Voyage of Discovery to the Emerald Isle

  • Author: Nichola Aldridge
  • Date: Thursday 20th July 2017
Voyage of Discovery to the Emerald Isle

Four Officer Cadets from BRNC have returned to Dartmouth after sailing to the Emerald Isle on board the  French Naval Schooner L’Étoile. The Cadets joined her for passage to the Irish coast and the town of Kinsale, as she sailed from Dartmouth following her recent visit.


Officer Cadet Phillip Crossley said: “We were immediately welcomed into the French Navy’s family like set-up on board with all the crew seeking us out to introduce themselves and get to know us, which was fantastic at putting us at ease in our new and exciting adventure.”

The Cadets spent three days and nights working alongside the French sailors and were ready for everything thrown at them, albeit in a foreign language.  They were soon amid a strenuous workout hoisting the elegant white sails that would leave them with sore hands, aching muscles and a smile on their faces that can only be earned from hard work.

Phillip commented: “The crew were hugely knowledgeable, helping us quickly learn how to hoist and take down the many sails as well as the special ways to tie them off and the husbandry of the various ropes and equipment in use on board. Due to the forecast, we rigged the storm sail expecting the very worst after their trip over from Brest earlier in the week. I was looking forward to seeing nature unleash itself upon us, unfortunately Mother Nature let us off with a mild swell and wind which permanently seemed to be in the wrong direction.”

Commissioned in 1931 and built in Normandy in1932, the schooner, meaning ‘Star’, is the 15th ship with this name.  With an overall beam of 37.50 metres and a mast height of 32.50 metres she was built using the design of paimpolaises schooners, which were rugged, hardy cod fishing vessels and on board it’s easy to tell that she was built with solid construction with the intent to last through decades of use. 

Due to the watch hours on board, social life was confined to meal times.  Philip explained: “The food was cooked in the galley on the top deck and carried precariously down into the mess. We enjoyed at least two courses for lunch and dinner and it was of a fantastic standard. It was obvious from how the crew on board enthused about her that they really love their ship.”

Having spent three days at sea practicing classic seamanship, rope work and navigation; using modern techniques such as radar and GPS as well as more traditional methods including chart work and even using the stars, the ship arrived into the picturesque town of Kinsale, precisely on schedule.

Officer Cadet Thomas Horkan said: “The trip was an amazing experience and was a great opportunity to be exposed to life in the French Navy."

While Officer Cadet Anna Carter added: “A highlight for me was being on watch early in the morning when Ireland came into sight for the first time with the cliffs appearing through the fog."

Officer Cadet Williams Rogers also described the trip as a unique opportunity.  He remarked: “The crew were very welcoming and encouraged us to get stuck in with everything possible.”

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