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2021
20
Nov

Cruising World article about ship’s cats

We sent this article in for Leeloo’s 20th birthday, but it took a while to get published ;-)

Birgit Hackl: Cruisin’ with a Cat, Cruising World, November/December 2021.

2021
18
Nov

Cooking ahead of Decay

We don’t want to fish and forage in the Tuamotus, so we buy lots and lots of provisioning before heading out. Making dinner plans we don’t ask “What do we fancy?”, but rather “What has to go next?” That doesn’t mean that we’re not cooking gourmet meals though. A few days ago one of the zucchini was getting squishy (resulting in zucchini risotto), then an aubergine showed signs of weakness (so we had a delicious moussaka), some of the potatoes from Tahiti started sprouting roots and the bok choy from Fakarava needed to go (spicy potatoes and bok choy vindaloo curry with flat bread) the stupid cabbage we bought off the ship in Fakarava started rotting from the stem (cabbage, apple and blue cheese pie yesterday) and the stack of bananas we bought in Fakarava also needs constant attention resulting in banana smoothies (with home-made kefir yoghurt), banana pudding with amaretto, banana crepes and sauteed bananas with crispy almond-flour crumbs. We often get pitying comments when people hear that we stay a long time in remote places, especially as we don’t have a freezer and I don’t cook meat on the boat (all the worrying looks poor Christian gets). I think we’re coping quite okay ;-) )

2021
14
Nov

Towards the Horizon

The convergence zone keeps annoying us… One sunny day is followed by a grey, rainy one. Two days ago we sailed south across the lagoon for SE winds (which actually showed up), today we sailed N again close-hauled for predicted NE winds–we’ll see ;-)
Due to the success of our travel book in German, I’ve decided to translate it into English. I started on “Towards the Horizon” today (grey weather is writing weather)–2.000 words translated, 90.000 to go ;-)

2021
13
Nov

Oh, no, nonos!

Nonos (tiny little sandflies, not much bigger than 1mm) were “imported” to French Polynesia with the sand ballast tall ships carried. They are known to roam the Marquesas and make many beaches off limits–mosquito repellent doesn’t bother them and the only protection seems to be a layer of coconut own (thick enough to drown them in it…). Unfortunately they are still spreading: sand is transported between archipelagos as building material (very clever), copra workers put coconut bags down on one motu and then on the next. Each time the sand may contain eggs and voila–the next paradise ruined.
Some people ignore the biting flies, but others (like me) react badly to their filthy snouts: the initial bite stings a bit, but 2 days later an infection sets in and purple, horribly itchy blotches are the result.
When we first visited Tahanea 7 years ago, we didn’t notice any nonos. A few years later the islands of the pass area were infested, but a little islet remained safe–that’s where we used to do sundowners with other crews. No more. Two days ago we had drinks with two other boats at sunset and now I’m itchy all over. 17 bites, so going ashore is a big no-no for me from now on ;-)

2021
10
Nov

Read online in Cruising World

We just saw that one of our articles is on the online version of the Cruising World Magazine. Click here to read about home-brewing on a boat!

2021
09
Nov

Steady breeze

We were worried we’d end up with clanging sails in not enough wind, but we ended up having a fast ride in perfect 15 knots and sunny skies. We arrived in Tahanea yesterday at noon!

2021
08
Nov

Night start

It looked as though we wouldn’t have any wind until the end of the week, but this morning we woke at 2, because the boat was pitching in a steady breeze. Rather than being uncomfortable at anchor, we thought we’d use the breeze to sail. So we quickly tidied up the boat, put the dinghy on deck (not easy in the dark while pitching) and left through the S pass of Fakarava at 3. We sailed out into a wonderfully starry night, now the sky is getting light ahead. 40 nm to go to Tahanea!

2021
05
Nov

An article about Leeloo in the Caribbean Compass Magazine

The Compass is another popular magazine (next to AllAtSea) that’s available for free in all the bigger chandleries throughout the Caribbean. We are therefore happy that they have published our article with tips and tricks to keep feline crew happy! Download the magazine here

2021
03
Nov

Article in AllAtSea about using Waypoints

Relying on other people’s waypoints for both anchorages and passage routes can be dangerous. Cruising blogs and compendia are full of bad or incomplete recommendations and generalizations from one-sample observations. It’s much safer to do proper research and practice the necessary skills to do your own route planning and make your own waypoints…

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Waypoints–Boon or Bane?, All At Sea Caribbean, November 2021, p. 50–52. Download the whole magazine for free.

2021
02
Nov

Convergence zone weather

The South Pacific Convergence Zone is having some fun with us at the moment. Its tail end is pointing towards French Polynesia and it seems the weather people are finding it impossible to predict how it will behave. The American GFS model and the European model predict completely contradicting wind wind directions and what we get in the end is usually not predicted by either of them. South of the convergence zone the wind blows from the SE, north of it it blows from the NW and in an atoll as big as Fakarava it’s a long way to the protected side of the lagoon.
Last week we slowly sailed southwards in fickle winds to find a protected corner for the upcoming strong S and SE wind. It never showed up and instead we were pitching miserably in NW wind. We motored up for a few hours to find a sheltered spot, then there was no wind, heavy rain and two days later we sailed close-hauled back up N again… It looks like the SPCZ will keep bothering us for a while with grey weather and nasty wind surprises.

2021
25
Oct

Just the right amount of tourism

Most people will agree that mass tourism is bad for the environment (except CEOs of big hotel companies maybe), because of all the pollution that comes with it. A certain amount of eco-aware tourism on the other hand really helps protecting nature. As soon as wild animals become a tourist attraction and the locals get some dollars out of that, they will refrain from killing and eating (or worse exporting) them. Fakarava is one of those places that has a nice balance: just a few dive operators and pensions and even though locals are still spear fishing in most parts of the lagoon you still notice that the dive sites for tourists are no longer touched. We’ve just come back from a snorkel with a mindboggling diversity and abundance of fish. Like an aquarium! And as they are not hunted they pose for cameras unafraid :-) If only more of the Tuamotus had dive bases and small-scale tourism…

2021
23
Oct

Stormy arrival

Our usual advice to new arrivals in the Tuamotus is to arrive at an atoll in the morning and to watch the pass for a while to make sure that the conditions to enter are favourable (no wind against current, avoid the mid section of the pass where the current runs quickest, etc.). Of course we were going faster than expected (we did 6-7 knots in winds of 25+ on the beam), of course we reached Fakarava in the dark at 10 in the evening and of course we didn’t want to wait outside the pass all night, so we did not heed our own advice, but had a go anyway. The northern pass of Fakarava is huge, we’ve been in and out a dozen times, but I still got quite an adrenaline kick as we were surfing down the waves in the dark with no bearing lights except for the green blinky light on the edge of the pass. We made it safely in and anchored right next to the pass on the western side, to avoid navigating at night inside the lagoon.

2021
22
Oct

Northerly winds

We set out a bit too early yesterday and had a slow start (as it happens quite often), but soon the wind picked up and we’re doing over 6 knots with the wind on the beam in northerly winds of about 20 knots. We’ve picked a course in between the atolls that shades us from the waves, so it’s a comfy ride so far. The weather forecast predicts stronger winds though for today, so we may have to reef down a bit.

2021
21
Oct

Eastwards

The predominant wind direction in the trade wind belt is east. The chain of the Tuamotus is stretched out eastwards from Tahiti, so in order to reach them and then to hop from atoll to atoll, it’s best to wait for a trough or low to move by close enough, to change the wind to the N and then NW. We’ve only been in Tikehau for a short while and would like to stay a bit longer, but the weather forecast shows a two-day window of NW winds–too good a chance to let it pass by… We’ll therefore head out towards Fakarava today!

2021
18
Oct

Arrived in Tikehau

We arrived 2 days ago in Tikehau after a rough last day with winds well above 20 knots (feels more when you’re bashing into it close-hauled), went through the pass with first daylight and were glad to have tracks inside the lagoon from a previous visit. That early in the morning with the sun low above the horizon it’s impossible to spot coral heads under the glittery surface of the sea, so following a GPS track is the only safe way to make it to the protected side of the lagoon.

It’s been blowing hard ever since, but we managed to get the foresail down in between 2 squalls, dry it in between 2 squalls, so we can repair it today: during the rough passage the seams of a previous repair got ripped out–today we’ll put double seams that’s for sure ;-)

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