The Hermione set sail for the US on Saturday evening with well wishes from French President François Hollande and US President Barack Obama, who sent a personal letter. The journey started from the mouth of the River Charente, in Port des Barques, where Lafayette boarded on March 10, 1780. The transatlantic crossing is expected to take 27 days in total, before making landfall at Yorktown, Virginia.
In order to rebuild Hermione in the former Maritime Arsenal of Rochefort, state-of-the-art technology has been utilised to recreate a three masted ship more than 200ft long (with a 177ft mainmast) and a sail surface of 16,000sq ft and a hull entirely made of oak, while taking into account modern statutory constraints concerning seaworthiness. The project has taken 18 years to complete and cost €25m.
Stateside, the vessel will visit Yorktown (June 5-7), Mount Vernon (9), Alexandria (10-12), Annapolis (16-17), Baltimore (19-21) and Philadelphia (25-28), where it will join Tall Ships America.
On July 1-4, Hermione will be in New York to celebrate Independence Day, then sail to Greenport (6-7), Newport (8-9), Boston (11-12), Castine (14-15) and reach Lunenburg (Canada) on July 18, before calling at Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and heading back to France.