As the Greek saying goes "a poor saint gets neither candles nor frankincense", as if a rich saint were a lot holier than a poor one. I'm talking about "Kyrenia II" which was sent - I shudder to say - here, just a tiny soul, built as a replica in the image of the one that was raised from the deep, carrying with it a history of two thousand and two hundred years behind it. It was a poor sight. If it had been "Christina", Onassis's eventful cosmopolitan yacht, or Yiannis Latsis's "Phos", which was recently added to the Greek fleet, it would have made a great stir - across the whole of America, from one ocean to the other.
But this ship is so petite. It is simple and timid, with the eye of Mermaid History on its bow, which is not coveted by the evil eye. It has been sent by eternally sentimental and incorrigibly honour-loving Greece, instructed, as a little child, to pay tribute to the Great Lady, "Lady Liberty", whose history is, at any rate, puny compared with it. Hers is a story of hospitality, coming from a friendly country, anyway, France, like a fairytale. Greece has sent this ship as "the very best" she has, a part of her glory and treasure! - to pay homage to a Statue whose soul has been corrupted by commercialization.
And, as statues cannot hear or understand or talk, she has looked down on it like a lady on her maid, looking at it snobbishly, coldly, without saying a word. What does this Lady know about the Aegean and its Hellenic culture, which little "Kyrenia II" was excitedly inscribing on the water? What, indeed, does she know about Cyprus and the groan of anguish that cannot reach her, heaving out of its hold? What does she know about the tears of those that were forcibly kicked out of their homes or the mothers' mourning for their lost sons and missing persons? Those who were killed are now resting in peace.
"Kyrenia II" knelt before her, with a feeling of affinity with common pain and understanding, regardless of the fact that she, the Lady, had been pursued away from her own land for a different reason. Her heart has turned into stone by bragging and wealth. She came as an idea, as a symbol, but has been changed into a commodity. How can she, heartless as she has become, show sympathy towards those demure humble sails and the raised - as if respectfully beseechingmast? How can she feel, insensitive as she is, the modestly discreet cry of protest against injustice? Our glorious little ship has been ignored by the pirates of the seas, though its unassuming, sea-lashed four-man crew shone with their white presence, sailing full speed to the West with an unerring compass that showed them the way. Finally, in spite of everything, we learn that there is no place for sentimentality towards the ship! - because it's loaded only with saddened glory.
When, with God's will, you return home to your own waters, Kyrenia, forget that the Lady has disregarded you. Open your sail wide across the Aegean and the Mediterranean and spread around the greetings of Greek emigrants and proudly set, with their support, your course alone.
Yet, Kyrenia, never forget that "we've carried the light to the West and brought back darkness"!

REGINA PAGOULATOU, "Proini" newspaper New York, 3 July 1986

Impressions of Professor MICHAEL KATSEV

"Kyrenia II glided under the Verrazano bridge while noises were heard from all directions. The thud of cannon balls came from a distance. Helicopters were droning above all the time while fast patrol boats were screeching among the ships of honour that were paraded in salutation. Yet, in the effusion of those moments, when the greatest gathering of traditional sailing ships in modern history was taking place - they had all come together to celebrate Freedom - as we stood on our sailing ship we felt the silence of the ship that was carrying us towards the Statue of Liberty. It was a silence like the one we experienced when we dived for the first time over the ancient ship off the shores of Kyrenia, almost twenty years back"
"Also, we couldn't help comparing the emotions of pride that we felt as we were paying tribute to the raised torch of the Statue of Liberty with those the crew of the Kyrenia ship must have felt as they approached ancient Athens. A bronze statue of Athena the Defender stood at the top of the Acropolis and it is said that the reflection of the sun on her dazzling spear was the first ray of light that the ancient seamen saw, welcoming them to the centre of the civilized world."

Impressions of Professor MICHAEL KATSEV who escorted "Kyrenia II" during the celebrations for the Centenary of the Statue of Liberty, as published in INA Newsletter Vol. 13, No. 3 November 1986, pp. 3.11.

Go back to the previous page

Monday, May 27, 1996 11:59:56 PM