Homer….not Simpson

Reference to Homer’s Iliad might be seen as rather ‘highbrow’ and somewhat incongruous given the usual more ‘earthy’ content of these blogs. So, not surprisingly, I must confess to having been introduced to it by an infinitely more learned and cerebral friend and fellow Southerly 135 sailor, John Goodall. Here is his mail to me and I have decided to include it in its entirety so the context can be understood. I found it rather moving and thought provoking. To my mind, it sort of captures the fundamental motivations and mindset of the more adventurous cruising sailor. It has made me reflect a little on life and conclude that I tend to be in far too much of a hurry, and that I really need to slow down and drink in (pun not actually intended) more of the wonderful places that I visit. Here it goes:-

Last month, in Lancing Chapel (the largest school chapel in the world), I attended the memorial service of Professor John Dancy (a classical scholar), the Headmaster of Lancing College who was in office during the time I attended that famous institution 1956-1960. A highlight of the service was the reading by Sir Tim Rice (OL 1958-1962) from ‘Ithaca’ by the modern Greek poet Cavafy (1863-1933). As I listened intently to Sir Tim my first thought was of you!

Constantine Cavafy

The poem that follows is a reflection on the voyage home of Odysseus at the end of the Trojan War. In Cavafy’s telling, the voyage to Ithaca symbolises the journey of a lifetime:


“When you set out for Ithaca, ask that the journey be long, full of adventures, full of things to learn. Pray that there be many summer mornings when with what joy, what delight, you will enter harbours you have not seen before: you will stop at Phoenician trading ports and acquire beautiful merchandise, you will visit many Egyptian cities to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaca always in your mind. Your destination is always to arrive there, but do not hurry your journey in the least. Better that it may last for many years, that you drop anchor at that island when you are old, rich with all that Ithaca gave you on the way, not expecting that Ithaca will give you wealth; Ithaca gave you that splendid journey. Without her you would not have set out. She has nothing more to offer.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. You will doubtless have acquired such wisdom, so much experience, that you have already realised what these Ithacas really mean.”

2 thoughts on “Homer….not Simpson

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  1. Nick
    Hi there saw Hejira in Northney marina yesterday and reread all your blogs
    Many happy memories of our Arc and Arc plus trips in 2015 -2016 .
    We sold Slipper 1 in 2020 as the wives had not been well but missed mucking about in boats so much we bought a Moody 31 yesterday and still smiling today.
    best wishes
    William Shaw

    1. Great to hear from you William. I have very fond memories of our time together in Bermuda and the Azores, I hope your son and daughter are both well. Reminiscing on the fabulous time spent in Bermuda with Ollie and Barry (I guess you will have picked up from the ‘Such Sad News’ blog that poor Barry died.) I have just booked a holiday there but by aeroplane this time!

      Do you remember Mark and Amy Laser? They were a very engaging American couple, both doctors. They sailed on into the Med while we both went north from the Azores. We went straight to the Solent while I think you took ‘Slipper 1’ up to Northern Spain. They sold their monohull and bought a catamaran in America to fulfill their retirement dream, sailing south to the Caribbean. Unfortunately, Mark caught Covid soon after they arrived, was airlifted to Florida but died in hospital. This obituary demonstrates what a fine man he was: https://www.marklasermemorial.com/

      So you have sold Slipper 1. I do remember you confiding to me that you would have preferred a Sadler 39 for it’s solid construction and sea keeping abilities rather than the Bavaria 41 but you were outvoted by the other parties who were seduced by the interior. It held together very adequately in the Atlantic storm with your account featuring in Yachting World. Do you remember the radio exchange when your heads outlet was blocked? I still tell the story, but not over dinner!

      In that you spotted Hejira in Northney Marina, is that where you have located your Moody 31? Northney is absolutely perfect in so many ways and I feel very lucky to have secured a great berth there.

      I fondly remember the lunch you treated me to at Richmond Golf Club and I would relish the opportunity to reciprocate here in Sunningdale but not sadly at the Golf Club… It would be so much fun to ‘chew the fat’ and reminisce.

      Very pleased you are still smiling William, let’s catch up properly soon !

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