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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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L’Hermione – a 26 cannon fast frigate

L’Hermione in wet dock at Rochefort
click to enlarge

Lin and I visited L’Hermione yesterday, where she’s under construction in the Arsenal at Rochefort. She’s wondrous and beautiful and a magnificent work of art.

At 66m LOA, a beam of 11.24m, draft of 4.94m, and a displacement of 1,082 tonnes with her 26 cannons and ammunition, the three masted L’Hermione is a replica of the eighteenth century jewel of the French navy.

Used to fight the British

Commanded by Comte de La Touche-Tréville, L’Hermione was originally launched in 1779 at Rochefort’s naval dockyard. Here, the Marquis de La Fayette boarded L’Hermione in 1780 bound for the Americas in support of George Washington’s war of Independence against the British, taking the news that France would support Washington with 5,500 men and 5 frigates.

For two years, Lafayette served as a Major General directly under Washington whilst Vice Admiral Touche-Tréville in L’Hermione fought many naval battles against the British.

A 1/8th scale model was created to help understand the final look of L’Hermione
click to enlarge

During her final action against the British, L’Hermione ran aground off Croisic, France, due to ‘a simple navigational error’, where she was wrecked by heavy seas.

Er, Britain, can you help?

Having fought the British a twist of irony was to unfold 200 years later – L’Hermione’s replica needed help in two keys areas.

The original plans for L’Hermione had been lost. Britain was approached where records were found providing a sketch of L’Hermione’s original hull as well as plans for her sister ship. From these the replica has been ‘faithfully’ created.

L’Hermione’s figurehead needed to be proud, strong and worthy of gracing L’Hermione’s prow. Against local competition, a British sculptor, Andrew Peters from Oxford, UK, was chosen and commissioned to create the 3m tall lion.

Andrew Peters carved the 3m tall figurehead
click to enlarge

Interestingly, Lin and I had just had Play d’eau’s name plates re-made by Andrew when he told us of his new commission. Maybe we should have had a figurehead for Play d’eau? If so, of what?

Construction

20 years in construction in one of Rochefort’s wet docks, the cores of 4,000, 150 to 200 year old oak trees have been used in creating the main frame and structure.

Now in her final stages of fit-out, the 2,200 sq metres of sail are almost complete.

2015

L’Hermione’s scheduled for completion in 2015 when she’ll leave Rochefort for her transatlantic journey to the USA, following La Fayette’s original journey.

En route she will visit Las Palmas in the Canary Isles before crossing to Yorktown, New York, Boston and Halifax before returning to Rochefort where no doubt other great adventures await her.

Let’s hope she doesn’t make another ‘little navigational error’.

Piers and Lin
From the Saloon of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

You can get in touch with us any time by using our Contact Form.

Detail of the 300kg Mizzen sail
click to enlarge

The sail loft where all L’Hermione’s sails are created
click to enlarge

The size and craftsmanship of the rigging is simply astounding
click to enlarge

Lin
took to the helm rather too naturally
click to enlarge

Andrew Peters is featured on a video of how he carved the figurehead
click to enlarge

Working on view to the public
this is the description of how
Andrew created the figurehead
click to enlarge

Anyone for cat’s cradle? The smell of tarred twine was everywhere
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L’Hermione, a beautiful replica of the 18th century fast frigate
click to enlarge

Now that’s an anchor rope!
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3 comments to L’Hermione – a 26 cannon fast frigate

  • Patrick J. Colahan

    Hello Piers, been some time, catching up on your adventures, it appears you two are enjoying your life aboard.

    On topic, I love the lines of the old sailing ships. They have a air of grace about them that is breath taking.

    Hope this finds you both well. All the best

    Patrick, M/V Paloma

    • Hi Patrick. So good to hear from you. Lin and I found looking around the L’Hermione moving. The intricate detail on the different types of rigging, the lines of the vessel and the thought that they were created from bent and twisted oaks, the smell of the tarred twine. You could almost hear the call to ‘fire’. Speak again soon. Piers and Lin

  • Hil

    I love all that-and wouldn’t Dad have loved to see her and to have learned about her too.She is absolutely beautiful and so is her figurehead.Andrew looks a real craftsman and has sad and “seeing” eyes.Was it by chance that you came across L’Hermione? I am not surprised you found looking around her moving-being in the presence of such craftmannship is rare ,and very uplifting.Your photos are superb.Lots of love,Hil x

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