Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Belem

We are having a boaty time lately.  Though this one's in fact a ship; nautical people get a bit funny when you say the one when you should say the other. Anyway, it was a very fine one.

The Belem is a very large, famous and beautiful sailing ship, built originally in 1896, now a sail training vessel. There's a Wiki entry or the English version of her own website, to tell you all about all the ups and downs of her long, glamorous, and romantic career.  She was in the harbour at le Legué, the port of St Brieuc for the weekend, and you could go on board for a tour for a fee, but the queues were long it seemed, and we opted to go up on the Monday morning to see her leaving for St Malo. We stationed ourselves a bit before the mouth of the harbour at the time recommended by the capitanerie (that's the harbour master's office to you and me, I think), and waited, looking up the river in hopeful expectation.

watching various smaller craft bobbing about,

enjoying the silky ripply wave patterns,

and other seashore things,

and watching other people gathering in different places.

After a time, a TV crew joined us,

fumbled about with their gear looking important, then put it all away again and drove off towards the Pointe de Roseliers, where we intended to go later to get a view of the ship in full sail. 

We waited and waited, then suddenly the ageing biker type next to us turned excitedly saying 'Il est là!', and we saw the three masts appearing at the bend in the river.

On she came, accompanied by smaller boats. 

At this point I rested the camera on the railing, and so was able to take a fairly steady video of her passing. This is about two and a half minutes and unless you're very interested in seeing a big boat chugging out of a river mouth in northern Brittany, I would recommend drying paint as an equally fascinating visual spectacle, but I did spend about two hours hogging the big computer and uploading it to Youtube (it's quite good definition) so I feel I want to get my money's worth out of it and am embedding it here. There are a number of motor bikes and other engines racketing away in the background, but the high point comes near the end when they hoist up some of the foresails and there's a riveting bit of dialogue which goes thus:

Tom: Do you want to go up to the point then? (In fact this is not really audible)
Me: Can do.
Me: Jib's going up.
Tom: What?
Me (louder and slightly impatient sounding): Sails are going up!

Then a rather sweet tiny Yorkshire terrier which had been held up with its paws on the railings catches sight of some huge great German Shepherd or similar and sets up a volley of let-me-at-him! type barking.

There, I've saved you the trouble of actually sitting through it.

In fact when we turned around, there was a traffic jam with cars bumper to bumper making their way up to the point already and rubbernecking as they went, so we decided against trying to get there, figuring also that with the wind direction it was unlikely she'd be in full sail till she was right out of the bay and out of sight anyway, but just before we left I glimpsed her beyond the little lighthouse and took a final picture with the zoom before she disappeared.

We love boats. And ships. And stuff like that.


The Crow said...

"We love boats. And ships. And stuff like that."

So do I, Lucy. Thank you for this.

Zhoen said...

What Crow said.

Lucy said...

Thank'ee, me hearties.

In fact the barking Yorkie came before the spoken exchange, or in between perhaps. Crucial to the narrative that.

the polish chick said...

that last photo is quite something.

also - what is the difference between a boat and a ship? i always thought it was a question of size, but then again, i'm a landlubber born and bred.

also, also - a boat/ship is masculine in french? how very odd! then again, a boat is feminine in polish but a ship is masculine, so maybe not so odd.

marja-leena said...

I love boats and ships very much too! And these old sailing ships are so romantic. Thanks for sharing - great video!

Ellena said...

It's mainly the lines that attract my attention.
When I strolled the port in St.Malo the sailboat of Peter The Great was said to be anchored there. Which one I have no idea. And...sorry, I'd rather watch the video you offered a few months ago. Jordi Savall performing was it Uskudara? Yes!!
As I was about to erase this blabla here I decided to let it be.
It was a pleasure to hear your voices for a split moment.
Oh veyh, I put too much Pastis into my water or not enough water into my Pastis. Forget it.
I am alone but not lonely.

Rouchswalwe said...

What fun! I began to appreciate the sea and boats and ships when I lived in western Japan near Hakata Bay. I could sit for hours watching them. Thank you for the video!

Lucy said...

PC - oh, I think size is everything, a ship's a big boat, maybe one that goes on the sea or maybe one that can't be carried on another one... something to do with the doctrine of universals or set theory or something. Tom also drew my attention to the linguistic fact that one serves on a boat but in a ship. Perhaps someone else can offer suggestions. Yes, a boat is masculine and so is a ship (bateau, navire) but then a 'barque' is feminine... but I shouldn't have to tell a veteran and virtuoso second language speaker like you: the gender belongs to the word, not the thing the word describes. However when, in English, ships, and sometimes cars or even countries, are referred to as 'she', the feninine attribution is indeed to the object? Why? I suppose there must be various theories, but perhaps I'll leave that to another time.

ML - thanks, it was very impressive inside too, it seems, but crowded and largely roped off.

Ellena - prost! Can't really be doing with pastis myself, but then I'm not an aniseed lover, except maybe on holiday in Greece. Now if Jordi Savall had been playing background music on the quayside that would have been good!

R - they are endlessly watchable, even ordinary non-sailing boats, aren't they?

Roderick Robinson said...

Much as I am in favour of bikers I must strike yours on the wrist with a wet haddock. Surely Elle est là..

But who'd be a pedant in the face of such majesty? And Lucy, the Eisenstein de nos jours was there to capture it.

But I beg of you, be very careful. In my early seventies I was exposed to boats and mourned the fact that the infection came too late. You are young enough for the infection to take hold. Take your pulse and check that you aren't spending lots more time in and around marinas. On the other hand, sell the house, buy yourself a 32-footer and set off for the Kerguelens. Do you reckon yourself to be vulnerable to beauty and technicalities? If so (and you don't need to tell me) you are at risk.

Lyse said...

Très beau bateau que j'ai eu l'occasion de voir il y a quelques années, les passagers étaient des marins d'occasion qui payaient pour faire une croisière en travaillant avec les pro. J'imagine le plaisir de ces hommes et ces femmes sur ce bateau de légende.

Lucy said...

Now Robbie dear you clearly haven't read the discussion with Polish Chick above as to the gender of boats and the words for boats - both 'bateau' and 'navire' are masculine, so inevitably the biker would say 'il est là'. To my knowledge the French do not attribute femininity to the craft itself, though presumably they assume its gender to be masculine since the word is masculine, and in common with most of the human race it seems, whether their language is gender inflected or not, they cannot separate the two concepts, despite my best efforts to explain it to anyone I meet of any nationality who raises the subject, with such examples as:
'La personne [feminine] que vous voyez est un homme [masculine]', and drawing attention to the fact that the '-chen' suffix in German renders any noun of any gender neuter, even though 'das Mädchen' clearly refers to a female personage. As to my catching boatitis, I am most certainly susceptible, and have been since I was a kid, cost and opportunity, and also a degree of nervousness about the sea that wouldn't have bothered me as a youngster, would prevent it taking too much hold, and I'm not sure I've the head for the mechanics of it now. Even so, I think I'll take any chance I can to indulge the secondary symptoms.

Lyse - c'est vraiment magnifique, n'est-ce pas?

Roderick Robinson said...

I knew that bateau was masculine but for once romanticism overcame linguistics. On brother Nick's Takista there was no question about her gender and I quickly slipped into that usage. I could offer the supplementary argument that crewing their ships with grammarians didn't do the French much good during the Napoleonic wars but I have to be fair. When it comes to yachts the French are as good as anyone in the world and they're as mega-enthusiastic as the Brits. A boat tour round the huge marina at La Rochelle is all the proof that is needed.

Did you ever helm a yacht? It's damn difficult maintaining a course that doesn't show up as a tell-tale waggle pattern astern. I relied rather too heavily on the burgee (triangular pointer at the top of the mast) but staring up into the blue for an hour rather defeats the object of being at sea. Causes neck-strain too.

zephyr said...

boat - ship - "hole into which one throws money" (is another way in which boats have been labeled)

zephyr said...

correction: "hole in the water into which one throws money"