Sprayhood made by Dustom

The sprayhood we bought in Croatia 8 years ago is still in good shape, the sunbrella and the ‘windows’ (I don’t know what material) are keeping up nicely, so we can only recommend the canvas work done by Dustom (check out www.dustomcovers.com).

The threads were giving up after long years of exposure to UV light, so we spent 3 days restitching all seams and as we were at it, we added a chafe-protection patch along the forward support hose (another 4D project…). Yesterday we had our first day off in more than a week and spent it walking the motu and snorkeling along the outer reef.



After a few grey days with lots of squalls, yesterday morning it was sunny again and the wind was blowing from the NE. Despite contradicting weather forecasts we couldn’t resist the opportunity and set out towards the neighbouring atoll Toao. I mean, what can go wrong on a passage that’s only 30 nm?
We sailed across the lagoon, out of the pass at the wrong time (4 knots of ingoing current against 15 knots of wind meant high standing waves…) and then we set out doing 6 knots in northeasterlies of 15-18 knots. Perfect sailing! One hour later the wind started getting less and less, then it died down and when it set in again, it was blowing 30 knots, but out of the southeast–exactly on the nose. We ended up motoring 7 miles against heavy rain and steep waves. Fortunately Toao has a ‘false pass’ (an opening in the barrier reef that does not go all the way into the lagoon) where you can enter and exit at any time.


4D Bimini

The bimini’s a sun shade/rain cover that is kept over the cockpit by 4 tubes. As we like being dry and shaded off during passages as well and never take our bimini down (some sailors do so regularly), it gets some wear and tear over the year. It got chafed through at the aft edge and we knew we’d have to repair that damage before it could get more serious.

Anyone who has ever tried to fit a new layer of fabric over a rounded, bent shape in 3D (on the bimini) and then transform that shape into 2D (in the sewing machine) knows that this is not a simple endeavour. On the second day a fourth dimension got into our way–the banana dimension.
When after fitting the bimini for the umptieth time in between and during squalls the shape still doesn’t fit, the original sunbrellas tears when opening the seam, the sewing machine blocks for the 100th time while sewing on the repair patch, because the new (and apparently indestructible) teflon thread gets twisted in the machine and the fabric has to be stuffed into the machine yet again the seamstress goes bananas–thus adding a new dimension to the whole job.

Now, at the end of a second entire working day, the bimini is finished and up again. Not quite perfect, with a few crinkles and crooked seams, but we’re still satisfied with it, as we know it’s in 4D ;-)


Mending, sewing, repairing

We have been in Apataki now for a few days, but we haven’t seen much of the atoll. We visited Sonja, Tom and Keanu (SY Pakia Tea) who have their catamaran here out on the hard, in the only (but somewhat improvised) out-haul facility in the Tuamotus. Apart from that we’ve stayed on board and did sewing-machine jobs.

First came a sail repair, as the leech line of the foresail had chafed through the dacron during the last rough passage. Stuffing the big sail first into the saloon and then into our household sewing machine wasn’t easy, but fortunately we only had to mend about 1.5 m.

After putting the foresail back up on its furler we started repairing the hatch cover of the forward cabin that also got chafed through in a corner. Christian proved his perfectionism by fabricating 3D paper models of the corners, before the impatient seamstress could get working. The edge protection turned out fabulously pretty ;-)

Yesterday we started repairing the bimini, a tricky, fidgety job that will keep us busy for another day.



When the stream of water from the tap no longer hits the sink, but swerves beyond the rim, you know you’re heeling too much… This passage was only 220 nm as the frigate bird flies, but we tacked up and down and the mixture of too much wind (30+ knots) and not enough wind (less than 10 knots) was rather tiring. Initially we had planned to sail to Tahanea, but in this easterly wind we would have had to tack another day or two, so we ended up in Apataki instead, which lay conveniently on our course (although we had to tack around its annoying neighbouring atoll that kept jumping into our way…).

We arrived at 1.30 at the height of the outgoing tide, but didn’t want to waste daylight to cross the lagoon and search for an anchorage, so we entered against 5 knots of outgoing current. The pass looked like a mountain stream, but Pitufa’s strong engine helped us through and the (weak-kneed) helmswoman held a steady course ;-)

We anchored on the southern side of the atoll behind a little motu and after 2 hours of cleaning we’re now settling down with a sundowner. Manuia (cheers)!



After a bouncy and splashy day (things that have never before moved, managed to jump headfirst into the cabin–we’ll see if the printer survived…) we’re now sailing along nicely in about 15 knots from the east. The Tuamotus are spreadout east of Tahiti, so we’re tacking and trying to figure out which atoll we can reach this way.


Towards the Tuamotus

Yesterday we set out from Moorea towards the Tuamotus, first too much wind, then not enough, now too much again–sailing’s not always easy…


New Tattoo

Wherever you go in French Polynesia, almost everybody has tattoos. Their traditional symbols are deeply embedded in the Polynesian culture. I got a small manta tattooed two years ago and this year I could not resist and got him a bigger brother.

My new tattoo

My new tattoo. (click for larger photo)


Hiker’s paradise Moorea

At the moment there’s a strong Maraamu (southeasterly wind) blowing that brings cool air to French Polynesia, but we’re nicely protected from the wind here in Cook’s Bay on the northern side of Moorea. Moorea is a spectacular little island with steep mountains, calderas and lush valleys and the breezy weather’s perfect to explore the numerous hiking tracks that crisscross the island. During our last visit all signs on the hiking trails were missing and we continously got lost. In the meantime the signs have been reinstalled, so some of the adventure thrill’s gone, but hiking’s definitely easier ;-)
In Tahiti we were so busy with boat projects that we neglected our fitness completely, the virus we battled for two weeks slowed us down even more. Now we’re slowly building up some fitness again, alternating between hiking days and project days on the boat.


From Tahiti to Moorea

I’ve just checked our emails and realised that we haven’t posted a blog in two weeks. The reason isn’t that there was nothing going on, but just on the contary there was indeed too much to do on Pitufa to keep up with the blog.

We had a rental car for 24 hours (afternoon to afternoon, very convenient for shopping), bought 2 car loads (4 full dinghy loads) of provisioning and actually managed to store all that stuff in Pitufa’s lockers. In between we worked on rubber mounts to calm down the noisy watermaker pumps, filled Pitufa up with diesel, had some doctor’s appointments and Christian got a new tattoo :-)

Marina Taina’s a swimming town where we caught up with some old acquaintances and made new ones resulting in an succession of invitations and reinvitations for drinks and dinners and of course dinghies stopping by at all times during the day (which is nice, but doesn’t accelerate progress on projects).

Yesterday we cleared up the boat and finally set out on the ocean again. It looked like rough weather on the forecast, so we all 3 took some seasickness meds in preparation after so many weeks inside the lagoon. Our first passage only took us about 15 nm over the channel to the neighbouring island Moorea, but hey, at least we made it out again! Instead of the expected southeasterly wind we had to motor most of the distance in the wind shade of Tahiti, but the waves and swell were high and confused, so it was good that we had braced ourselves with Stugeron drops. Once we got close to Moorea the wind set in with 20 to 30 knots and we sailed the last miles to Cooks Bay on the northern side of Moorea.


A new watermaker!

It’s been a sunny, hot week here in Taina (despite the fact that it’s still supposed to be winter), but we didn’t see much of the weather as we spent most of our time in the bilge. We removed the floorboards and the companionway ladder in the mornings and worked on the watermaker parts all day. The cat thought that was very strange behaviour and didn’t appreciate it at all…

We redid most of the plumbing, found space for both feed pumps in the bilge (we had to modularise the modular system a bit more by cutting the plates the pumps and filter were sitting on so that they would fit…) and finally installed the electrics. Installations on yachts are always great fun, as there’s never enough space to put things and you always get bloody knuckles trying to fit screws in unreachable places. Balancing around without floorboards added a new thrill to the whole experience ;-)
Now our new Spectra Cape Horn Extreme is running and producing more than 50 litres of water per hour (drinking quality) using only about 19 Amps! The downside of the Spectra is its price, but my Dad generously sponsored this gadget (birthday’s are a wonderful thing, we should have more than one a year ;-) ).

Our old ‘Pure water Sea Star 250′ watermaker used the same energy, only produced about 20 litres and never in great quality so we would not recommend that system to other cruisers.


Still snotty

The virus Christian brought back from the plane turned out to be quite persistent and annoying. Of course I got it two days after Christian and we’ve been snotty, sneezing and coughing a duet for over a week now. In the meantime we’ve managed to install the main pump of the watermaker. It’s too big to fit into the bilge like the old one, so we sacrificed half of the hanging space in our closet, fit the watermaker on the bottom half and Christian proved his skills as a carpenter and made a shelf on top of it (we got the wood from a hardware store and spent a while next to the road with our thumbs out until a car stopped for us and the big, bulky pieces of plywood we were carrying ;-) ).

Yesterday we finally found the energy to lift our anchor chain (still the old rusty one) and it took a few hours to clean off the growth, dirt and algae that had accumulated over 6 weeks in Arue, but now we have the new shiny chain on the bow. We’re now anchored off Marina Taina just south of Papeete where we’ll stay while we finish our next projects (new hoses for the autopilot, new bearings for the outboard and of course the rest of the watermaker installation).


Smurf crew complete again

Christian got back on Wednesday morning, so the smurf crew’s complete again! Unfortunately he caught a cold on the plane, so the planned projects (watermaker installation, replacing hoses on the yanmar, etc) will be a bit postponed. We’re not on a tight schedule, so we’re just taking it slowly for the moment.


A house without a cat is not a home…

…according to the proverb and a boat without a cat isn’t one either–at least in my humble opinion ;-) I’ve now been alone with Leeloo on the boat for two and half weeks, but it’s impossible to feel lonely with a furry companion who’s always around and always talks back :-)

I love the way…
…she climbs up the steep companion way stairs looking like a little monkey.
…she rolls around on the bimini enjoying the morning sun.
…she welcomes us home at the stern chatting animatedly about the many things that must have happened on the boat–even when we were only gone for half an hour.
…she wants to have her meals at the same time we eat (social eater).
…she works out on her scratchboard on deck sharpening her claws (and nowhere else)
…she hops on the couch in the evening waiting for us to join her to watch a film.
…she shouts “bray-ow-ee!” (out of the way, here I come) while jumping up to our bed.
…she gallops over the deck and on to the bimini around 4 in the morning sounding like a herd of elephants.
…she crawls under my blanket after her nightly adventures on deck (all cold paws and bristled fur in the cold of the Tahitian winter at the moment).

I could strangle her though, when she then insists on me getting up to feed her at 5 in the morning, even though she has wet and dry food in her bowls. She’s always been picky and in her old age she eats nothing but high qualitiy diet catfood which is not available here in French Polynesia. Well, nobody’s perfect ;-) Fortunately Christian will soon come back with a bagful of cat goodies…



Article on Improvisation in All-at-Sea magazine

Living on a small boat on a small budget in remote places requires a great deal of improvisation skills. This article shows some of our improvised repairs. Those were usually just temporary fixes, although some became permanent ones…

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Mad Max Makeshift Magic, All At Sea Caribbean, August 2017, p. 36–40. Free download from allatsea.net.

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