Print
Meet Reyhan, a star of Sailing to Purgatory, who sailed with me without complaint through the ghastliest, scariest weather.

A rather pared down Reyhan was present, too, for the worst of the storms that Sal, and her crew of Reyhan and me, had to endure. When you come to it, you will learn that the prosecution want you to believe that there was no bad weather.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Obliging Basil ... Meet Reyhan, the sweet smelling sailorette who sailed wild waters with me. Well, perhaps, not exactly the Reyhan, probably more a cousin.

In many ways, the reaction from my mistress the sea at that time, through the Roaring Forties, was almost as disturbing as hearing such a gross deceit in a top court where honesty is supposed to be beyond question. Ah, well - I tell myself - a lesson in life that most people won't (rather happily) ever experience.

Yes, it was a solo long distance voyage, but Reyhan was a living basil plant, who had to put up with my conversation, while contributing to my diet, and never once complained.

Prominent in the story.

She appears in two places in the story. When a German couple encourage me to take them from Funchal to Porto Santo, Reyhan earns a mention. This excerpt from Chapter 24 is of a sailor who is to become very prominent in the story. I call her Sofie.

Sofie emerged with steaming mugs and part of a conversation on some aspect of art. She must have begun it below, presumably to herself or to Reyhan, the basil plant. I caught something about Cezanne and then the Giaconda's expression, and then another painter, but I missed his name or didn't recognise it. 'Well, speak of the German academia, and …' she leaned closer, 'you remind me of my professor, very much.'

Then in Chapter 39, Reyhan appears again, and again in a passage about Sofie. By now I am sailing towards the Southern Ocean, and dwelling on a regular theme, that very strange aspect of life, ageing, and what its limiting, restricting of aspects of life, and similarly what it's supposed to stop you doing.

At this moment, the debate raging within over this unwelcome age issue concerns its effect upon the lovely Damen Sofie, the great hope of my wild (and doubtlessly ridiculous) dreams. Today’s emails from the good lady include an excerpt from Wax, an old favourite. The lines really brighten me, so much so that loud cheering startles, Reyhan, the basil herb. Then I recognise suddenly another interpretation, probably not one that Rumi had in mind. Or maybe he did ...

When I see you and how you are,
I close my eyes to the other.
For you I become wax
throughout my body …

It signals that she will join me on terra firma, and then the penny drops that it also means exactly the opposite for which of us is the other?

Poor Reyhan. Well before the sailor had reason to recite, home is he sailor, home from the sea, or what became the homeport, poor Reyhan was no more than a happy, tasty memory. So I'd better reveal that this is not a ghost of that supportive plant, but a cousin spotted and bought from a discount supermarket.