ende

2021
16
Dec

Slow sailing

We’ve only made 70 nautical miles over the last 24 hours, but we’re not complaining, just baked some bread, worked on the laptops, dipped in from the ladder–almost like at anchor. Just now the breeze is picking up, 340 nm to go!

2021
15
Dec

Dipping into the ocean

We’ve had beautiful fair-weather sailing, mostly doing around 4 knots, but with a few hours of 3 knots in between. Not fast, but comfy and we used the calm phases to dip into the ocean–firmly holding on to the swimming ladder. The feeling of several kilometres under your feet and the incredible dark-azure colour all around are quite impressive (on top of being very refreshing on a hot day ;-) )
400 nm to go

2021
14
Dec

Flat seas in the shade of Katiu

We have left Katiu at noon with the onset of a light breeze after a calm phase (which we used to explore the remote motus on the S side–some birds, but as many as we had hoped for). Now we are sailing down the SW side of the atoll, close enough to the reef to the see the red rocks in the water and to take a good look at the motus from the outside. With the wind from E it’s flat calm here and Pitufa is gliding along like on rails :-)
I’m using the calm seas in the shade of the island to cut veg for dinner (pumpkin risotto). If it wasn’t for the heeling angle you could think we’re at anchor ;-)
500 nm to go to Raivavae (as the red-footed booby flies, we try to make some easting first, to be prepared for SE winds later on)!

2021
09
Dec

Article on Atoll Navigation in MEER & YACHTEN

Christian Feldbauer, Birgit Hackl: Navigation zwischen Korallen, Meer & Yachten, No. 4/21, December 2021, p. 68–75.

2021
09
Dec

Adventures and challenges

e did a daysail from Tahanea to the neighbouring island of Katiu–a place we hadn’t dared visiting before, because of it’s scary pass. We took the depthsounder with us in the dinghy to scout ahead, then we were still not certain whether we could take Pitufa in and snorkeled to take a close look at what might be lurking in the narrow channel. We memorized the deeper channel (it was blasted through coral in the 80s) and only then we attempted entering. At slack high tide we cautiously made it into the lagoon :-)
Here’s a sat image of the pass:

2021
06
Dec

Brown Boobies

Last week we had lots of fabulous encounters with boisterous, curious, cute “teenager” birds–cute brown boobies. On most inhabited atolls of the Tuamotus there are no more ground nesting birds and even here on uninhabited Tahanea too many visiting copra workers (but also thoughtless cruisers) have shied away nesting couples from many of the motu on the remote side of the atoll. This year we have taken Pitufa to the Western side of the atoll, which is bommie-strewn and difficult to navigate. There we have adventurously anchored off little islets in the lagoon or sometimes just big coral heads with a few shrubs growing on them. Brown boobies have found a refuge there and as soon as we anchored Pitufa, we had a crowd of young brown boobies circling the boat–still practising how to fly and land, but eager for entertainment. They have never met people in their young lives, so they are quite tame and unafraid. They fearlessly landed on the railing, clumsily holding on to the lifeline while curiously watching our every move. One of them crash-landed on the aft-deck–fortunately he wasn’t hurt. We sat quietly in the cockpit while he wandered around, tried everything with his beak (lines, shoes, etc.) and finally did a plunge-dive from the swimming ladder. And no, he did not poop all over the deck–but then we also didn’t shout and wave to scare him away (like many boaters would have done). Of course we also didn’t go ashore and left the nesting parents in peace.

The term ‘brown booby’ is misleading: only the young birds are dark-brown (and to be honest quite ugly). The adults are black, with a gleaming white chest. The name ‘booby’ apparently is derived from Spanish ‘bobo’ (stupid) and in all other languages we know they also have some derogative name, because they tend to land on boats and are therefore easy to catch. Sailors also effortlessly killed masses of them as provisioning on lonely islands. Young brown boobies have a tendency to relentlessly plunge-dive for trolled lures (we get the fishing lines in as soon as we have boobies circling the boat), so again cruisers call them stupid for that behaviour. Since when is curiosity a sign of stupidity? I rather think it’s a strong indication that they are quite smart. Looking into their startling bright grey-blue eyes you see a sparkling intelligence gazing back.

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.

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