Sailing around the pacific

THERE will be a little bit of the Whitsundays spread throughout the Pacific after Eddie Gray finishes the three month voyage in his new boat Arawe that he started this week.

Mr Gray set sail yesterday, along with his crew for the first leg of the journey - Dr Bob Borer, Murray Wilton, John Kennedy and Chris Long, bound for Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in a trip that will spread joy to many of the people of the islands that they visit.

On board Arawe, Mr Gray and his crew are carrying 10 sails, 500 exercise books, 1000 pencils, 600 children's picture books, 500 tennis balls, 100 skipping ropes, boxes of hand tools and bags and bags of children's clothing.

These items were donated by businesses from the Whitsunday community as word spread of Mr Gray's voyage and his intention to help out the communities he visits.

“It was all just word of mouth in the community,” Mr Gray said.

“I put an ad in the paper a while back saying that I was looking for children's picture books but the rest of the goods were donated by businesses that just heard about the trip.”

Mr Gray has spent a lot of time in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands on business, purchasing timber but after buying Arawe, a 60 foot long, and 53 tonne vessel 12 months ago, he started planning a trip that would allow him to see the countries in his own boat, in his own time.

“I like the people and I like the countries so I thought I'd give myself a chance to have a proper look around,” Mr Gray said.

The voyage will be split up into sections with 22 of Mr Gray's friends and family set to take some part in the journey.

“Wherever there's an airport along the way there will be people flying in and out to join me,” Mr Gray said.

“There won't be more than six people on the boat at any given time though.”

And those that do take part in the trip won't be slumming it, as Mr Gray has equipped Arawe with all the creature comforts you might expect from a luxury cruiser.

The vessel is fully air conditioned, has two below deck showers and one on deck shower, a television, stereo, DVD player, washer/dryer and an exercise bike.

Mr Gray said the boat was decked out with everything the crew needed and was looking forward to sitting back and relaxing with a cold beer while watching the Aussies take on the English in the first Ashes test.


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