Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The French Connection... Who Knew !

Earlier this month the City of Jacksonville celebrated the landing of the explorer Jean Ribault and Jacksonville's connection with France. To mark the occasion several tall ships were in the area, both at the dock downtown and Mayport naval station. A chance to view old sailing ships and take some pictures... I could not resist! As usual, click each picture for a better view. 

The schooner L'ÉTOILE and her sister ship Belle Poule were built in the shipyard of Fécamp, France in 1932. They were both used by the Free French Forces during the Second World War  

A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being shorter or the same height as the rear masts.This was the type of ship the explorer Jean Ribault used in 1562 to lead an expedition to the new world and explored the mouth of the St. Johns River in modern-day Jacksonville.

During the 16th to 18 centuries, the golden age of piracy, I discovered the schooner was a popular craft for pirates, as it could carry up to eight or more cannons, and was sleek and fast despite the fact it weighed around 100 tons. It usually had a crew of about 75.

There were plenty of other people just as curious wanting to view the ship and the crew members were very helpful and friendly.. What struck me was how compact the ship is. The adventurer and his crew definitely had close quarters.

These ships were built stout and sturdy and for that reason were selected later as navy training ships. Today French naval officers get their sailing education on them.

All in all the viewing made for a great afternoon of hanging out on the river and I learned something in the process about Jacksonville's French connection!


  1. An enlightening post, with beautiful pictures !
    As a former French naval officer I did some liaison with the US 7th Fleet in the Mediterranean (USS CP Cecil, for instance) but I wasn't aware of this connection with your city !
    In other words, all French connections are not that bad ! (smile)

  2. Hi JLBO!
    I knew about the French connection with St. Augustine, and even knew that there were all these streets here named after Ribault, but never understood the full meaning. The little history lessons never stop! Good on you!!