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.
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.