Blistering between squalls

We waited patiently for a weather window with a stable high to ride steady southeasterlies on top of it–only to sail right into a convergence zone that was only mentioned in the forecast after we had set out. Well, we’re making the best of the light and fickle winds. Yesterday we put the gennaker (big lightwind sail) up in the morning, soon after black squally clouds moved in, so we were constantly ready to take it quickly down, but fortunately none of them hit us directly and we had the blister flying (and collapsing in too light winds and bumpy waves) all day while Christian nearly got a sun stroke trying to trim it… Today the situation looks very similar. 1370 to go!


Underway again!

Finally we have a stable enough looking weather window and we’re sailing towards Fiji! So far the wind is light, so we have only made 100 nm in the last 24 hours. We wouldn’t mind the slow progress, but the sails are banging quite badly in between and we hope for more wind. 1450 nm to go!


Cook Islands Cruising Info

Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Good news, the Cook Islands are opening up for cruisers again! As of current travel info May 1st, 2022, sailboats can visit, but the check-in is only possible in the main island Rarotonga so far. Check the official government page for updates and details http://www.mfem.gov.ck/customs/arrival-and-departure-information-for-marine-crafts. And here’s the link to a pdf with the full law text.

The form CICS 29: Advance Notice Of Arrival (DOC 74KB) must be sent at least 48 hours prior to arrival to customs.craft@cookislands.gov.ck using the file name format [ANA, name of craft, voyage or sail number if available, estimated time of arrival into the Cook Islands]

We visited the Cook Islands twice and explored from north to South for 3 months. Here is a short text document with the basic info and an article we had published in UK’s Sailing Today Magazine.


Galapagos sharks

I enjoyed hanging out with those cute and nosy sharkies so much that I decided to get one!


DIY: How to replace sprayhood windows

Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer: Replacing the windows on the dodger, All At Sea Caribbean, May 2022, p. 46–50. Download the whole magazine for free.


Lack of nature protection in French Poly

Reading and watching the news you’d think French Polynesia was a nature paradise. Almost each week the president, PEW and other organisations announce new protection zones in the Pacific around Fr Poly , rahui areas around islands (traditional bans) and anchoring bans for the nastiest polluters–us cruisers. Turtles have been protected for a long time, the same goes for sharkies.
Unfortunately that’s just theory: protected areas are not supervised (and they exclude “traditional fishing” a term which includes basically everything but international fleets), many rahui are opened too regularly to make a change and turtles and sharks are still killed in fish traps for consumption on the islands (where nobody cares about the protection when mayor and police officer hunt as well) or even exported to Tahiti with nobody checking the supply boats.
Snorkeling in the Societies, many parts of the Australs and even in the Tuamotus you find empty reefs with a few tiny fishies that scatter in panic when they see a diver. With no fish to eat the algae, the reefs that are weakened by pollution (from shore) and global warming (caused by all of us) are soon overgrown. But is that reported on the media? Not at all. Local fisherman assure us that there’s plenty of fish (maybe they’ve never seen a reef with plenty of fish…), fishermen go out day after day and catch the last specimen, tiny reef fish are for sale on the market and next to the road.

We keep sending pictures and reports to the DIREN (ministry for environment), PEW (American organisation) and Te mana o te moana (turtle protection centre in Moorea), so far to no avail. It might make a change if more people pestered them, so please take the time to write an email and send pics if you see something that needs to be reported. Maybe they’ll listen eventually.
direction@environnement.gov.pf, jpetit@pewtrusts.org, info@temanaotemoana.org


Making friends and enemies

Each morning we read the news and each morning we get upset about how we humans treat our planet. We can’t change those global issues, we can only try to make a small difference starting with ourselves. We tend to go one step further and address behaviour that we witness in our little world (e.g. anchoring in coral, disturbing bird colonies, treating remote places as a free all-you-can-eat buffet, disrespecting local customs, polluting, etc.). Doing so we have made some enemies. Well, we don’t really care as it we don’t want to be friends with people who disrespect mother nature anyway. We have also made friends with people who are well-meaning and acted just thoughtlessly ;-)
Just an example: Last month I had a doctor’s appointment and was horrified to see 5 guppies (little, very hardy fresh water fish) in a tiny vase displayed in the waiting room. Of course I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut and brought up the issue with the doc. She was flabbergasted, the fish had come with the office and she hadn’t given them much thought, so I explained the basic set-up of a fish tank. When I went back two weeks later, the guppies were swimming in an aquarium. A tiny victory, but a big deal for the guppies.
I think it DOES make sense to speak up for issues we care about. I hate it when people say that one person can’t make a change so they have an excuse to not even make an effort. If everybody tried just a little bit, there might still be hope.



After we had to interrupt our passage because of the broken track on the mast, the repair was rather quickly done, but we had missed our weather window. We need really stable weather for the 1.900 nautical miles to Fiji and it’s rare to find a weather window that actually lasts 2 weeks and goes all the way. Before Covid we could have stopped in the Cook Islands, Tonga and/or Samoa along the way, splitting the journey into shorter legs that are easier to plan, but unfortunately these countries have still not opened their borders for yachts. It seems absurd that borders are opening for tourists on planes, but remain closed for sailors who are much less at risk to bring a disease as we automatically spend several days (or weeks) in quarantine while underway to a new place.
We don’t want to risk getting trapped in an extended calm area as this would mean burning lots of diesel to motor out of it. The constant comparing of forecast models (“to leave or not to leave”‘s the daily question), keeping the boat (and provisioning lockers) in passage mode to be ready to head out spontaneously anytime is slightly getting on our nerves despite the best resolutions to be patient. We’re more than ready to sail west, into the sunset.


Read Online: Article in Cruising World “Know your Weather”

Christian Feldbauer, Birgit Hackl: KNOW YOUR WEATHER, Cruising World, April 2022. Read the online version of this article.


Damage underway

During a 30 knot squall the track for the genoa pole got ripped out of the mast–incredible with what extreme forces a sailboat has to deal, the big foresail is over 60 m2… No way we could manage the downwind trip without a genoa pole. We have to interrupt our trip for repairs.


Like an Atlantic crossing

The Pacific is so huge that the distances are mindboggling. The passage to Fiji alone is almost as far as an Atlantic crossing…
Despite a forecast for steady winds, we were slowly sailing along with flapping sails and the whole boat clanging and banging–very annoying on a downwind course. During the night the wind fortunately set in and we’re nicely sailing along now. 1800 nm to go!


Nana (good-bye) French Polynesia!

After wonderful nine years year we are on our way to new adventures–Fiji, we are coming!
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Read Online: Our Article on Anchoring Around Coral in Cruising World

Christian Feldbauer, Birgit Hackl: SEARCHING FOR SAFE SPOTS–Anchoring around Coral, Cruising World, March 2022. Read the online version of this article.


Update: Checking out of French Polynesia

We just did our check-out from Tahiti and had some hiccups along the way. It seems the different offices that deal with pleasure crafts don’t talk to each other ;-)
Even though it the Capitainerie sent us an info sheet claiming that we had to send the check-out application to traffic maritime AND we got an email from them replying that we were free to pick up our clearance papers from immigration at the airport, immigration did NOT have our clearance ready.
They told us that clearance had to be obtained via DPAM instead, so we had to start the whole process all over again. DPAM were very helpful and granted the exit permission within 2 hours–instead of the usual 72…

So here’s what we learned: Clearing out from Tahiti you have to:
- write to DPAM and fill out the application for clearance permission 72 hours ahead of departure
accueil.dpam@administration.gov.pf, escales.dpam@administration.gov.pf, affmar@affaires-maritimes.pf, remi.quilliot@affaires-maritimes.pf
- go to immigration (Police aux frontieres) at the airport and customs in Fare Ute at the day of departure


So please UPDATE the info below that we gave you a few days ago. It’s no longer traffic maritime you have to write to, but DPAM…

Outdated info 31.3. 2022: There’s been some confusion among cruisers about clearance formalities. As we are about to clear out we have first-hand info to share with you:
Clearing out of French Poly can be done from any port of entry again (no more restrictions like during Covid).
- If you clear out from any other port than Tahiti you just have to write an email to the harbour master trafficmaritime@portppt.pf 72 hours before to ask for the “permis de sortie”. At the day of your departure you go to the local gendarmerie office for the rest of the paperwork and to get your exit clearance.
- If you clear out straight from Tahiti things are more complicated. Again you have to write an email to the harbour master trafficmaritime@portppt.pf 72 hours before to ask for the “permis de sortie”, phone no. (+689) 40 47 48 82. But at the day of your departure you have to personally visit the immigration office at the airport +689 40 80 06 05 and the customs office +689 40 50 55 87 on Motu Uta (island off Fare Ute, same where you get tax-free diesel form). It does not matter whether you go to immigration or customs first.

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