Day 11, Act III
TODAY, with the South Pacific Residents Association, we have celebrated Waitangi Day - February 6th. Our Chairman considered it fitting - in view of us being half-way between Chile, which hosts Cape Horn, some 2,500 miles ahead and New Zealand 2,500 miles astern.
And, as we make solid progress ^¨NB) the Chair also passed a motion that the Skipper should improve his French. Her reason is that many of our 'back ups' on board are in the French language and to run the boat, fulfil my duties, I need adequate French. And, also perhaps to support the great future plans and vision for Le Souffle du Nord where, when Sylvian and Francois get going, the pensioners will cast off their walking sticks aside and be dancing in the streets of Lille with joy.....
And to this day, at school, I regret being a bad boy and having to leave our French class. Instead bad students had to go to the commerce class !
Indeed, had Napoleon not gone East and his troops not frozen to death on route to Moscow, he might have come to Ireland. Then we would all suffer for superiority complexes, speak French and eat more cheese. Instead we speak English and are so well politically balanced that we have ' chips' on both shoulders.
And, central to today's celebration on board, is that we have had the benefit of a ritual Maoiri Blessing before departing Kiwiland. And we carry spiritual symbols of this with Ponunmu Stones for home. And with the stones " Roimata" or "Tears of Joy" with three lines
1) Focus, on where you want to go
2) Freedom, to be what you want to be
3) Fun, life is good.
And, on this day as we celebrate, there are few, if any, more remote spots on the planet. The closest islands being the tiny Picturns to the north and land land being the Antharthica some 1,000 miles south.
And so with the merging of our South Pacific with the Indian and South Atlantic Residents Association, Waitangi as a celebration Day seemed like a natural.
Worldwide this has become New Zealand Day. Not without its controversy, it marks the founding document of the country famous signing of the treaty between the British Crown and more than 40 Maori Chiefs at Waitangi, in the Bay of Island, north of Auckland on 6ht February 1840.
The day, very symbolic politicially, throughout New Zealand, has also been used as a beacon of protest concerning treaty injustice by Maori activists. This is a side of the country we do not see much of. And, from what I see, by contrast with other minorities in other parts of the world, the Maoiris have had a good deal though integration of societies presents a large problem up to today. ( Of course in Ireland we have a lot of experience here where we host some of the last remaining great white tribes of the world !)
Back in the nautical world, for many sailors, the Americas Cup is very symbolic as is the amazing achievement of winning it. And when in Auckland as guests of the Royal New Yacht Squadron, holders of the Cup - and New Zealand Yachting - we were horrified to learn that a Maoiri activist had gained access a while back and almost smashed the Cup to pieces. Happily it was rebuilt by the original jewellers from 1850 and security is like at ' fort knox ' and, having triggered the alarms, I know!
And on board in my real ' unreal' world, progress has been steady. We have been on the same tack and sail combination for several days. A steady westerly wind constantly between 15 and 20 knots. Each day merges through overcast skies and drizzle with solid progress and no drama. A routine on board is developing for this second week - following the trials, turbulations, damage and successful repairs in week one.
And to round off todays's Log, and Waitangi Day, the Skipper and entire Council of the residents association dined out at the best restaurant on board ship. I had a steak, medium rare on a stone with mushrooms, onions, fresh vegetables and, of course, chips.
And, if only, such was a wish were true. Fom the words of Thomas Moore, who was told by his clergyman that wishing and the crime are one - and Heaven punishes desires as much as if the deed were done to which he replied.
And, if wishing damns us, you and I
Are damned to all our heart's content:
Come, then, at least we may enjoy
Some pleasure for our punishment