ende

2022
13
Aug

Stop-over in LA

Pitufa remains in Fiji, but her crew has gone walkabout! We’ve just spent two program-packed days in LA, doing aaaalll the tourist fun locations. Thank you Kristi for being such a wonderful host and tour guide!!!



2022
08
Aug

“Sailing towards the Horizon” is available on Amazon!!

The book about our first years cruising aboard our Pitufa is now available as paperback, ebook and hardcover. Come aboard and read about our beginner’s mistakes, fun adventures, wonderful encounters–experience the ups and downs of the cruiser’s lifestyle with us! 331 gripping, entertaining pages
Click here to see more info and to read the first two chapters.

2022
05
Aug

Article in Boating NZ: Water in the Bilge!

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Wet Bilges, Boating New Zealand, July 2022. Read the online version of this article.

2022
04
Aug

New Pearl Creations!!

I’ve had a creative phase and made new necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings! All my designs are made with black Pearls (often called Tahiti Pearls) from the Gambier Islands. Just write an email/PM, if you are interested! Click here to see more pictures.

2022
23
Jul

Photos of Vanua Balavu

Vanua Balavu, Fiji

We spent two weeks in this fascinating archipelago with a maze of lime-stone islands (raised coral reefs and bommies) in the north and fertile hills further south.

(40 photos)

2022
23
Jul

Guests in Lomati

Cruising in Fiji you can’t just anchor somewhere and do your own thing, you’re supposed to visit the main village of the island, introduce yourself to the chief, bring a present (sevusevu, a bundle of kava) and then you’re accepted in the village and allowed to roam around ashore and in the coastal waters. In guide books and on the internet we read how-to’s and advice on what to wear (long sleeves, a sulu, that’s a wrapping skirt like a pareu), how to sit during the ceremony (crossed legs for men, legs sideways for women) and what to say (not a lot, especially women) for the ceremony, but in the end it turned out to be a very relaxed and easy affair–Lomati is no longer as traditional and misogynist as traditional Fiji used to be.

Our host family has invited us twice for lunch at their home, we have invited them back on Pitufa, everybody in the village is welcoming and friendly and we try to repay the hospitality with repairs and meaningful gifts (we brought reading glasses along, sun glasses are also sought after, etc.). The headman asked us to help with a report to the government about the projects they have been doing here in the village (a footpath through the village, solar panels for each house) along with an application for new projects (a dock so they don’t have to carry the boats a few hundred metres through mud at low tide) and I ended up typing a few pages in Fijian… We have therefore decided to leave a laptop here in the village, so they can write reports and letters themselves (we did an introductory explanation and the teacher from the neighbouring village will also help with instructions). We get the impression that most yachties that come through try their best to help with repairs and gifts, which is great, as it ensures a friendly welcome for boats here!

2022
20
Jul

Sailing day

5 a.m., it’s still pitch dark and we’re heading out of the pass of Matuku. It’s blowing hard from the SE (like always here it seems), so it should be a fast ride downwind. 190 nm to Musket Cove!

2022
19
Jul

Who’s rich and who’s poor?

Unlike French Polynesia, where the rich colonial mother country France finances a very advanced level of infrastructure, Fiji is independent and has to fend for itself.

Outer islands like Matuku (where we’ve spent one and a half weeks now) have no airport and the supply ship only calls once a month. The shop here is very basic and has run out of sugar weeks ago…Sat images show roads, but that was some iniative several years ago and they have been blown over by cyclones, washed away by rains and are overgrown by now. Some villages have a limited power supply through recently installed solar panels, others only have a generator that’s run a couple of hours per day. There’s no mobile phone network and only the school has wifi.

The island is fertile though, each family has a garden, where kassava (maniok), sweet potatoes, taro and cabbage are grown. Bananas and papayas are abundant and in summer they will harvest mangoes, melons, avocados, etc.
Everybody goes fishing and meat is only available when the villagers occasionally slaughter a cow or goat. The people here automatically live on a much healthier diet as if they could buy burgers and fries in the shop…
Due to the lack of electricity the villagers don’t have big freezers where they could store fish for export, so the reefs are not badly overfished and still teeming with life.
As there is no mobile phone connection, the kids don’t spend their days glued to their smartphones, but play with each other out in nature.

Matuku may look poor at first sight, but it’s rich in wildlife, village culture and quality of life.

Kids of Lomati

2022
09
Jul

Fish!

We had indeed a fast ride averaging 6 knots in winds from the ESE between 18 and 23 knots. The islands here in the Lau group are so close together that you sometimes have two or even three in sight at the same time–quite a change after the big distances in French Polynesia.
The waters are also much more lively than we’ve seen in other areas: we were trolling a lure with a single hook and after a jack, a wahoo and a mahi-mahi had jumped off that one we fixed a double hook and caught a big yellow-fin tuna. Commercial fishing is forbidden within the Lau group and that certainly makes a difference!

Matuku is a high, almost round volcanic island with a fringing reef that has several openings to natural harbours. We are on the western side in the biggest of these harbours and it looks more like a lake in here than a bay. There’s a small village in the bay and tomorrow we’ll go there, but today we are busy making fish preserves (12 jars!!) and banana-chutney–a whole stack went ripe and has to be used up.

2022
07
Jul

Vanua Balavu to Matuku

We have spent two windy weeks in the shelter of the the island maze of Vanua Balavu. Today we head out again, destination Matuku, a little island in the southwestern Lau. 130 nm with winds of 20+ on the beam will be a rough, but fast ride.

2022
02
Jul

Fruitbats

There are huge colonies of fruitbats (also known as flying foxes) here in Vanua Balavu. They spend their days (literally) hanging out in trees, at dawn and dusk we see hundreds of them flying over the boat. So cute!

2022
28
Jun

Photos: first impressions of Fiji

First impressions of Fiji

We arrived in Fiji on June 1, spent a week in Savusavu, did some shopping and sail repairs and sailed on to the little islands of Namena (a marine reserve with great reefs) and Makogai (a former leper colony).

(28 photos)

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. It’s already weekend, so nothing will be done until Monday in Europe (for us here Tuesday) 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 :-)

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