The richly pungent scent of pine tar, warmed by direct July morning sun and lifted gently by harbor breeze, reached us thirty yards before we reached the French ship, L’Hermione, anchored, ocean facing, at Rowes Wharf in Boston.
A recently built replica of the 18th Century French frigate on which the Marquis de Lafayette traveled from France to the rebellious American colonies, the ship sailed in April from France to the United States, arriving Yorktown in early June, to commemorate Lafayette’s voyage and reflect on America’s friendly relations with France.
And, what a beauty, if one forgets the grim business of her predecessor. Her two-tone hull, deep pine-tar black and gold with a Royal blue top border; her main mast reaching over 150 feet; her deck, lines, and sheets infused with pine tar; her thirty two cannon, 6-pounders on the top deck, 12-pounders below.
She sailed this time with a crew of 78 (vs. her predecessors 330) including 15 professional seamen and 56 volunteers, divided into three teams, each standing an eight hour shift – four hours of active duty and four hours of maintenance.
“The sailing is fun,” we overheard one French volunteer sailor say, “the maintenance, not so much. But important, no? To ensure we can keep sailing.”
Words one could have heard from any professional seller. “The selling is fun; the maintenance, not so much. Yet important to ensure we can keep selling.”
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