Taniwha – By Noel Hagenson

A deck slick with early morning dew and canted by the press of sails overhead, full and hard with the blessing of Tawhiri. The slow, even plunge and rise of the boat as she meets the swell, clean and smooth, and the soft clicking of the auto-helm overlaid with the hiss of the hull through deep green water. The cool breeze seeks any gap in a thick woollen jersey, and the rigging creaks gently under strain.

The glorious milky way has faded with the lightening eastern sky, and the moon has set many hours since. The sky overhead ranges from a deep blue, almost black, in the west through all the blues and oranges, with no separation so that there is no telling where blue ends and orange begins, and in the east is the promise of the new day.

Sol’s golden orb, too bright to look at but impossible to look away from peeks above the horizon, a golden path shimmering on the water leads directly to him, enticing you into taking that first step.

A hot coffee warms your hands and stomach, the aroma heady and strong, evocative of a thousand mornings. Mornings of warm kitchens with bacon and eggs and family and a radio giving the news in the background. But not this morning. This morning you are a speck on the mighty Pacific, and truly aware of your significance in the grand scheme.

A sharp hsss-phoagh and a smooth form cuts above the water, leaving a thin plume and the smell of fish. Another and another, and you are surrounded by dolphins.

Grey, ghostly shapes blurring through the water and curving gracefully above it to breathe. Always one or two keeping station in the pressure wave coming off the bow while the rest of the pod range from the sides to astern. Once one comes close enough to touch if you would only reach out.

By the time Sol has cleared the horizon by the thickness of your thumb, they are gone, and suddenly the ocean is a much larger place again. A long day stretches before you and it promises to be hot, but for a time you were in the presence of Taniwha. A thing which can never be forgotten.

Photo by Orhan Aydin.

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