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Laura Zolo and the replication of the Zeno/St Clair voyage

From: "Tim Wallace-Murphy" <>
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 16:59:24 +0100

Dear Friends,

Despite my appalling spelling, I have been asked to by Niven, who is snowed under with work at the moment, to bring you up-to-date with recent events in [Orkney] Orkney in connection with Laura's re-creation of the St. Clair/Zeno voyage.

Under Niven's leadership, his nephew Tony, Tony's wife Anna, Marilyn Hopkins and myself flew to Orkney early on Thursday morning. Soon after we booked into the hotel, I located Laura's boat, Seven Roses, and was soon immersed in her account of the voyage so far.

Laura's recreation of the Zeno/ St Clair voyage has already accomplished a great deal in the public eye. Everywhere she has gone so far, the voyage has been reported in the press and Laura and Jack have been warmly received in each port they have visited. This courageous and beautiful lady has, for many people, put flesh on the bones of the Prince Henry story in a manner that is unlikely ever to be exceeded. She has made the history of this momentous, but little known achievement, come alive in a way that appeals to academic historians, the ordinary public and, perhaps most importantly for the future, to children everywhere. And this by a lady who is neither a Sinclair nor a Zeno, who is neither Venetian nor Scottish, but who is undoubtedly truly a brave and gracious lady.

Despite considerable trouble with head-winds in the Mediterannean during their tour of the Italian coast, the boat called at the Templar port of St Raphael, Aigues Mortes, Marseilles and southern Spain before passing though the Straits of Gibraltar. Then, Laura, her first mate, Cap'n Jack and the two dogs spent some time in Portugal near the ancient Templar headquarters of Tomar.

Leaving Portugal, they sailed on to La Rochelle and spent some considerable time there researching the Knights Templar and made some useful contacts among historians, both professional and amateur in that area.

Stopping off at Hartlepool, there was a small hiatus, Cap'n Jack fell off his bicycle after a collision with a gondola (his words not mine) which resulted in the bold captain sustaining a broken rib and, more tragically, ruining a full pouch of pipe tobacco with salt water. Divine retribution soon followed, someone then stole the bicycle. We are happy to report that nothing so untoward happened in Orkney. Indeed we all had a most delightful dinner on the Thursday night and, for the younger members of the party, the talk went on until the small hours.

The Clan Chief, Malcolm, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Caithness joined us on Friday morning and once again we were all entertained aboard Seven Roses. Tony and Annat, as a mark of respect and affection for Laura and Jack, then provisioned the boat for its Atlantic crossing which commences today, Sunday 25th of June with an official escort out of Orkney laid on by the local yacht club.

At 4.30 pm on Friday Laura was given an official reception by the Islands Council at their offices in Kirkwall. The Vice-Convenor, a certain Jim Sinclair, hosted the occasion on behalf of the council and our delegation was led by the Clan chief ably assisted by Niven. After some brief speeches, there was a presentation of flowers to Kath Gouraly in thanks for all her sterling efforts in making this event possible before we moved on to the main event.

Laura was formally presented with 'The Sword of Peace' a beautiful ceremonial sword engraved with the word for peace in a plethora of languages, which she is to present to the senior representative chosen from among the Mi'maq people. This is to be a tangible symbol of the clans gratitude and respect to the people who made Earl Henry so welcome in Nova Scotia and who continued to help him in all his endevours.

Then there was a two way presentation of plaques. Laura, acting on behalf of the Council of Venice, presented the Orkney Council with a commemorative plaque made from Venetian Glass, and in return received a plaque bearing the arms of Orkney. This ceremony was repeated outdoors for the photographers, but actually took place in the Council offices under the Mi'Maq flag. This had been presented to the Island Council by Donald Julien, Peter Christmas and Chief Kerry Porsper, at the Sinclair Symposium. Laura also recived a generous gift of a hamper of local delicacies from the Orkney people plus some locally produced 'medicinal' whiskey.

Friday night concluded with a dinner for the whole party which again ran on to the small hours. Sadly, on Saturday morning, our party had to leave Orkney and fly south once more. As I write this today at five pm on Sunday [Shetland] Laura is en-route to Fair Isle and Shetland, recreating the original voyage as accurately as possible. We wish her God speed and safe journey and hope to see her again in Canada.

Attached jpeg photographs.

Last changed: 00/06/25 19:49:17 [Clan Sinclair]