National Geographic : 1973 Jul
But White Mist had her diesel. As the wind freshened, we decided it was time to get out of there. Winds now 50 knots flung combers over the breakwaters. The chop was terrible, waves bouncing between seawall and moles, the ship plunging her bows and smothered in spray. If our engine quit, we'd be in trouble. It took half an hour to inch out of the harbor in the teeth of that blow, the engine going full speed. We headed for Gouvia's protected harbor four miles to the northwest. Poseidon Poses a Final Threat Then I noticed the engine overheating under the prolonged strain; a gasket had blown. I slowed her so as not to burn out the diesel. As steep waves pounded us and spume foamed into the cockpit, I remem bered how Poseidon "stirred up an un speakable sea" against Ulysses, wrecking him with a "stormblast of battering winds." No lights mark Gouvia's shoal-flanked entrance. Luckily, we made it just before dark. We ran upchannel, made our turn, and came into the sudden tranquillity of a haven shielded by hills and ringed about with goodly trees. Here in calm waters we slept while the storm blew itself out. Day broke clear, suffusing this lovely harbor with light-that magical Greek light that makes the landscape radiant and illumines the mind. I rejoiced in the homecoming of Ulysses. And perceived that in a sense I, too, had come home. Though I did not reach the lonians until I had explored the world's far lands and endured many of life's tempests, I had always carried the isles of Ulysses in my mind. And the long journey had been rich in newfound friends and experiences. But Ulysses had one more hurdle. A blind seer had foretold that he must go inland, oar on shoulder, until he came to a place where men, knowing nothing of ships and the sea, mistook it for a winnow ing fan. There he must plant it and render sacrifices to Poseidon. Only then could he return home to serenity. I'll make my peace with Poseidon, never fear. But should you chance to meet me with an oar over my shoulder, I'll not be planting it inland. I'll be returning to the gull cry, the salt tang, the surge of the wine-dark sea. 7 slumbers under a rising moon.