ende

2022
26
Jun

Just quickly booking a flight…

Yesterday we decided to book flights to Austria. Go online, book–easily and quickly done, right? Not so for cruisers: with our wobbly internet connection it took me all afternoon to open sites, compare and finally book two legs simultaneously on two different airline sites (super stressful to juggle dates while keeping both pages busy without a time-out). Got the last two available seats, all done, get the credit card to book–nope, both our credit cards still have the French Polynesian phone number for the security code. Quickly, open the bank site, change the number! My bank took four attempts with my login numbers and code (I suppose the interrupted internet connection was to blame), then I had to get my card-tan-generator for another security step, but for some mysterious reason the tan number got refused three times and then I was informed that my account was blocked. ARGH. The only way to contact them is with a simple phone call to a hotline on an Austrian number. Fucking impossible with a Fijian SIM card. AAARGH. Here it was still Friday, but already Saturday in Europe, so nothing will be done until Monday and by then the dates we wanted will most likely no longer be available and I’ll have to do the whole search again.

We were cursing and swearing by the time we had to accept defeat, but then we we stepped out on deck, took a look around and realised that all the technical hurdles and hiccups are a small price to pay for what we have. View of our anchorage here at the Bay of Islands in Vanua Balavu, Fiji:

2022
23
Jun

Makogai

The past week we’ve had a strong Southeasterly blowing and it came (a bit surprising) with constant rain and grey weather. We sat out the nasty weather at the little island Makogai, a former leper colony. Until 1969 patients were isolated here and a few buildings remain.
Now there’s a marine station on the island and we were thrilled to visit it and find out about protection programs in Fiji. Unfortunately it was pretty disappointing. No turtles in the turtle pools (they raise babies when people bring them, or maybe rather if) and a few tiny giant clams in the many clam pools–they raise them to give them to communities and hotels “for reef decoration”. “Also to eat?” “Well yes, also to eat.” It looks like a good idea, lots of effort and I suppose substantial funding money (all people who live in the settlement are somehow involved in the program) has led to not many results here.

2022
13
Jun

11 years on Pitufa

This week we have our 11th cruising anniversary. Incredible how time flies… In 2011 the three of us we set out with little experience and big dreams.
Lots of those have come true, but there’s many more out there and we keep chasing the horizon :-)

2022
10
Jun

Sail repair days

On the way here the mainsail chafed badly on the spreaders while it was flogging in light-wind conditions. One of the batten pockets got chafed through–smack in the middle of the sail, impossible to repair with our machine, as we cannot roll up the rest of the sail small enough to fit in. We prefabricated the batten pocket with the machine, but then had to stitch it on by hand: one of us standing outside the bimini, the other one kneeling inside, handing the needle through stitch by stitch by stitch by stitch…
As we were already at it, we also got down the lazy bag and repaired some chafe there, replaced the velcro, etc. Oh and then we found some more little spots to tape and sew on the sail (of course), so be the end of day three we are knackered and still not finished…

2022
05
Jun

Photos of our passage to Fiji

Passage to Fiji

In May 2022 we sailed from French Polynesia to Fiji: 1500 nautical miles in 15 days, many days with light winds, some great sailing and a front in between. In fickle winds and everchanging conditions we did more sail changes than on any other passage, but it was a good sail!

(30 photos)

2022
02
Jun

Arrived!!

The passage ended as it began–with fickle winds and lots of sail changes. On our slowest day we only did 78 nautical miles, on the fastest 150 :-)
We had quite a few hours with only 6 knots of breeze and an interesting hour with 35 knots gusting up to 43 when a front passed over us.
All good now, we arrived yesterday, the friendly officials checked us in with a covid test, but without much ado and we’ve already done a walk through Savusavu town (or rather village) ;-)

2022
31
May

From the big blue to you

A friend asked, how we can post from underway. We don’t have a sat phone, so we write our blog and send it via SSB and pactor modem to a sailmail station (service for cruisers). This station sends the blog on to our homepage www.pitufa.at and from there it is automatically forwarded to facebook.
We are almost in Savusavu, 25 nm to go!

2022
30
May

Almost there

We ran into calm weather yesterday, but now a breeze is coming back. 120 nm to go!

2022
28
May

We crossed the date line

..so no May 28 this year. My Mom’s birthday–she didn’t like them, so it’s very fitting…
250 nm to go!

2022
27
May

Dustom Sails

We bought our sails 12 years ago in Croatia, the mainsail has been up ever since and is still in good shape–amazing quality made in Croatia. On this trip it was flogging against the spreaders in our first week of light winds and a batten chafed through, so it will need some maintenance once we arrive.
380 nm to go!

2022
26
May

Our hydrovane

Our wind pilot Wayne Vaney does a fabulous job steering Pitufa tirelessly through all conditions. As long as there’s a breeze to be felt, he steers. Maybe not quite as accurate as an electric pilot, but without using any electricity–purely mechanical. Therefore he’d continue to keep us on course even if our batteries died or if the electric system got fried by a lightning strike…
We’re still rushing along with 6 knots in fairly comfy conditions, so we can both spend quite some time on our laptops working.
30 pages left to translate, 520 nautical miles to sail!

2022
25
May

Passing by Samoa

Today we are passing by south of Samoa–such a pity we can’t do a stop-over, but their borders are still closed. Yesterday we saw some wildlife, a few boobies and petrels (the wildlife sanctuary Rose Island wasn’t far away) and then we got more wildlife on the lure–a bonito! The first fish we’ve caught on this passage. Nothing big, but easy to handle and process in the rough conditions we are in.
670 nm to go!

2022
24
May

Rolling

People are often astounded when we say that we prefer sailing close-hauled to downwind. Pitufa’s performance is better close to the wind and downwind we hate the rolling motion she gets into when surfing down waves. Corkscrewing is even more annoying–even though you wedge yourself into the sea berth with half a dozen of cushions you’re never quite stable. No matter how carefully we declatter cupboards, there’s always some cup or can that manages to wiggle free and bang for help.
More serious is the wear and tear on material. Whenever the sails are clanging and banging it puts strain on the rig and yesterday we noticed, that one of the battens on our mainsail has already chafed through.
Anyway, we’re making good progress, still sailing over 6 knots.
818 nm to go!

2022
23
May

Sailing and home-office

We’re rushing along with an average speed of over 6 knots in winds between 15 and 20 knots from the ESE and still rather smooth seas, fantastic sailing!
Bread is on the stove, later on we’ll do a bit of laundry and then we’ll settle down in the home office. Christian is working on the new firmware for the Pitufino and I’m translating.
Last year in May we published our travel book “Richtung Horizont” in German. Now I’ve been working on the translation for a while and I should be able to finish it on the passage.
60 pages left to translate, 960 nm left to go!

2022
22
May

Finally wind!

Finally the wind has set in! We’ve had a wonderfully starry night with Scorpio, the Southern Cross and Orion twinkling above us, before the half moon rose in an eerie orange glow. Now it’s a bit squally all around with winds shifting between SE and ESE and we’re running with 5 knots.
1090 nm to go!

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