By the time noon rolled around, we were touching down at Auckland International and being frisked by a beagle too cute for words. A familiar smiley face was jumping up and down at the arrivals area, as Jaime met us there just as we were coming out. It was so great to see her - way too much time had passed since our last visit. It was basically non-stop catching up back and forth as we drove toward downtown Auckland, taking a couple wrong turns that were disguised as a 'city tour'. Jaime and Seth have their boat, a 34 foot catamaran called 'Slapdash', moored at a marina in downtown Auckland that was so massive that it resembled a two city block square area jam packed with almost 2000 boats and a tangle of masts. Slapdash was moored right on the end of one of the 26 docks, looking just as pretty as the day we last saw her in Florida. Other than some renovations and adjustments inside, there was little physical evidence that she has sailed over 18,000km half way across the globe since we last saw her.
With some errands to run, we dumped our bags and spent the afternoon picking up things the crew needed for their upcoming passage north to Fiji (the one they intended to do early in May!). When we returned to the marina, Jaime introduced us to some friends of theirs moored in the same marina that they have been island hopping with since Bora Bora. We quickly realized how much sailors and backpackers have in common, as travel stories with common themes abounded. With eight new jerry cans under our arms, we hopped back onto Slapdash to find Seth home from a day of running other errands, another familiar face that was wonderful to see again. We spent the whole evening telling travel stories, sharing photos, and polishing off a few bottles of New Zealand red before crashing. All of us have been so many places and had so many adventures that there was no shortage of stories to share! We're so thankful that we were able to swing this side trip to New Zealand, even at the expense of Fiji, as even the few hours we've already spent together have been worth the price. We could do without the 15°C temperatures and cold drizzle, but visiting family is priceless!