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Land of Clouds

Ahead in the east the rosy loom of a sun below the horizon is fading the stars out of the sky – except for the Southern Cross and its pointer stars. These points of light in the deep dark blue sky above the growing morning on the starboard seems to drift or hang over this new land, lingering on somehow. What appears to be a large slumbering whale is revealing itself to be the North Cape of New Zealand. We are making our landfall at the “Land of Clouds” in the Picton Castle at dawn.

Seas are smooth, winds from the SW and cool. And just for our benefit a full moon sets astern, a moon we have had with us all night. It has been a pleasure to have the company. After over 1,000 miles we are very near our destination, although, truth is, the goal really was the voyage for many of our gang and this will soon come to an end. Easy enough to fly to New Zealand if that’s where you want to get to. Yes, the destination is slinging your sea-bag over the rail and stepping foot aboard. The rest is getting ready to be ready.

As the sky brightens ahead, a couple hands are in the galley deck house, the ‘caboose’, getting coffee going and making some breakfast for all hands. Philosophical indulgences or not we still need to eat and are still coming into port after a passage at sea. This promises to be oatmeal cakes this morning. A perfectly clear morning, not a cloud in the sky.

Land of Clouds, New Zealand, Kiwi, all pretty good names for this land ahead, although I am not sure where “Old” Zealand is – thought it was the main island of Denmark, but not too sure. ‘Land of Clouds’ is good too, the original Maori name, just sort of long, a mouthful. “Kiwi” is a pretty fine name for a country, slips out of the mouth easily enough and pretty much everyone knows what you mean – and many folks call these islands ‘Kiwi’. Seems to fit somehow too. Kiwi. Odd little bird too.

Picton Castle approaches Opua photo by Paul Bishop

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