ende

Jul
23

Photos of Nengonengo

Nengonengo

In May 2019 we made it through the narrow, uncharted pass into Nengonengo, only to be told it was private and off limits. We were allowed to stay during heavy weather and then got permission to visit the bird islands around the atoll. The local pearl farm was abandoned 20 years ago, since then the atoll has become a haven for wildllife.

(36 photos)

Jul
21

Lagoon Tide Simulator

I’ve just uploaded a website that contains an interactive lagoon tide simulator. It lets you play with different parameters like swell height or how open/closed the lagoon is and instantly draws a graph with the tides and shows when the current in a pass is in or outgoing. Experimenting with this simulator may help understanding lagoon passes better. Just follow this link.

Jul
18

Almost there

We’re not big fans of sailing, but this time we really can’t complain. No squalls, no calm weather, just steady, fast sailing. Just 20 nm to go!

Jul
17

Fast sailing

We are eating up the miles in very pleasant conditions. Just 195 nm to go!

Jul
17

Leaving the Tuamotus

We spent the last two days on the Southern side of Tahanea, checking out the bird motus there and counting nesting couples as we always do. There seem to be less every year, too many visiting locals (from Faaite) and cruisers drive them away…

It’s always hard to leave the Tuamotus and head towards the hustle and bustle of Tahiti, but we have to make some orders, organise some repairs, do tons of shopping and Papeete’s just a very convenient place for all that.
We’re just sailing towards the pass of Tahanea and then we’ll head downwind to Tahiti. 300 nm to go!

Jul
14

Sharks and rays

We’ve just had a perfect week here in Tahanea with sunny skies and mellow conditions. We snorkeled the pass a few times and had close encounters with manta rays that were feeding in the current. Back home we were greeted by our gang of blacktip reef sharks, who hang out around boats hoping for scraps. Whenever we caught a fish the shark feeding from the stern of the boat was quite a spectacle. Fortunately they calm down quickly after such a feeding frenzy and we could hop in and swim with them again. They are only between 1 m and 1.5 m, so humans are clearly not on their menu list :-)

Jul
06

Mara’amu

During the southern winter it’s normal to have phases with strong southeasterly winds. Whenever there’s a big fat high moving by eastwards to the south of us, the winds get accelerated in a squash zone above. These so called mara’amu’s howl at least every 2 weeks over French Polynesia, but the one we’re having now is stronger than the all we’ve seen over the past 6 years here. It’s been blowing around 30 knots (gusting over 40) for a week and it’ll keep on for a few more days. The swell has picked up, crossed with windseas it gets up to 4 m out there. The rough seas break over the outer reefs of atolls, fill up the lagoons and cause ripping currents in the passes. Two days ago two sailboats tried to get into the safety of the lagoon of Tahanea, but couldn’t make it in. This morning we heard that Raroria’s experiencing serious floodings in the village, damaged boats and houses, but apparently nobody hurt. We just hope that the seabird chicks that we saw there, have somehow mad
e it…

Jun
22

Threatened paradise Tahanea

We arrived in Tahanea after dark, on a squally night before moonrise, but fortunately we know the atoll and its passes so well that we could still enter without worrying too much. We’re meeting up here with friends and we plan on checking the state of the bird motus in the SW. Over the past three years some people from the neighbouring atoll Faaite have started making copra here, so we hope they have not destroyed the last untouched motus here…

Jun
20

Comfy Ride

After the usual indecisive weather watching and weighing options we decided to catch a weatherwindow westwards. We set out through the pass with the last light in the evening and have had a very stable, comfy ride so far, doing 6 knots average downwind. Even the cat decided to sleep on the couch instead of heading to her sea berth (aka cardboard box on the floor). We should arrive in Tahanea tonight.

Jun
19

Article on Pacific Weather in Cruising World Magazine

This article is on the weather in the tropical South Pacific and we explain the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ).

Christian Feldbauer, Birgit Hackl: Pacific Highs… and Lows, Cruising World, June/July 2019.

Jun
09

A forested motu!

We’ve been in Raroia now for almost a month, it’s a fabulous place and we’re enchanted by the many untouched motus and the large bird colonies.

Now we’re down in the Southeast, which tops it all:

Here the small motus are covered in shrubs, but the biggest motu has a proper forest with different leaf trees–the first remaining forest we’ve found in the Tuamotus–mainly pisonia grandis with stems that are more than a metre thick and growing 20 m high. Underneath there’s of course a layer of humus soil from the fallen trees and many leaves. Incredible, I suppose that’s what the South Pacific atolls looked like when the first Polynesians arrived… We’ve just read books written by travellers in the 19th and early 20th century when it was still common to visit atolls for logging and of course copra plantations were set up everywhere. First thing they did was ‘clearing’ the motus of all endemic plants to set up rows of coconut trees, the result are barren motus with sharp coral gravel and no water for anything but the deep roots of the coconut trees. Sadly this practice still goes on today and is encouraged by the government, as the prices for copra are heavily subsidised..
.

Up in the trees large numbers of noddies and white terns are nesting right now, red-footed boobies as well. On this and the neighbouring motus we found 6 couples of masked boobies, a very rare species here in the Tuamotus. Two couples are just sitting on eggs, two others have fluffy chicks and two more chicks are already big enough to start flying.
All around the SE motus lots of tiny, chummy Tuamotu sandpipers have followed us around or flown over with their car-alarm-like peep-peep-peep announcement. Fortunately nobody has told these cheerful guys that they’re an endangered species.

We squeezed the talkative shop-owner in the village for info and it seems that the locals are aware of the treasure they have in their motu ‘sauvages’ with all the bird colonies. We heard that they actively want to protect their environment. Very outstanding for a Paumotu community…

Jun
01

Article in ‘Yachtrevue’

We have an article about navigation with the help of satellite pictures in the May edition of the Austrian ‘Yachtrevue’.

Christian Feldbauer, Birgit Hackl: Schau genau, Yachtrevue, Mai 2019, p.40–41.

Jun
01

Tuamotu-Routine

While most cruisers hurry through the Tuamotus, we love to stay in one atoll and explore it thoroughly. Raroia is one of the most interesting places we’ve found so far in the Tuamotus with lots of untouched motus. So far we have found a large, racous sooty tern colony, a frigate bird colony and many white terns, noddies, red-footed boobies and even brown boobies. The ‘noddy trees’ are already covered in nests with small cicks, while the red-footed boobies still sing to their mates (at least they seem to think it’s singing, while it sounds like roaring and cackling to the untrained ear) and build nests together. The lagoon itself is full of fish and very nosy reef sharks and nurse sharks.

We are suprised to find so much untouched nature here, even though there’s a village next to the pass. There’s quite some pearl farming going on, so maybe the locals are too busy cultivating pearls to bother making copra (and destroy the natural habitat) or go and collect seabird eggs (which has led to the extinction of sooty terns on most atolls).

Whatever the reason, we enjoy watching the wildlife here! Of course we’re also keeping busy doing maintenance on Pitufa with sewing machine projects, small sail repairs and yesterday Christian started a major winch-modification project. We love our Tuamotu routine where we can work and play according to our own schedule :-)

May
20

Pretty Raroia

We’ve been in Raroia now for a week and we love it here. Along the eastern side an endless chain of pretty motus stretches out along a minty shelf, it’s almost too kitchy to be true.
The coral in the shallow water is quite healthy and there’s an amazing number of fish around. They’re not shy, so it seems that not many people go fishing here.
If it wasn’t for the flies that invade the boat each time we anchor, we’d move in ;-)

May
13

Raroia

Yesterday evening we left Nengonengo and are now approaching Raroia in nice conditions. 8 nm to the pass!

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