Hermione was the French ship that brought Lafayette to America in 1780 to offer George Washington military assistance in his revolutionary fight with the British. The Hermione has been recreated, a 20-year project undertaken in France. She was constructed using the same materials and methods, resulting in the most authentic tall ship built in the last 150 years. The second voyage of Hermione to America was made in 2015. In the image above, taken by Phil Lewis aboard his Hinkley as a part of the accompanying flotilla, Hermione sails up the Bagaduce River toward Castine. More information on this ship can be found in the links below:
The 2015 voyage include some large, historic cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Only one small town was on the itinerary, Castine. This visit was due to the hard work of the community in documenting Hermione's history in Castine in 1780 and effective communication with the French ambassador to the United States. It was a well-orchestrated and major event for this tiny Maine town.
Led by a three-masted schooner, the square-rigged Hermione seemed to mystically appear from out of the past, as she made the turn to starboard from the Penobscot into the Bagaduce River.
As the fog began to lift, the size of the flotilla became apparent.
Cannons loudly roared as Hermione entered the Castine Harbor.
"Man the sails" has a literal meaning aboard a square-rigged ship. The crew climbed the masts to strike the sails as the ship approached the dock - a job for the young and nimble.
The event drew many dignitaries, including Maine's controversial governor, Paul LePage.
One guest that brought many aspects of history together was a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation who served as a medic in the WWII invasion at Normandy, France. He had received medals from both France and the United States for his heroic efforts.
A local artist organized a Hermione event for kids. Following his design, the kids constructed a float of the Hermione with the bow on wheels, the stern being carried, and a dozen panels making up each side, all individually carried by the children. Here, a little Lafayette stands proudly by his ship.
The children's Hermione replica parades down Main Street. It is quite a hill, so down is the appropriate descriptor.
The parade ended at the town dock where Hermione was berthed. Her arrival drew thousands of people to this small town of 1,300 residents.
In 1780, the 217 foot Hermione carried 330 people. On the 2015 voyage, there were 73 crew, mostly volunteers in their mid-twenties.
The Maine Maritime Academy is located in Castine. The school has been training students in operating large ships since the beginning of WWII. Programs have expanded to degrees in engineering and international business. MMA participated in the Hermione event in many ways - from providing launch service to get those arriving by boat from an outlying dinghy dock to town, to hosting speakers in their auditorium. Would be interesting to know how many of the 950 MMA students are counted in the town's population of 1,300.
One of the presentations was by renown expert, Paul Mayewski, Professor of Climate Change, University of Maine. For the Last Dance crew, Floridians where the governor has forbid state employees from using the term "Climate Change," hearing a detailed presentation was refreshing as well as educational. Dr. Mayewski demonstrated how a couple degrees of temperature change was responsible for the fall of civilizations of the Incas and Mesopotamians. He tied climate with the Hermione event. If the French troops sent as reinforcements to assist George Washington had left just a couple months later, they would not have made it to America. They would have encountered the largest hurricane ever in the Atlantic Ocean, probably causing the loss of all ships and crew members. Most historians agree that without the French troop reinforcements, General Washington would not have been successful in defeating the British, bringing independence to the United States.
Just seeing the many, varied, interesting, and beautiful boats that were part of the Hermione flotilla would have been worth the trip to Castine. This recently restored motor yacht retains her original power plant - a steam engine. The parade of boats in the flotilla and throughout the event were marvelous to observe.
The Last Dance crew must give thanks and recognition to Jeffery and Karen Siegel, long-time Castine residents and creators of the web-based cruising guide Active Captain, for information of this event, allowing timing of the Maine cruise to coincide with the Hermione voyage.