“I name this ship... Belem!” On the 10th of June 1896, a three masted barque just out of the Dubigeon shipyards was launched in the port of Nantes. On the 10th of June 2006, the Belem was heading for the Strait of Gibraltar on her way towards the Atlantic and...Nantes while on board the crew and trainees were merrily blowing 110 candles on a massive cake under the eagle eye of a French TV camera. So, a nearly normal day's work for a very special working ship but, when she gets to Nantes, that's when the real rejoicing starts...
The Belem reaches Nantes on the 28th of June, which will give the crew a few hours to make her look her very best, for the whole of the 29th will be spent celebrating her 110th birthday. The Port of Nantes and the Caisses d'Epargne – the Belem's sponsor – have planned a very atmospheric public day all along the “Quai de l'Aiguillon”, the wharf where the ship is moored. There will be people dressed as 19th Century sailors, a “news sheet” dated 1896 retelling the events surrounding the launch, music and sea chanteys, storytellers recounting the adventurous life of the good ship Belem... and of course a refreshments tent. So, anyone happening to be in or around Nantes on the afternoon of the 29th should make a beeline for the Docks and an extremely smart three-master for an entertaining few hours' journey through time !
For the rest of the training season, the Belem will be sailing the Atlantic on no less than 17 trips – two more than originally scheduled. Demand is strong – 10 out of the original 15 voyages are fully booked – so the Belem Foundation is extending the season by offering new choices :
. from Wednesday, October 4th to Saturday, October 7th : 4 days' on board from Cherbourg to Brest ;
. from Sunday, October 8th to Tuesday, October 10th : 3 day's on board from Brest to St Nazaire.