Ithaka has returned to the water. Ana and I drove south leaving Aberdeenshire in the grip of a Siberian winter and found Ithaka in a balmy, Breton, 10 degrees. We were there to hand her over to her new owner.
We commissioned her, re-leading halyards, bending on sails, filling water tanks and installing batteries, while explaining her quirks and intricacies. The tractor reversed the trailer under her and, with a few deft hydraulic moves, she rose straight and level. At funerary pace, she moved down the tree lined lane towards the Villaine river, we two mourners following in time with her gentle descent, and behind, the broker and new owner with more eager anticipation. She settled gently to her marks in the river. I stepped aboard, made the usual checks of seacocks and prop shaft. The engine fired at the first turn of the key and she moved sternwards into the wintery green flow.
The following day the surveyor appeared and tested her functions. She flew down the river at full throttle – 8.5 knots, sails up and down, furled and unfurled. Instruments, water heater, cabin heater, windlass, heads, all were pronounced satisfactory.
On Monday we left her, alongside the La Roche Bernard quay. Outside, looking trim and purposeful, inside, strangely bare, no longer our cosy home. The last thing we took from her was the C.P. Cavafy poem, “Ithaka”, after which we had named her. I scanned the familiar words, now fully understood:
"Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.
And if you find her poor. Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean."
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