The end of our adventure trip

We arrived on Thursday in Raivavae after a fast sail with steady winds (despite the light and fickle winds that were predicted). Just as we were approaching the pass it started pouring down, the high island was completely invisible in the clouds and we were glad that we could follow an old GPS track to an anchorage we had used 4 years before. The next morning the sun came out and the fog lifted off the steep cliffs and rugged mountains that make this little island one of the prettiest in French Polynesia.

We’ve met up with our friends on Avatar, exchanged goodies we bought for them in Rarotonga and they got for us in Tahiti, did a little hike and spent the evening eating, talking and drinking (too much ;-) ). After 4 months without any chance to socialize with other cruisers it was really nice to meet old friends…

With our return to Raivavae we have now finished our exploration tour: 4 months of new destinations, uninhabited islands, crazy-difficult anchorages, incredible wildlife encounters, countless sleepless nights spent on the floor in rough conditions, wonderfully friendly locals in remote places–this trip was a fantastic experience, we learned a lot and dared more than we would have thought possible. Now it’s also nice to be back in a place we know, with protected anchorages, time to get some projects done and hang out with good friends.


Leaving Tubuai

In the end we had a very nice time in Tubuai. The anchorage in the west was so calm that we could get some work done and then we met a friendly Polynesian while hitchhiking: He offered to take us up Mt Pahatu (we had failed on our own) and it turned out, there is indeed no path–but Grandpa Viri made one for us with his machete ;-)

Today at noon we left with northeasterly winds. The passage to Raivavae (105 nm) will take us over the Tropic of Capricorn, so we’re officially leaving the tropics.


Finally a calm anchorage

When we first arrived we anchored near the village on the northern side. We tried inside the harbour with a sternline and corkscrewed horribly, moved outside and rolled even worse. The reef on the northside is open, so on top of the windchop bent SW swell comes in and adds to the misery. Only the northside is charted and cruising guides refer to this one anchorage. We looked at satellite pictures, but were not sure whether we’d be able to make it to the western side in the shallow, murky lagoon.
With strong SE winds predicted we took Pitufa exploring on a rising tide and it turned out that the water gets clearer on the NW corner. A strong current races through the shallow lagoon and we proceeded cautiously around the airport and to the NW side. The shallowest we saw was a bit less than 3 m (we draw 2.1).
The anchorage here is wonderfully calm, so that little adventure was worthwhile :-)


Up the highest mountain of Tubuai

Yesterday it was sunny, so we kicked ourselves to some activity even though we were still tired from the passage–you never know how long the nice weather will last in the Australs…
We went to the mayor’s office, didn’t get a map, but some vague advice about hiking tracks. We hitched a ride along the cross-island road–after friendly Rurutu we were surprised how many cars passed by before one stopped for us. The women set us off at the beginning of the dirtroad to Taitaa, the highest mountain.
It turned out that the trail was well-marked, because there will be a sports event in about two weeks here: the Lychee run criss-crosses all over the island and we only had to follow the red arrows up the ridge. At some point we heard a noisy engine behind us and prepared to hop into the ditch next to the narrow trail. When the source of the noise eventually turned up slowly it turned out to be a community tractor with a mowing trailer making the trail even smother for the runners. The driver invited us up, we hopped on the mud guard wings, jiggled and joggled slowly up the mountain holding on for dear life.

The driver set us off where the trail becomes a footpath and we hiked up another steep slope to the highest peak of Tubuai where large boulders are piled up precariously–looking along the ridge we were more than grateful for the ride. We descended according to the instructions of the community worker down the other side of the mountain where the trail leads down almost vertically–those runners will have to be incredible athletes to make it up there…

We got back to Pitufa after more than 4 hours of hiking. This morning it was overcast, the peak invisible in a cloud and we were happy we had done the hike with blue skies. Carpe diem!


Photos of Rurutu

Rurutu, Austral Islands

Spectacular cliffs and caves, beautiful beaches, mountain hiking, migrating humpback whales, and super friendly people--Rurutu has it all! We spent 3 fabulous weeks there in October 2018.

(72 photos)


Annoying arrival in Tubuai

We arrived this morning in Tubuai after an unexpectedly windy night (20 gusting 30 kn instead of 12 kn predicted) and tried out two anchorages just inside the pass–one was unbearably rolly and at the other one we ploughed some sand before we gave up and headed over to the village. The lagoon is murky, shallow and difficult to navigate. Now we’re anchored behind the breakwater with a sternline to a marker to keep up aligned to the swell and can finally get some sleep.


Some more hikes

The past three days it was still blowing hard, so we stayed in Avera bay where it was bouncy, but at least safe. The sun was out again and we explored the last few corners of the island we had not seen yet: we walked along the beach to a spectacular cave just north of Avera, hiked along the ridge southwards and today we made a last visit to the main village Moerai. The harbour still looks frightening, so we’re glad we made it to the other side in time.

There are two dogs who usually hang out in the harbour and walked along with us when we were still located there. Today they were thrilled to see us again and hiked all the way up to a lookout above the cliffs north of Moerai where we had a picnic. Fortunately we always carry some catfood our spoiled princess refused, so the dogs had a picknick, too ;-)

Tomorrow the wind will turn to the northeast and then north again, so we can make another hop eastwards to Tubuai, the next island of the Australs.


Nasty weather

We’ve been confined to the boat for 5 days during nasty weather with lots of rain, sustained winds of 30 knots (54 km/h) and gusts howling down the mountains with up to 50 knots (90 km/h). We were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves until we read on the news that Europe has been hit by far worse weather with horrible floodings, mudslides and snow chaos in Austria and Italy…


Photos of Maria (Austral Islands)

And here’s yet another one:

Maria, Austral Islands

The westernmost Austral island is a real nature gem. We anchored on the outer reef of this tiny atoll which has a dense endemic forest and large bird colonies.

(47 photos)


Cruising info on Rurutu

We added a small cruising guide about Rurutu (Austral Islands) to our blog, click here to read it.


Indoor program

There’s a front moving by just north of us and we get grey, rainy and very windy weather here. The wind’s howling over the montain and gusts up to 40 knots push Pitufa from one side to the other. Fortunately the sea’s are (still??) rather calm, so we’re having productive indoor-project days.

I got the jewellery workshop out, Christian’s working on the computer and Leeloo is concentrating on growing a thick winterfur. You’d think that a European cat might follow the European seasons in fur-thickness, but watching Leeloo we see that she grows fur according to changes in the temperature and adjusts surprisingly quickly. At the moment she looks as fluffy as a polar-rabbit ;-)


Article about Pitufa’s Atlantic crossing

There is a new article in the current issue (Nov./Dec.) of Ocean7 as well as in the November issue of All at Sea Caribbean. It’s about our Atlantic crossing in 2011/12 and what we think about the ARC.

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Why we chose not to join an organized rally, All At Sea Caribbean, November 2018, p. 36–38. Free download from allatsea.net.

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Gemeinsam — oder doch lieber einsam?, OCEAN7 6 (Nov./Dez.) 2018, p. 52–54


Anchorage on the western side of Rurutu

Yesterday was a busy day in the harbour, because the supply ship arrived. It anchored outside and barges were taking containers in and out all day long. Even though the harbour is fairly new, apparently it was constructed before the freighter company got a new vessel for the Austral Islands which happens to be slightly too big for the harbour… The wind was easterly and it got quite bouncy already. With the forecast predicting stronger northeasterlies (that would bring waves straight into the harbour) we left this morning and sailed around the island to the Bay of Avera on the western side.

We found a sandy spot in 14 m just outside the small-boat pass and are anchored quite nicely. Fortunately the southwesterly swell has gone down–last week the bay looked like a witches’ cauldron with 3 m swell breaking and we couldn’t imagine any boat anchoring here…


Pics from Rarotonga

And here’s the next delayed one:

Rarotonga 2018

Rarotonga was the last stop of our tour through the Cook Islands. We were busy with shopping, provisioning, and hiking and enjoyed 10 pleasant days despite the bouncy, dirty and expensive harbor (Sep./Oct. 2018).

(20 photos)


Hiking on Rurutu

The more we see of Rurutu, the more we fall in love with it. We’ve had a few sunny days and used them to explore all around the island. All along the shores we’ve found white beaches with rugged cliffs behind them. There are lots of caves, but no signs to lead tourists there (the locals know where they are anyway, so why bother with signs?) and we only have a rather sketchy map. We have found most of them anyway and stumbling over a cathedral-like grotto hidden in the forest or the cliffs we feel like real discoverers ;-)

The interior of the island is criss-crossed with trails and dirt tracks and you can spend days walking along the ridges and up the peaks. The three highest peaks lie conveniently along one caldera and we climbed them within 2 hours (they are all between 360 and 390 m high), but then we got lost for another 3 hours on the way down–many trails but no signs are a perfect recipe for adventurous hikes ;-)

First we planned to rent a car, but hitch-hiking is so easy here that we didn’t bother getting our own vehicle in the end. By now everyone on the island seems to know that we’re the ‘sailboatpeople’ and they take us directly to the dock without even asking. Even the gendarmerie car gave us a ride once ;-)

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