26.04.2013

Another island passes by

About 4 hrs ago we first caught sight of the island of Pitcairn. From the wind and the waves our hopes were not too high to be able to anchor and go to land. The radio communication with the tremendously friendly guy at Pitcairn radio confirmed that landing at the moment and probably at least for the next 3 days will be impossible. Sailing on we heard the local radio information, a woman talking to the islanders on channel 16, that tomorrow the French marine will arrive and that Pitcairn will hold a fest in their honor on the square. BBQ, Beef and ice cream as desert will be provided from the government. The people were asked to bring side dishes. Also, the voice of the lady continued, "we hope they bring their instruments. In case that does not happen we have already set up karaoke in the hall." That sounds great, we would love to participate. Well, it's not going to happen for us and we don't think for the marine either. Wind and wave go directly into Bounty bay, in front of Adamstown, where the landing is. No chance for landing.

The people we heard all spoke a perfect English with a beautiful British accent. Why do I wonder? The island "belongs" to England, so no surprise. Maybe because I have not heard such English on Radio at all since we left the Canaries. In fact, by coming here to Pitcairn, it is the first time on this trip (in 9 months) that we are not in a Portuguese or Spanish speeking country or island. So now I have to reset my mind. I felt great in these countries being able to understand and speak with the people. Portuguese took me a while to be able to really talk and not just throw some more spanish than portuguese expressions to the local people, but it worked quite well in the end. Now, after this short change to English I have to shift my mind to Frenchb (polynesian french?), as we're heading into French Polynesia. Maybe I pick up even some Polynesian words? So, for my brainworks, I have lots of chances to practice French now, that's good. Actually it already started on Easter Island, where there were only French boats, 5 of them, besides us at anchor after our british/Canadian friends on the catamaran had left. And the French loved communicating with each other over radio, discussing their current problems with the boats, the weather conditions and whether /when to move to a different anchorage. I listened to this communication in order to dig out my French a bit. What did I find out? It's going to be hard in the beginning, need to listen a lot. I am looking forward to it.

Back to Pitcairn. The guys from the Bounty for sure found a nice island, but hard to live on. It's a huge rock out of the blue ocean, probably up to 900m high, no flat land, about 7km long. We counted about 21 houses in Adamstown, spread over the east side of the mountain, none lower to the water than about 100m. The island is green with grass and trees, even a colony of palm trees spread over the island, on some parts leaving some space for the red soil to shimmer through. It is similar to Robinson Crusoe Island, only smaller and the dry parts and the lower flat land are missing. The about 50 people there seem to be very friendly and open hearted to visitors - at least this is our perception from hearing the radio communication. About 10 cruise ships coming from French Polynesia and 45 sailing ships pass by there every year in average. I don't know how many of these sailors are actually able to make landfall…

We would have very much loved to set foot on the island, but the only possible anchorage would have been very rough, we would have needed to wait at least three days with the uncertainty of being able to land and, to make things worse, the wind is going to change its direction more and more to the north, making the anchorage almost impossible and the continuing journey to Mangareva uneasy. Wind against us would have made us having to tack in front of the wind extending the trip from the 2 days that we expect now to at least 4 days. As sad as we are, the decision is clear: instead of hanging out at an unruly anchorage for a couple of days we already picture ourselves on the beach with a cocktail in our hand in two days…At least I have some pictures of the island, which I will upload in Mangareva.

We have about 2 weeks in Mangareva to relax. Oh, how much I am looking forwad to that!!! Mangareva is the end of the long distance sailing route across the Pacific for now. Once we arrive in Mangareva it will have been 3500nm (almost 700km) since we left Valparaíso one month ago. Until the end of this year there is only one long passage left: from Tonga to New Zealand it's another 1000nm.

So: 2 days to go to the world famous south sea! I am already preparing bikini, skirt and top - and the snorkeling and diving gear (Schnorchel- und Tauchausrüstung).

Current position: west of Pitcairn, 25deg 01min S, 130deg 14,1min W
Wind: 5-6Bft, course: 295
Log: 13838nm

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25.04.2013

Passing by Ducie Island

As predicted, last night for a couple of hours we stayed hoved-to, drifting at 0,2-0,5 knots south west along Ducie Iland in an about 4 miles distance. With the sunrise we finally saw this round atoll, waves forcefully breaking over the sandbanks and reefs from all sides. We had low water so we could see a good part of the reefs and as much as we tried we could not find an entrance to this paradies despite all the breaking waves. And even if we could have managed to surf inside on a wave it looked very shallow from the outside, so most probably we would have surfed right onto a riff. And IF with tons of luck we would have made it inside, we would sit there for LONG to wait for this one day a year where wind and seas are absolutely calm and let you out with the tidal current. So we decided to not take the chance that was not even there. When I upload the pictures you will see why. And all that although we had the calmest day, no wind and windwaves, only a long swell from south west, which produced the breaking waves over the riff. So we sailed by slowly, taking pictures and imagining ourselves on that island in complete solitude. So beautiful. White sandy beach all around and a stripe of lots of green trees along the center of the round sandbank, 1,3nm in diameter in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, near the most solitude /distant spot of the world. Maybe, during high water, all you see are the green trees. We could smell the sand and enjoyed the view and the birds around us. We felt life.

On this beautiful morning I decided to make pancakes and Kaiserschmarrn with Apple Sauce, the latter a treat for me. Then we tried to set the Spinnaker, but the wind was even too little for that. So we ended up having just a little bit of the Genoa out, to stay stable, just enough so that it would not beat all the time, and enjoyed a relaxing day. Marcus opened the back plattform and went into the water, holding on to the ladder, to cool down. I followed and later Gyuri. I even went back a second time. THe water here is so incredibly warm, clear and of the most beautiful blue I have ever seen. You could easily see a whale swimming 20 meters below us. But none showed up. I went to bed just after sunset to catch 2 hrs sleep before starting my shift. Here I am, tired but happy about this calm day.

As of tomorrow - or I should say later today now, as it's already the next day here, April 25th - we expect a constant 10-20kn wind from the east to carry us first to Adamstown (Pitcairn) within a day, where we hope to be able to anchor in the west and see the island, and then the last 2 days trip to Mangareva.

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24.04.2013

What a day

At 7am UTC I surprised Marcus in his shift (when we changed to mine) with a Muesli bar and a burning candle in it singing "Happy birthday". At 17pm UTC. birthday breakfast with fied eggs and chees and bacon over it. Then I baked a "Marmorkuchen". Yummy. The waves have been so much better today that I decided to surprise him with a real cake...After that I took the Echo Harp (Mundharmonika) from Marcus's grandfather (a good old Hohner Echo Harp) and was happy to see that it worked again. When it was so cold and humid some notes did not work anymore, so I am really glad I can play it again. I LOVE doing that in the moonlight in the nightshifts, I just play by ear. Done with that I decided it's time to work on the guitar. Took it out, changed the strings, tuned it and continued my learning I had stopped a couple of months ago because of my left elbow. I hope I can continue now since I do not have my piano here...I kind of played "Happy birthday" to Marcus, but I just started learning and still have to search the right notes...Just 2hrs ago we had a wonderful dinner. Salad with honey-fried goat cheese and rosted pumpkin seeds, and as main dish the remainder of the fish soup from yesterday (sooo goood) and (for me) a coliflour (Blumenkohl) soup (made with coconut cream), soo good as well...Desert: Marmorkuchen. Now: BED! Ok, not for me, I am on my shift.

Looks like the weather might be ok later today, so we still hope to be able to enter the Reef "Ducie island" for a day or two. Had we not intentionally slowed down we would already be there (but would have arrived in the dark), but we can't go in til around noon, when the sun is high and we can see the coralls in order to find our way through the reef to get inside the atoll. We probably will stay hoved to (im Beidreher, heisst ein Vorsegel back, so dass wir nur leicht driften) so that we slowly drift near the island (but not too close) for a couple of hours til we can enter later. Should arrive there in about 5hrs, will have to slow down even more soon. 4-5Bft wind lets us sail too fast ;-) I know, it's either too slow or too fast. We are quite happy acutally that we had such a good, constant wind all the way to here. Had we left up the sails it would have been only a little bit more than 5 days for nearly 850nm (1600km).

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22.04.2013

Happy Birthday Marcus!!!!

I wish you, our wonderful Skipper Marcus, all the best for your birthday! Thanks for sharing your trip with me and everyone, who comes/is/was onboard and for sharing your beautiful, sooo well maintained Alita with us and for always caring for all our security!

We just had a wonderful fish dinner, (actually brithday breakfast german time ;- and here dinner the day before) with a Mahi Mahi who decided yesterday to come and sacrifice himself for this dinner. Actually I wanted to make a cake for Marcus, but the waves keep kicking us, and everything you want to prepare, side to side around. So having cooked dinner I have enough of this right now...So, next time we're at anchor, I will bake the cake.

We're a good day before reaching Ducie Island - 167nm east of the island. I don't know yet if we can really stop there. Some bad weather is coming up, so we might just have to continue the almost 600nm all the way to Mangareva. The good news: they have hot spots with internet there and we have already bought an hour each for internet access and people we met said it's quite fast. We'll see. I hope to be able to Skype a bit there and send pictures.

So long.

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