Trip Reports

Ithica (02-Aug-2002-16-00):
4:00 PM local time, Friday, August 2 (1300 August 2 UTC) 38 11 N 020 29 E. Temp. 86, Humidity 64%, Cloud Cover 0%. Stern-to on the quay in Argostoli, Island of Cephalonia, Greece.

Greetings from the crew of Maverick.

I got up at two-thirty last night and took a walk. Things were bothering me. The Italians in a large crewed charter next to us were still partying, and they bore the thought that their activities may incommode their neighbors with wonderful equanimity. But that wasn't what was keeping me awake.

The Maverick crew had left Salamis about a week earlier feeling sanguine about the future. The boat had been hauled, extensive repairs made, and all troubling issues had been resolved, leaving just a few minor repairs waiting for parts from the US. But our sense of well-being was short-lived.

The dirty weather that I had experienced back in the agora of Athens, during which, I learned later, several people were killed in flooding incidents, had returned. The unseasonable skies, with tremendous thundershowers and lightening, are extremely unusual for Greece in the summer when scarcely is there ever a drop of rain. On our way from the island of Trizonia to Mesolongion in the Gulf of Patras, the squally weather returned, and that night there was a violent thunderstorm. The boat behind Maverick at the dock where we were side-tied suffered a direct lightening strike. We checked our electronic instruments, of which most were unplugged, and everything seemed to work. When we got underway a day later, however, we discovered that some things were amiss. Our radar, tachometer, autopilot, and oil and water gauges were fried. The high-frequency radio would not transmit. So some effects of the lightening came our way.

We can get by for the nonce without radar and the tachometer. We've got a backup autopilot, or had one--now it's in service. But not being able to transmit means we have no onboard email, cannot talk with other boats, and can't call for emergency assistance at a distance beyond about 20 miles. Making the repairs will have to take priority over seeing some of the places we intended to visit. People get by without HF radio but we'd rather not, and it's a good idea to have the radar to help gauge the range, heading, and speed of ships at night.

So the episodes of finding parts or service for complicated equipment in odd places will continue, and this is what was keeping the Captain up. Perhaps the reader has had the experience of navigating through a voicemail system in a foreign language. As I walked through the town, still rocking at this hour, I thought about my fears, and I realized that when we're at sea in rough weather, and it's Maverick's job to take care of us, I'm not really afraid. She'd go over Niagara Falls if we asked her to. It's when it's my job to take care of her, to guide her into a harbor, to see she's safely moored, to watch out for dangerous weather that might compromise the shelter there, to make sure all her systems are maintained and her contingency gear is ready for use: these are the things that bring me worries.

On we sailed, in the continuing squally weather with yet more lightening, to Ithaca, fabled home of Odysseus, who it pleases me to believe was a real person. It's a very beautiful island, really, prettier than all those ones in the Aegean. Hard to find a vista that offends the eye. There are groves of olives and the ever-present cicadas, but also beautiful stands of Cypress, as this side of Greece gets a bit more rainfall than the eastern islands. I saw lots of goats, particularly in the vicinity of an ancient stone cottage on a high ridge, and wondered if they may not be descendants of Odysseus' own herd. Unless they were eliminated from the island sometime in the past, it's hard to believe that they aren't. Goats are notoriously bad record keepers, though.

We stayed at a rolly and picturesque little harbor named Frikes, not the bigger southern harbor of Vathi. The entire island is only 13 miles long, but apparently Odysseus' kingdom extended to the neighboring, much larger island of Cephalonia, where Maverick is now berthed, as well. There is no agreement on where Odysseus' palace may have been, or where the Cave of the Nymphs was, or where Odysseus may have kept his fleet, but many bronze age finds certainly establish that the island was inhabited by well before the time of our hero. The earliest piece they have with Odysseus' name on it, in the archaeological museum on the mountain above Frikes, is, however, only 2nd century BC, one thousand years after the Trojan War. As kingdoms go, Ithaca wasn't so big, I suppose, and this of course accounts for Odysseus' lower status in the war than Agamemnon, for example. But still, it's nothing to sneeze at. I wouldn't hesitate to accept a kingship there, were the position offered to me. You never know what might happen.

Tomorrow, we're off to Italy.


Tom Proctor reminds me that Japan, Korea, and The Philippines are included in IALA Region B and like North and South America have red, right returning. A bit of very sloppy and irresponsible reportage on the part of the Captain, who frankly was thinking only of places we've been or are going. Honestly, I don't know whether the bicycle brakes in those countries are American style or not, either.

Webmaster Jim Mead responds to Mr. Turner's comments on the metric system with remarks that show less respect for the legislative branch of our fine government than one might have wished for from a patriotic American, unless, as we have reason to hope, they are inspired by an even deeper patriotism. There are innuendos. Mr. Mead has the audacity to suggest, if I read him correctly, that the voting records of some members of that branch display a greater concern for their reelection, and the desire to please moneyed interests, than for a flourishing and just society. I share with our readers a hope that this shocking charge has no merit. Mr. Mead's essential point is, however, well taken, and that is that since we here at are a .net and not a .com, we have only the public's interests at heart and do not involve ourselves in trade or commerce, in which arenas Mr. Mead admits that according to US Code, the metric system is "preferred." (It is true, and this is a new and exciting offer, that our readers can arrange to make a contribution to the Captain's retirement fund and receive in return a special embossed Certificate of Rank in Maverick's Navy. Carefully note that no "trade" or "commerce" is implied.) One of the requirements of holding the office of webmaster is making policy on important issues like the official measurement system of Mr. Mead, in exercising this privilege, does no more than his duty and has the Captain's full support, particularly when he makes a ruling in an area not involving trade or commerce.

On a related topic, Mr. Mead says he has visited the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma and can confirm that, indeed, President Reagan is honored there with a statue. I gathered from the tone of his letter that he sees nothing improper in that. I hope Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gene Autry, Andy Devine, Hopalong Cassidy, Slim Pickins, The Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger, Yosemite Sam, Tom Landry, and the Marlboro Man are in there too. Oooh, how about DeForest Kelley? He played Morgan Earp in "Gunfight at the OK Corral." At least one of those started as a real cowboy. Can you name him or her? The philosophical problem for the Cowboy Hall of Fame of course is that few real cowboys were actually famous anywhere but Hollister, Winnemucca, and Amarillo, making two of the three major words that name their institution incompatible. This has undoubtedly led to the inclusion of make-believe cowboys to correct the deficit. Perhaps the administrators have, like Homer scholars, some difficulty in separating fantasy from reality, not that there's anything w rong with that. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Is the Gipper also in the Football Hall of Fame? Is Robert Redford in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Then Kevin Costner ought to be there, too, I reckon.

In all, Maverick called at 13 Greek Islands plus the mainland and the Peloponnisos, not counting Rhodes and Delos that we visited by ferry, and Dhenousa, where we anchored but did not go ashore.

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