Where have we been, what have we done the last 2 weeks?
After they had left we went back on a beautiful and calm sail to Abel Tasman, anchored at Adel Island to enjoy paradise.
That's the last time I blogged. Then via some stupid coincidence (I had not changed the settings of my Mac again after I installed the new OS and so it automatically downloaded updates without me noticing) all of a sudden all our internet credit was gone. We used this to be off for a while since there was no chance anyways to top up our prepaid account - no store / hotel or anything near and in the next bay no reception anyways. Plus our monthly budget did not allow top up anyways.
We decided to enjoy a good week at Abel Tasman National Park and its Bays. We went over to „Anchor Bay" and did some beautiful hiking there, the most fun definitely to „Cleopatra's Pool" which is a freshwater basin found beneath a little waterfall. Of course I had to go in and enjoy a little massage under the waterfall. Too bad that the water was so so cold. I still enjoyed the refreshment! I loved it so much that I came back the next day. The hikes in Abel Tasman Nat'l park bring you through beautiful forest landscape, through (rain) forests, over almost deserted hills, along creeks and over rivers, along beaches or on hill tops with amazing views. From green to dry everything is there. In this season now lots of plants are in bloom or just past or starting to. The ocean is blue, the beaches golden and the skies are blue. It's in the sunniest area of New Zealand.
Unfortunately out in the west, behind those mountains which rise to about 1200m the wild west is happening. A the low pressure systems come up north, bring very cold air and lots of wind. The rain mostly stays in the rest, the wind finds its way up and then falls down accelerating. These are the gusts coming through on a protected anchorage. In Patagonia this effect was called „Willy".
So the weather made us first anchor back near Adel Island and then move on to an anchorage past French Pass, 45 nm and 8hrs trip away. Again sailing through Tasman Bay was very rough, with wind wave of 1,5 m directly against a swell of 3m. Boy was I glad when, after 6 hrs rattling and rolling, we reached the other side of the bay and got into hiding behind D'Urville Island. We put the anchor down for 45min and then continued through French Pass and with beautiful sailing (good wind, no wave) to our night anchorage. Next morning we continued on to Queen Charlotte sound, „Resolution Bay" anchorage. We knew we had to be there befor the next storm comes.
After Breakfast we lifted anchor again and went over to Motuara Island, a bird sanctuary There we found a little penguoon in a nesting place and enjoyed hearing the cycades singing their song in a choir of thousands of them. We enjoyed the litte hike there again a lot. From the top you have a good view over Queen Charlotte Sound.
That following night however became sleepless. We anchored in Resolution bay again, knowing the finds funnel down a lot and there is not a good holding. All buoys were taken and we had a hard time putting down anchor at all. The problem in the sound is that all the spaces which might halfway be suitable for anchoring are taken up by moorings from the local boating clubs and we can't take those moorings. So we're bound for bad anchorages. As the wind speeds increased and the pressure went down, we got more and more nervous despite our electronic anchor watch. At 6 am in the morning it finally beeped, we were dragging the anchor towards onshore, the wind had shifted. We both had not really slept that night. We lifted the anchor in then already serious winds and puring rain. 3 hrs, min. 10 anchoring tries, 3 bays and soaked foul weather gear (which did not hold back the rain) later we had found a good holding. The pressure had dropped to the lowest I have ever seen, 976!
But we were restless anyways. We did not go to bed until night, after 3 movies and being secure that a) the winds were less strong and b) the anchor definitely holds. What a good sleep we had. Next day, as if nothing happened, the sun was out and the sea was flat.
It's hard to describe the feeling of relief and happiness, almost like after a big work out. After another day out there we came into the marina and got lifted out yesterday.
Tomorrow afternoon we'll be back in the water with Alita mostly fixed up and beautiful again. Constantly people come and talk to us about the boat. She is an eye catcher and contact maker….
We have been very lucky here with internet. There is a restaurant that has free WIFI and it works great and fast, especially at night ;-) What a treat that is! That's why I am uploading all the pix…
Seems like on saturday we're heading out to sail to Akaroa, should be there late at night or the morning after. Hoping to see dolphins on the way!
Talk to you soon!
The photo gallery is updated. See all the picutres and more from the last month there. Enjoy!
So these past 10 days have been a mix of emotions between enjoying a beautiful bay and hike and not being entirely fond of rough sailing in cross seas and useless tries to anchor in storm gusts in pouring rain on non holding grounds. I can't lie. Sailing life is not just beautiful, it can be quite hard on you which makes you wonder some days why you do this. But in the end there is sunshine and calm bays and the lovely people that you meet that make you forget the hardships and be grateful for that life. I guess it's like giving birth (although I was never lucky enough to experience it). Painful when you're in it, forgotten once you hold the child.
So this new year 2017 has not quite started to our favor. Or maybe it has? Sitting here now, on Alita, on the hardstand in Waikawa (near Picton) after most of the repairs have been done, I think maybe the year has actually started to our favor. Why? For one, nothing serious has happened really. Nothing that threatened our lives or everything we have. We were always safe and healthy(just maybe did not feel well). This start reminded us to bcheck everything twice. It reminded us of saftely first. It reminded us that we can do this only as a team, not solo, and we have to listen to each other. It reminded us of how strong Alita is and how much she can take. It trained our bellies and minds to rolling and rough seas so that early enough I would not be so seasick anymore - and these conditions are what I am expecting on our way up to Alaska. But most of all, it showed us that there is always sunshine after rain, which shines more bright than you have seen it before because you had gotten used to it and that the world is full of angels - kind people who look affter you in different ways. when you most need it. These people can be your friends - yes, we have some great friends - or total strangers, who immediately feel like family and friends.
You already know about Adam who's help was essentail to getting the engine repaired in New Plymouth. You also know about my friends Sibylle and Peter, who were patient, super guests on board, a big help and generous. And I told you about Sean and his family whose lemons and grapefruits I still enjoy and who came to see us again at anchor near Adel island.
Today as I am sitting in the restaurant enjoying the free unlimited WIFI (what a gift that is!) a young guy appears at my table. I looked up and thought I had a set back and had lost my mind. There was Markus, who sailed with us from Fiji to Tonga in November 2014. I remember the trip like it was just yesterday. We had a great time, he is a fine and funny young swiss guy. I welcomed him with „Hey, what are you doing here? Did you come back or never leave New Zealand? Great to see you again!" He had followed our blog, came back to NZ for vacation with the same friend showm he travelled with 2 years ago, happened to be in the area, saw online that we should be out of the water today and dropped by. He found Alita first ans surprised Marcus who then told me where I was. So he came over for a chat. What a lovely surprise which already made my day to that point. It is great to see some ex-guests are following the blog and even get out of their way to stop by and say hello.
Coming to talk to Marcus about this wonderful surprise a guy shows up at the fence behind us. We passed him yesterday as we drove out from the anchorage across the bay heading towards Waikawa, where we are now on the hard stand. He liked our boat and remembered it when he saw it in the yard today while passing by. He started talking to us, we had a great conversation about boats, sailing and photography. Wanting to see Charly (my drone) made him drive in and come to us. After a while of nice conversation John was so kind to offer me a ride to the grocery store in Picton (3miles away). Again kindness struck us. Unbelievable. John is a remarkable man. Born in NZ, he lived in Canada for many years and after retiring he lived in Mexico for a while in a 3000 people - international - art community. Now he is back in NZ and enjoys it. A man of world, seems to have had good work and (business) travelling life chose to live not in an exclusive house but in freedom. He bought a Toyota bus and had it converted to a motor home (which is not really cheaper than buying a house). With it he has travelled around whole New Zealand twice (towing his littel car behind) and finally ended up in Picton. It's been 3 years now that he lhas lived here in the caravan park of Waikawa and owned a nice just under 10m sailing yacht - the one we saw him sailing yesterday.
John not only did me a big favour in driving me to get our food for the next 3 weeks. The biggest favour he did to me today were just a couple of words. As we were about to leave the Caravan park he talked to a nice and happy looking, smiling man who had just come back from some time away.
He told me this man has bad cancer and after many surgeries basically no organs inside. He runs around with bags for the excrements (that I didn't see) but looked so happy and friendly to me. I said: „I would have never guessed. He looks so happy." John was quiet for a second and then answered: „He is just happy he is alive." Amen.