SOIC East-India-Man Replica Götheborg III

2012-07-15 Sunday → 2012-07-17 Tuesday - Tonnère de Brest, France

This trip did not start from Sweden for me, I was bound for leg 3 of the voyage, starting in Brest, France. I had never been in France before, and my skills in French language are some kind of basic only ... but the main thing was THE SHIP!

The 2012 voyage of the Götheborg III was divided into 4 legs, each 1-2 weeks:

  1. Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden → Den Helder, Netherlands
  2. Den Helder, Netherlands → Brest, France
  3. Brest, France → Bremerhaven, Germany
  4. Bremerhaven, Germany → Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden

Sunday 2012-07-15

I entered a special bus in Hamburg at 16:15; the bus came from Göteborg, Sweden, picking me up from my private trip to Germany, so I could leave my car there for a while.

About 20 new ship crew members were in the bus, some of us already been on the Götheborg several times like me, others for the first time. The SOIC has a lucky hand to mix a crew of any age and experience, and of course, both genders, and new friendships are made immediately!

The bus went all the way through Germany, Belgium and Northern France to Brest, without making longer stops, because that was a looong way! The two bus drivers used up their legal working hours to the max in order to bring us to Brest - and they made a tremendeous job. Sleeping in the bus is never very comfortable, but well, that is the way it is ...

Monday 2012-07-16

Arriving in Brest at 11:00 AM

There was no parking for the bus, we had to leave the bus in a hurry somewhere and take us to the festival security gates, where we all got an arm band, with a bar code to identify us by security guards. After all, Brest is an active marine base of the French navy!

The maritime festival "Tonnère de Brest 2012" was already ongoing since several days, many people and visitors in all streets and at the quais. The new crew gathered for the first time - on land, as the ship was still (literally!) occupied by thousands of visitors each day, and the old crew still working as guides and guards. The Götheborg had Open Ship everyday!

My camera was still in my bag for the while. This picture I made the next day

We newcomers were invited to a first lunch, in the tent "L´Auberge", offering masses of delicious sea food and more! I took a half crab, about 10 shrimps and fresh austers - THAT was an excellent start =)

Around 1:00 PM, the new crew was formed into three watches (for starboard, port and midship quarters). I was in the port watch this time, having work from 8 to 12 on AM and PM at sea; and so, having been on the midships watch in 2009 and starboard watch on 2010, I was now about to complete "the whole round" =).

Visitors were still around all day long even during our first introductions to the ship. First gathering at the capstan; learning names of everyone; getting work clothes and harnesses for the climbings; stowing our bags in our quarters ...

Climbing exam on the fore tops and the fore topsail. No matter if You had been in the rigg before or not, this exam is being repeated for everyone on a new leg of the voyage; the "licence" to go aloft is valid for half a year only. I was the first one going up, feels like on being ON TOP OF MY LIFE =)

There was no sailing in 2011, but even if it was, I would have been "out" then. I had had a burn out in November 2010, after three years of being a workaholic. I was extremely successful, but there was a price I had to pay; I got much help from a doctor and many other people and I recovered relatively soon, but I thought, after this, I could never sail again, as it is physically very exhausting, and even on my first two sailings, I felt I could only take short legs, like a week; it makes me as happy as can be, but it also goes to my limits.

After my recovering in 2012, I had new limits and was still in doupt if I really could be a crew member again. But everyone I consulted was in favor, and so I applied for my third sailing, leg 3 of the voyage, from Brest in France to Bremerhaven, Germany, and I was accepted. I wanted to know where my new limits are ...

No camera yet, no pictures this day.

In the evening I went out to the many festival tents with some of my watch gang. Sara is the professional phototographer on this leg, Dylan is an American, sailing ALL 4 legs (as a blogger and an all rounder). Martin has been to the US just as Sara. We had interesting talking in the Irish pub tent.

Returning to the ship at 23:00, for having some sleep!

Tuesday 2012-07-17

Up 07:15, breakfast. This day, the crew will change, the old crew will leave the ship.

08:00 working watch, but still being on land, there are MUCH longer working hours for each watch than at sea. On land, a watch lasts almost the whole day! And of course, still 3000 visitors per day, watching what we do ...

And there is always a lot to do on a sailing ship: stretching the fore shrouds for example, implying a lot of detail work that craves all members of the watch to get things done. And after that, everyone was full of tar from the ropes ...

Stop working around 16:00 PM

Because of live filming from France 3 TV, strong rules were made up when to em- or debarque and when not, in order to avoid any disturbances during the TV show on deck. So we had time to make our sleeping places clean.

First test of my new Gopro camera, mounted on my head - excellent results of a walk around on the ship! 11 minutes become 1 GB of data, so I can film for one hour or more. The best thing is: I can film without doing anything on the camera, it has only two buttons, all the rest is done automatically, having both arms free! And the camera will see and film everything that I see.

Then we were free to choose to stay onboard or to go on land, sightseeing. I left the ship alone at 20:00 PM, to walk through the city of Brest at my own speed. The city and the buildings of Brest are not particularly interesting, besides the castle, almost no old buildings exist, but many concrete buildings from the 1950s and 60s (of course I know why ... Brest had been destroyed completely in World War 2).

I knew I may not embarque the ship before midnight (because of the TV show), so I found myself a nice spot on the High Bridge of Brest at the marine base at 22:15. From here I could see everything!

The "Étoile du Roy", a French replica (almost same size as our ship, the Götheborg III), entered the scene like a ghost ship with all sails set, and prepared for a "raid" =)

Watching the spectacle at 23:00, when Götheborg fires 4 of its guns for the TV. The "Étoile du Roy" fires back!

The "Étoile du Roy" then sailed out again, but being illuminated like a ghost ship, what a marvellous sight! It really paid off that I went on land this time, using my camera.

Sleep at 00:30 PM. I had taken 337 photos on one single day. Our ship was still moring at the quai. We would leave Brest tomorrow.

I am no professional photographer, I just make a lot of "snapshots". My Canon 450D does much of the job by itself. But I had a long training over 30 years, starting with "oldfashioned" pre-digital cameras that used films and chemical postwork - all that is history today.

Night pictures like these were almost impossible with film cameras! Today, everyone having a digital camera, can do almost anything! It is incredible how EASY things had become ...

Questions? Feel free: