of a warship of the Mycean or Homeric times is historically thinkable.
A replica of a small merchant ship from the 4th century B.C., the Kyrenia,
was actually built according to results of excavations carried out on
its wreck. The navigator Tim Severin also built an imagined replica of
Jason's boat, the Argo. But warships from the Mycean or Homeric
times are quite different : they are longer, lighter, built to be moved
rapidly with oars and for attack. They are moved with sails only for long
travels. The use of such a boat replica to follow Odysseus' itinerary
was excluded for very simple nautical reasons, regardless of the cost
itself : it would have needed fifty oarers and the travel would have taken
several years, since such boats are very exposed to shifts of wind. Life
onboard would have not been possible for a so long period. And there would
not have been enough room to hold the scientific instruments required
for studying winds, currents and sea depths. We had therefore to chose
a modern ship, equipped with a GPS navigation system, with a device to
receive meteorological information, with instruments for current measurements
and soundings and able to accomodate a television team possibly divers.
Moreover, the ship would have to fulfil following conditions :
- Be a sailing boat, like Odysseus' boats, capable of approaching near
to sea animals without frightening them,
- Be a shallow-draught ship capable of approaching the shore without stranding
in the difficult waters off Pylos, Troya, Syrtes and Libya, but be sufficiently
strong to resist any possible running aground.
- Be equipped with an auxiliary motor powerful enough to compensate for
a team of fifty oarers, cope with extreme conditions such as storms and
dead calms and produce enough electricity onboard.
- Be equipped with one or two small annex boats powerful enough to land
in all weathers so as well as to proceed to measurements of currents and
sea grounds close to the shore. - Have a floating length permitting to
withstand very high winds that may blow in the Mediterranean (up to force
8 and sometimes 11 in the Beaufortscale).
boats exist. The one we have chosen for the expedition is a shallow-draught
cruise catamaran, very stable in fair winds, capable of accomodating the
crew and the scientific team with their equipment.