an amazing banquet there one night complete with a trio to serenade us. It was as we had stepped back in time and the cost was 99 ringetts ($A40) per head including beer and wine.
Other nights we would venture out into China town and little India and enjoy great local food.
Photos
Street market – Chicken Lady
Indian food stall
Chinese hardware shop  



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


18 Dec 2008
Langkawi
Leaving the hustle and bustle of Georgetown we sailed north to Langkawi a group of 99 islands (most are only scrub clad rocks) lying 30 klm off the far northern west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and our final destination for the rally.
Although the last month sailing up the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia was a fantastic culture and historic adventure the anchorages were far from idealistic.
Our first anchorage in Langkawi was at the southern end of Pulau Dayang Bunting a beautiful uninhabited small bay with white sandy beach and a backdrop of high limestone cliffs and lush tropical forest. In the early morning and late afternoon macaque monkeys and monitor lizards would comb the shore line in search of food and sea eagles and kites would fly around the cliff tops. We spent the next five days around the south of Pulau Dayang Bunting just relaxing and exploring different anchorages. This was more like the brochure!!!
Also on the island was a large tranquil freshwater lake called ‘Lake of the Pregnant Maiden’ and legend has it that a lovely fairy princess who married an earthly princess had a child that died soon after birth and she buried it in the crystal clear waters of the lake and before she returned to the heavens blessed the waters so that any childless maiden who bathed in the lake would conceive thereafter. You can imagine that I was a little concerned when Betty went for a swim.
Photos
Our first anchorage – Pulau Dayang Bunting
Lake of the Pregnant Maiden







+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


23 Dec 2008
The Rally Ends
Telaga Harbour Marina was the venue for the final rally events. We anchored off inside two man made islands which were built to protect the marina entrance.
The official welcoming was held at Makam Mahsuri the site of Langkawi’s most famous legend. Here a memorial is erected in the honour of Mahsuri a fair maiden born over 200 years ago who was unjustly accused of adultery and sentenced to death. She was tied to a stake and as the ceremonial dagger was plunged into her body she bled white blood a sign that proved her innocence. In her dying breath she laid a curse on the islands prosperity to last seven generations. Fact or friction seven generations has passed and today Langkawi is flourishing.
At the welcoming we were treated to a tasty super and performances of local music and dance and afterwards walked around the grounds and visited the museum.
The farewell dinner was held at Mutiara Burau Bay resort on the water front and was a grand event with a delicious smorgasbord dinner and live band. It was also a time for goodbyes as this was the point where we would go our own ways. Some would be flying home for the Christmas holidays others are continuing on to Thailand and beyond and many like us staying in Langkawi.
For us the rallies have been amazing so many new places visited and new friends made.
Photos
The official welcome
Gabby (Pampero) and Mary (Investigator) at farewell dinner
Stuart & Nanette (Truest Passion) and Richard & Susan (Sea Bunny) at farewell dinner
    




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


24 Dec 2008
Christmas and New Year in Langkawi
Along with about 20 other boats from the rally we decided to spend Christmas and New Year in Rebak Resort Marina.
Rebak is a small island just off the southwestern end of the main island of Langkawi. The marina is a man made lagoon within the island protected from all weather and is integrated with a luxury resort. As marina guests you may use all the resort facilities and there is a budget BYO restaurant called ‘The Hard Dock Café’ which is just for yachties. Cost per night $16 Australian. I here you say “stuck on an island resort” not so there is a regular free speed boat service to Langkawi where you can hire a car ($15 per day) and explore or shop or walk from the jetty to a number of local cheap restaurants.
Absolutely fantastic.
Photo
Rebak Marina


+ Click to enlarge


25 Dec 2008
The night before Christmas
There was a buzz around the marina people decorating their boats the staff practicing Christmas carols and Mazrizal the young marina manager visiting every boat with a gift of biscuits and cakes. We were eagerly waiting for the mail to arrive as you may recall Betty lost her credit cards in Lumut and as they were in joint accounts we had to cancel both and we had been living on a tight budget for the last month. True to form Santa delivered our new cards which were a very welcomed Christmas present.
Christmas Day
The day started with pre lunch drinks on the dock with Pattie off ‘This Way Up’ serving pims and lemonade and everybody showing off their Christmas head wear.
This was followed by a four hour banquet at the poolside restaurant for about sixty yachties. During lunch we were entertained by the staff choir with a Malay version of Christmas carols.
After an afternoon nap it was over to ‘Investigator II’ (the mother ship) for evening drinks and nibbles and even though it rained more than twenty people managed to squeeze in the cockpit under the covers.
A very memorable day considering we are in a Muslim country where they do not celebrate Christmas.
Photos
Drinks on the dock –Mary and Alan off ‘Investigator II’
Rebak Staff Choir



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


01 Jan 2009
The New Year.
Between Christmas and New Year we just relaxed and got to know the other yachties in the marina many were from past rallies that were still here enjoying this part of the world. We provisioned with all the luxury items cheese, dried tomatoes, olives, meat etc. and stocked up on duty free grog.
One evening we had a kalie (Scottish sing a long) where the yachties from all over the world either sang, played a musical instrument or recited poetry our contribution was a rendition of ‘Aussie Jingle Bells’ backed by some talented musicians.
New Years Eve
The venue for our New Years Eve bash was the Hard Dock Café at Rebak marina where one hundred yachties enjoyed a Thai smorgasbord and danced to music from our very talented DJ until the early hours.
Photos
Gill (Destiny III) and Betty
Trevor & Joan (Beenalong) dancing the night away





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


08 Jan 2009
Thailand here we come.
We left Rebak marina on New Years Day heading for the tourist island of Phuket in Thailand anchoring along the way at Ko Lipe a small layback resort island, Ko Rok and Phi Phi Don. We anchored in Ao Chalong a large protected bay on the southeast end of Phuket where customs and immigration are located. This is where most yachts check in and out of east Thailand and provision so there is always many yachts anchored off. It is also a very busy tourist port where charter boats of all descriptions embark on day trips to the outer islands and Phang Nga Bay.
Our first visitor had arrived to stay with us. This was Johnny’s first stop on a 60 day round the world adventure. (See Dot Com Cruising left hand menu).
We sailed out to Phi Phi Le famous as the setting for the movie ‘The Beach’ and arrived just as the day trippers were leaving. Anchored in Maya Bay surrounded by soaring limestone cliffs and sparkling water we went for a snorkel then watched the sunset over a beer. Johnny is in seventh heaven.
Next morning it was over to Phi Phi Don the most popular tourist island in the region. The island was badly damaged in the 2004 tsunami and many lives were lost but after undergoing a massive rebuilding program Phi Phi Don is quickly returning to its pre tsunami days. The anchorage in Ton Sai Bay is protected buy huge limestone cliffs with fringing coral reef and clear water but unfortunately it is also full of tourist boats. There are resorts spread around the foreshore and the village is a hub of activity with its narrow streets full of vendors, souvenir shops, dive shops, restaurants and backpacker bungalows.
Our next anchorage was Ko Racha Yai in a beautiful bay with crystal clear water fringing coral reef and fine white sandy beach. At the head of the bay was a local restaurant on the rocks and a five star boutique resort. I don’t think Johnny wants to leave.
Photos
Longtail Maya Bay Phi Phi Le
Ton Sai Bay Phi Phi Don
Johnny and Betty – Restaurant on the rocks Ko Racha Yai.

P.S.
We hired a Sunsail yacht out of Phuket with our friends Bob and Lesley in March 2003 and it was pleasing to see that the area has recovered from the devastating tsunami of 2004. The tourist are returning, Phi Phi Don has been rebuilt and is much cleaner and has a better infrastructure in place and our favorite little restaurant on the rocks at Ko Racha Yai has survived.



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


25 Jan 2009
Our visit up to Phuket was very short mostly taken up with Johnny’s visit and a wonderful six days R & R at Luguna Holiday Club Resort on Bang Tao Beach with Dave and Pattie off ‘This Way Up’.
We anchored our boats off the beach in front of the resort and just spent the time lazing around the pool, walking along the beach and enjoying lovely sunset dinners at the local alfresco restaurants on the beach. A nice change after being on ‘Seventh Heaven’ for the last nine months.
Photos:
Alfresco dinning on Bang Tao Beach with Pattie, Dave and Johnny.
Luguna Holiday Club Resort
  



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Feb 2009
Visit Home
Charlie and I returned to Australia early February as we were going to be grandparents. Kathryn and Ken were due to have a baby girl (well Kath was).
We were met by Ken and Kath at 8am, blurry-eyed and tired at the Gold Coast airport after having traveled for sixteen hours by ferry boat, taxi, and plane from Rebak Island Langkawi to Gold Coast.
Straight away it was off to breakfast – real bacon and eggs, real bread, real cappuccinos – expensive after the cheapness of Asia, but after the last eight months of living without these, it was truly wonderful.
Though we spent most of our time on the Gold Coast we did get to Mackay in a whirlwind trip to attend Greg Tobin’s 50th birthday party. It was like a grand reunion of the crew that did the Sydney to Hobart on 'Dehler Magic' and the old 'Taminda' days. A very big night was had by all, though Greg and Sandy (Greg’s wife) really did not appreciate Charlie sleeping with them. We also made time to get our taxes done and visit our financial planner (not that he could give us any startling news or ideas).  
Emma came down from Townsville to escape the wet and to celebrate her 27th Birthday with us on the Gold Coast. We had home cooked lamb roast with all the trimmings and Baskin Robin ice-cream cake.
Photos:
Greg's 50th The 'Taminda' Boys
Emma's 27th



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


19 Feb 2009
19th February 2009
Mia’s Birthday
We all rose at 4.30am and had coffee as Kathryn couldn’t sleep, her admission for an induction was for 6.30am. As the day progressed Kathryn’s labour was not going quite to plan so after sixteen hours it was off to surgery for a caesarean. All went very well and Mia was born at 10.50 pm (2250 for us yachties) weighed in at 9lb 8oz (4.32kg) and was 20.3” (51.5cm) long.
Within half an hour of Mia being born we were able to play Granny and Granddad what a special moment.
Photos:
A little miracle
Granny and Mia

Mia’s web site www.miaogilvie.com




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


31 Mar 2009
Our stay on the Gold Coast was longer than anticipated due to Kathryn’s recovery time but it gave us lots of time with Mia. During this time we visited my sister Rose at Nanago and I spent a few days with Emma in Brisbane who had returned from Townsville with glandular fever meanwhile Charlie kept himself occupied unit hunting (we decided to purchase a unit on the Gold Coast as we will be spending more time there in the future). We found a nice two bedroom holiday unit at Burleigh Heads 100 meters from the beach with unlimited owners use plus we could leave the car there while we were away. We have already booked the unit for Christmas and New Year.
We managed to get up to Airlie for the last week of our visit home and spent some time with friends sharing our adventures.
Photos:
More Mia Time
Our new Gold Coast unit


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


26 Jun 2009
Phuket Revisited
After retuning from our visit home we cruised from Langkawi to Phuket in company with Warwick and Maryon on ‘Nimbus II’ exploring the various island anchorages along the way including Koh Muk which has an amazing cathedral like hong 60m in diameter known as the Emerald Cave accessed by dinghy through a 80m long dark cave.
A hong (Thai for room) is like a hole in the island open to the sky accessible by a cave.
Arriving in Phuket we spent the first two weeks in Boat Lagoon Marina having our radar and genset repaired. The genset had a burnt out exhaust valve. The head and block were removed then the head was machined and new valve fitted the cylinder honed and reassembled for a total price of $320 Aust.
We also took advantage of this time to explore Phuket Island which is only 50 klm long and 25 klm wide and has a population of 85000 people. We visited the tourist destinations along the west coast with white sandy beaches crammed with hotels and condominiums, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. To the east lies Old Phuket Town with its narrow streets full of old shuttered two storey specialty shop houses, interesting people and cheap and cheerful Thai restaurants serving excellent food which is in contrast to the centre of the island where you will find modern shopping malls, supermarkets and home improvement centres similar to Australia.
Leaving the marina we had a month cruising the emerald green waters of picturesque Phang Nga Bay that has a landscape like no other. The scenery is spectacular with rugged rainforest covered limestone islands concealing many hongs, caves and creeks to explore. Most of the islands are uninhabited except for a few small fishing villages whose fishermen always have fresh prawns to trade.
Photos
Inside the Emerald Cave Koh Muk (entrance behind dinghy)
Anchored at Phi Phi Lei
Limestone overhangs Phang Nga Bay



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


27 Jun 2009
Emma’s Visit.
In June we had the pleasure of a visit from our daughter Emma.
We had a berth at Ao Po Grand Marina so Emma could have a good nights rest in air conditioning after her flight from Australia. In hindsight this was a wise decision as we had strong winds and continuous rain the next two days then the weather cleared giving us ten days of perfect conditions.
We sailed up to Phang Nga Bay exploring the caves and hongs of Koh Phanak and Koh Hong then up to Koh Pan Yai to the Muslim fishing village on stilts. Here we hired a longtail ( Narrow wooden boat about 10m long with long propeller shaft extending from large pivoting engine mounted on the stern ) and traveled along the many mangrove lined waterways which harbour many marine species, reptiles, birds and monkeys. We passed through natural limestone arches full of stalactites and saw cave paintings that are said to be 3000 years old that were similar to aboriginal cave paintings. On our way to nearby Koh Phing Kan (James Bond Island) we were hit by a squall which tipped the longtail on its side. With the crew (that would be us) quickly moving to the high side the boat eventually came upright and our skipper wasting no time headed straight for a small beach. After the squall had past and our nerves had settled we left the sanctuary of our little beach and continued on to James Bond Island where the 1974 movie ‘The Man with a Golden Gun’ was filmed. This once idyllic little island is now a major tourist attraction with boats coming and going all day and the beach full of souvenir vendors. We finished the day off with a late lunch of BBQ and deep fried chilli fish selected from their farm at one of the excellent seafood restaurants at the Muslim fishing village.
Photos:
Emma and Betty at James Bond Island.
Muslim fishing village.
Our longtail passing through limestone arch.



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


28 Jun 2009
The next two nights we slowed down the pace anchoring on the east side of Koh Yao Noi with a day sail to Koh Pak Bia and Koh Hong (Krabi) were we enjoyed some snorkeling.
We had a lovely sail down to Koh Phi Phi Don where again we hired a longtail to explore the crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches of Koh Phi Phi Le.
Our final destination was Ao Chalong at the south eastern end of Phuket were we hired a car a did the tourist dive around the island, checked out the night life at Patong the bars, go go girls and much more, sampled the best of Thai food and went to Phuket Fantasea a Thai theme park with a theater that holds 4000 people. This production was world class and this magical show captured the colour and pageantry of traditional Thai dance and costumes combined with a magnificent light and sound show and at times there were up to twenty elephants performing on stage.
Exhausted and bubbling from her Thai experience it was time for Emma to return to Australia and for us to head back to Langkawi to start our next adventure.
Photos:
Emma and us at The Natural restaurant Old Phuket Town
Emma playing with the elephants




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


05 Jul 2009
Northern Thailand
Chiang Mai
Together with Warwick and Maryon we boarded our Air Asia flight bound for Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai is located in a beautiful valley surrounded mystical mountains and although the second largest city in Thailand only has a population of just over 200000.
Chiang Mai is a unique blend of old and new. The quaint old moated and walled city with its markets, traditional shop houses and Wats (Buddhist temples) is in contrast surrounded by high rise office buildings, modern hotels and shopping complexes.
We stayed at the Parosol Inn in the heart of the old city from here we roamed around the streets taking in the sights, enjoying the night markets and local food.
Chiang Mai with more than 300 Wats dating back as far as 1296 is definitely the city of temples. We visited many of these Wats all architecturally slightly different depending on the period of construction with elaborate murals on the walls depicting popular Thai stories and religious events not to mention the amazing Buddha images.  
The most sacred of these temples is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep built in 1383 on top of a mountain overlooking the city. At the end of the road up the mountain a staircase of 306 steps leads up to the Wat and 79 feet high Golden Chedi (conical Buddhist monument used to inter sacred objects).
Chiang Mai is also renowned for its arts and crafts, woodcarving, lacquer ware, rattan, silverwork and bronze castings.
We visited a Thai silk factory where we were shown the process from silk worm to extraordinary garments and an umbrella village where they make hand painted paper umbrellas using pulped mulberry tree bark to produce the paper and the wood for the frames that are exported world wide.
Photos
Buddha Statues - Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Golden Chedi - Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Paper Umbrella Making




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


06 Jul 2009
Day Tripping
From Chiang Mai we did a day trip up to Tha Ton on the border of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) high in the mountains to visit some of the hill tribes that live in this area.
The hill tribe people are ethnic minorities that have come from Tibet, Myanmar, China and Laos during the past 200 years. They have crossed borders into Thailand fleeing oppression and are basically refugees lacking Thai citizenship. They live in small villages on the mountain sloops in houses built of wood and bamboo with thatched grass roofs growing rice, corn and opium and making handicrafts.
There are ten known hill tribes with an estimated population of 550000 which have their individual language, customs and spiritual beliefs. We visited the village of an Akha tribe and a Karen tribe.
The Akha tribe originated from Tibet and the women can be easily identified by their colourful headdress of beads, feathers and dangling silver ornaments also their teeth are usually black from chewing beetle nut.
The Karen longneck tribe originated from Myanmar and the women wear a continuous coil made of solid brass around their neck which rarely comes off. These coils are fitted to girls at about age six and consist of four of five coils being added to each year until adulthood when the coil weighs approx 5kg and has twenty six coils.
The coils depress the collarbone and ribcage which makes their neck look elongated. The origin of the coils is unsure some say it was to make women unattractive to men from other tribes or to protect their throats from tiger attacks.
I must admit that when we first arrived at the village we felt as though these women were being exploited but after spending some time with these softly spoken gentle people and learning about their lives you came to accept their customs.
Photos
Akha Woman
Karen Longneck Woman
Karen Longneck Girl with Betty




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


07 Jul 2009
Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is 180 klm north of Chiang Mai a 3½ hour scenic bus trip through mountain ranges and fertile rural flood plains of the Mekong River.
Chiang Rai though much smaller than Chiang Mai still had many interesting sights. In the past Chiang Rai was the centre of the opium trade in Thailand commonly known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ but today due to tougher law enforcement this trade has all but ceased.
We traveled north to Doi Tung (Doi means mountain) where at the summit (1420 m) is Wat Phra That Doi Tung and two golden Chedi built in 911 great views or so they say as unfortunately on the day of our visit the summit was cloud covered. On the slopes of Doi Tung is the Royal Villa built by the late Princess Mother (the Kings mother). The Princess Mother spent many years living in Switzerland where her children were educated and the villa is built from local timber in the architectural style of a Swiss chalet. It is now open to the public as a museum. Adjacent to the Royal Villa is the Mae Fah Luang Gardens which even on a cloudy and rainy day were spectacular.

Photos
Mae Fah Luang Gardens  
Keeping dry on a rainy day



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


08 Jul 2009
South of Chaing Rai we visited the unusual Wat Rong Khun. Known as the ‘White Wat’ construction began in 1997 and is still continuing. The exterior is painted completely white and is decorated with millions of small mirror chips. Beneath the entrance bridge to the Wat is a sculpture of reaching arms symbolising a desire to enter the sanctity of the Wat. Inside the murals on the walls depict contemporary themes such as jet planes crashing into the twin towers and space ships exploding quite bizarre.
The night markets had an interesting local food hall with all sorts of exoctic dishes. Warwick and I sampled some old time favorites roast pig intestines which were rather tasty and deep fried crickets, silk worms and bamboo worms which supposedly high in protein tasted like crunchy french fries.
Photos
Wat Rong Khun
Sculpture of Reaching Arms
A tasty feast of crickets and worms



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


09 Jul 2009
Chiang Saen
We boarded a local bus for the 1½ hour trip north to Chiang Saen traveling through the fertile rice producing flood plains of the Mekong River.
Chiang Saen is a small boarder town located on the west bank of the Mekong River and in the 14th century was an important Thai kingdom. Within the walled city there are many ruins of wats and chedi that have survived.
Today it is a busy port for river barges importing goods from China and a border crossing for Thai and Lao nationals.
Our hotel was inside the old walled city from where we strolled around the ruins and checked out the delicacies at the local market.
We caught a sawngthaew (small open mini bus) to Sop Ruak 10 km north where the Nam Ruak River and Mekong River converge creating the boarders between Myanmar, Thailand and Laos and is the tourist centre of the Golden Triangle. Here we visited the House of Opium museum displaying the history and culture of opium.
Photos:
Sop Ruak – Golden Triangle
BBQ catfish for lunch
Wat Chedi Luang built 1291 AD



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


10 Jul 2009
Chiang Khong
We hired a sawngthaew for the 52 km trip over the mountains to Chiang Khong.
Apart from nearly being asphyxiated by the dust and diesel fumes I am sure our driver had aspirations to be a rally driver.
Chiang Khong a small border town on the Mekong River is the legal border crossing from Thailand to Laos and a market town for local hill tribes and trade from northern Laos.
We stayed in a comfortable and friendly traditional Thai guesthouse (more like a tree house) complete with chooks, cats and dogs overlooking the river.
Next morning we boarded a small river boat and crossed the river into Laos.
Photos
Our Guesthouse on the banks of the Mekong River
Crossing the river to Laos





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


11 Jul 2009
Laos
Laos is a small landlocked country with a population of 5.6 million bordered by China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Laos was a French colony from 1893 to 1953 when it was granted independence and much of the French influence remains. In 1975 after the fall of South Vietnam the communist Lao People’s Democratic Republic Party was formed which saw the end of the 650 year old monarchy and the royal family imprisoned to work in the fields.
Although Laos is a communist country people can farm their own land and private enterprise is permitted mainly to encourage foreign investment.

Huay Xai
Our trip across the Mekong River to Huay Xai took about five minutes. Immigration and customs were located at the boat landing which issued visas on arrival for US$20.
Huay Xai is another small bustling river trading port with Thailand and China. The town centre above the boat landing extends for only a few hundred meters consisting of mainly guest houses.
After checking in to our guest house we strolled down the main street where we found that the most popular commodity was snake wine. Now I don’t mind a drink but there are some limits so unfortunately I cannot tell you what it tastes like.
Photos
Snake Wine and Whisky
Huay Xai





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


12 Jul 2009
Down the Mighty Mekong
The Mekong River is 4180 kilometers long and is the 10th longest river in the world. Its source is high in the Tibetan plateau and it flows south through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam empting into the South China Sea.
The Mekong River flows 1865 kilometers through Laos and is the natural boundary for most of the country to the west and the artery of life for those who live along its banks.
At Huay Xai we boarded a 34 meter Mekong river boat for a two day 160 kilometer cruise down river to Luang Prabang this was a package that included all meals and two nights accommodation and cost 147 euros per person. Our boat was up market and well appointed with lounge chair seating, bar and galley with only 20 passengers and 8 crew including guide and chef. The local boats carry in excess of 100 passengers seated on wooden bench seats.You can also travel by speed boat but the fatality rate is high.
Photos:
Our Mekong river boat
Charlie and Warwick relaxing down the river
Mekong river speed boat fare includes helmet
  







+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


13 Jul 2009
The Mekong River between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang is only about 500 meters wide and runs at around 5 knots and with many rocky outcrops swirling eddies and over falls made the trip quite exciting.
The river winds its way through jungle covered mountains, teak plantations and hillside farmland with villages dotted along its banks.
We visited two villages along the way and experienced their day to day life planting rice, tending water buffalo used for ploughing, preparing meals and distilling rice whisky. They must wonder why we find their way of life so interesting as they know nothing of ours.
Along the banks were people fishing in small canoes others panning for gold and elephants extracting timber from the forest.
The river can only be navigated during daylight hours and our overnight destination was Pakbeng a small river town consisting mainly of guest houses and eateries catering for the large number of river travelers. We stayed at the Luang Say Lodge built in traditional Laotian style of solid timber over looking the river and backed by rain forest. From the veranda of our modern bungalow we could watch the river go by and listen to the sounds of the forest.
Next day further down river we explored the Tham Ting (caves of a thousand Buddha’s) which is dedicated to the sprits of the river and is a Buddhist temple.
Arriving in Luang Prabang late afternoon we made our way to the Villa Maly for a quite drink and swim in the pool.
What a glorious two days and totally recommended.
Photos:
Village children
Buddhist Monk
River children improvising

Footnote
Eco friendly Betty with her trusty can of mortein that she never leaves home without managed to kill off half the insect population at our lodge at Pakbeng.









+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


14 Jul 2009
Luang Prabang lies at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers and is surrounded by majestically mountain ranges.
Once the Royal capital of Laos it has many ancient and beautiful Buddhist temples throughout the town where each morning hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. Along with the magnificent wats a part of the old town's appeal are the many French provincial style houses of which many have been converted into hotels.
The town was great to explore on foot with its narrow street and lanes revealing many handicraft shops, galleries and good restaurants. One of the major landmarks in the town is Mount Phousi. Here you can climb the 328 steps up to Wat Chom Si where there are splendid views of the area.
The Royal Palace is now an excellent museum and also in the grounds is the Royal theatre where we enjoyed a local performance. The story line given to us in an English program made it easy to follow.
At night the town comes to life the main street is cut off to traffic and the night markets are set up stretching for a kilometre selling all sorts of handicrafts, textiles and clothing. The night food stalls have cheap and tasty tucker such as noodle soup, BBQ chicken and fish, salads and fresh fruit. For the more adventurous there was treats such as BBQ intestines, private parts, little baby birds and others unknowns.  
Nowadays we rarely party on and are usually early to bed just as well as the town has a 11.30pm curfew and lights out by midnight.
Photos:
Hmong Handicraft Shop.
Theatre Performers.
Warwick enjoyig some street food.



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


15 Jul 2009
Laos was once known as ‘The Land of a Million Elephants’ but today they are an endangered species with only about 1600 remaining.
The elephant village and sanctuary on the Nam Khan River near Luang Prabang rescues working and logging elephants from their harsh and abusive environments giving them a new home and brighter future.
These gentle giants are the largest land animals and live for 60 years weigh 3 to 5 tons and are 2 to 3 meters high and eat a massive 200 kg of food per day.
During our two days at the village we spent many hours with the elephants and their handlers (mahouts) learning about them.
On the first day we were shown how to mount and ride the elephants both in a Howdah (saddle) and on their necks and were taught the basic commands though I don’t think the elephants understood our accent.
During the afternoon we rode the elephants up into the forest where they spent the night roaming for food. We then trekked back to the village and went for a short boat trip up river to the beautiful Tad Sae falls with its many pools to cool off and relax a wonderful way to end the day. That evening we stayed at their lodge and had dinner at the restaurant overlooking the river to the mountains complete with a beautiful rainbow.
Early morning we trekked back up into the forest and rode the elephants down to the river for a swim. We gave them a good scrubbing with a stiff brush which they seemed to enjoy immensely. After our fun in the river we rode back to the village where the elephants were prepared for the next group of tourist to enjoy these wonderous animals.
After saying goodbye to the elephants we kayaked down the Nam Khan River back to Liang Prabang passing through natural forest areas and farmland. The river was flowing at about two knots making paddling easy and negotiating the small rapids was exhilarating.
Photos
View from the Lodge
Time for a good scrub
Betty going for a ride




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


16 Jul 2009
From Luang Prabang we hired a mini van with driver and guide and made way to Phonsavan to visit the Plain of Jars. The 8 hour 270 kilometer trip wound its way through rugged mountain ranges with breathtaking scenery and sometimes breathtaking hillside roads.
On the way we stopped to explore the Tham Pha Caves where several hundred local people took refuge during the Indochina war. Still remaining in the network of caverns are remnants of the hospital and a large Buddha sits just inside the main entrance.
Photo:
The road to Phonsavan
  



+ Click to enlarge


17 Jul 2009
Phonsavan is the capital of the Xieng Khuang province located on a mountainous plateau in the north east of Laos.
This province was devastated during the Indochina war between 1964 and 1973 during which time the original capital Xieng Khuang was almost totally destroyed by heavy bombing.
More than 2 million tones of ordnance were dropped on Laos giving it the distinction of the most heavily bombed nation in the world.
This conflict has left a deadly legacy that will remain for generations as approximately 30% of these ordnances did not explode and are still lethal. Unexploded ordnances (UXO’s) litter the country side causing land deprivation, accidental injuries and death. The Lao National UXO Programme is working hard to educate people and clear these UXO’s but this will take many more years.
The Plain of Jars extending around Phonsavan is dotted with large carved stone jars weighing between 600 and 6000kg and said to be 2500 years old. The origin of these jars is unknown though some archeologists believe they are funeral urns. Unfortunately archeological digs at these sites are too dangerous due to UXO’s.
Even though Phonsavan is off the beaten track there is plenty to see. The UXO visitor centre run by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) showed quite graphically the damage resulting from war and how they were helping people rebuild their lives.  At the Mulberry silk farm we learnt how they dye silk using local plants and the produce market had lots of interesting delicacies such as rat, guinea pig and mole type creatures. For us our staple diet was noodle soup with who knows what the ingredients were but tasty just the same.  
Photos:
Left over ordnance
One of the larger Jars
Plain of Jars note bomb crater in centre of photo.

  




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


19 Jul 2009
We continued our trip through the mountains down to Vientiane on the Mekong River the capitol of Laos. Vientiane is more like a large country town than a city with not a great deal of traffic and wide streets.
The days were very hot so we only visited a few of the sights.
Pha Lhat Luang a Buddhist temple which is the most important national monument in Laos, the Lao National Museum which is more like a revolutionary museum mainly about the Pathet Lao and their struggle for power, Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park) filled with bizarre concrete sculptures and the Friendship Bridge built across the Mekong River to Thailand in 1994. The cost was $30 million funded by the Australian government and built by Australian companies.
One thing Vientiane is noted for is it has great cheap restaurants both local and international so after many days surviving on noodle soup it was a nice change to sample some French and Italian dishes.
Photos:
Pha Lhat Luang
Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park)











+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


27 Jan 2010
Leaving Langkawi we made our way north day sailing towards Phuket.
Twenty miles from Phuket having a lovely sail in 10 knots under asymmetrical spinnaker we had a huge roundup. After regaining control we saw that the end fitting had come away from the carbon prodder pole which resulted in a tear along the pole about one metre long. Also during the roundup our elephant on the mantle piece had taken out the Komodo dragon and the Chinese junk.
Much super glue needed there.
Unfortunately no amount of super glue would repair the prodder and we contemplated the trip to the Andaman’s without it.
A few phone calls later Mark from Latitude 8 Yachts arranged to meet us when we anchored in Ao Chalong. A quick look by him ascertained that the prodder was repairable and 48 hours later we had it back as good as new. We were now ready to begin our passage to the Andaman’s.
Photo:
Seventh Heaven under Asyo






+ Click to enlarge


01 Feb 2010
The Amazing Andaman Islands
Lying approximately 400 miles north west of Phuket in the Bay of Bengal are the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which are part of the Union Territory of India. The Andaman Archipelago is an oceanic continuation of the Burmese Arakan Yoma Range in the north and of the Indonesian Archipelago in the south. It is made up of some five hundred islands and because of its isolation has a large variety of endemic flora and fauna with dense rain forests and stunning coral reefs and white sandy beaches which still remain virtually untouched.

Of the 300,000 people that live in the Andaman Islands, a small minority of about 1,000 are Andamanese. The rest are mainly divided between Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Punjabi people from the mainland.
The Andamanese is a collective term to describe the peoples who are the aboriginal inhabitants of the Andaman Islands which includes the Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Onge, Shompen, Sentinelese and the extinct Jangil tribes.
The Andamanese were hostile and said to be cannibals and repelled intruders until 1858 when the British decided to occupy the Andamans and establish a penal settlement in Port Blair which was first and foremost a repository for political prisoners following the war of independence.
The Andaman Islands were later occupied by Japan during World War 11. After the end of the war they briefly returned to British control, before becoming part of the newly independent state of India in 1947.

The Nicobar Islands are situated south of the neighboring Andaman Islands archipelago and has a population of  around 50000. Roughly 65% of these are indigenous peoples the Nicobarese and Shompen tribes and 35% have ethnic origins from the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka.
The Nicobar Islands are believed to have been inhabited for many thousands of years.
These islands are off limits to tourist including cruising yachts as a measure to preserve the indigenous culture and way of life.

On 26 December 2004 the coast of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was devastated by a 10-15 m high tsunami following the Indian Ocean earthquake. At least 6000 people were believed to have been killed. Several islands were heavily damaged with reports of islands broken in two and coral reefs moved above water. Some estimates said that the islands were moved as much as 30 metres by the earthquake.

Photos:
South Rutland Island where the only foot prints were ours and the wounderful wildlife, turtles, sea eagles, deer, monitor lizards etc.....
Havelock Beach No7 - Magnificent forests that grow right to the waters edge.




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Feb 2010
Our passage to the Andamans took three days and was uneventful. We enjoyed light northerly winds, clear skies and a full moon at night. We sighted a few ships midway and had dolphins join us on occasions. Caught a nice mackerel that supplied us with fish for six meals.
On arrival at Port Blair the capital and port of entry we had to wait to be boarded by customs, immigration, coast guard and then visit the harbour masters office. These formalities took three days requiring reams of paperwork and lots of patience fortunately immigration checked us in on the first day so we were free to go ashore in the evenings.
A contributing factor for the delay in being cleared was the ‘Milan 2010’ a naval friendship exercise. The visiting war ships from most Southeast Asian countries and Australia were arriving in port for the festivities and it made an impressive sight.
Photo:
Port Blair Harbour



+ Click to enlarge


03 Feb 2010
Port Blair was originally a harsh penal settlement established in 1858 by the British for Indian political prisoners who were uprising against British rule. Port Blair today is a busy port and the town is typical Indian friendly, dirty and crowded. We found it an exciting town with interesting shops, bazaars, stalls and markets, women dressed in colourful saris, the fragrant spices and lots of delicious samosas and curries. The sacred cows, goats, dogs, cats, chooks, ducks and rats were everywhere mucking about in the garbage and laundry was hanging out to dry by the road side. The government cars, motor bikes, taxis and heavy transport vehicles were mostly straight out of the 1950’s.
Our taxi driver, Ravi who is a yachties icon in Port Blair became our guide and friend and made life very easy during our visit, organising fuel, sim cards, trips to the markets, shops, and restaurants as well as the usual tourist sights including the Cellular Goal, Anthropological Museum and Ross Island.
While visiting these tourist sights a thing we found very peculiar was Indian tourists from the mainland wanted to have their photo taken with us for their holiday memories. Weird but nice.

The Cellular Goal built in 1910 had seven wings radiating from a central tower containing 698 cells designed for solitary confinement and was a reminder of how inhuman the British were in past times. While the exact number of prisoners who died in this prison is not fully known, it is estimated they number in the thousands.

Ross Island guards the mouth of Port Blair harbour and was the British settlement and headquarters with grand Victorian buildings and was known as the ‘Paris of the East’. In 1941 a large earthquake damaged many of the buildings and soon after the Japanese occupied the island. The British never returned and today the old buildings are in ruins and jungle clad and it is like exploring a lost city.

Photos:
Our favorite samosa restaurant.
Main Street Port Blair – Aberdeen Bazaar
Making chapati – Indian favorite with dhal






+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


05 Feb 2010
After all the paper work was done we left Port Blair for the uninhabited islands for which the Andaman's are noted.
Our first night was at South Cinque Island 30 miles south of Port Blair. We anchored off a pristine white beach and ashore we could see spotted deer amongst the trees. As the sun began to set a pod of dolphins swam around us. This was defiantly paradise.
At North Cinque Island we went snorkeling and though the coral was ordinary the clarity of the water more than made up for it.
The anchorage at South Rutland Island was again off a pristine beach and we could see fresh turtle tracks above the high water mark. In the late afternoon the beach came to life; spotted deer along the tree line with birds chirping above, monitor lizards and sea eagles competing for the turtle eggs and sea birds wading in the shallows.
Chiryatapu is a small bay on the southern end South Andaman Island with a picnic area popular with the locals at the head of the bay. There were turtles popping their heads up around us and though the sign on the beach advised that ‘crocodiles infest these waters’ the reef in a small bay to the east had the best diversity of coral and fish that we experienced during our visit to the Andamans. Remind you I spent a fair bit of time glancing behind us as we were snorkeling.
Photos:
South Cinque Island
Spotted Deer


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


12 Feb 2010
Twenty five miles north of Port Blair is Havelock Island the main tourist island with lots of beach huts and backpacker accommodation and is reached by ferry from Port Blair. The anchorage at Beach No7 was in clear water and had a three mile long white sandy beach with coral reefs at each end backed by a tropical forest. Ashore there were cheap eateries and a bus service that went around the island and to the main village where supplies could be obtained.
We celebrated Betty’s and Pete’s birthday on ‘Wave Runner’ with Kathy and Gerry and Donna off ‘Scott Free II’.
As the sun sets over the Andamans and the retired logging elephants are bought down to the beach for a late afternoon swim you could easily see yourself remaining here for weeks but there was much more to explore.
Neill Island was like going back to the 70’s the backpackers here were so layback and dressed much like the hippies of our era.
The anchorage at the southern end of Henry Lawrence was simply beautiful it had a small beach and was surrounded by a coral reef. Only inhabitant was a lonely brown dog on the beach that serenaded us at sunset.
We visited Inglis and Outram Islands where I caught a nice Spangled Emperor for dinner.
At North Button Island we anchored in 25m and could see the bottom. The snorkeling here was sensational with lots of large fish including a school of about 30 giant Mouri Wrasse.

Photos:
Afternoon swim at Havelock Island.
Sunset at Havelock Beach No7



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


23 Feb 2010
Long Island is situated just off the southeast end of Middle Andaman and has a small village on the southwest end.
We joined ‘Scott Free II’ for dinner at the Blue Planet a backpackers hostel where we had chicken curry without the chicken and Gerry’s special onion salad six slices of onion with pepper sprinkled on top.
Next day we caught the local ferry up the mangrove lined waterways to Rangat the largest town on Middle Andaman. The bus from the jetty was packed and took 30 minutes over bumpy roads making it hard to keep our footing.
Rangat was a dusty, dirty town but with character. Very few foreigners visit Rangat and we had some interesting experiences. We went to the bank to change some money and were served ahead of the long queue with the security guard watching over us with a WWI rifle over his shoulder. Betty needed to use a toilet so we went to the post office to ask where the public loo was located quickly she was whisked away out the back to their private air conditioned lavatory we later saw the public loo and I think she was a very lucky lady. We tried to buy some green bananas but were refused the shop keeper insisting they were no good and when Betty went to buy a newspaper she was informed they were for reading and not for sale but not free either.
Photo:
The local ferry.
Rangat's main street.


+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Mar 2010
Our month in the Andamans had come to an end and we sailed back to Port Blair to check out. On arrival we were informed that Monday was a public holiday to celebrate Holi and we could not check out until Tuesday the last day on our visa.
Holi is a Hindu festival to celebrate the beginning of spring. During the festival coloured water and powder (gulal) is thrown over each other in a carnival like atmosphere.
We decided to spend the day touring the southern end of the island visiting a fauna and flora research centre, Wandoor beach and rubber and spice plantations. We stopped at the town of Sippighat for lunch where we joined the locals in their celebration. Lots of fun and laughter was had by all.
Next day Ravi took us to visit the Harbour Master, Customs and Immigration to check out and the whole process only took 3 hours compared to our 3 days for entry.
Our return trip to Phuket started in 15 knots of wind and we were cruising along at seven knots. Twelve hours later the wind dropped and we had to motor sail for sixty hours, all the way to Phuket. I suppose that is better than 20 knots on the nose.
Our month in the Andamans swimming and snorkeling in crystal clear water with an abundance of coral and fish, eating freshly caught seafood, sight seeing and exploring mostly by ourselves had been incredible and was well worth the effort to get there.

Photos:
Happy Holi
Our driver Ravi 2
Betty and Ravi



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


20 Mar 2010
Kevin and Heather join us in Phuket
It is always good politics to keep a close relationship with the commodore of your local yacht club so the invite went out to Kevin and Heather to join us on Seventh Heaven to sample the sights and tastes of Phuket.
The first three nights they spent ashore at the Light House Hotel in Ao Chalong during which time we toured Phuket Island by car, provisioned and introduced them to the local cuisine and beer.
Time to go sailing and as usual the wind had come up during the night causing a nasty little onshore chop. I loaded Kevin and Heather with their gear into the dinghy and headed off needless to say by the time we reached Seventh Heaven all parties were soaked and gear bags were floating in the dinghy (didn’t want to spoil them on their first day).
We spent the next nine days exploring the islands and tourist destinations of Phang Nga Bay under clear skies.
We celebrated Heather’s birthday at the Le Grand Blue on Phi Phi Don one of our favorite restaurants but maybe not Heather’s as she was unwell the next day. We visited the tourist destinations of Rai Lei Beach and Ao Nang where some serious souvenir shopping took place and explored the Diamond limestone caves.
The highlight for Kevin and Heather was the stilted Muslim fishing village on Koh Pan Yi with all its souvenir stalls and seafood restaurants.
Photos:
Heather’s birthday at Phi Phi Don
On the beach at Koh Racha Yai








+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


25 Dec 2010
Home for Christmas
The rain came down but it didn’t dampen our delight to be spending Christmas with our family.
It had only been three months since our last visit home but how Mia (22 months) and William (5 months) had grown.
We had a fabulous day playing Santa, devouring a sensational home made seafood smorgasbord followed by heaps of fun in the pool.
Photos:
Emma and Kathryn enjoying lunch
Mia totally wrapped
Spa time for William










+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


02 Jan 2011
The festivities all over we took the opportunity to visit a few old cruising friends and take a short visit to Airlie where we caught up with Bob and Kath Borer (Janner II) they have just returned from visiting family in the USA and two months in Italy.
We had a wonderful afternoon with Stewart and Nanette (Truest Passion) it was great to see Stewart looking so well and that the chemo has slowed the spread of his cancer. They have a beautiful retirement unit on the Mooloolaba canals with all the amenities and activities that you would expect in a five star resort. If Stewart’s health keeps improving they are going to sail up to Lizard Island later this year.
Also had dinner with Richard and Gloria (Aquarius I) they are now back in their unit at Margate north of Brisbane and Aquarius I is on the market. Their plan is to purchase a canal boat in France and cruise the canals of Europe for a few years. Hope they have room for all their friends.
Photo:
Lunch with Stewart and Nanette.
  










+ Click to enlarge


12 Jan 2011
Queensland Floods
The rain over Queensland was relentless and with all the dams full from heavy rains in November there was no way to stop the flow of water down through the river systems.
The devastation was on a scale not before seen and bought the state to a standstill and affected every Queenslander either directly or indirectly.
Tragically lives were lost and homes, businesses and crop destroyed. It will take a long time for recovery. Tourism a major industry in Queensland was already going through a difficult period due to the strong Australian dollar enticing people to take holidays overseas.
Fortunately we were unaffected by the floods except for the cancellation of the train to the Gold Coast from Brisbane on our return from Airlie Beach.
Emma our youngest daughter who lives in Toowong an inner city suburb of Brisbane had to evacuate her unit and the power was cut off but thankfully the water only came up to the end of her street.
Photos:
Flooded homes in Brisbane
The big cleanup








+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


03 Feb 2011
Cyclone Yasi
Just when you think Queensland has had all it can take from Mother Nature along comes cyclone Yasi the largest and most powerful cyclone in living memory to hit the Queensland coast.
Although communities in the cyclones path had plenty of warning to prepare when it crossed the coast south of Cairns it left a trail of destruction behind with houses and businesses destroyed or badly damaged and Port Hinchinbrook marina in Cardwell literally turned upside down miraculously no lives were lost.
Thankfully the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach our home town only had minor damage to some properties.
Photos:
Satellite image of cyclone Yasi crossing the coast.
Port Hinchinbrook marina destruction








+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


26 Mar 2012
On The Hard
The plan a quick haul out to antifoul then spend a month cruising the west coast of Thailand.
Why would we think this was not possible?
Five weeks later we are finally back in the water with a full osmosis protection barrier applied, boat polished, new main sail drop bag, new cockpit cushions, anchor chain re galvanised, forward storage locker modified etc...
Fortunately Phuket Boat Lagoon marina has excellent maintenance facilities and also incorporates a resort hotel so no need to stay on the boat while the work is being carried out. A fully serviced studio apartment cost only 10500 baht per month ($330)
The good news is that Seventh Heaven is now in A1 condition for the two year passage back to Australia.






+ Click to enlarge


27 Mar 2012
Our plans of circumnavigation have been put on hold. The Somalia piracy problem in the Indian Ocean has escalated to point where it has become too dangerous for us to contemplate going any further west.
Many yachts are taking the South African route or are shipping from Thailand to Turkey by container vessels. Neither of these options is acceptable for us. The Mediterranean Sea via South Africa is too far and would take two years plus and two Atlantic crossings. Shipping Seventh Heaven to the Med will cost $1000 per foot-that means $41,000, money, we do not have. Also $41,000 equates to a lot of charters or land travel we can do some other time.
After three glorious years sailing the waters of West Malaysia, Thailand and The Andaman Islands we are headed east this year joining the Sail Malaysia - Passage to the East Rally to Borneo.










+ Click to enlarge


25 Dec 2012
Christmas time in Australia.
It is this special time of the year that we lock up Seventh Heaven and travel back to Australia to be with family and friends.
We celebrated Christmas Day with lunch at Pepper Resort with our friends Terry and Anita.
Ken, Kathryn, Mia and William arrived that evening staying for a week in Airlie so Betty and I got plenty of time with the grand kids.
Photos:
Charlie & Betty
Fun time in the pool  












+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


27 Jan 2013
Slow Travel
As we make our way towards the Philippines the NE winds keep coming.
We left Miri in nice calm conditions but all was to change dramatically as we rounded Batang Baram some two hours out. We found ourselves punching into a two meter sea and twenty knot head wind not what you really need on your first day out. We arrived in the safety of Jerudong Harbour well after dark tired and hungry. Next morning conditions had improved so we made for Labuan to stock up on essential duty free supplies (beer, wine and rum).
After three days holed up in busy Victoria Harbour with water taxis buzzing all around and dueling Mosques we finally braved the conditions and headed for Tiga Island.
The anchorage was calm and quite. Tiga Island is a national park and was the site of the first survivor television series.
The island is covered with rainforest with many maintained walking tracks and an abundance of wild life. In the centre of the island there are volcanic mud pools where if you wish you can take a mud bath Betty was not to keen on this.
We stayed here for two nights enjoying the serenity.
Photos:
Tiga Island
Mud pools










+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


06 Feb 2013
With the wind more from the north we managed to sail for a few hours on the way to Kota Kinabalu.
Sutera Harbour Resort Marina in Kota Kinabalu is the most luxurious marina in Malaysia and is connected to a five star resort. We were allowed full access to the resort amenities including pools, gym, Wifi etc. and this was all included in our $25 per day berthing fee.
Our water maker had given up and we required a new membrane 10 days and $1200 later we were again operational.
Photo:
Sutura Harbour


+ Click to enlarge


17 Feb 2013

The sea conditions had improved so time to go. Spent the first night anchored in Ambong Bay 30 miles north of Kota Kinabalu with majestic Mt Kinabalu in the distance. At first light we motored towards the Tip of Borneo where again condition deteriorated and it was hard going to round the cape once around we had a nice reach down to Kudat.
Kudat Marina and Golf Resort have a small harbour and marina surrounded by the golf course. The marina has no power or water though you can use all the facilities at the resort which is only a few minutes walk and it is free.
Though the Philippines are only 50 miles away the wind and sea conditions have been adverse so we have settled in here spending time with new and old friends while we wait for our weather window.
Photos:
Mt Kinabalu at dawn
Kudat marina







+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


21 Feb 2013
The Philippines
After two weeks hold up in Kudat waiting for a small cyclone to pass over Palawan (hopefully the last for the season) we finally had a favorable forecast to make our passage across the Balabac Strait.
We departed Kudat in a light norwesterly navigating through the passage between Balambangan and Banggi Islands as we exited the passage we were confronted with a one meter swell and torrential rain which lasted for over an hour (tail end of cyclone). With twenty miles to travel the wind increased to 20/25 knots making the seas stand up and very confused giving us a fast but very rough last few hours. We anchored in Clarendon Bay at the southern end of Balabac Island although it had a slight roll it was well protected. There were small huts scattered around the bay and a few locals came out to trade bananas.
The wind had eased overnight but the forecast was 15/20 knot noreasterlies for the next four days (on the nose) so we decided to do a sixty mile day and head for Tuba River. We motor sailed through the small islands and reefs between Palawan and Bugsuik Island protected from the swell. Fortunately we had been given tracks of other yachts and finding the entrance to the river was very easy we anchored upstream from the village and settled in to sit out the adverse weather.
Photos:
Tuba River
Bangka's (Spider Boats)  





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


27 Feb 2013
Our time in the Tuba River was spent relaxing with the occasional excursion ashore. The village was compact and dusty party due to the nickel ore being loaded onto barges at the mouth of the river.
Though off the beaten track and referred to as ‘the home to smugglers and modern day pirates’ by travel guides we found the locals friendly if not a bit shy and inquisitive.
There were plenty of small shops selling an assortment of goods including phone and internet cards and the small market had plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
We caught a tricycle into the town of Rio Tuba which is about 3 klm away which consists of small dirty and dusty shops along both sides of the main road for about ½ klm. To our surprise there was a franchised BBQ chicken outlet which looked way out of place which we now know are found all through the Philippines.
Photos:
Tuba River Village
Tircycle
Dinghy Dock



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


01 Mar 2013
The passage from Tuba River to Puerto Princesa was 130 miles which we completed over three days.
Leaving Tuba River the wind was light but within an hour had picked up to 15/20 knots with lumpy seas. Despite this we decided to push onto Brookes Point. A long day motoring into a headwind averaging just over four knots.
Brookes Point has a small port that services the south east coast of Palawan. We anchored off the jetty protected by a small sea wall. There was a village ashore but we had no visitors.
Better conditions greeted us next morning and we headed for Rasa Island passing many fishing Bangka’s along the way. The anchorage on the western side of Rasa Island was very peaceful and uninhabited.
Light conditions prevailed for the final leg to Puerto Princesa.
Photo:
Fishing Bangka




+ Click to enlarge


09 Mar 2013
Puerto Princesa is the capital of Palawan with a population of 200000 predominately Christian (catholic) and very clean compared to other SE Asian countries. As a tourist destination Puerto Princesa has not much to offer it is more the stepping off point for other parts of Palawan.
Puerto Princesa Bay is a large deep natural harbour accommodating  large cargo ships, cruise liners, naval base and many water villages.
We anchored off the Abonica Yacht Club two miles past the town. The club is basic and very laidback run by John and Cissy who go out of their way to make your stay enjoyable. The club has all the usual facilities bar, restaurant, library, WiFi, showers etc. Every Sunday Cissy does a splendid buffet lunch or dinner and sundowners are partaken each afternoon around 5.30 very easy to get trapped here and not sail on.  
The major mode of transport is the tricycle (motor bike with sidecar) and there are literally thousands of them. There seems to be no limit on the number of passengers or goods as long it can fit in or on. A ride into town from the yacht club which takes about 15 minutes cost 50 pesos ($1.25) for two people.
Shopping comes in various forms from modern western style shopping malls to traditional produce and wet markets (meat and seafood) with everything except fuel being very cheap.
There are also a large variety of food outlets the national dish being ‘Adobo’ (meat or seafood stewed in vinegar and garlic) unfortunately it is not quite up there with Thai and Malay cuisine though they do bake better bread. For those who enjoy a drink wine is around $5 a bottle rum $4 and beer $12 a carton.
The one notable difference when shopping in Puerto Princesa is all the larger stores, banks and restaurants etc have armed guards even the traffic enforcer at the shopping mall was armed.
Photos:
Abonico Yacht Club
Singing traffic enforcer
Tricycle




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


14 Mar 2013
Puerto Princesa to El Nido
The weather forecast for the next five days was for NE winds 5/10 knots so finally raising the anchor and made for El Nido in company with ‘Two Up’ and ‘Wings & Strings’.
Day 1.   Distance 22nm
In calm conditions we motored out of Puerto Princesa Bay and north to Snake Island in Honda Bay. This was a small uninhabited island with a sand spit that went to the north for miles. We anchored in the lea of the spit in 20m of clear water after which we gave the hull a scrub and went off exploring the spit.
Day 2.   Distance 50nm  
Flat seas and clear skies ideal for another day of motoring to our destination Reef Island in Green Island Bay.
During the afternoon we sailed through a large pod of spinner dolphins that put on a display of aerial acrobatics spinning many times as they leapt out of the water.
Reef Island is small with a reef extending to the south east and has a low key resort. We had a nice snorkel along the reef (first in the Philippines) and walk around the island.
Day 3.  Distance 55nm
Again calm conditions prevailed as we motored though the reefs and shoals of Green Island Bay to the Dumaran Passage. The passage is a navigators nightmare though the charts are accurate the passage is littered with pearl farms for about ten miles.
After exiting the passage our course was more north and we were able to sail for the last ten miles to Acadambanauan Island. We anchored in a well protected deep bay (24m) dotted with fishing villages.
Day 4.   Distance 37nm
With the wind from the NE at ten knots and our course north we were able to sail all day to Darocotan Island. The anchorage was tricky to approach and had a bit of a roll but it was an attractive island with a neat and tidy fishing village and backpacker facility for overnight stops. Bangka’s do five day budget cruisers from El Nido to Coron and vice versa stopping off at islands for the night on the way.
Day 5.   Distance 29nm
The weather remained light and we motored around the tip of Palawan and down to El Nido greeted by spectacular scenery of limestone islands. The anchorage at El Nido was a bit rolly so we went around the head land to Corongcorong the protected anchorage on the southern side.
Photos:
Reef Island
Seventh Heaven under sail
Anchorage at Corongcorong





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


15 Mar 2013
Something I forgot to mention the sky is very clear in Palawan and the sunsets are stunning as are the stars at night.
Photo:
Sunset in Palawan



+ Click to enlarge


06 Jul 2013

10th Borneo International Yacht Challenge
Time to race.
The race from Miri to Labuan is always interesting we started with a lovely reach at 7 knots for the first four hours then as the wind lightened we were ghosting though the Brunei oilfields. Midnight thunder storms all around us tacking backwards and forwards early hours of the morning nice land breeze reaching to the finish line. At dawn with the finish line only eight miles away becalmed such is yacht racing.
The Labuan bay races were held in light conditions and Seventh Heaven and the crew performed well gaining a 2nd and 3rd place.
Labuan is a duty free port and our last chance to stock up on vital supplies such as beer, wine, rum and gin for the passage back to Australia so we were a little lower in the water for the race to Kota Kinabalu.
The race to Kota Kinabalu was a mixture wind, storms, no wind though we managed to keep Seventh Heaven moving and picked up another 3rd place.
The bay races in Kota Kinabalu were cancelled due to lack of wind.
We had a great time racing our home and were a respectable 3rd overall.
Photos:
The windward mark ahead of Bewitched though not for long
Seventh Heaven’s pretty sail
Dinner Labuan to KK in light conditions




+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


07 Jul 2013



10th Borneo International Yacht Challenge
In SE Asia they have fantastic regattas and the BIYC is no exception.
The regattas are truly gala events with fantastic dinners and presentations by dignitaries and VIP’s all being followed by the mass media. Even the humble cruising yachts are treated like super stars.
The regatta starts in Miri (Sarawak) to Labuan then onto Kota Kinabalu (Sabah). There are six races two passage races Miri to Labuan (105nm) and Labuan to Kota Kinabalu (70nm) with two bay races in both Labuan and Kota Kinabalu.  Seventh Heaven was entered in cruising division A and this year we had the luxury of crew our new friends Ray and Patsy from Miri.
Photos:
Winners are grinners
Still friends (Ross off Bewitched overall winner cruising A)
Welcome dinner Miri (Ray, Patsy and Kevin)





+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge



+ Click to enlarge


 
           
The Seventh Heaven Story
Click for a short history of Seventh Heaven



Seventh Heaven
Dehler 41DS

Charlie and Betty Preen
PO Box 373
Cannonvale Q 4802

Charlie: 0408 182 822
Betty: 0427 481 342
www.charlieandbetty.com

Whitsunday Guide
Visit the Cumberland Charter Yachts Site for the most comprehensive online area and anchorage guide. Second only to "100 Magic Miles".

  www.ccy.com.au/area


Web site by

Broadcasting the Whitsundays to the world.

Say Hello
Stay in touch. Send me a message!
Who are you?
        
What's your email address?
 
Phone?
 
Type your message?
 
E Mail broadcast :
 
Type in the word "friend" to confirm you are real:
 
 

       
 
















  Website by eCentral