15 July 2015

Time Travel aboard the Frigate L'Hermione

Rigging of L'Hermione.

L'Hermione in port.

Just in time for Bastille Day, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived in Boston aboard the 32-gun, three-masted frigate L'Hermione. Say "The hair-MY-knee" in English, or impress your friends with your grasp of French pronunciation and say "LAIR-me-own."

All right, all right, reality must intrude. The tall ship which visited in Boston on July 11 and 12th is a replica of the original frigate which brought the young Marquis de Lafayette to Boston in 1780.  The Marquis, a great friend of General Washington, proved an invaluable asset during the Revolutionary War.  Learn more about the L'Hermione project at http://www.hermione2015.com/index.html 

A crew member, dress as the Marquis, is shown below, with one of the many helpful volunteers who assisted visitors.  L'Hermione is visiting several North American ports, including Boston and New York,  this summer, and then will "rentrez chez elle" - return to her home port - in Rochefort, France.

Marquis de Lafayette and volunteer.

So, how does this have anything to do with fiber?  Well, in addition to the acres of sail canvas, furled while she was moored in the harbor, there are literally miles of rope - more properly called lines - used in a myriad of ways on board. The lines are twined from natural fibers such as jute and, in a concession to modern requirements, polyester filament.

Originally rope was made outdoors in areas called rope walks; later extremely long, narrow buildings housed the manufacture of rope in which lengths of manila, sisal or jute filament were twisted together.

The humble rope is essential.

Exterior of the ship.

Stern of the ship.

The ship was quite a popular attraction; we arrived at Rowe's Wharf early in the morning and were able to board after just a short wait. One hundred and twenty visitors were allowed on at one time.

On deck.

The lifeboats.

Looking up.

Ship's bell, and crew member's footwear.

The co-ed crew dressed in period costumes; we chatted with the crew member in the image below, and, using Franglais, learned that the timbers for the massive masts came from Oregon, and that most of the constituent parts of the ship were made not only from traditional materials but using traditional techniques as well.

Able seaman.

In addition to the French ship and crew, a contingent of Minutemen from Lexington were part of the celebration, including the father and daughter depicted below. Their wonderful period costumes were developed and made by fashion designer Ruth Hodges, of Lincoln.

Minuteman and daughter talk the helm.

Everyone gets a turn.