July, 17th, 2012, The Swedish Ship Göteborg
A cool morning breeze greets us today, with sunshine peeking over the harbor in Brest. The festival is still in full swing with people as far as the eye can see. Yesterday saw the arrival of the new crew to the Göteborg, and the departure of the crew that sailed the Ship successfully from Den Helder. Bittersweet were the good byes, but hopeful were the eyes of the new crew arriving to the ship. Being on board for the entire trip thus far, I have witnessed the wide eyes stares of each new crew as they look up in amazement at the Göteborg sitting proudly in the harbor.
Whether the deckhands have sailed with the SOIC before or not, the look of anticipation and excitement never fades. Something about the ship attracts people, and stirs a sense of adventure in everyone that looks at her. Living onboard for an extended period of time, the Göteborg becomes a second home. Her decks mimic the floors of a home, her stern your garden, her bow your front door, the hammocks your solace. It is easy to lose touch with her magnificence when that beauty becomes an everyday occurrence. But, an epiphany occurs each time you see a look of amazement on a visitors face or a shudder of excitement from a child slowly rubbing their hands across the cold, smooth side of a cannon on board. You remember that you are aboard a magnificent and powerful sailing vessel that is truly unique.
Here at the festival in Brest, that impression is exactly what we encourage the visitors to experience. Thousands of people a day wait in line to take a tour, with the new crew welcoming them. As with the legs before, the new crew starts their training right away, learning the rigging and prepares her for her exit from Brest and on to Bremerhaven. The professional crew has done a fine job of keeping things moving as efficiently as possible, even with the mass of tourists of the maritime festival aboard. Work is plentiful as usual, there seems no end to it but the new crew, as with the last, is eager to learn and partake in any task.
One could not ask for a better venue to share in labor, the tall castle walls of Brest’s harbor and the many sails littering the water make a picturesque view and a wonderful backdrop for the Göteborg. Music fills the air as boats pass carrying bands playing a plethora of music styles to entertain the patrons. Sailing vessels of every kind weave in and out of the harbor, covering the water in white canvas. The inlet is dotted with tents of vendors selling their wares, and ships representing many cultures. Food is abundant from many of the different countries that have used Brest as a port of trade over the centuries. Roaming theatre troupes in Rococo era French costumes giggle, yell and play among the crowds, adding a certain aura to the area surrounding the Swedish Ship Göteborg. Open air pubs ring with the sound of clinking glasses, laughter and the ever present French accordion. Further away from the crowds and the noise of the festival is the rhythmic sound of gently rocking boats gathered in their rows at the docks, playing in time with the ocean, waves lapping against the sea walls of the historic port. Soon those waves will take us out to sea again, and on our way to Germany and the port of Bremerhaven.
Photo: Karin Skoog och Sarah Renard
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