Hermione’s new crew heads for the Channel

Dozens of new recruits will take to sea this month on the first leg of a three-month journey to sail the replica frigate Hermione to Normandy for the 75th anniversary commemorations of D-Day.

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Training started in December when the 56 new gabiers – many of them volunteers – were sent up the rigging of the three-masted wooden vessel to make sure they could handle the 40m height.

Then they were handed a thick manuel du gabier to learn every inch of the ship, a total of 250 new words, dozens of knots, and tests to make sure they knew their way up and down the rigging.

Hermione, under Captain Yann Cariou, leaves on April 4 for Cherbourg (May 4-8), Dieppe (10-13), Ouistreham (14-17), Nantes (25-28), Brest (June 1) Caudebec-en-Caux (5-7) and then up the Seine to Rouen (7-16).

Gabier Charles, 24, who has already had one trip on Hermione, joins for the first part of the voyage.

He said: “I trained as a sailor so learning the traditional techniques was similar but also different.

The sails and ropes were new but the safety training was the same. There is a lot to learn and it is physical hauling the ropes and changing sails.

“Last year in the Mediterranean we had a lot of work because the winds were very change­able so we were on constant watch.

“It was complicated but we had no heavy seas. Even when the sea is calm, it is stunning to be so high – but you are concentrating so hard on your work you do not notice... when you do, it is awe-inspiring.”