Aloha and G'day, Friends and Family,
As you may have guessed from our greeting, we are back in Australia! We left Panasia Island in the Louisiades at 6am September 8 with four other boats for a fast passage of three nights to arrive in Cairns on September 11. The first two days were rather uncomfortable with large seas on the beam and we were beginning to question our selection of an "optimum weather window," especially when we had 25 knot winds slightly forward of the beam. Miraculously, the winds switched to aft of the beam at 6pm on Tuesday when I went on watch! What a night to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary! The boat seemed to roll slightly differently but not without the usual effect upon my stomach (Thank heavens for the patch!), probably because we have never traveled with so little water, diesel, or provisions aboard. We were floating way above our original water line!
Since our last update on August 9, we continued to enjoy our visit to the different islands of the Louisiades. We attempted to sail to Rossel Island, the most eastern island of the Louisiades, but were forced to turn around with strong winds and seas on the nose. We began our move west when we turned back on August 11. We headed for Reynard, another more remote island where cruisers seldom visit. We sailed on to Kamatal Lagoon after realizing that we could not safely anchor between the many coral heads on a narrow shelf in the adverse wind. We arrived at 4pm with very poor light to see the reefs and a new net strung across one of the entrances by the natives. We had been there before so we felt confident to enter at that hour. Our forward looking sonar saved us from possible trouble since we could not see the coral formations at that time of day.
At Kamatal we daily enjoyed the absolutely spectacular snorkeling and fishing, especially the drift dive in the pass to the lagoon. We were completely overwhelmed by the absolute beauty, diversity and multitude of the colors of the corals, clams, and fish. Not since Fakarava in the Tuamotus have we been so in awe of the incredible beauty of the underwater world! We were truly blessed to be one of the very few to enjoy this incredible experience! David felt special to be able to celebrate his big 6-0 birthday here!
We sailed to Bwagaoia Harbour on Misima Island where we checked out of Papua New Guinea on August 26, purchased dinghy gasoline at $3.19/liter and reprovisioned as much as possible with the available items at the two local stores and our limited funds of kina! Larry on *Canadian Flyer* was told by the hospital that the malaria treatment pills which we had both purchased in Port Vila, Vanuatu last year, were exactly as they were prescribing. We were concerned about having appropriate treatment aboard, since we knew three people who had recently contacted malaria in the Louisiades. Thankfully, none of us has had any symptoms, although we have been cautioned to be aware of possible disease for a year. We used bug repellant when we were ashore, closed the boat up with screens at dusk, and did not go ashore at night.
We sailed to Nivani Island in the DeBoyne Group on the August 27th where we met Noino Losane who is very lucky to be alive after being bitten on his upper and lower leg by an oceanic white tip shark while diving for beche de mer (sea cucumber) on the reef near Nivani in about 70 feet of water. He was transported by boat to the hospital on Misima, where they stitched up his leg. He recovered completely after his hospital stay of a month. He is now making wood carvings to support his wife and two small children. We agreed that was a much safer way of supporting his family! We could imagine his horrible nightmares! We snorkeled on the Zero Japanese fighter plane which crashed during World War II in about 10 feet of water almost on the sand spit on Nivani Island. It is well preserved and is much smaller than we all had anticipated. Larry on *Canadian Flyer,* being a pilot, as many of our fellow cruisers are, was in the water about 5 seconds after anchoring! Eric took several wonderful picture of him sitting in the cockpit using Larry's digital camera in a housing.
We returned to the most picturesque of all the islands, Panasia, on August 29. That evening we enjoyed viewing Mars at its closet position to Earth in some 5,000 years! The clarity of the atmosphere is awesome out here, so we see spectacular "sky shows" every night. Daily, we snorkeled at our favorite spot out beyond the island in the pass; however, the fishing did not compare with Kamatal although we did enjoy a few lobster and fish dinners. We never tire of watching the huge groupers, napoleans, and sweet lips in that one particular spot.
Back to the real world! We spent over a week in Cairns overdosing on malls and shopping! We rented a car and traveled to Karanda, where we spent hours in Birdworld with the tame parrots and birds and at Butterfly World. We also spent hours sampling didgeridoos. We decided to save the neighborhood in the marina from the agony of listening to Jason and Eric practicing and not to purchase one or two. We drove to Port Douglas to see other beaches along the coast. We shopped for food (absolutely wonderful produce market at Rusty's Bazaar on Saturday) and diesel fuel. We headed south on September 23, anchoring at Fitzroy, Dunk, Fantome, Cape Bowling Green, and Glouster Islands, arriving at Arlie Beach, considered the entrance to the Whitsunday Islands (which really should be the Whitsaturday Islands because Captain Cook forgot about the date line!) on September 28. We purchased more diesel fuel and a few fruits, vegetables, and bread in this very touristy town. We sailed to White Bay on Haslewood Island for protection from strong northerly winds gusting to 30 knots today. We hope to enjoy the beautiful white fine sand beach of Whitehaven on Whitsunday Island tomorrow. Not since the Virgin Islands have we seen so much traffic! Sailing through Fizlan Passage, there were 20 vessels of many different shapes and sizes, plus kayakers and paragliders! We will be in the Whitsundays for several days before we begin our push south again. The distance between Cairns and Mooloolaba is almost 900 miles. We need to be in Mooloolaba before November 5, when Julie and Chris arrive for a short visit. We will be traveling to Colorado for Grand-Baby's arrival in March. Chris has also never been on board *Peace and Aloha* so we are all excited about their upcoming visit.
We will have the same address as last year, until April 2004:
David J. Ernisse and Crew
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA YACHT IN TRANSIT
Mooloolaba Yacht Club
33-45 Parkyn Parade P.O. Box 90
Moolooolaba, Queensland 4557
Our cell phone is: (61) 405 761 819 Just remember please: We are 10 hours EARLIER (9 hours after you go off daylight savings time on the east coast) than you are (plus one day!). If you are calling in Australia: 0405 761 819.
Our emails will continue to function directly to our boat. Please remember do not simply push your reply button and send our email back to us with your reply! Long messages, attachments and pictures will be deleted since they are coming through our SSB radio! Thank you! If you no longer wish to receive our update, please write to this email address and print REMOVE on the subject line and we will immediately remove your name from our address book.
We are working on updating our website at www.peaceandaloha.com with pictures and news, which we will post when we return to Mooloolaba and have access to the internet. Meanwhile, we will continue to answer your personal emails. If you have not heard from us recently, please write again, since we may have not been receiving all our mail. Thanks for being patient. Please continue to stay in touch. We love to hear your news. We hope that you are all well. We are also looking forward to seeing all our friends in Australia once again after we return to Mooloolaba. Take care. Be safe and God Bless.
With Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA
White Bay, Haslewood Island, Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
October 2, 2003