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Photo Galleries

Swimming with Manta rays

In June 2017 we repeatedly encountered a group of about 20 mantas in our favorite Tuamotu atoll. We saw them several days in a row in the pass, feeding on tiny copepod crustaceans in the strong outgoing current. They didn't seem to mind our company, so we spent hours watching them.

(23 photos)


Te Matapukarega festival in the Gambier

In February 2017 the first cultural festival of the Gambier Islands took place. Almost the whole population of the Gambier and all the cruisers in the anchor field attended this fabulous two-day event.

(19 photos)


Interlude as landlubbers

During the cyclone season 16/17 in the Gambier Islands we stayed as house-sitters on Taravai. The Polynesian owners Edouard and Denise live in Tahiti and are happy to have somebody looking after house and garden.

(60 photos)


Tahanea 2016

Tahanea is the most pristine atoll we've found so far. We love its wildlife and beauty and stayed six weeks in October and November 2016.

(49 photos)


Tahanea - Birds of the Tuamotus

Seabirds are threatened by destruction of their habitat (they need shrubs and leaf trees, not coconut plantations), introduction of predatory species (rats, cats, etc.) and human hunters. Tahanea is one of the atolls where they can still breed undisturbed on a handful of motus on the southern side of the lagoon.

(36 photos)


Tahanea's Underwater World

After seeing too many places with dead and empty reefs further west in the Pacific, returning to Tahanea's healthy coral and numerous fish was a relief.

(60 photos)


Sailing with our Cat

Leeloo has been cruising with us right from the start. Here are some snapshots we took over the past 5 years.

(30 photos)


Eastwards, Part 3: Rarotonga (Cook Islands)

The last stop on our passage eastward was Rarotonga, the main island of the Cook Islands. The island has a fringing reef, but the narrow lagoon is too shallow for sailboats. We stayed 1 week in Avatiu harbour.

(35 photos)


Eastwards, Part 2: Palmerston (Cook Islands)

We stopped for a week at this interesting atoll. Most of the 57 people who live here are descendants of William Marsters and his 3 polynesian wives. Arriving yachts are greeted by a host family and integrated into island life.

(50 photos)


Eastwards, Part 1: Tonga, Niue, Beveridge Reef

In August 2016 we decided to sail from Tonga back to Tahiti. Using shifting winds during passing troughs we sailed in short hops eastwards from island to island.

(20 photos)


Tongatapu, Tonga

Tongatapu is the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga. The capital Nuku'alofa is a busy town with lots of markets and cheap eateries. We spent a winter month exploring this island and its adjacent motus in July 2016.

(50 photos)


Niue

In June 2016 we spent a week in Niue. The 'Rock of Polynesia' is a raised atoll and the smallest independent nation of the world, even though it's associated tightly with New Zealand. After 3 years in French Polynesia it was weird to chat with English speaking Polynesians.

(40 photos)


Beveridge Reef

On the way from French Polynesia to Niue we stopped for two nights at Beveridge Reef, a submerged atoll without any motus. Being anchored without land in sight turned out to be a special, but bouncy experience.

(15 photos)


Maupihaa

In May 2016 we spent 3 weeks in the tiny atoll of Maupihaa (only 4 miles long). People from Maupiti come and live here to collect copra, currently 15 people live on the island. The hospitality of the islanders and the bird colonies of the western and northern motus made our last stop in French Polynesia a special experience.

(60 photos)


Kauehi, Tuamotus

In April 2016 we made a short stopover in Kauehi on the way back from the Marquesas to Tahiti.

(22 photos)


Cyclone season 2015/16: Southern Marquesas

We spent this El Niño cyclone season in the Marquesas. We briefly visited Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa and stayed long at our favourite island Tahuata.

(50 photos)


Cyclone season 2015/16: Northern Marquesas

We spent this El Niño cyclone season in the Marquesas. We really enjoyed the hospitality and generosity of the Marquesans, but 5 months in the open and rolly bays were quite a long time. Here are a few impressions of the northern group: Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou and Ua Huka.

(50 photos)


Festival des Arts des Iles Marquises

Every 4 years a big festival is held in one of the Marquesan islands, this year in December 2015 in Hiva Oa. We watched two days of the impressive spectacle.

(42 photos)


Bora Bora

The name triggers associations of the perfect Southsea paradise at home. The landscape of the island's really extraordinary, but the sheer amount of hotels and traffic spoil the picture a bit. We stopped there twice while island hopping in September 2015.

(22 photos)


Maupiti

In September 2015 we spent two weeks in the miniature paradise Maupiti, which gets much fewer tourists than its neighbour Bora Bora. Highlights were the manta rays that roam the lagoon and the stunning views from the mountain.

(44 photos)


Huahine

Huahine's landscape is not quite as spectacular as Moorea's or Bora Bora's, but it is a pleasant island with good infrastructure and friendly locals. We spent three relaxed weeks there in August 2015.

(39 photos)


Raivavae, Iles Australes

We visited Raivavae in May 2015 during the southern autumn. It was hard to find a weather window to get there and even more so to leave again due to weather quirks (a highly active South-Pacific Convergence Zone led to many lows). Here are some impressions of the few sunny days.

(50 photos)


Akamaru, Gambier Islands

In 2015, during our third visit to the Gambier islands, we finally made it to Akamaru. Its anchorages are a bit inconvenient, but this lovely island is definitely worth the effort.

(24 photos)


Gambier Islands--Home of the Black Pearls

All around the world they are sold as 'Tahiti Pearls', but in fact most of the famous black pearls are grown in the lagoons of the Gambier and the Tuamotus. We visited Eric's pearl farm and Rikitea's engraving school in March 2015.

(27 photos)


Iles Gambier: Motu Puaumu

Hanging out at Motu Puaumu in the north feels like being in the Tuamotus, but the high islands with their protected bays and lush mountains are just a few miles away.

(28 photos)


Makemo, Tuamotu Archipelago

We only wanted to stop quickly for some shopping, but unfavourable winds held us for 3 weeks. Makemo is a huge atoll with a bommy-strewn lagoon, a relatively big town, and copra plantations everywhere.

(30 photos)


Tahanea, Tuamotu Archipelago

In September 2014 we set out from Tahiti to explore the Tuamotus, fell in Love with the first place, and stayed for 8 weeks in beautiful, uninhabited Tahanea.

(70 photos)


Raiatea and Tahaa

We spent July and August 2014 on these twin islands. We liked the friendly locals and having turquoise anchorages on the barrier reef right next to deep bays between high mountains. Closer inspection revealed the down sides: mainly dead coral, hardly any fish in the lagoon, cruisers are not welcome on the private motus, lots of rubbish along the road... Being struck down by dengue fever wasn't nice eihter.

(50 photos)


Moorea

Tahiti's little neighbor features lush, scenic mountains and turquoise lagoons, but is a bit too touristic for our taste. June 2014.

(35 photos)


Repairs in Tahiti

In April 2014 we caught a rope in the propeller in the Gambier and damaged the thrust bearing. Without use of the engine we had to sail directly to Tahiti without stopping in the Tuamotus. We hauled Pitufa out in Papeete and spent 15 days on the hard repairing the bearing, cutting open and cleaning the diesel tank and renewing the antifouling.

(19 photos)


Motu Kouaku, Iles Gambier

In early (southern-hemisphere) autumn we spent a few days all on our own at this Motu in the South-East. It got quite bouncy because high swell made it in and a front passed over us, but we faced it out and were rewarded with another glittering, magical day. Even though Kouaku is only a few miles S of Tauna, it looks quite different. Only hardy shrubs, pandanus and a handful of coconut palms grow here. It is more than 1km long and has beaches of fine white sand. Like Tauna it is also uninhabited and a bird-nesting refuge.

(34 photos)


Our house on Taravai, Iles Gambier

During the cyclone season 2013/14 we stayed a while in a little house on our favourite island in the Gambier. Living ashore in the tropics turned out to be a hassle, an adventure, but also a worthwhile experience.

(46 photos)


The south-west corner of the Gambier lagoon

In January 2014, during totally calm weather, we spent a magical day anchored just behind the south-west barrier reef.

(8 photos)


Motu Tauna, Iles Gambier

On the barrier reef in the very east of the Gambier archipelago, the tiny motu Tauna seems to float in a symphony of colours.

(36 photos)


Marquesas: Ua Pou

Ua Pou was the last of the Marquesas we visited in October 2013. We stopped only for a few days on the western side during a calm period. The bay was still a bit rolly but the rugged island with its high rock spires is worth a visit.

(17 photos)


Marquesas: Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva is the biggest and busiest of the Marquesas with good infrastructure and plenty of sights. Lots of cruisers stop in the capital Taiohae to enjoy the amenities of civilisation (restaurants, well-stocked supermarkets, daily veggie market, hospital, etc.). We explored the island from mid September to end of October 2013, enjoyed beautiful hikes, but soon got sick of mosquitoes, murky water, and rolly anchorages.

(50 photos)


Marquesas: Tahuata

We visited the little island Tahuata in September 2013, a quiet month here in the Marquesas as most of the cruisers are already on their way further west towards New Zealand. We enjoyed the cute, tidy villages and made friends with the locals.

(40 photos)


Marquesas: Fatu Hiva

In August 2013 we sailed 800 miles from the wintery Gambier islands to the Marquesas, the northernmost island group of French Polynesia. We spent about 3 weeks in the spectacular Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva.

(50 photos)


Mangareva, Part 2

After spending more than two months in the Gambier, our first gallery about the main island Mangareva felt somehow incomplete. Here are some more impressions of this lovely island, the hikes we did, the friends we made (human and canine) and the daily life in the village Rikitea and in the anchorage.

(40 photos)


July Festival in Mangareva

When we arrived in Rikitea in May, we already heard drumming each evening. Two competing dance and drumming groups spend several months preparing for the highlight of the year: the 'Le Juillet' or 'Heiva' festival with daily traditional dance performances and fringe events takes place between the 5th and 14th of July. In the end prizes in different categories (best Mangareva dance, Tahitian dance, single and pair dance, drumming group) are awarded. The festival turned out surprisingly tame, maybe due to the fact that no alcohol was sold.

(50 photos)


Gambier's underwater world

The Gambier feature pristine coral reefs and abundant fish in crystal-clear water. The fish grow generally large and are not shy since nobody hunts them because of Ciguatera (a nerve poison from an algae that accumulates in fish without harming them). All pictures were taken with our small, waterproof Canon Powershot D20 while snorkeling. The dropping temperatures (water temperature in May still 26°C, in July only 22°C) prevented us from exploring more snorkel or dive sites.

(30 photos)


Ile Taravai, Iles Gambier

We visited Taravai, the second biggest island in the archipelago, in June 2013 and instantly fell in love with it: rugged mountains, pristine corals, remote bays, beautiful beaches, and only a handful of friendly people.

(50 photos)


Ile Totegegie et Ile Aukena, Iles Gambier

The crystal-clear waters and good charts make exploring within the protected lagoon of the Gambiers easy. At the end of June 2013 we took Pitufa up to the airport island Totegegie and then on to Aukena, the 3rd biggest island in the archipelago.

(26 photos)


Iles Gambier: Mangareva

We arrived in the Gambier Islands, French Polynesia, towards the end of May 2013 and were enchanted by the lush island of Mangareva and its pretty town Rikitea.

(28 photos)


Passage to Polynesia

In April 2013 we set sail from the Galapagos Islands towards the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia. 2900 nautical miles, 24 days at sea---our longest passage so far.

(27 photos)


Isla Isabela, Galapagos

In April 2013 we spent three weeks on Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos Islands. Even though yachties have to pay horrendous sums to be allowed to stay here, the incredible wildlife and the spectacular scenery made it worth it.

(50 photos)


Sailing to the Galapagos islands

At the end of March 2013, we left the Darien of Panama and finally sailed out into the Pacific. It took us 8 days to sail the 950 nautical miles.

(10 photos)


Darién, Panama

In February 2013 we got Pitufa ready for the Pacific in Panama City. We replaced dodgy equipment that had been damaged by a lightning strike in the San Blas, ordered lots of spare parts and filled up Pitufa with provisions. Then we explored the Pacific side of the Darién, its rivers and rainforests in the South of Panama.

(50 photos)


Panama City and Las Perlas

In December 2012 we spent some time in Panama City and sailed to the Perlas with Christians sister Roswitha.

(39 photos)


Pitufa's Panama Canal Transit

After our 'holidays' in the San Blas Islands we came to Portobelo to make repairs and to organize our canal transit. The constant rain in November slowed down our progress on these projects and we spent most of our time fighting mold and drying things. On the 15th of December we had our appointment for the Panama Canal transit, despite of our worries everything went perfectly smooth and we arrived happy and relieved on the 'other side' on the 16th of December. Hurray!

(30 photos)


Kuna Yala -- the San Blas Islands

In September and October 2012 we visited the palm-covered islands of Kuna Yala, an autonomous region in Panama, where the Kuna indios live in their traditional villages.

(50 photos)


Down the Colombian coast

In August 2012 we explored some islands and bays along the Caribbean coast of Colombia. From the popular weekend destination Islas Rosarios via the more quiet Islas de San Bernardo to Sapzurro, the idyllic border town in the unspoiled nature of Darién.

(50 photos)


Cartagena de Indias

End of July 2012 we reached the beautiful city of Cartagena with its interesting contrast between the historic town centre and the surrounding skyscraper districts. Anchoring in the middle of a city was a new experience for us.

(40 photos)


Los Monjes

On the way to Colombia in July 2012 we stopped at the Venezuelan coast guard station on the tiny island Los Monjes del Sur.

(10 photos)


Curacao

We spent most of June and July 2012 in the protected (but nevertheless windy and splasy) anchorage of Spanish Waters on Curacao. Most of the time we were busy working on Pitufa's engine, but we spare you these pictures and show you the beautiful sides of this island.

(20 photos)


Bonaire

We stayed two weeks on a mooring next to Kralendijk's sea front. Along the coast are superb dive and snorkel sites that can easily be reached by dinghy and some are just around the moorings. The Washington-Slagbaai national park in the north-west of Bonaire is a must see. May 2012.

(30 photos)


Grenada

Our time in Grenada was quite eventful. Birgit's family visited us, the first ship chandlers in ages tempted us to spend a small fortune on presents for Pitufa, we explored the island using Grenada's superb mini buses, and then Pitufa was on the hard for three weeks. April and May 2012.

(30 photos)


Tobago

We like this island for its lonely beaches and lush interior even though we had lousy weather and rolly anchorages. February and March 2012.

(40 photos)


Suriname

In January 2012 we caught a glimpse of Amazonia. Suriname provides an easy and save access to the rivers of the rainforest.

(38 photos)


Crossing the Atlantic Ocean

On the 29th December, 2011, we set sail from the Cape Verdes to cross the Atlantic and arrived in Suriname 14 days later.

(10 photos)


Cabo Verde: Ilha Brava

Brava's a tiny island, but there is so much to explore and we felt so at home in Faja d'Agua at the westcoast of the island that we spent the whole December anchored in the same bay.

(39 photos)


Cabo Verde: Sao Vicente and Santo Antao

We sailed from Tarrafal, Sao Nicolao to Mindelo, Sao Vicente via Santa Luzia. We visited Santo Antao by ferry. November 2011.

(25 photos)


Cabo Verde: Sao Nicolao

Unspoiled and tourist-free Sao Nicolao enchanted us with its ragged mountains, lush valleys, and friendly people. November 2011.

(50 photos)


Cabo Verde: Sal and Boa Vista

The first two landfalls on our route were the two dry islands of the Cape Verdean windward islands. October 2011.

(23 photos)


Islas Canarias

In September 2011 we made only brief stops at the islands of La Graciosa, Lanzarote, Fuerte Ventura and Isla de Lobos, and in the marina in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria.

(16 photos)


Gibraltar, door to the Atlantic

We waited several days for the right weather for our passage to the Canaries.

(21 photos)


Melilla

Multicultural Spanish exclave in Morocco. Not many tourists come here, but it's definitely worth visiting! August 2011

(15 photos)


Sardinia

We only sailed along the southern coast. Nice landscapes, but very crowded beaches. The capital Cagliari is impressive though. August 2011

(9 photos)


Sicily

Taormina, Liparian Islands and Ustica in July 2011

(40 photos)


Southern Adriatic

Our last days in Croatia and sailing through the Strait of Otranto towards Sicily

(10 photos)


We set sails!

Impressions of the first two weeks of our journey as well as the preparations. Pictures of us and Pitufa sailing along Croatia from Pula to Primosten.

(30 photos)


Our Ship's Cat

Some pics of Leeloo taken during trips in the Med between 2008 and 2010.

(40 photos)


Adriatic and Ionian Sea 2009

Seven weeks of relaxed cruising in July and August.

(28 photos)


Our First Sailing Trip

In August 2008, after buying Pitufa, we sailed her from Mallorca to Pula (Croatia). 1600 nm in three weeks.

(24 photos)

2 comments

  1. Bronson Moss says:

    Birgit and Christian, I love your posts. I’ve been absolutely obsessed with sailing and passage-making for a couple of years now even though I have never set foot on a sailboat. Have been studying pioliting and navigating the seas for a little while now. Hope to get some hands-on sailing experience soon and maybe become a full-time cruiser when I retire in a few years.

    I really enjoy the updates and pictures.

    Be Blessed and enjoy.
    BM

    1. Birgit says:

      Good luck with your plans, we were also just “book-sailors” before we set off, practical experience comes quickly enough while cruising :-)

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