ende

2021
30
Jul

Starting our sprayhood garden again!

Usually we have a jungle under the sprayhood, but when we left the boat alone, we had to get rid of the plants. Now I’m replanting and soon we’ll harvest arugula, spring onions, mint, basil and cilantro again! The chilis and bellpeppers will need a few more months though ;-)

2021
26
Jul

Another newspaper article (in German)

This one’s in a small, regional newspaper, but they got all the facts right :-)
Thanks a lot to the Bezirksrundschau

2021
15
Jul

Article in Austrian newspaper

Another article about us was published in an Austrian newspaper today. The “Krone” is Austria’s most read newspaper, but has a reputation for bad research. The numerous errors in the article are not due to faulty answers in the interview from our side ;-)
E.g. our dear princess Leeloo was not a tomcat, but very much of a girly cat.

They advertise our books, but wrongly claim that they are available in bookshops. Sorry, this is not true, they are only available on Amazon
and

https://www.amazon.de/dp/B097KYNMYP/

2021
14
Jul

Exploring Tahiti for the first time

To us Tahiti usually just means repairs, shopping, doctor’s appointments and rushing off again as quickly as possible. This year we have decided to linger a bit longer. It’s winter now anyway, the mara’amu (southeasterly wind) brings cold air and it’s the perfect time of the year to hang out in the Society Islands (too cold for snorkeling in the Tuamotus and waaay too cold to sail to the Australs or Gambier–see our article “Where to go when in French Polynesia” in the “For Cruisers” section).

Once we got away from the crowded area of Papeete, Faaa and Punaauia we found pretty, lonely anchorages in the lagoons. Some passes are tricky (especially with high swell from lows far south), but it’s nice to see more of this spectacularly mountainous island.

2021
14
Jul

Close Call

Wherever the reefs have died around here, the rocks are covered in coarse turbinaria algae. A depressing sight. In such areas large, floating patches of those ugly plants cover the sea. They are a constant nuisance when the outboard sucks them in.

Today they brought Pitufa close to a major catastrophe: We were motoring to a new anchorage inside the lagoon, when Christian noticed that the exhaust quit spitting water–the water-cooled engine was overheating! I checked–the temperature was rising, but still below 90°C, the alarm had not gone off. A quick glance at the depthsounder, 20 m, shallow enough to anchor. Another panicky look at the reef–far enough away. We dropped the anchor immediately and turned off the Yanmar.

As a first step to find the problem we opened the sea strainer–full of leaves. Quickly cleaned. Then we filled a bucket with seawater, put a hose into it, so the engine could either suck from the sea strainer, or if that was still blocked, from the bucket without running dry. We started the engine–some spitting from the exhaust, but not enough and the bucket was empty. Turned off again. Plucked more algae from the strainer, tried the same game again–and this time the engine could suck enough sea water through the strainer. Problem solved. Phew.

The situation could have easily ended in a ruined engine and/or Pitufa on the reef. We got lucky thrice: Christian happened to be sitting on the stern (or he wouldn’t have noticed the smoke and lack of splashing), the lagoon was shallow and we manoeuvred far enough from the reef.

What’s to be learned? We already have a basket-like strainer glued on the hull to keep the watermaker from sucking up stuff (algae, plastic bags, jellyfish, etc.)–next time on the hard we’ll put one over the engine thru hull. Next: keep a safe distance from obstacles while motoring, keep an eye on the engine temperature and be ready to react quickly…

2021
08
Jul

A typical morning on Pitufa

By 8 o’clock the laundry’s on the line…

We’ve done some stretching and exercises…

…had a morning swim…

…with a few stingrays for company!

In the meantime the bread is out of the pan and we can have breakfast.

A perfect way to start the day! (We’ll spend most of it in front of our laptops, but that’s another story ;-) )

2021
04
Jul

Rolly anchorages

When you sleep in passage mode on the floor and the coffee pot needs to be clasped to the stove, you know it’s time to get out of the Marina Taina anchorage… The reef is not wide and high enough to protect the lagoon from high swell, so whenever the swell gets higher than 1.5 m (yesterday it was 2.5…) it gets seriously bouncy in the anchorage… Fortunately the anchorage next to the airport is much better protected, so we moved there–and the world stands still :-)

2021
28
Jun

Staying, leaving, staying, leaving, staying!

We’ve been in French Polynesia now for 8 years. It’s an amazing cruising area, but this year we felt ready to start a new chapter–a post-ship’s cat chapter with more sailing, more exploring, rougher anchorages, hotter summers (all things we didn’t want our elderly cat to suffer). Due to the Covid pandemic most countries in the Pacific remain closed, but Fiji is open for yachts under a strict quarantine and entry scheme, so we planned to sail there.

While we were in Austria, the first Covid cases popped up in Fiji (the Delta variant…), some areas went into lockdown and despite the fact that inter-island traffic for boats is now allowed again, we hear that locals lack information, are suspicious against strangers and some chiefs deny access to their lands (understandably so). We are uncertain how the situation will develop and in the past few weeks we’ve been torn between the urge to move on and the risk of leaving our ‘home base’, where vaccinations are well underway and the situation seems under control.

Yesterday we decided that leaving the safety and freedom of French Polynesia would be too risky right now. French Poly with the growing animosity against sailboats in some areas isn’t perfect, but at least here we know our way around, know where we are welcome and where not. So it looks like we’ll get another chance to explore a few islands that are still on our to-do list and to revisit some places we love!

2021
24
Jun

Article on Cooking with Breadfruit in All-at-Sea Magazine

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Exploring Breadfruit, All At Sea Caribbean, June 2021, p. 46–48. Download the whole magazine for free or read the online version of this article.

2021
20
Jun

Book for young readers

We have just published another book on Amazon: an adventure novel with fantasy elements about a sailing family. For now it’s only in German though…
Available at Amazon

2021
11
Jun

Ten years!

Ten years ago we set out from Pula (Croatia). We didn’t know then whether we’d like this life, whether we’d be able to deal with all the challenges it poses. We were happy, but also quite anxious… On the one hand it feels like yesterday, on the other hand we have experienced and seen so much during those years that it seems like a lifetime…

Luckily it turns out that leaving the rat race was just the right decision for us! We’re still very happy with our alternative lifestyle and looking forward to all the new places, cultures and adventures that lie ahead :-)

The only thing that casts a shadow on today’s anniversary is that our ship’s cat Leeloo didn’t quite make it to this date…

The morning we set out on our first passage on Pitufa:

And now:

2021
10
Jun

Bad examples ruin cruiser’s reputation

We always like to think that all cruisers are reasonable, environmental friendly, nice people. Well, they are not.

Two days ago we moved to the airport anchorage and anchored in 3 m depth on the shelf where we can see the bottom, know that we are nicely settled in sand and only need 20 m of chain. Our next neighbour was far away, the French catamaran Vahini, anchored out in the deep. When the wind shifted we were astounded to see that the big cat moved on its chain all the way from the deep anchorage to the shelf, just a boat length from our bow. Soon after the owner came by and suggested that we move, as he was there before. He stated that he had anchored in 20m depth, had 80m of chain out and he was certain that his chain was wrapped around coral heads so the cat was likely to move even further into our direction!?!

Questioned about his anchoring method he got angry, as he has lived 20 years on the cat and circumnavigated once already. Sad to hear that he obviously hasn’t learned much during all that time. Exactly this kind of view and behaviour gives all cruisers a bad reputation… We can’t really blame the locals when they want anchoring bans.

2021
10
Jun

Bad neighbours

While Pitufa was anchored alone off Marina Taina, the French catamaran Noee swang into her and scratched her paintwork. When our friend Adrian (who did a great job taking care of Pitufa while we were gone–Adrian Pataki who runs Diesel Clinic in Taina, call him when you need someone to look after your boat!) confronted him, he just called him names. We also tried to talk to him and even though we have witnesses for the collision, he denied the accident. Crazy people…

2021
07
Jun

Two Articles in Cruising World

We’ve just found out that two of our articles have been published in Cruising World’s April and May issues.

Birgit Hackl: Living the good Life, Cruising World, May 2021, p. 16–18.

Birgit Hackl: Lockdown in Paradise, Cruising World, April 2021, p. 58–61.

2021
07
Jun

Back in Tahiti!

Travelling in times of Covid is complicated, requires lots of organisation, paperwork and gave us one adrenaline rush after the other… First we had to beg the Haute Commissariat to accept our reasons to travel (we only got the okay for the return flight when we were already in Austria–quite exciting…), then there’s a form for the folks from quarantine (non-vaccinated travellers need a special transport to the place where they will spend 10 days of quarantine–luckily we’ve got our two shots already…), then there’s ETIS (application to enter French Polynesia and tracking once in Polynesia) and with all that we nearly forgot that Christian needed a new ETA (Canadian transit visa) for his new passport. We applied for it on the morning of our flight from Vienna, assuming that it would only take minutes (as it usually does), but it was still not approved when we reached the counter in Vienna, so the girl could only check us through to Paris–not yet to Papeete. A frantic search and phones calls to the Canadian embassy made us realise that there is NO way you can contact Canadian authorities about visa status–you run against walls and only get redirected to the same internet site over and over again…

Luckily the visa was granted while we were in Paris, so we could tackle the next queue at the airport in Paris. Again all out paperwork was scrutinised and only THEN we were sure that we would really be allowed to fly back home to our Pitufa! We left Paris at 11 in the morning on Saturday and arrived in Vancouver at 11 in the morning on Saturday after 9 hours of flight–quite mind-boggling… 2 hours later we boarded our plane again and were surprised to find that most other passengers had only booked to Vancouver–the flight to Papeete was almost empty, everybody could comfortable stretch out on a row of seats :-)

We arrived in Papeete still on Saturday, just before 8 p.m. and were informed that the passengers of the flight that had landed just before us were still queueing for health and quarantine inspections… Only after they had finished we were allowed to get off the plane, led through several mazes to a Covid test, on to paperwork inspection (passed!!!), on to await the negative result of our Covid tests and only then we were allowed to leave the airport at 9.30…

A huge team works at the airport to make all that testing possible, everybody’s friendly and helpful and even though it’s tiring to wait in endless queues after a long journey it’s great to see how well Tahitian authorities deal with the Covid situation!

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