The Vasco da Gamas

Model Ships005

I have met a number of Vasco da Gamas in my life – people who have launched out into the great unknown for a reason that they could not initially define. Some have sailed around the world successfully and some have sunk just outside the harbour entrance. A very clever one decided to sail a certain way and take down the masts and just let the current of the world drift his ship along. Oddly enough, it seems to have been as successful a strategy as the most vigorous and skilled navigation.

As I say, some of the explorers set out on their lives and foundered early in the voyage. I have seen that in my family. The admirable thing was that the person concerned swam back to the financial starting point, built another ship, and started out again. Indeed, he set out four expeditions and sank four times, but always swam back and recovered. In the end he arrived at a safe harbour with a contented mind and the knowledge that he had done the best he could.

Others travel wilder and more primitive waters. They try out what no-one else would even think of doing. Sometimes they make these voyages using their bodies as barques. They are as much experimentalists as explorers. For the record, there is a difference between these two brave types: the explorer is generally killed by the natives and the experimenter just blows themselves up. Hopefully before this sort of thing happens they will have discovered either Borneo or Boron.

I’ve a great deal of respect for them, and admiration… I should not have the same courage myself.




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