Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Day I Drowned

The SS Heraklion capsized and sank on 8 December 1966
in the Aegean Sea, resulting in the death of over 200 people.

   My lifejacket was found
                          [among floating broken wood and oil spills, ​
     on the eighth of December, 

                          [one thousand nine hundred and sixty-six.

     The reason why I drowned that date fifty years ago,
     is that
I had tried to evacuate passengers
                        [instead of heading to the lifeboat to go.

A week before I signed on
                       [as a Third Mate in this former ocean liner​ 
with dozens of labyrinthine alleyways where someone 
                                     [could feel as trapped as a miner.​

If the lights go out as it did that night
            [when the impetuous waves filled the boat
while I and passengers trapped deep below 
                                                         [oh so remote. ​

Reception of passengers boarding

It was impossible for this new crew
                              [to learn the grids of alleyways.​

One of the most common of the dangerous plays, 
is for economic reasons, to recruit crews 
                                [a few days before departure.

My voice is too weak, and here we need
                             [some big shot's voice sharper.

   Every man for himself was the way it went, 
                    [forgotten were altruism and comradeship​
     as the sea water had flooded almost the entire ship.

    The last thing I remember was the little Dipper,
    which was visible from a porthole,

                    [and it seemed to say to the skipper:​

    ''My son Polaris and I for centuries

                       [we have steered and advised sailors, ​
     but we do not have the power to prevent failures
    due to wrong choices

                     [with only a view for money and profit.
    To see this you don't need to be a magician,

                                                           [or a prophet....

*Extract from "The Broken Mooring Line", an experiential
poetic work
 // page c56// e-mail: //
Texts and Narration: Odysseus Heavilayias - ROTTERDAM //
Language adjustments and text adaptation: Kellene G Safis - CHICAGO//
Digital adaptation and text editing: Cathy Rapakoulia Mataraga - PIRAEUS//

Sinking The SOS signal was repeated twice
36°52′N 24°8′E / 36.867°N 24.133°E / 36.867; 24.133.
At 8.00 pm on the evening of 7 December 1966, and under extreme weather conditions, with winds blowing at Force 9 on the Beaufort scale, the Heraklion sailed from Souda Bay, Crete for Piraeus, after a two-hour delay, allegedly in order to embark a refrigerator truck that according to most accounts contributed to the sinking. Nowadays, passenger ships operating in Greek waters are prohibited from sailing in winds at or greater than Force 9 on the Beaufort scale, but at that time it was up to the captain to decide whether to sail or not, sometimes under pressure from the ship owners.
Halfway through the voyage, while sailing south of the small rocky island of Falkonera, the aforementioned refrigerator truck which was carrying oranges and was either left unsecured or was loosely strapped, started banging on the midship loading door which eventually gave in and opened with the result that the truck plummeted into the sea where it was found floating the next morning. With the doors opened, the sea flowed in and after 15 or 20 minutes the ship capsized, sometime after 2:00am on 8 December 1966.

*Little Dipper Polaris is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
The Little Dipper is an asterism – a star pattern that is not a constellation. The Little Dipper really belongs to the constellation Ursa Minor the Little Bear.

*A Third Mate (3/M) or Third Officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The third mate is a watchstander and customarily the ship's safety officer and fourth-in-command (fifth in some ocean liners). Other duties vary depending on the type of ship, its crewing, and other factors.
Duties related to the role of safety officer focus on responsibility for items such as firefighting equipment, lifeboats, and various other emergency systems.

The SS Heraklion capsized and sank on 8 December 1966 in the Aegean Sea, resulting in the death of over 200 people.

Once she was refitted as a passenger/car ferry. The ship had an overall length of 498 ft (152 m), a beam of 60 ft (18 m), gross tonnage of 8.922 tons, single prop reaching a speed of 17 knots. Winter capacity was 35 trucks with an average weight of 10 tons. S/S Heraklion had her last survey on 29 June 1966.                                                                                      

At 02:06am, an SOS signal from Heraklion was received by various shore stations and ships around the Aegean Sea.

*A porthole is a generally circular window used on the hull of ships to admit light and air.

Though the term is of obvious maritime origin, it is also used to describe round windows on armored vehicles, aircraft, automobiles (the Ford Thunderbird a notable example) and even spacecraft.



  the tales of a greek sailor  

Seven Grateful Souls and I

Each family member received 
the same portion - a slice of bread

The telegram brought great emotion
                                                   [to the entire family.
Uncle Jim informed us that his ship, "Minerva Emily",
will anchor in Crete for a few hours, for bunkering*..

Memories were awakened and all remembered 

                               [the time they were hungering...
It was the time after our country was looted by invaders
who stole everything like bandits, 
                                                 [as black market traders.

Still sell in Germany Stolen Greek ancient treasures.
(Irony, these shops fearing theft,
                                [take strong security measures)..

Those years of German occupation and suffering,
the family was hungry

                              [and was devoid of everything.
The nine members were given

      [only nine slices of bread for the entire day.

fter the defeat of the Germans we in a way,
were fed thanks to the help of the US,

                                            [ie the Marshall Plan,
but the poverty continued and then a young man,
uncle Jim, took on the heavy task

                                          [of his family's survival
and worked on ships for years,

                             [an act unparalleled, unrivaled.

Whenever uncle Jim's ship

                                [was coming to a Greek port,
he was greeted by the entire family,

                                        [grateful for his support.

This time he was greeted only by one,

                                               [the only one left alive,
me, the last survivor in the battle against time,

                         [but with me, for the reception arrive
seven grateful souls of the our family members...

Αfter fifty years we are all together again
            [and uncle while weeping... remembers.

*Extract from "The Broken Mooring Line", an experiential
poetic work // page c55// e-mail: //
Texts and Narration: Odysseus Heavilayias - ROTTERDAM //
Language adjustments and text adaptation: Kellene G Safis - CHICAGO//

Digital adaptation and text editing: Cathy Rapakoulia Mataraga - PIRAEUS//


*The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave $13 billion (approximately $130 billion in current dollar value as of August 2015) in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.

*Effects of Nazi looting today
Approximately 20% of the art in Europe was looted by the Nazis, and there are well over 100,000 items that have not been returned to their rightful owners. The majority of what is still missing includes everyday objects such as china, crystal or silver.
Some objects of great cultural significance remain missing, though no one knows how many. This is a major issue for the
art market, since legitimate organizations do not want to deal in objects with unclear ownership titles. Since the mid-1990s, after several books, magazines, and newspapers began exposing the subject to the general public, many dealers, auction houses and museums have grown more careful about checking the provenance of objects that are available for purchase in case they are looted.

*Germany returns 10,600 pieces of Greek history, stolen during WWIIJun, 19 2014 Author: newsroom This is the second batch of ancient artifacts being returned to Greece in the last two weeks
After 73 years, thousands of Neolithic pottery fragments that were illegally excavated and transferred to Germany during World War II return to Greece. Among them are 10,600 fragments of clay vessels, stone artifacts, and osteological material that were unearthed during excavations carried out between June and December 1941 by the Nazi occupation forces.

In an official ceremony that was held at Pfahlbau Museum, an archaeological open air museum on Lake Constance (Bodensee) in southern Germany on Wednesday, 10,626 Neolithic era findings were delivered to representatives of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

The first batch included two treasures of ancient Cycladic art, namely a female figurine 88 cm tall and a copper dish, that were illegally obtained by the Baden state museum in Karlsruhe. Succumbing to pressure from the Ministry of Culture, Harald Siebenborgen, Director of the German museum, finally agreed to return the ancient artifacts, worth 4 million euros.

Culture & Sports Minister Konstantinos Tassoulas referred to the symbolism of the gesture and to incidents of antiquity smuggling and destruction recorded across Greece during the Nazi occupation. He also referred to the recent repatriation of archaeological material unearthed at the site of Magoula Visviki and neolithic sites in Thessaly, central Greece, noting that such moves contribute decisively to the strengthening of bilateral ties.

The National Archaeological Museum will be the first stop of the repatriated antiquities before they are transferred to local museums.

“The return of the findings was a matter of principle for us”

The initiative for the return of the ancient findings belongs to the director of Pfahlbau Museum, Professor Gunter Schöbel. Talking to Deutsche Welle, he revealed the reasons that led him to this decision:

“Modern science understands the importance of respect and therefore knows how significant archaeological findings are for the identity of a country. In this sense, the return of the pottery fragments was a matter of principle for us.”

Commenting on the importance of the German initiative to return the archaeological findings, the Director General of Antiquities and Heritage, Maria Vlazaki-Andreadaki, told Deutsche Welle:

“This is a highly symbolic gesture. They recognize that the cultural treasures should not leave their country of origin. The museum itself came to us and announced the return. The findings are not especially important archaeologically, they are mostly undecorated pottery fragments, not among our priorities for return.”

*Bunkering What is Bunker and Bunkering..??
Bunker is simply the name given to the Fuel that is used to operate ships.. Bunkering is the action of supplying a ship with bunkers.. There are various types of Fuel Oil and within the Fuel Oils, there are many classifications, standards and grades..


  the tales of a greek sailor  


We passed Gibraltar and our ship was heading to Albania.
Suddenly the music on the radio, stopped, and heard
                                               ["Viva Franco, Arriba* España".

Then I remembered the story
                              [my grandmother told me once more
when I was leaving
                  [and we said our goodbye's at the front door..

''Your Uncle John was a volunteer

                                             [in the Spanish Civil War*
and with pride he wrote to me

                               [about a battle on the near shore
he fought side by side with Robert Jordan,
                                           [the hero of Hemingway.

r the victory of Franco, the survivors fled away.
John emigrated to Venezuela
                                        [to live there permanently
and I've lived thirty years

                             [without my child...unfortunately....
Make sure if your ship ever goes there,
do not omit a visit

  [with your Uncle John and Aunt Claire.''  

Two years later our ship arrived in Maracaibo to load ...
I told the taxi driver the number and name of the road.

Our relatives greeted me with great enthusiasm,
but something happened

                               [which could cause sarcasm.

I met their daughter Isabella,
                              [the stewardess, my cousin,
I fell in love instantly,
                            [immediately, all of a sudden.

That night I made a pass at her,
                                  [and I confess to sin I am prone.
(Let him who is without blame cast the first stone)...

Before dawn my cousin left home
                                        [without saying a word.
The note left to her parents she wrote,
                                      [her favorite canary bird,
she conceded to the sailor

                            [to accompany me on the boat.

I do not know if my stealing the note
                                 [was the second sin in a row.

I never got over my cousin
                          [and I'm afraid neither she... woe.

*Extract from "The Broken Mooring Line", an experiential
poetic work // page c54// e-mail: //
Texts and Narration: Odysseus Heavilayias - ROTTERDAM //
Language adjustments and text adaptation: Kellene G Safis - CHICAGO//
Digital adaptation and text editing: Cathy Rapakoulia Mataraga - PIRAEUS//

*Arriba España ("Onward Spain") instead of the more usual Viva España ("Long live Spain").

*The Spanish Civil War (Spanish: Guerra Civil Española), widely known in Spain simply as the Civil War (Spanish: Guerra Civil) or The War (Spanish: La Guerra), was a civil war fought from 1936 to 1939 between the Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic, left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, and the Nationalists, a falangist group led by General Francisco Franco. The Nationalists won, and Franco then ruled Spain for the next 36 years, from April 1939 until his death in November 1975.

*Robert Jordan     Hemingway's novel 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' was published in 1940. The book, which takes place during the Spanish Civil War, was based on real events and tells of an American named Robert Jordan fighting with Spanish soldiers on the Republican side. It was largely based upon Hemingway's experience of living in Spain and reporting on the war. It is considered to be one of his most notable literary accomplishments.

Shortly after Franco’s Fascists took power in Spain, Hemingway returned to Florida and married his companion of four years in Spain, Martha Gellhorn, his third wife.

*Maracaibo is a city and municipality in northwestern Venezuela, on the western shore of the strait that connects Lake Maracaibo to the Gulf of Venezuela. It is the second-largest city in the country (after the national capital Caracas) and is the capital of the state of Zulia. The population of the city is approximately 1,495,200 with the metropolitan area estimated at 2,108,404 as of 2010. Maracaibo is nicknamed La Tierra del Sol Amada ("The Beloved Land of the Sun").

*VIASA Venezolana Internacional de Aviación Sociedad Anónima (Venezuelan International Airways), or VIASA for short, was the Venezuelan flag carrier between 1960 and 1997. It was headquartered in the Torre Viasa in Caracas. Launched in 1960, it was nationalised in 1975 due to financial problems, and re-privatised in 1991, with the major stake going to Iberia. 


  the tales of a greek sailor