ende

Dec
09

Grey and cold

We arrived at noon and are now anchored off Rairua, the main village of Raivavae. The island’s mountains are hidden behind thick clouds, the sky is grey and it’s surprisingly cool. Last week when we suffered in the humid heat of Tahiti we were joking that soon we’d be complaining about the cold in the Austral Islands ;-)

Dec
09

Leaving the Tropics for a while

The Austral Islands are the southernmost island group of French Polynesia. Raivavae is just below the tropic of Capricorn, Rapa Iti even further down at the latitude of 27°35′. The Southern summer is the most pleasant time to visit these remote islands.

Dec
08

Unpleasant trip

What looked like a swift ride on the weather forecast has turned into an annoying passage. Since last night we’ve been motoring without any wind, managing only to sail for a few hours in a breeze first from the east and then the west which quickly disappeared again. Now we have 8 knots on the nose–fortunately we only have 20 more miles to go. We haven’t caught a fish yet, but something seriously big must have bitten yesterday: we only heard the bungee cord zipping back and the whole gear including our favourite lure, 1 m of metal leader 100 m of strong line and the yoyo disappeared…

Dec
07

Not enough wind

We were planning on riding the tail of a low that moved down Southeast and the forecast predicted a stiff breeze. Unfortunately the wind’s been much lighter and now it looks like we might run out of wind on the last day of the passage… 120nm to go

Dec
06

Sleepless night

After a decent sailing day the wind died down last night to almost nothing. Unfortunately the waves didn’t, so we were hobbling along with banging sails and everything on the boat clanging along. 220 nm to go

Dec
05

Lightwind sailing

Light winds, sunny skies–so far this is an easy passage! 320 nm to go

Dec
05

Sailing towards the Iles Australes

We’re just getting ready to set sails again. Actually we haven’t quite finished all jobs, we’re quite stressed out, but we’re still leaving, because the hot, rainy season is just starting in Tahiti and we don’t want to miss our weather window. 390 nm to Raivavae, or 600 to Rapa–whether we’ll stop in Raivavae will depend on the wind.

Dec
04

Article in All-at-Sea: Eyeglasses for the Solomon Islands

We met Paul and Frances (SY Monkey Fist) in Tahiti and were impressed by their project to bring used glasses to people in remote areas. Check out their homepage www.eyeglassassist.org! Right now they need donations for their next expedition…


Birgit Hackl: Glasses for the Solomon Islands, All At Sea Caribbean, December 2017, p. 36–38. Free download from allatsea.net.

Dec
03

Lots of work

We had to do some repairs on the mast last week, not a big deal, but the mast had to be pulled for that. The preparations alone took two days (getting the sails down, taking the boom off, disconnecting all cables, taking the instruments off the mast, removing the mast collar, etc.).
Everything went well with the repair, but now we’re busy getting everything back in place again. Additionally we got black marks from the bumper tyres in the harbour all over one side of the hull and the fenders, so some cleaning is also needed.

It looks like a weather window towards the Australes might come up at the beginning of next week, so we’re in a hurry to get Pitufa back into sailing mode.

Nov
20

Pics of Toau

Toau

In October 2017 we explored Toau in the Tuamotus and were glad to find some areas with unspoiled nature ashore and underwater.

(60 photos)

Nov
20

Fish!

We haven’t had such an easy passage in a long time. The wind was strong (surprisingly just as predicted and also from the direction the forecast had promised), not so strong to build up huge waves (2 m were not even enough to make the cat seasick), but just enough to push heavy Pitufa along swiftly. Averaging 6 knots we needed less than 2 days for the 240 nm and to make things perfect, we caught a huge mahi-mahi last evening (1.5 m).

We usually hope for smaller fish that are easier to handle, kill and process and therefore we use a small lure, but that big guy still bit and of course we didn’t refuse to pull him aboard. Slaughtering the big creature on the rolling aft-deck while it was getting dark wasn’t much fun and today it took me another 3 hours to cut and prepare the meat for storage. Anyway, now it’s done and we have enough fish for a week (and more to give away…).

Nov
19

From Fakarava to Tahiti

We left Fakarava yesterday, but instead of sailing straight to the Australes as initially planned, we have to go to Tahiti first to do some repairs. We’re sailing swiftly along with 15 to 20 knots behind us and will reach Tahiti tomorrow. 120 nm to go!

Nov
15

Sharks

The south pass into the lagoon of Fakarava is popular with dive tourists. Reef sharks hang out in all passes we’ve seen in the Tuamotus, but for some unknown reason the pass of Fakarava is teeming with grey reef sharks (apparently 200-300 live in the area). You see some of them while snorkelling, but most of them are deeper down, so it really makes sense to go scuba diving here. This morning we sailed down to the pass, got our dive gear ready and headed to the pass with our friends from SY Pakia Tea (www.planet-ocean.at) for a drift dive.

We knew that the current would be coming in at this time of the day, so we took the dinghy out through the pass, jumped in and went down to 20 m with Sonja while Tom kindly stayed in the dinghy to follow us and pick us up back in the lagoon. With this convenient arrangement we were free to enjoy the dive. Using the gentle current we slowly swam along, watching swarms of colourful surgeon- and butterfly fish lingering over healthy-looking coral formations, bold trigger fish biting off chunks of staghorn coral, majestic napoleon fish patrolling their territory, groupers gazing out from protruding coral and then close to the drop-off into the deeper channel the reason why we were diving: big groups of grey reef sharks gliding effortlessly through the current with a few white-tip reef sharks mingling with them. During the day the sharks are resting after a night of hunting and look rather passive, but the numbers and proximity are still impressive.

It’s funny how scared we used to be of sharks. As a kid the thought of some big creature lurking under the surface made me hectically look down while swimming in the Adriatic–probably we’re a generation traumatised by the ‘Jaws’ series… After spending so much time in the water with sharks here in French Polynesia we have lost that fear, enjoy the company of curious reef sharks that follow us around on snorkelling trips and are always excited when we glimpse a bigger shape–sometimes a shy lemon shark at the barrier reef, sometimes a silvertip in a pass, sometimes a big, but lazy nurse shark having a nap on the bottom. Sharks are an important part of the eco-system, but in many areas they have been wiped out by fishermen to get rid of competition, to sell their fins on the Asian market or simply to keep the lagoon ‘safe’. Gamefishing for trophies is also popular…Fortunately in French Polynesia they are still plentiful.

Of course there are species of sharks that would send us quickly up and into the dinghy: meeting a big tiger shark or bull shark would be scary, but in a normal situation there still should be no danger. Accidents with sharks usually happen when people go swimming in areas that are known to have large populations of dangerous shark species (e.g. Australia or South Africa), or while spear fishing when fishblood and squiggling fish attract sharks. During our numerous encounters wish sharks we have never met an aggressive specimen.

Nov
12

Big atolls

We usually avoid big atolls, because when the wind shifts you suddenly have a few dozen miles of fetch ahead and getting to the protected side in nasty weathers means hours of motoring against the wind. Fakarava is more than 30 miles long and doesn’t offer many protected corners (no protruding reefs to hide behind). Its attraction is the South pass where hundreds of Grey Reef Sharks hang out, so we picked up a mooring next to the pass and snorkeled it a few times, but last night the dreaded wind shift came At 2 o’clock the wind turned to the north, picked up and soon Pitufa was bouncing in the choppy waves. Fortunately we didn’t see more than 15 knots of wind, but it was still uncomfy, so we headed up to the old village of Hirifa further north, where the reef bends into a corner that offers better protection.

Nov
06

Some impressons of our last stay in Tahiti

Better late than never, we just uploaded some pics of our recent stay in Tahiti and Moorea.

Winter 2017

We spent the winter 2017 (July to September) in Tahiti working on boat projects. After that we had a week of hiking holidays in Moorea.

(14 photos)

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