| 9:00 PM local time, Sunday, June 16 (1800 June 16 UTC) 36 32 N 026 21 E.
Temp. 72, Humidity 50%, Cloud Cover 20%. Anchored at Katapola harbor on the
island of Amorgos, Greece.
Greetings from the crew of Maverick.
We've been to quite a few islands so far here in the Aegean Sea. Rhodes,
of course, we went to by ferry, but the rest, including Symi, Nisiros, Kos,
Astipalaia, and now Amargos, we visited with Maverick. We're approximately
half way across the Aegean, in the part of the islands known as the Cyclades.
They are all different, but share, as Wittgenstein would unquestionably note,
a family resemblance, and the one thing they all have in common is motor
scooters, the jet-skies of the roadway.
Fortunately, Ship's Chief Engineer Terry Shrode at one time was a fellow
at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he concentrated on studies in
terrestrial vehicle velocity. This gives him a special insight into the
operation of road racing machines of all types, which he often uses to put
the Captain at a disadvantage when we are ashore. Back in Egypt, we
patronized, as is our habit, the local go-cart track. No money was placed on
the outcome, of course, as we are above that sort of thing. Having checked
the weather that morning in preparation for the voyage, the Captain arrived
at the harbor where the carts were berthed and took a serious look at his
vessel with regard to safety. He checked for audible and visual distress
signals, a fire extinguisher, etc., and noticed the absence of a life jacket.
The proprietor was clearly not trained in these matters and seemed more than
a little put upon by my request, which I must say I pressed rather
forcefully, as safety is number one with me. I finally accepted his child's
inflatable toy as a workable facsimile. I was willing to forego the type IV
throwable PFD which is irrelevant for a single-hander, but otherwise I was
determined not to leave the dock until I was "safe to go," as the literature
is filled with voyages coming to a bad end because of an overly hasty and
Mr. Shrode, who, I'm sorry to report, cast off the lines without taking
the above precautions, smiled rather unreservedly, I should have thought, as
he screamed by me failing to yield to the starboard cart, which was the
stand-on vessel in this situation. Fortunately, I was alert enough to avoid a
collision. I navigated cautiously and in a seamanlike fashion, somewhat below
hull speed, as I gained my offing, keeping a sharp lookout for shoals,
wrecks, reefs, and headlands as Mr. Shrode drove by me, lapping me yet again.
The reader may be forgiven for assuming that after the fifth, tenth, or
fifteenth such encounter, the insane gleam in Mr. Shrode's eye would have
dimmed a bit, but if so, he undoubtedly has not had the privilege of his
So it goes with most of our adventures on land, and yet there are times
when I prevail. Mr. Shrode is the better of the Captain in every manly virtue
save one, and that is shortness, and its attendant lack of bulk, if I may say
so without impropriety. As a direct result, when climbing hills on
underpowered motor scooters, it is Mr. Shrode who is at a disadvantage and
the Captain who emerges victorious. There, I've said it, flinging modesty
aside. The truth is out. Let the chips fall where they may.
Scooters are lots of fun but we have also our serious work to do as we
visit these islands. Part of our burden, under the heading of archaeological
and cultural findings, is to contribute what we can to the search for the
actual geographical locations for the adventures of that sailor of legend,
Odysseus, in whose wine-dark sea Maverick now finds itself. This problem has
fascinated scholars since the times of Homer himself. Even then, or soon
thereafter, it was believed by some that Homer's tales were pure fiction.
Eratosthanes, that old windbag (who figured out that the earth was round and
came up with a pretty good estimate of its circumference), for one, said that
the actual places of Odysseus' wanderings would be discovered when the
"cobbler who sewed up Aeolus' bag of winds was found." The best work on this
subject in your correspondent's opinion is "The Ulysses Voyage" by Tim
Severin, Dutton 1987, ISBN: 0-525-24614-2. It's out of print, but surely the
reader has a friend with a copy. Severin, a Cambridge man like our Mr.
Shrode, oversees the reconstruction of a bronze-age galley and sets out to
sail it along the logical route for a mariner returning from Troy to Ithaca.
It's a great tale, to which, if the reader is fortunate, we may return at a
For now, however, it will suffice to describe our own careful methodology
as we search for the home of Polyphemus, the Cyclops who eats some of
Odysseus' crew and then is maimed and taunted by our hero in the most famous
story of the Odyssey. We are sorry to report that although our knowledge of
ancient Greek is sufficient, the modern version does not come easily to our
ear, so we have devised the following stratagem for communicating our main
question to the locals, the question being, of course, where is the Cyclops?
Utilizing Mr. Shrode's skills as a graphic artist, we have drawn on a yellow
legal pad a large and bold question mark. Thus equipped, we set out on our
travels. When we have secured our anchor at a likely island, we take the
dinghy ashore with our question mark and look for a man or woman who, though
advanced in years, seems to possess that certain pomme de terre that
signifies obscure and ancient knowledge. We approach politely, and then
proceed with the following pantomime to signal our inquiry: The Captain
places the forefinger of his left hand to the forefinger of his right hand,
then he places the thumb of his right hand to the thumb of his left hand.
Having completed this maneuver, he meticulously and subtly forms the four
digits into a circle. This he places flatly against the middle of his
forehead, with the junction of the two thumbs resting on the bridge of his
nose and the lateral remainder of the thumbs covering his two eyes, now
plainly representing a one-eyed monster. He accompanies this likeness with
frightening grimaces and gruesome grunts and howls, stomping around heavily
as he does so. Mr. Shrode approaches with our carefully prepared question
mark and holds it next to the monster's head, pointing to him urgently as he
shrugs his shoulders and raises his eyebrows. Even though we do not share a
common verbal language with the person we are addressing, we have little
doubt that our intentions are made crystal clear to even the dullest mind.
We didn't undertake these, or for that matter, any of our studies, just
to satisfy our own vain curiosity; we have humanity's larger interests at
stake. And we never thought it would be easy. We've got a lot more islands to
go, so the fact that our efforts have thus far met with few positive
responses, and some which were, frankly, puzzling, does not discourage us.
Homer lovers, we are finding, are a rarer breed than we had heretofore
supposed, as astounding as it may sound to our readers. For the sake of those
at home who depend on us to seek out the facts, however, we intend to,
undaunted, soldier on until we find the true home of that unfortunate giant
of olden times, Polyphemus, son of the earth-shaker Poseidon.