CASTINE — One of the world’s great tall ship replicas, the French frigate Hermione, is slated to visit here in mid-July.
Around the end of June, the Castine Yacht Club sponsors a gathering of elegant, wooden sailing yachts in conjunction with the annual Classic Yacht Race to Camden. This year, the July 29 event will feature a fleet of schooners. The replica 18th century French frigate Hermione, however, is scheduled to visit July 14-15 and may well upstage everything else that happens in Castine this summer.
The original Hermione carried the Marquis de Lafayette from France to America in 1780 bringing news of French support for the struggling American Revolution.
The new Hermione set sail April 18 from the mouth of the River Charente, where Lafayette boarded the original vessel on March 10, 1780, bound for the New World. After a five-day stop at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, the ship made landfall at Yorktown, Va., on Friday, June 5, after 30 days at sea.
That was the first stop on a summer cruise along the Atlantic Coast as far as Lunenberg, N.S. On the way, Hermione will stop in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Greenport, N.Y., Newport and Boston before arriving in Castine.
Hermione already has visited Mount Vernon and Alexandria, Va., and Annapolis.
Launched just last year, the new Hermione has a long history.
It took 17 years to raise 26 million Euros ($29 million) to build Hermione, then nearly three more years to build her. The vessel was built entirely using 18th century shipbuilding methods and materials, although it does have modern navigation and safety equipment on board.
Two thousand oak trees were harvested for its massive hull. Hundreds of ropes made of hemp and waterproofed with tar lead up to the ship’s three masts.
Beginning Saturday, July 11, and leading up to the arrival of Hermione in Castine, there will be a series of events celebrating the town’s maritime history and French-American friendship.
The Castine Historical Society and its special exhibition “The French Frigate and the British Fort – L’Hermione and Magabagaduce in 1780” will be open daily throughout the event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.