The Cruising Adventures of Seventh Heaven with Charlie and Betty

Cruising on Seventh Heaven

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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






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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.




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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



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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






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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


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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



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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.


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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



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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








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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










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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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