We’ve had a busy time here in Rapa Iti. The island community celebrated Christmas and New Years as well as a big wedding together and the cruisers were invited as well. Last year we were the only boat for a month here, but this year we had 5(!) neighbours, so we got our own cruisers’ table at the festivities ;-)

The weather was fine in the beginning and we did a few hikes, but then a series of lows moved over us bringing gusty and rainy weather, so we managed to get some writing done. Apart from that we spent quite some time finishing the mooring project we started last year (but more about that in a separate blog entry).

Today the president of French Polynesia arrives for a two-day visit, so the community has prepared yet another series of events and we’ll try to be there, despite the rain ;-)


New article in Ocean7

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Die kleinen Dinge des Bootslebens, OCEAN7 1 (Jan./Feb.) 2019, p. 48–50


2018–A year full of adventures

For Pitufa and her crew, 2018 was a very exciting year. We visited many new places, some of them were rather off the beaten track and some were real nature paradises. We made several new friends with locals and enjoyed Polynesian hospitality over and over.

We started our tour in January 2018 from Rapa Iti in the Austral Islands and we are back in Rapa again, but we were active in the meantime and sailed about 4.700 nautical miles. First our round trip brought us to the Gambier Islands for the height of the cyclone season and then to our favorite atoll in the Tuamotus before we had busy times with plenty of boat projects in Tahiti and Raiatea.

With a newly painted Pitufa we left French Polynesia in July and sailed north to escape the colder winter months in the Southern Line Islands and in Penrhyn in the Northern Cook Islands, where we found an amazing wildlife. Then southward again to Manue, Aitutaki and Rarotonga in the Southern Cooks. After two months in the Cook Islands we left well provisioned and sailed southeast to the Austral Islands and hence returned to French Polynesia. On our tour through the Australs we only missed Rimatara, but we stopped at all the others: uninhabited seabird sanctuary Maria, geologically fascinating Rurutu, friendly Tubuai, beautiful Raivavae, and remote Rapa Iti with its unique culture and stunning landscapes.

Some destinations were quite adventurous and challenging, but we learned a lot, particularly anchoring on outer reefs. We spent many sleepless or at least uncomfy nights rolling and pitching in open anchorages, but it was definitely worth it: we had incredible wildlife encounters, met wonderful people and enjoyed stunningly beautiful scenery.

We wish all our readers merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and exciting New Year!


Photos of our stop in Tubuai

Tubuai, Austral Islands

In October 2018 we visited Tubuai. We took a while to find a cozy anchorage, but then we enjoyed the hiking and the friendly people.

(24 photos)


Back in Rapa Iti (Oparo)

We arrived in Rapa Iti at 9 in the evening yesterday and were glad that we could follow our GPS track from last year through the outlying reef maze into the big bay. This morning the bay was bathed in sunlight with the high, rugged mountains towering in the background–Rapa Iti (or Opara as the locals say) is a spectacular place.
In Rapa you have to make the most of sunny hours, because you never know how long they will last, so we washed all things that got damp and/or salty during the passage at 7 in the morning and had them dried and safely under deck by 11.

The officials came by at 9, not so much to check paperwork (they didn’t even want to see our papers), but for a coffee and a chat. Alain, the policeman, filled us in on news (not so many) and upcoming events (quite a few during the holidays), so we’re sure we’ll have a busy time here.


Wet mattress

It’s been a grey, windy and rainy passage so far. Usually we have our aft cabin hatch open on passages whenever it’s not extremely rough, but because of the rain it was only a tiny gap open with a rubber mat covering the windward side this morning. Suddenly there was a a crashing sound followed by a loud whoosh–one of those waves that insist on being different than all the others had managed to break over the side, the cockpit was full of water and after mopping that up we found that the tiny gap in the hatch had let in enough water to soak our bed… That’s the first time this has happened in all our time on the boat and we have no idea how we should manage to wash and dry the huge, heavy and wobbly latex mattress…


Difficult to say good-bye

We are getting ready to leave as there’s a weather window for Rapa Iti coming up. Yesterday we went to say good-bye to our local friends, so of course Pitufa got loaded up with fruit and veg… It’s very tempting to stay and spend Christmas here with them, but we should slowly make our way east as the cyclone season has started.


Article on Anchoring in All-at-Sea Magazine

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Anchoring Games: Part One–Material and Basic Maneuvers, All At Sea Caribbean, December 2018, p. 30–34. Free download from allatsea.net.


Having a good time in Raivavae

It’s our third visit to Raivavae, but this year we’re lucky with the weather for the first time–sunny skies make such a difference…
We’ve been dividing our time between writing/boat projects and fun activities with our cruiser friends. Three days ago we hiked up Mt. Hiro, the highest mountain, together: 8 cruisers in a row ;-)
To get to the path we had to cross a private garden. Instead of complaining about us trespassing the friendly local couple had a bag of lychees, a few stacks of bananas and some taro prepared for us when we got back down after a fabulous hike with breathtaking views.

We hear reports from Tahiti and Moorea that thefts and vandalism are becoming more frequent. It seems that some sections of the population are getting fed up with the numerous sailboats.

Here sailboats are still rare and each time we get off the boat we have some pleasant encounter. Yesterday we took the dinghy ashore where our friends from Avatar where just getting ready for a bike tour around the island. They discovered a flat tyre and a local girl who had been watching the scene immediately returned with her bike to lend it to them… Today we went to a little minimarket, asked whether they had bread and were told that they were sold out. We bought a few other items and just as we were leaving the shop the salesgirl handed us a baguette–she had taken one from the family freezer and wouldn’t let us pay for it.

These little, spontaneous gestures make life so pleasant on remote Polynesian islands…


Weather forecasts for cruising in and around French Polynesia

I’ve just put a page on our blog that, on the one hand, summarizes all weather forecasts we’re using on Pitufa. It includes weather bulletins, surface-analysis charts, cyclone warnings, El-Niño discussions, and of course all Saildocs codes. On the other hand, the page also embeds all those current forecasts, so it may be a convenient all-in-one weather site for cruisers in French Polynesia. If you have any recommendations for other forecasts, let me know and might add it to the page.

The link to this site is www.Pitufa.at/weather-fp/.


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)

Older posts «

» Newer posts