For Nicolas Chambon, Hermoine's journey to America was a "Magnifique Voyage."
Chambon is from Rochefort, France, where the replica 18th century frigate was built over 17 years. Hermione, which he sails on, drew a small crowd at City Dock in Annapolis afternoon Monday as residents and visitors asked about public tours and viewed the ship — a first for most.
City resident Doug Hargis said he sails on a regularly and was impressed by Hermione's size and scope, especially for the time period in which the original was built.
"It sure has a lot of ropes," he said. "You have to know your ropes to sail that ship."
There are 15 miles of hemp rope, to be precise, according to Hermione's website.
Dick Larrimore came to see the ship after a lunch at Carroll's Creek.
"It's impressive that they would sail it across the ocean," he said. "I'm aware of how well the French take care of the cemeteries for the American soldiers in World War I and World War II, so it's nice we could reciprocate."
Retired Navy Capt. Curt Hess said it's thanks to the French the United States is a free country.
"If it weren't for the French intervention, the British would have won the Revolutionary War," he said.
Hermione played a critical part in the war, carrying Marquis de Lafayette to America.
Adam Hodges-Leclaire, dressed as a French marine, placed a replica Revolutionary War weapon on the dock in front of Hermione and lunged next to it. "I'm practicing for tomorrow's ceremony."
Hodges-Leclaire, from Boston, took time off from getting a history degree to learn firsthand aboard ship.
"Hopefully we're making a big splash," he said.
Dick Garritson certainly was impressed.
"It's even better in person than photos," said the retired Navy captain who now works in the ship model shop in the Naval Academy Museum. "It's a really fantastic replica."
Jeanne Williams flew to Maryland from New Orleans to see the Hermione. She said she had seen the boat six or seven years ago when she visited France before it was finished.
"It's just so much more beautiful than I had imagined," she said. "It's like stepping back in time."
Williams stayed at City Dock for about four hours taking it all in. "I can't wait to get on it."
Carol Sayr, an Annapolis resident, looked at the warship with her husband. "I'm mostly impressed by the fact something this size is moved by the wind."
Chambon said Hermione made it to City Dock without a problem, although there is a very small space between the bottom of the ship and the harbor's floor — just over two feet.
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Capt. Dave DuVall, owner of Sea Tow MD Central Chesapeake, said the ship saw smooth sailing with the most shallow depth at 18 feet, which left about 3 feet of clearance for the hull. Sea Tow, the company that helped bring in the ship, only had to help direct it, he said.
During low tide the ship may touch the bottom of the harbor, or even sink into the mud, DuVall said. But by high tide it will raise again.
DuVall also said the bay pilot, which guided the ship into the harbor, did an excellent job. He some people watched Hermione's arrival around 5:30 a.m.
Chambon said the crew is taking shifts to go see the town.
"We don't know the city," he said. "We (will) tour the street."
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