L’Hermione – Frigate of Liberty

The lion at the stern of the Hermione
The lion at the stern of the Hermione

After a glorious 4 month voyage to America, taken 235 years after the 1780 historic voyage, a first return stopover in the town of Brest on the North West corner of France and one week in Bordeaux where it was moored in the “Port de la Lune” – where 15,000 visitors, including yours truly, went on her board – , the present day frigate Herminone has headed back for the winter to her home port of Rochefort on the banks of the Charente River.
As written in my previous article about the Hermione, she was the boat that brought to America the French Marquis of La Fayette (1757-1834) who was joining the American insurgents fighting for their independence.(For his contribution to the American Independence War La Fayette was made – and is one of the only 8 personalities ever – honorary citizen of United States.)
The trip that La Fayette took on the Hermione started on the 10th of March 1780 in Rochefort and ended on the 28th of April 1780 in the port of Boston.
The replica of the 1780 ship the Hermione
The replica of the 1780 ship the Hermione

The modern replica of the historic Hermione, built during the last 17 years by a group of enthusiasts in Rochefort, started her Atlantic crossing on the 18th of April 2015 and after stopovers in Canary Islands arrived in Yorktown, VA. – the site of the historic battle that marked the beginning of the defeat of England in the American independence war – on the 5th of June. After a navigating the east coast of US with stopovers in Mount Vernon, Annapolis Maryland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and further north on the coast of Canada and the French territory of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon the Hermione started her back trans-Atlantic sail on the 24th of July and reached the French coast at the port of Brest on August 10th.

Curious crowd watching the tall ship
Curious crowd watching the tall ship

While the two Hermiones – the original and the almost replica – look almost identical there are notable differences that could not be avoided in modern times.
The modern Hermione – while using the sails when on open sea – is also equipped with the mandatory (in her case 2 hydraulic and 1 electric) engines – for maneuvering inside ports or in case of bad weather – and modern navigation equipment like GPS and radar.
While the 18th century ship had a crew of 300 men, the modern replica had on board 80 people 1/3 of who were women – forbidden in olden times to take part in marine enterprises as thought of bringing bad luck.

Crew member dressed up in 18th costume
Crew member dressed up in 18th costume

There is of course on board a modern kitchen that supplied the crew a balanced diet during the 2015 voyage far from the 18th century menu of dried pig’s feet and beans everyday, bread only on Sunday and meat, from living animals brought on board, only for the captain and the sick sailors!
And lastly the 26 cannons on board are able to propel only fireworks and no 6kg (12pounds) balls as in the original Hermione.

One of the 26 cannons on board of the Hermione
One of the 26 cannons on board of the Hermione

The helm
The helm
The Hermione is a 44.20 meters long and 11 meters wide boat initially built in the 18th century
The Hermione is a 44.20 meters long and 11 meters wide boat initially built in the 18th century
The tall ship could be seen from Bordeaux's Place de la Bourse
The tall ship could be seen from Bordeaux’s Place de la Bourse
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