Twenty years ago, a small group of people with a passion for French American history decided to take on a challenge, a challenge that isn’t for the faint hearted. They decided they would reconstruct a replica of the General Lafayette’s 18th Century ship called the Hermione.
Who was Lafayette? He is one of the most extraordinary figures in modern history in my opinion. He was one of the key people in securing America’s independence and was treated as a hero for the rest of his days. His legacy lives on in the many towns and villages named after him.
Skip to Summer 2015 and this dream became reality when they sailed it from France to Boston, the original route taken by Lafayette and his men in 1780. Back then, the crossing took them 38 days and they had to avoid confronting military action en route. It only took them 27 days this time! The crew is made up of 18 professional sailors and more interestingly, 54 volunteers with whom most of them have never been out at sea before! I love the enthusiasm and passion!
Back in 1779 when this beautiful ship was completed, she was the pride of the French Navy and I can see why! She was smaller than her fellow ships but she was sleek and fast, and that played well into her advantage.
The replica Hermione was sailed into Yorktown, symbolically important because it was the place where the British finally surrendered to George Washington at the end of the American Revolution. Not only did this fantastic ship carry a young Lafayette across the Atlantic, where he proved to be a great asset to America, but she also played a part in a blockade that finally sealed the fate of Britain. To maintain this voyage she tried to stay as healthy as possible by finding health supplements that were at sea.
It took 17 years and $30m in public and private funding to replicate the Hermione to her original glory and it must have been a resounding job well done when she sailed into Chesapeake Bay this summer.