I also read, in recent times, Tim Severin‘s “The Jason Voyage”, his attempt at following the mythical story of Jason and the Argonauts. He had a Bronze Age Aegean galley built using archeological evidence and historical texts. This was the real deal – it would have banks of rowers toiling away and the characteristic “ram” bow. He set off from Greece and headed for the Dardanelles, following the legend’s trail and, once again, finding evidence that the myth may have been based on reality. Among the most fascinating aspects of the voyage was that it debunked the longstanding reason for it being myth: a vessel of that era could not have transited to notorious currents of the Dardanelles and Bosporus. Severin, though, figured out how to use back-eddies and other local nuances of the waterway to successful complete the trip from the Aegean to the Black Sea. Once there, the voyage continued to current-day Georgia, wherein Severin and crew “seal the deal” by identifying the likely source for the golden fleece as well as numerous other facts that match the stories.
I was almost tempted to make this book second to The Brendan Voyage, if only because the myth-to-facts aspect of the book are so compelling. In the end, I gave The Sinbad Voyage the honor, but this is a close third. The year after he completed this voyage, Severin took the same boat on another voyage to trace Ulysses’s voyage in “The Odyssey”. That book is in the on-deck-circle on my bed-side table and I look forward to sharing a review with you all soon.
I have had some time to sift through the back catalog here at Chine bLog headquarters and noted that I never covered a few key books I read in the last couple years. In particular, after knocking off Tim Severin‘s The China Voyage and then his The Brendan Voyage, I moved on to his some of his other like books. Severin’s trip in BRENDAN, the authentic 9th century curragh, got his wheels spinning, it seems, and he hit on another mythical journey to test: the adventures of Sinbad.
It was commonly accepted at the time (~1980), that these writings were pure myth. Severin arranged to build a replica 9th century dhow in Oman, scouring the Arabian Sea shores for period materials, especially the coconut husk fiber builders of the day used to lash the boat together. Yes, these were plank–on-frame boats that were fully lashed. He and a crew then sailed the boat from Oman to China, identifying sources for the supposedly mythical elements and, thereby, suggesting the Sinbad stories may have been based on an amalgamation of true events.
The first quarter or so of the book is all about the boat and its materials, and that alone makes it worth reading. The actual voyage is not as gripping as that of the BRENDAN, but it is still an engaging story. If you haven’t read any Severin, I’d start with The Brendan Voyage and then grab this one immediately afterwards. Here is a summary piece if you need more convincing.
In case anyone thinks I am some kind of wooden boat poseur… I was recently cleaning stuff out and came across a bunch of old checks, including some of the first I ever wrote. Inclued was this one, from 1985: my first subscription to WoodenBoat. Keepin’ it real…
Toward the end of the day Saturday, I happened to be on hand when John Harris, father of Chesapeake Light Craft, took a spin in one of the two cocktail class racers that were about. For those who don’t know, these boats are 8′ plywood outboard boats that barely hold a single man. They go fast and have a devoted following. John was getting into the boat and setting of when one fo the other guys from CLC yelled out “John! Stop! You’re in the wrong boat! It has a MOTOR! [as John heads out] Uhhh… he’s gone to the dark side.” LOL. John came back after an out-and-back run looking somewhat exhilerated and more than mildly terrified. In the next three minutes I heard him say “the steering is really an art” no less than five times with his eyes the size of bulkhead ports. I wouldn’t be holding your breath for the CLC cocktail class kit.
I wanted to get these pictures of the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival up right away; I’ll be adding captions soon.
[UPDATE] Captions are now on there. I encourage you to browse through. There were some AMAZING AMAZING boats there. I’d highlight the sailing canoe SEVEN STARS, the Melonseeds, the sailing canoe in pictures 4 and 31, and, of course, the Coquina.
For those scoring at home, your 2011 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival sailing race winner was a Sunfish. A non-traditional, plastic boat – kinda violates my sensibilities. But well done.
I am eager to get going with the paddling race as it is COLD here in St. Michael’s, MD.
[UPDATE] It was me and four kayaks. I got shallaced… again. Time to get my double paddle working with this boat (tried once and I could get my position right). At least the race committee noted I was the only single paddle and called me my own class. So they gave me recognition.
She’s all ready for show…