Most sailors in the South Pacific would rather not spend the cyclone season in the tropics, growing mold on their boats. Many would rather not put themselves in contact with Australian officialdom. So that turns New Zealand into a great crossroads for traveling boats. Many adventures stop or start here.
As a result, one highlight of this season has been catching up with some faces from the past.
There was Pacific Bliss, of course - that's them on board Galactic, above, in the ill-fated marina that we shared with them in Auckland for four days. It was remarkable really that Colin managed to find us dock space in downtown Auckland in December, and even more remarkable was the price that he organized for us to pay for our stay - one carton of beer. Colin has the touch, I suppose.
And Colin and Liz, and by extension, their kids, are some of the most remarkable travelers we've met. They're storytellers, not writers, but check out this tidbit from their stay in northern Vanuatu last season.
In Opua we also caught up with Michelle and Richard on Thélème. We don't know these folks as well as the Bliss, having met them only briefly in Tahiti five years ago. But they're the kind of people who you remember - super-adventurous sailors who have been to any number of places (Tahanea for six months at a time! Kodiak! South Georgia! Five years in Patagonia!) and are super-relaxed about it all. For a year or two after we first met them, we kept running into other boats who knew Thélème - all that sailing puts them in the way of a lot of other adventurous sailors, and I get the idea they've become well-known to a small cognoscenti. They were very positive about our plans for Patagonia, and gave us some useful advice.
And, there's one other circle that we've closed here. The dock that we've been tied to for the last week, in the Town Basin marina in Whangarei, looks back on a dock that I've been to before. Three years ago, I came here to check out a boat we might buy. That one turned out not to be "the one", of course, and it's a pleasure to be looking at that spot from the decks of the boat we eventually found, after our year of looking, and to be very happy with what we ended up with...