Sailing into Stormy Waters


watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of sailing in Croatia

The first film I ever saw was one called “The adventures of Marco Polo” so I admit that I was more than a little excited as we sailed into the port of Korčula, a windswept Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea.

Korčula was the birthplace of Marco Polo, the explorer. His house is still there, overlooking the narrow streets and stairways of the medieval town, and the dark taverns too where he is said to have planned his travels and boasted of his many foreign adventures.

There is a map of his travels there, on the wall outside his house, and it names all those exotic places (see below), places he had visited while in the service of Kublai Khan but…

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of travels of Marco Polo

But there was a hoary old sailor on our boat, had sailed the Spanish Main, “I pray thee, put into yonder port”, he said, “for I fear a hurricane”.

Well, he was right about the hurricane but it was something else he said that upset me more. He blew a whiff from his pipe (and a scornful laugh laughed he) and he said that all that stuff about the travels of Marco Polo was just ‘auld bilge water’.

He said that Polo had travelled no further than Persia and that all those stories about China were simply based on tales he’d heard from Persian travellers.

I suppose that I could be accused of some exaggeration meself from time to time (Did I mention the height of those stormy seas? or the strength of that mighty Bora wind?) but Marco Polo the explorer? – No, a thousand times No.

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of stormy seas in Croatia

Ah well, whatever about the bold Marco, but it really makes me mad when I think of “Fake News” (and the one guy in particular who made it popular). It is such a crime to have made all stories suspect, so that nowadays, we can be sure of nothing – and brazen lying is now deemed acceptable. Well it’s not, in my book.

Now more than ever, we need leaders who will stand up for truth and justice.

Francesco sails to Korčula – a BBC programme

PS – and yes, I was quoting from Longfellow’s poem: “The Wreck of the Hesperus”


  1. I suppose the only way to ‘fact-check’ would be to invent a time machine … but then, we’d take our own cultural biases back with us, wouldn’t we. 🙂


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