Belem has been spending a very busy and festive mid-June to mid-July period along the coast of France after her return from London and the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee. And what an outstanding, unforgettable experience that turned out to be for our venerable yet beautiful three masted barque, her crew and the team from the Belem Foundation! A visit aboard by the Prince of Wales, as well as the Duke of Kent, a personal message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth; Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret’s son and daughter, watching the grand nautical parade from the deck of the only French ship present on the Thames that day, in the company of the French Ambassador, Mr. Bernard Emié…
To say nothing of all the media attention on both sides of the Channel. The general consensus was that Belem was once again impeccable in her role as official representative of France and the French navy.
And since she has been back to France, Belem has taken on again her other very important mission, that of training ship… and of floating museum welcoming on board thousands of visitors during her stays in the various ports and harbours of the French coast. She sailed to Bayonne, in the Basque country, to take part in the festivities of the “Escales Marines”, then on to Bordeaux (vie Bilbao) for the now traditional Wine Feast. After which she was naturally present in Rochefort for a very significant and historic event: the launching of the Hermione, or at least of her hull since her rigging hasn’t yet been installed, on the waters of the Charente. Hermione is a hand built replica of the 18th Century ship that took General La Fayette to America and the fight for independence.
On July 14th, otherwise known as Bastille Day, Belem was in her home port of Nantes, to take part in the summer festival known as “Le Voyage à Nantes” – an apt title for our well travelled ship – but also, quite obviously, to preside over the inauguration of the new, elegant, well- equipped pontoon that bears her name, (“le ponton Belem”) where she will, from now on, be moored every time she returns to Nantes.
Belem was also present in Brest, with an armada of sailing ships large and small for the festivities known as “Tonnerre de Brest” – a title culled from the array of expletives used in his frequents fits of temper by Captain Haddock, Tintin’s best friend (after his dog) in the eponymous adventures of the young Belgian reporter… Then after yet another celebratory event in Douarnenez, Belem is, once again, on her way to London and to, wouldn’t you know… the Olympic Games!