ende

Feb
10

Finally! Photos of our mooring project in Rapa Iti

A Mooring for Rapa Iti

To protect the delicate coral and to make life easier for visiting cruisers, we installed a mooring together with the community of Rapa Iti. This mooring can be picked up at S27°36.808' W144°20.034'. More moorings are planned.

(21 photos)

Feb
04

Cleaning

Ever since we arrived in the Gambier we’ve had perfect sunny, breezy and hot summer weather. We really needed these conditions after the rainy time in Rapa Iti–we had accumulated two laundry bags full of humid clothes (yuck) and due to the lack of circulation the interior of the boat was mouldy all over.

We stayed out on the motus, spent a week doing laundry in the mornings, cleaning furniture afterwards (first with vinegar then with oil, we call it the ‘salad treatment) and we still found time to go snorkeling in the afternoon and hang out with friends.

Jan
25

Back in the Gambier Islands

After a squally night with a few thunderstorms we’ve just crossed the southern barrier reef of the Gambier Islands. We’re motoring against the wind and glad that we’ve arrived. The passage wasn’t smooth, but full of smoothies–we had a ripe stack of bananas and lots of yoghurt (thanks to a thriving Kefir culture), so we made banana-yoghurt smoothies twice a day ;-)

Jan
24

Fast and on course

Finally we’re flying along with 7 knots in SE winds and we’re right on course. Unfortunately the grib shows NE winds for later on–that would be noserlies for us… We hope for the best, 110 nm to go!

Jan
23

Finally on couse

Last night the wind finally switched to the SE and we’re on a direct course to the Gambier. 230 nm to go!

Jan
22

Detour

The Gambier Islands lie northeast of Rapa Iti, but so far we’ve only made miles to the east, because we’ve had NNE to ENE winds, so we’re making quite a detour… The forecast predicts easterlies and then southeasterlies so we hope for the best. 310 nm to go!

Jan
22

Bad for sailing, good for baking

The squalls have passed, today we have light northeasterly winds, so we’re neither fast nor on course, but at least it’s calm enough for baking. We had fresh bread for breakfast and now the last nectarines from Rapa have jumped into a fruit cake ;-)
345 nm to go!

Jan
21

Sporty

What looked like nice sailing winds at the grib file has turned out to be an annoying succession of huffs and puffs. We knew we’d have to expect squally weather with a passing low, but we still hoped that today’s sailing wouldn’t be quite as sporty. Puff, reefing, huff, sails out, puff, 40 knots, quickly reefing down again, huff, rain, almost no wind–it’s been going on for hours and we hope for a quiet night…
444 nm to go!

Jan
21

We write for Yachtrevue now

After eight years as writers and over 30 articles for Ocean7 a constant struggle with the new editor has induced us to swap to Austria’s biggest and most popular sailing magazine. Our new articles can be found in the ‘Yachtrevue’!

Jan
20

Grey sailing day

After a windy night follows a squally morning, we’re sailing close-hauled. 480 nm to go!

Jan
19

Leaving Rapa Iti

After more than a month we reluctantly leave Rapa Iti and our friends here. Unfortunately the second mooring didn’t work out, but the project goes on and more will hopefully follow! 600 nm to go to the Gambier Islands.

Jan
19

Leaving Rapa Iti

After more than a month we reluctantly leave Rapa Iti and our friends here. Unfortunately the second mooring didn’t work out, but the project goes on and more will hopefully follow! 600 nm to go to the Gambier Islands.

Jan
15

Crappy weather

2019 has started with seriously crappy weather here as the SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) is hanging over us and troughs and lows come our way that bring strong winds (the highest we saw was 40 knots) and torrential rainfalls. In the past two weeks we’ve had two sunny days, both of which we used for our mooring project. Apart from those working days we haven’t left the boat much and are desperate to stretch our legs. Wet clothes are accumulating and never get the chance to dry out, the whole interior of the boat feels damp and the cat is seriously bored and cranky. We haven’t experienced such a prolonged spell of nasty weather since Panama (2012).
The masses of rain that are falling are just incredible and the whole bay is murky brown–it’s astounding that coral can survive such conditions with tons of sediment and freshwater.

We are now attached to the new mooring(!!), we hope to set up another one this week and then we’ll hopefully soon find a weather window to sail to the sunny and dry summerweather of the Gambier Islands.

Jan
12

Part 2 of our Anchoring Article in All-at-Sea January 19

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Anchoring Games: Part Two–Techniques for Special Conditions, All At Sea Caribbean, January 2019, p. 36–40. Free download from allatsea.net.

Jan
11

A mooring for Rapa Iti

The main bay of Rapa Iti is infamous for tricky anchoring. Cruising guides mention ‘dead coral rubble’ at the bottom, the bay is very deep (20-30 m) and uneven. Many boats have dragged and fouled their anchors and chains here.
When we got here last year we found that large areas of the bay are indeed covered in live staghorn coral–especially the shallower parts that are inviting for anchoring as recovering fouled gear is easier in less depth.

As we usually try not do damage any coral we were horrified to have our chain grinding down the delicate structures. We thought that a mooring would be the best solution for that problematic situation and presented this idea to the mayor, who immediately agreed and got us in touch with Alexandre, the foreman of the community workers here. After some brainstorming and researching they started constructing a 2.4 ton cement block including rebars. During the holidays work stalled, then they had to order more parts from Tahiti, so the mooring wasn’t finished when we left. Returning this year we found the project still ongoing, but by then all parts had finally arrived and two blocks were ready to go.

The main problem now was how to deploy the heavy blocks as the island doesn’t have a working platform or barge. We built a raft made of 8 gasoline drums (welded together with a frame) and yesterday was the big day: Alexandre brought the blocks and rafts to the big quay with the truck and a nerve-racking experiment started.
After many attempts and near-disasters the block was finally in the shallow water next to the quay and we positioned the raft on top. The excavator lifted the block, we tied everything together and after some readjustments we were excited to see that the float carried the weight–only to watch it slowly tilt into a vertical position. Luckily it did not sink, but remained stable in that awkward position. What to do? In the end we pushed it more than a mile out into the bay with two dinghies (with the help of Mike and Shelly on Avatar–thanks a lot!) all the way worrying that it would sink before we could reach the marked spot.

We made it to the spot, positioned the block and sank the raft together with the whole mooring arrangement. Once it was down we cut the raft free that broached like a metal whale and afterwards we freed the chain, buoys and line–tadah: finished mooring!!

There was lots of working time (thank you, Alexandre!!), expensive material (sponsored by the Commune of Rapa Iti), sweat and adrenaline involved and there were quite a few moments when we nearly gave up.

Now there is a 2.5 ton mooring block with a 16 mm chain, 20 mm shackles and strong line available for sailboats in the bay of Huarei, Rapa Iti, that will prevent fouled chains and save the coral from damage :-)
GPS position: S 27°36.808′ W 144°20.034′

A second mooring will hopefully follow next week–we’ll keep you posted!

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