The Big Voyage ….to make a spiritual song line in the form of a sea pilgrimage of song which links Fingal’s cave on the Hebridean island of Staffa with the shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah in the Holy land of Israel.
The background: This journey has had two major inspirations. The first is to share the Baha’i vision. This vision was generated by the lives teaching and inspiration of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. In this understanding humanity has now entered a new phase of development. In this phase all the forces of life will transform our present war torn and dysfunctional world into a world characterised by beauty. Humanity slowly grows the maturity and insights to realise and become beautiful: beautiful as individuals, beautiful as working interlocking communities and beautiful in ways of collectively living harmoniously with our natural world.
The second inspiration is our stewardship of a much- travelled and venerable old craft which gives the opportunity to bring crews together to share a voyage and make beautiful music. Winifreda of Greenisland has had many uses, has sailed many seas, but never as far as Israel. This voyage would be a crowning moment in her long nautical life!
The Mission: For Winny’s crew, the challenge will be twofold. Firstly to safely sail the boat to the Holy Land and the shrines of the souls who earthed the Baha’i vision. Secondly to make formal and informal musical interpretations of this beautiful vision and to share these with people met during the voyage.
The boat : Winny, 32 feet of double diagonal teak on oak, was built by master Irish craftsmen towards the end of the nineteenth century. Since then she has gone through many incarnations. Originally she was a naval ship used for carrying gun powder to the fleet in Cork harbour. Then she was used by Irish ‘freedom fighters’ to ship arms to aid the 1916 Irish uprising. For the last 96 years she has been sailed under the stewardship of our family. To start with she was a commercial lobster fishing boat, then a rough- and- ready yacht. In the 1960s she was given a big refit and became an improved family yacht. In this phase she cruised the waters of Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and the Hebrides. More recently she has been used to give to people with learning difficulties sailing adventures in the inner Hebrides. Her most recent voyages have been linked with music. Winny continues to be well maintained and remains in fine sea fettle
Music: In recent years the good ship Winny has been used to make musical voyages through the Islands of the Hebrides. Musical crews have gathered and sung songs inspired by the spirit of the Baha’I vision: one planet and one beautifully diverse people, and a world destined to live in a dynamic and positive harmony. The current voyage is an ambitious extension of these musical adventures
The proposed voyage will follow in part the route which Winny took in 1968 when she carried my mother and others to mark the 100th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the Holy Land. Then its destination was the Oceanic Conference in Palermo, in Sicily. This time we will, in a sense, complete that voyage by continuing the passage to the Holy Land and the harbours near the holy shrines of the Bab, Baha’u’llah and his family.
The song line and sharing element of the voyage:
In this adventure the journey is seen as of equal importance with the arrival. We will visit a number of ports en route and these visits will be used as occasions to make music and sing of the unity of the world. This may happen during impromptu musical exchanges with people met, or through more formal concerts organised by the local Baha’i communities. The voyage will thus create a necklace of ‘spiritual sound moments ’ which will link the Isle of Staffa with the Holy thresholds of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
The beginning of the voyage
It is proposed that the voyage will start with a gathering in Fingal’s cave to which all participating musicians and well- wishers are invited.. We will seek blessings for the voyage through improvised sound. If blessings are attracted, our song-line will end with a musical thanksgiving in the beautiful gardens which surround the shrine of Baha’u’llah.
The crews will need to consist of a blend of qualities. Some will have nautical skills, some will have musical ability and a taste for the sweetness of devotional music and willingness to touch people and audiences met on the way with the musical interpretations of the Baha’I vision. We would hope to speak a universal musical language, but ideally we’d have someone aboard who speaks the language of the country as well.. The voyage itself will have different phases. The more challenging waters are likely to be the Irish Sea and the passage across the Bay of Biscay and down the coast of Portugal. The less challenging part of the voyage is likely to be in the Mediterranean. (The caveat is that life at sea is full of paradox and surprises!), Other than myself and Paddy the crews are likely to change according to the level of nautical challenge (like the crossing of Biscay where we’ll need experienced sailors) and time availability.
Recording the voyage:
The voyage will be recorded in three main ways: audio, photographic, audio visual and written. The intention will be to use the voyage as a basis for a film, a CD and a book. We will bring sound equipment to capture the musical aspects of the voyage and video cameras to capture its audio visual nature. A written log of the voyage will be kept, and members of the crew will be encouraged to keep their own diaries and inspirational thoughts. My aspiration is to weave an account of this voyage and make it into a book or part of a longer book which tells the story of Winny’s extraordinary history.
Way point of the voyage and the approximate timings. (this is subject to wind and weather!)
This is how the voyage will look:
Phase One : (mid May 2012 to Mid June) will take us from Mull to Cornwall, via Iona, Crinan Canal, Holy island (near Arran). Then to Ballycastle, Carnlough, and Bangor in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Bangor (North Wales) Dunlaioghe, Wexford, Waterford and Cork in Eire. Then across to Cross Haven, Cardiff, Bristol and South West Cornwall.
Phase Two (For experienced sailors) (mid to end of June ) will take us from Cornwall, across the Bay of Biscay to Gibraltar via North Spain, Portugal and Southern Spain including Cadiz.
Phase Three: ( Early July – mid July) will take us East from Gibraltar along the Spanish Southern coast to Ibiza Mallorca, Minorca, then Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and Greece.
Phase Four: (mid July- end of August) Greece, Turkey, Cyprus
Phase Five: (early September) Cyprus to Haifa and Acca in Israel
Phase Six: (mid September to late September) Haifa to a safe harbour to winter the boat – possibly Cyprus.
Participation and costs for crew members:
It is expected that the crews will share the cost of food, marina berthing and fuel. This will change according to winds, appetite, time spent in marinas and the vagaries of country and currency fluctuations!
Probably few will be able to devote the time to complete the whole voyage, but hopefully lots of people will be able to participate in some part or parts of it.
The first thing is to find out who is generally interested and roughly when or where they might like to join the ship. After this we will be able to put together crews for different parts of the voyage.
If you’re interested:
If you are excited by the idea of this adventure (sailing – wise or musically) please get in touch with me and we’ll see how you can be spliced into this nautical song line! I look forward very much to hearing from you and I welcome any ideas and comments
Gvs38@hotmail.com or 01434 345 359 or 07785102484
For info on Winny: winnyvoyage.com