The Great Southern Route : 2013 - 2014
GSR|15 "Bali Ha'i will whisper In the wind of the sea: 'Here am I, your special island Come to me, Come to me.'" Oscar Hammerstein's evocative lyrics, which accompanied the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, conjured up the most picturesque and romantic visions of life among the South Sea Islands and the show went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. In addition to some other memorable songs (Happy Talk, Some Enchanted Evening, Younger than Springtime etc) the musical told a bittersweet tale of love and loss in the Pacific theatre of the Second World War, which was a raw and recent memory for those involved. The show, derived from James A. Michener's 1948 novel Tales of the South Pacific (itself a Pulitzer Prize winner), featured a number of islands including the fictional Bali Ha'i, which was modeled upon Ambae in Vanuatu (formerly Aoba in the New Hebrides). You can still see evidence of the terrible waste of young lives around the Pacific, from Palau and the Marianas in one direction to the Hawaiian Islands, far away on the other side of the International Date Line. You can find the remains of crashed bomber aircraft and dive on wrecked warships; you can visit museums and graveyards and wonder at the toll that turmoil took on the people of these islands. But you can also look further back at the routes taken by the pioneer flying boat pilots and the ships' masters, to the story of the Bounty mutineers and the circumnavigations of Captain James Cook, and to the navigators that preceded them all: brave souls in open boats who followed wave trains and the paths of migrating birds on their long voyages of discovery. And you can still experience the charm and the colour of the islands and the welcome and warmth of their inhabitants and you can easily understand what it was that drew artists like Paul Gauguin and writers like Robert Louis Stevenson to Tahiti and Samoa at a time when travel on that scale was not easily undertaken. Yachting came relatively late to the Pacific, however, although by the time Captain Joshua Slocum (pictured above) returned to Newport, Rhode Island on 27th June 1898 having taken more than three years to circumnavigate the world alone in a modest, 36' 9" sloop-rigged fishing boat named Spray; the Brassey family's adventures aboard their large yacht Sunbeam had already been documented for two decades.
2010 - 2011