The Cruising Adventures of Seventh Heaven with Charlie and Betty

Cruising on Seventh Heaven

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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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



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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



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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



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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


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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


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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



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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


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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



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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


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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



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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



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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


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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



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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'


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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





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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


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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.



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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


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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



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