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. 

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