IN EARLY OCTOBER 2014 HERMIONE EMBARKS ON A MONTH-LONG VOYAGE November 12, 2014
MARC JENSEN, DIRECTOR OF MARITIME OPERATIONS, FRIENDS OF HERMIONE-LAFAYETTE IN AMERICA, ABOARD THE HERMIONE IN MAY 2014 IN ROCHEFORT, FRANCE. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARC JENSEN
Editor’s Note: During October 2014, as Hermione undertook sea trials sailing along the west coast of France from as far north as Brittany and south to the Bay of Biscay, in and around Bordeaux, Marc Jensen, the nautical expert who represented Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America, was aboard and participated in all aspects of the voyage. Here below are excerpts from his journal.
My training aboard L’Hermione during her recent sea trials was simply one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I was challenged physically and mentally as I worked with a wonderful group of individuals to meet them head on and even surpass what we thought ourselves capable of.
Of course, not being the one of the youngest to climb aloft added a layer of effort for me to make, to both prepare for this and to live it, that many of my co-sailors simply took for granted. But, believing that you take out what you put into a job, I gave it my all and was repaid so many times over for taking this challenge on.
Although I am fluent in both languages, there is a sailing vocabulary that I knew as little as many of the other trainees. We quizzed each other often and my mind sometimes went a bit numb trying to say what I knew everyone already understood, because they, too, could not remember the right terms.
The workout that my mind and muscles got was repaid by two moments that I will never forget.
The first was seeing dolphins surround the ship one night when we were several hundred miles out. There must have 30-40 of them and as they streaked through the water they left a trail of electrified phosphorescence punctuated only by their occasional breeches where we could enjoy their form. Young ones swam with what I assume were their mothers. Larger ones came straight at the hull and disappeared without a trace. We spent an hour being entertained and there was not single member of my crew that wasn’t smiling in spite of their fatigue.
The second came the following night when at 23:00 my Quarter Master called for volunteers to go to the top of the mainmast to stow the top-gallant. There was a 10-foot sea running abeam that was causing the decks to roll a fair amount, but I knew this was my chance to find out if I had what was needed, so up shot my hand. It was like climbing a 135ft metronome! And, an interesting thing happens when you climb beyond the level of the mainsail. As the ship rolls from side to side the shrouds that you hold on to climb up go from being taut (when you are on the high side of the see-saw) to extremely limp when you are on the low. How you climb and the work you do once you get to the top takes on the rhythm of the ship’s rolling. Once you find it, your work becomes smoother and you find yourself relaxing. Oh, and the view from there, even in the dark, is spectacular.
Lastly, I would like to again thank the amazing friends I made while I was aboard. Their support and encouragement meant a great deal. I look forward to doing it again next April! My training ashore continues!