An Imperial Prison
Posted: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
Location: Porto Azzurro, Elba, Italy
Today was another passage day. We awoke before the sun at Porto Venere and after a quick breakfast of cereal we raised the Forward Staysail, the Main Staysail, the Main Sail and finally the Fisherman’s Sail. It was the largest number of sails risen so far (4 out of 6 for only the Gib and Flying Gib remained lowered) but unfortunately we didn’t get to truly use them. The wind remained weak throughout the day (only 2 on the 0-12 Beaufort Scale) and thus the “Fish” and the Main Sail were quickly lowered so they weren’t damaged by the constant flapping. We once again used the motor as our primary thruster if you will (although I understand the necessity to keep a tight schedule I do wish we could have a day with fair winds and get off motor power altogether). We were on the way to the Italian island of Elba, a place roughly the size of Nantucket from my observations, although far more mountainous as is characteristic of Italy. It is unremarkable -except for the fact that it was the prison of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte before his 100 Days and the infamous battle of Waterloo, where he was finally defeated by Wellington. As someone who is fascinated by the Napoleonic Wars, this island holds remarkable weight for me. I can imagine that what I see is what the Emperor saw on his trip to his hated prison, and although it was a prison I cannot help but think of it almost as a holy site. For it was here that Napoleon learned of the suffering of the French people under the newly re-crowned and rightfully hated king, and it was here that he decided to return and fight one last time for the glory of the French people. Although I learned much about his experiences here from our resident Frenchman during bow-watch, I feel like I knew them all my life. I wish we could stay on the island for longer but there is only a morning hike before raising sails once again to make for the next exciting place. As we make our approach to Porto Azzurro and clean up another delicious dinner I sign off to see what Napoleon saw, just this time from the bow-net.