The Ballad of Adam & Eve


A musician's journey across four seas.

Holed up in France drinking, waiting for the wind to come around, drinking and waiting for the sea to calm on down, drunk and waiting for the quietest of sounds, Emotional Pete announced 'I am from Amsterdam and name my boat Adam!" I burst out laughing, 'And we name ours Eve!' Dan piped in, 'Adam and Eve sail east to the garden of Eden!'

In the French language the verb se balader means to go for a walk, or stroll, or ride, or drive. To go for a wander, if you will. Early springtime 2012 and two boats wandered with intent from France to Turkey. A delivery, not a luxury cruise. No holiday. No stopping, only to hide from bad weather and stock up on provisions.

Three Irishman on a sailing vessel we named Eve crossed the western Mediterranean in tandem with two Dutchmen and an Irishman onboard Eve's twin, Adam. In reality the boats were nameless, simply assigned the  numbers 811 and 812. Through the Straits of Bonafacio and Magellena into the Tyrrhenian Sea, continuing to the Aeolian Island of Lipari, onward under an erupting Mount Etna through the Messina Straits into the Ionian Sea, eventually crossing the Aegean to the south west coast of Turkey.

In the Turkish port of Fethye two identical boats awaited the worn out crews. Eve became Farceur, the jester, Adam the Bienvenu. The joke was on us as we were unwelcome, these boats had to leave Turkish waters for the company headquarters on Greece's west facing Ionian coast. Four thousand sea-miles, eighteen days at sea, thirty five days on board. This was some wander.

In naming The Ballad Of Adam & Eve as such, I'm purposefully misspelling. In my mind's eye it is The Balade Of Adam & Eve, meaning the journey. But as a collections of songs written mostly at sea on sailing vessel 812 (Eve) during spring 2012, using the English 'ballad' seems appropriate. I could French it up with an 'e' on the end to become The Ballade Of Adam & Eve but surely it would only lead to search engine confusions, misspellings, misunderstandings, possible injuries, certain death. Or should I translate it all into French as Le Balade d'Adam & Eve? Perhaps I should. At least for release in France.

The songs came at various points of the trip, although some were tunes I'd had for some time. The Quietest Of Sounds was mulling around while we were waiting in France but I didn't finish it until I was back in Dublin months later. I remember whistling the guitar melody on an underground train in Milan as the Captain and I clambered towards my cousin's apartment as we tried to re-enter life on land.

I Feel Love was written years before but I had written the lyrics on the back of a card and lost them. I couldn't remember all of the lines, the missing pieces were easily filled in describing some locations along the journey, almost as if the song had been waiting to be finished this way. I have since found the card with the original words and the lyrics that I could not recall were quite terrible to the point of being instantly forgettable.

And She Rolls is a mixture of an old song from about 2006, Houston, played by my band at the time Yukina, in it's pre Swamp Disco days, with a repeating refrain that looped through my skull on the first nights where Eve rolled on the following waves, side to side, again and again, softly but eternally tossing us around.

Still Black Lake was written by an ex-girlfriend, Liz Walsh, but she had a different tune in mind. It did not impress her at the time when I took her words and wrote my own chords to them. Written in Sydney, Australia in 1996, she can still remember the original idea she had for it. She has given her blessing to this version with my few alterations only if I promise to record her version sometime.

What Dream You I wrote in patches along the way. The chords in the verse were something I had been messing around with for a while, playing it over and over during our minibus mountain pass drive in Turkey from Fethiye to Turgutreis (see my boat journal below). My cousin, the Irishman onboard Adam, commented warmly on those chords, so I put a chorus to them with an idea that had come to me while trying to sleep after night watch a few mornings before.

All The Girls is from about 2004, a song seemingly nothing really to do with anything but it just seemed to fit into the wanderings of the mind at sea for a prolonged time.

The lyrics to Lipari Blues were written on our first night in the Ionian Sea. It was also our first stormy night. I wrote it instead of the usual journal entry in the gangway bracing myself with feet, knees, hips and elbows so my hands could be somewhat free enough to scribble words down. A thousand or so miles later alone on night watch on a glassy calm Aegean sea I found an old video on my phone where I had recorded chord ideas for a verse against a chorus. I flicked back through my journal and found the words to fit perfectly. The chorus took longer, only in Lipari on a separate delivery later that year would I finish it by singing, 'and I haven't written the last line yet' to an approving audience of one.

I wrote Queen Of Santorini in its entirety after witnessing the sunrise over the island. The symbolism reflects the full circle nature of my selfish attempts at resolution with the lack of a complete circle (see satellite imagery) due to unimaginable tragedy perhaps the crux of the scenario. It's remarkable that I wrote it four days before I would buy a guitar in Turkey. I figured out the chords and melodies during that aforementioned minibus mountain pass drive while the English mostly slept and Emotional Pete told tall tales (see journal).

Say Goodbye is an old tune from 1995. I had written various lyrics over the years but none had satisfied. It always was a sea-faring song, I just had to go to sea to finish it.

Battlelines is a Yukina song from the post Swamp Disco era borrowed for this project partially because my brother really rates it, partially because the band wanted a rock song, and partially because of 'the seagulls and their cries' line.

I think I wrote Le Balade d'Adam & Eve as I traveled overland in Europe for a while before going home. I remember waking up in a room I did not recognise. Momentarily, I had no idea where I was. Then it dawned on me. 'I'm home!'

Home with an album in my mind, I recorded guitars and vocals in August 2012 in Dublin's Bow Lane Studios. Eight years have passed during which progress has been constant if slow, arguably as if mimicking the ocean. Life and other projects get in the way; lineup changes, a home invasion, four years of college, more years of PTSD, now COVID-19, but this project nears conclusion. As I had an orchestra in my mind imagining the songs in that fiberglass hull I had to go to music school to learn how to orchestrate. Now to find a (remote) orchestra to play it.

Re-entry 2020 pt.2 

Inaccurate accusations are all the more terrible for allowing actual inadequacies to go unrecognised. Underestimated and reduced to the level of rubble in the street, I find this is where the devil lives. The imaginary line between one and none, money and no money, success and mediocrity. The subdued murder of human spirit by systematic sufferance apparent on both sides of the tracks. 

It is as much my world as yours whether poor or rich, rich or poor with whichever shade of skin may be and whatever lies…

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Re-entry 2020 

Stu Bae Blog 

New year’s resolution: Continue this blog. Did I mention I was cynical about this stuff? I don’t follow other people’s blogs. Most that I’ve come across are chirpy chirpy cheep cheap fakery or melodramatic woe-is-me artistic self flagellation. Who cares about your granny’s cat? 

Are you really that curious to find out why this project has taken nearly eight years and counting? Do you really want to know about blood covered knife-welding home invaders and post traumatic stress disorder? About…

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Final Destination 

0125 hrs 

38°23.749N 020°59.506E 

Speed 5.3 

Course 332° 

After our fry last night, we had another beer, and decided the anchor watch schedule. Dan took the first at nine o’clock, mine was three hours later. The boat was still being pushed around by the westerly. Torch lights still moved about onshore. I dropped into my bunk. Sleep came quickly. As did waking up bang on midnight. And so it came to be that I crept on deck with my knife out. We all have knives, us mariners. The badge of honour. I’ve a four inch…

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April 2nd 00:45 local time 

N               E 
Well, what a day April Fool’s day was. After banging our way through the military area, happily without a hint of submarines, I slept a little and got up five nautical miles from the Corinth canal. Captain briefs us as to how we’re going to moor and we carry it off just about successfully, the slightest crunch from the boat as one of the lines gets pulled a bit tight. We’d passed a tanker that we recognised from the Straits of Kithira, many moons ago, it seems. I should have taken the name…

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April 1st 2012 0517 local time 


Oh what am fool am I. hehe A tired fool, me. So tired. Again. Up at 0300 for watch. Woke up automatically fifteen minutes before we were passing south of the shipping lane out of Athens. Ships everywhere. Skipper was up, pointed out a vessel on the port bow gradually closing in with their starboard light showing. We slowed to let it pass, Mark went below. I checked the plotter and looked again to see the port light of this ship. It had turned. Revs up to two thousand and let the big fella pass behind us. No…

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Anchored at 36°52’57” 025°55’20” 

 0740 Local sunrise over the hill. Dan cooks a fry, wind’s dropped, we head towards Corinth today.

0810 Up anchor, course 290° to waypoint at 36°51’55” 025°37’15” From Nicos Amorgos with Nicos Honousa to the north, towards Nicos Naxos through the gap between Nicos Skhoinousa to the south and Nicos Koufonisos to the north. Greek islands, for sure. 

We left the bay we found shelter in through the big exit, rather than taking the small entrance we’d shuffled over yesterday. A deep breath, we only had two…

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EPILOGUE: 

March 30th

And so ends the ballad of Adam and Eve, we just have the simple task of delivering a different boat from here to Vounaki in Greece. It’s a short run compared to our marathon crossing from France. An epic journey, by all accounts. Many deliveries go to Croatia or directly to Vounaki, making ours one of the longest you can do in the Mediterranean, and it’s rare to get another job that brings you in the direction of home. Normally, we’d now be looking for flights out of here. And here, what to say…

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Dalisa Yasak 

0537 GMT+2 (We think. Has daylight saving come in yet? What time is it at home? What time zone are we in? Really, we’re clueless) 

36°30’849N 27°55’296E 

Speed 5.2 knots, course 85°T 

The first glimpse I have of Turkey is the lighthouse at Dalisa Yasak. With the height of it we can see it from a great distance, even allowing for the curvature of the earth. As we pass the reassuring flash of Nicos Sesklio’s unwavering beacon to those on the sea, the Rhodes channel opens up to us. Rhodes and mainland Turkey…

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Sunrise over Santorini 

0700 GMT+1

Dan woke me slightly early, eight miles east of the islands. A red ruby crimson sun rose over the northern headland. As red as the blood in my veins. So beautiful, but I can’t help thinking of the bang this place must have made when it blew up so so long ago. A tsunami wiped out the Minoan civilisation on the islands south of here. Buildings cling to the hilltops, roads zig zag their way up from the small access points along the shoreline. There’s no harbour here. Plans exist to build a marina but…

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NOT FOLLOWING  

1030 GMT+2
 
36°23’216N 023 01’538E

Now and again the plotter, our GPS navigation system, loses it’s satellite signal. It announces this with a few beep beep beeps and describes itself as “not following”. This can also be said for us, Eve’s trusty crew. Not following. Just now and again, when the head goes slightly awry. We play Lisa Hannigan for the umpteenth time and come back to our senses.

Heading due east towards Santorini through the Straits of Kithira at 5.8 knots. No wind, only 0.8knots registering…

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