French tall ships

From 1989 and the years 90's, ships gathering, as Brest, are very popular attractions where are mixed old ships, training ships and modern replicas. A lot of them have Australia, United States or United Kingdom flags; meanwhile, France owns also a rich past: many tall ships are issued from French yards in Normandy on the Seine river or at Nantes on the Loire river following French laws giving premium for building ships.
At the middle of the 19th century steam navigation needs an  important consumption of coal and relays along South America coast would permit to steamers to join the South hemisphere. On the other hand, without having the load of  fuel tall sailing ships are able to do complete round the world tours leaving Europe with british coal to join Chilean coasts to come back by the West route, via cape of Good Hope. A lot of them will disappear during the WW I victims of German submarines, the saltpetre being used to manufacturate explosives.
In 1880, 70% of long-distance national traffic is done under foreign flag; on 27 January 1881, a French law institutes a premium to build and to charter French ships. In 1893, a second law gives as premium 1,70 franc per ton and per thouthand of miles run; it will incite to build large French sailing ships, used among others to carry guano from Chinchas islands, deposit exhausted around 1880, then nitrate of sodea or saltpetre from Chile (both natural fertilisers of agricultural grounds) and finally nickel from New-Caledonia.

The iron 3-masted barque TAMARIS, 463 tons, is built by the Société Nouvelle des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée at la Seyne sur mer for  Marseilles' Deville and Co.
She made several voyages to India, Indochina then North  America for Deville then Bosc Père et Fils and Rose Père et Fils. From 1877 to 1880, she carries to Marseilles des barrels of petroleum loaded at New York. 
December 1880: purchase by Bordes for 57 750 F. 
Home port: Bordeaux 
She made several voyages with nitrate of sodea from Chile or British coal until her departure from Bordeaux on 28 Novembre 1886 for the New-Caledonia. In the night from 8 to 9 March 1887, her iron hull runs into a reef 3 miles off Ile des Pingouins, in Crozet archipelago. The ship sanks, the crew embarks in a rescue dinghy and takes refuge two days later on the Ile aux Cochons, faster but larger and more accessible. The 13 rescued attach a note to an albatross neck found seven months later on a Fremantle beach (Australia), but they never be saved. They should have disappear when moving to another island.

The 1114 tons steel barque MARIE ALICE of 64.3 m long comes from Loire yards, at Nantes in 1889. She is posted missing since 12 February 1895, en route when she was 200 days out. under command of Captain Ancelin from Sydney, Australia bound for Antwerp. She was probably carried with Australian wool.

Iron 3 masted barque, built in the Dubigeon yards at Nantes, BELEM is launched on 10 June 1896 and makes 33 voyages to carry cocoa and sugar from Antilles.
Tonnage 562 gross, dimensions:  58 x 8.8 x 4.6m, draught 3.5 m, length between perpendiculars 51.00 m.. Sail: 1200 sq m Crew: 64 including 48 trainees.
31-07-1896 She sailed on her maiden voyage from Nantes to Belem; January 1914 sold to the Duke of Westminster for £1.500 and after World War I she is converted in a yacht. In addition to some external transformations, she is equipped of two engines of 300 hp each. In 1921 she is sold to Sir A.E. Guiness, and renamed "Fantome II". As yacht she made then a world cruise and voyages to the Mediterranean and the Arctic. From 1952 to 1965, she starts an Italian carrier named Giorgio Cini as a school-ship re-rigged in a barquentine. On 27 January 1979 she is bought by Union Nationale des Caisses d'Epargnes (French savings bank) and is named back "Belem" with Nantes as homeport.

PRÉSIDENT FÉLIX FAURE is the first of  4 four-masted barque built at Le Havre from 1896. 95 m long, 7.9 m large, 7.45 m draught, the ship of 2.860 gross tons, 2.410 net carries 3500 sq m sails. On 13 March 1908, in the fog, she wrecks in the South of New-Zealand; during two months, the crew will survive on a desert island.

Second of the set, EMILE RENOUF has quasi the same characteristics as PRÉSIDENT FÉLIX FAURE with meanwhile a superstructure lengthened. On 2 February 1900, the four-masted barque leaves Thio, on New-Caledonia West coast, loaded with nickel and runs into a shoal and sinks on Durand reef, close to Loyauté islands, on 6 February. The wreck site will be found and explored in September 1991.

The four-masted barque CHAMPIGNY, chartered by société des Longs Courriers Français (something like French Long Runners society), is also built on the same drawings as PRÉSIDENT FÉLIX FAURE. Launched on 10 April 1902, she is sold in 1916 after 13 voyages, laid up 5 years later, bought by Finnish in 1923. Renamed FENNIA, became school-ship, she dismated off cape Horn and she takes shelter in the Falkland. After several projects, the ship is scrapped in 1977.

The steel four-masted barque ANTOINETTE is built in 1896 by Chantiers de la Méditerranée at la Seyne for the French company Bordes. With 3017 GRT, her dimensions are 98.20 x 13.90 x 7.72m and she carries 4421 sq m of sail. She used to carry nitrate from Chile to Europe and her best passage is of 74 days; she runs aground off Nicaragua in 1919.

ANTONIN  steel four-masted barque is built in 1902 at Dunkerque for Bordes. Her best passage is 72 days between La Palice and Antofagusta in 1915. she is sunk by teh German cruiser Seadler on 3-2-1917.  95.5 m long, her gross tonnage is 3204 GRT. 

On 7 March 1901, the sail ship Gross Herzogin Elizabeth is launched at àBremerhaven as German navy school ship. After WWI  the instruction start again on board in 1921 until laid up in 1932. Seized in May 1945 by the Royal Navy, she is given to France as war damage compensation, renamed DUCHESSE ANNE and tug to Brest where she is abandonned until 1980. Classified as historic monument in 81 and restaured, she stays now in Dunkirk. The ship is 92 m long overall, the steel hull is 78 m long, 11,90 m large, 5.45 m draught, the main mast is at 48 m above the deck; rigged as a full-rigged ship the ship has 2060 sq m on 25 sails.

In 1901, Chantiers de Normandie (Normandy yards) provide to the ship-owner Brown-Corblet (the owner of PRÉSIDENT FÉLIX FAURE and EMILE RENOUF) the three-masted barque SUZANNE. Her tonnage is 2.691 gross, 2.270 net. Her dimensions are 86 x 12.5 x 7.9 m for a sail area of 2.631 sq m with a crew of 24 men. Her first voyage from Le Havre to Nouméa is made in 89 days. She sails until 1921 loading nickel at Poro or Thio and she is scrapped in 1925.

The school-ship SUOMEN JOUTSEN is in fact the former LAENNEC, built at St Nazaire in 1902, used to carry saltpetre from Chile.

In 1921, she is abandoned in the Loire river estuary, to be scrapped. Bought, she is restaured tio become a merchant navy school-ship. Sold in 1928, she comes back to saltpetre transport. In 1930, the Finnish parliament decides to buy a windjammer for educative objectives. In November 1931, the ship is renamed Suomen Joutsen (Finland swan). 96 metres long, 12 metres large, with 2200 sq m of sail she can board 180 people. Until 1939, she finished 8 voyages then is used as auxiliary vessel then during 27 yeras as school before being floatting museum.

Built in steel at chantiers de la Gironde in 1911, FRANCE II, 5 mast of 8000 t , 146 m of length overall, with 6350 sq m of sail on 20 squared sails and 12 latin sails, is delivered to Société Anonyme des Navires Mixtes (armement Prentout) ; with 45 crew, on her first voyage France II goes to New-Caledonia, in 92 days of sea eastbound and 102 on return. Mixing fret and cruises, ancestor of cruise liners, she owned seven large rooms, a large saloon, a library and a black chamber for photograph ! On 21 1917, France II leaves Glasgow loaded with coal to Montevideo and starts a campaign of two years, going from American coasts harbours to Australia, New-Caledonia and finally to Dakar, before going back to Bordeaux on 17 February 1919 ebefore being laid up at Le Havre. Equipped first with two 900 hp engines, she is despoilled of them after being sold; she sanks in 1922 off New-Caledonia

FLYING CLOUD, ex-Oiseau des îles, is in 1935 the last merchant sail ship issued of Dubigeon yards at Nantes for Compagnie des Phosphates de l'Océanie. This 660 tons shooner with three steel masts, 48.98 m long and 8.56 m large owns an auxiliary engine and wooden masts. During her maiden voyage between St Nazaire and Papeete via Panama, the ship reaches 14 knots. Requisit in 1941, she becomes the auxiliary vessel P 780 of Free French Navy (Forces Navales Françaises Libres: FNFL) ; after war, the schooner is used to transport people working in the Tuamotu phosphate mines. She joins Windjammer Barefoot Cruises Ltd in 1968 as cruise sail ship, rigged as a three-masted schooner for 66 passengers and 28 crew.

. Built en 1933 by Dubigeon yard,on behalf of Société des pêches des Malouines (Malvines fishing society), PALINURO was originally named "Commandant Louis Richard". She measures 54 m long (68.9 m overall), 900 tons, she is rigged as a barquentine, with more than 1000 sq m of sail. Used for the catch codd off the coast of Newfoundland, the ship is laid out from 1940 to 1945, then comes back in service until being sold in 1950. Bought by the Italian Navy in 1951, the three-masted ship reverts to her original sail pattern and is used to train students at the Naval school

40 metres long, more than 9 m large, equipped of 14 doris, the Newfoundland banks fishing ship COTE d'EMERAUDE used to leave Dinard between 1925 and 1941 to catch the cod near Canada and Greenland coasts. Her crew of 35 men used to put back about 450 tons of fish at every campaign. Coming from St Pierre et Miquelon and going to Port Lyautey, she runs aground and breakes at the mouth of oued Sebou close to Casablanca.

OROHENA, built by A. BLOUIN at Tahiti in 1944 is a 532 tons schooner, 14.5 metres long (48 feet), used for trade between Tahiti and outlying islands



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