Sunday, June 04, 2006
A little history lesson
First light. It is always exquisite over the sea. Today was a silver morn - the sea glassy smooth under soft clouds striated grey and silver. And there on the horizon was the silhouette of the first explorers - a strange, ancient craft under billowing sails. It was the Duyfken, a replica of the 1606 Dutch vessel which plied the Spice Islands trade routes and attempted to find New Guinea. Through the telescope one could see it pitching dramatically, despite the fact that it seemed fairly calm out on the ocean. Its raised stern reared from the water and the boat seemed more to plunge through the water than to sail - yet there seemed to be two people up masts quite happily working on the sails and other figures moving around the deck. One could see them clearly, since they were large. The boat was staggeringly small. This replica of the vessels that explored our planet, bringing back not only maps but specimens and trade goods, was tiny. We have become so accustomed to the large scale of transport that it simply boggles the mind to see the scale of the past - and recognise pure grit of the sailors who worked those boats in unknown realms.
It is a grand thing the Duyfken people have done in creating and touring that perfect carbon copy from the maritime archives. And, the sight of that bravely bucking little tall ship in the silvery morn was like peeking through a keyhole into history