In 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette crossed the Atlantic again to aid the Americans in the Revolutionary War. On his second voyage, he arrived on the French frigate Hermione and arrived in Boston at the end of April. Two hundred and thirty five years later, a group of people decided to reconstruct the entire ship and bring it to life once more and retraced Lafayette’s crossing.
The Hermione has been sailing along the East Coast for the past month and it stopped in New York during the Fourth of July weekend. While it was docked at the South Street Seaport, the frigate was open to public tours so I headed down to see it for myself.
It was a very hot day when I went and the line was pretty long; I checked my watch and noted that it took two hours for me to get to the front of the queue and that was earlier in the day. Fortunately, a hat, a bottle of water and sunscreen kept me hydrated and protected from the glaring sun.
Touring the boat itself did not take very long; it’s actually a pretty small space once a person arrives on deck. We were only allowed to tour the forecastle and quarterdeck; the main deck was off-limits unless one was a VIP of some sort.
One thing I love about tall ships is the intricate rigging above one’s head. All those long, thick ropes and cables swinging out from the masthead all along the sides of the ships. Modern boats are so much more streamlined and not as fussy to deal with, so it’s nice to see a bit of rigging and imagine pirates swinging off them. And speaking of pirates, I saw one aboard the ship that day:
Overall, it was pretty fun to tour. There were so many people aboard at any given moment it made it hard to really appreciate being on the boat but at least I did get a chance to visit. Climbing up and down the gangplank was a little tricky, particularly for elderly visitors, but there were people of all ages who wanted to come check it out. After that, I went back to the pier and looked at the little village stands that were set up to educate people at the ship and what life was like back in the 1700s.
There were also people dressed up in period clothes, portraying (French and American) soldiers and peasants.
There was one other tall ship docked at the seaport, a Spanish galleon aptly named El Galeón. It wasn’t open for tours the day I went but unlike the Hermione, one had to pay admission to board as well. From the view I had of El Galeón from the pier, it was no less spectacular. It’s going to be in town through mid-August, so I may check it out at some point this summer.