The Story of My Life so Far - Part 32 - Cruise on the Jeanne d'Arc: San Francisco, Accapulco, Salina CruzsteemCreated with Sketch.

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This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France

The story starts here
Previous episode: Part 31

We left Bora Bora on January 26th and, after a brief stop in Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas Islands (in French, les "Îles Marquises"), we arrived in San Francisco on February 10th.

San Francisco

Before mooring, we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge and saw from afar Alcatraz Island.

Golden Gate Bridge

We spent five days in San Francisco.

The best memory I have was a visit with several of my comrades of UC Berkeley. We have witnessed the event in May 1968 in France 3 years before and were curious to visit an American university that the then governor of California, a certain Ronald Reagan, had called "a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters, and sex deviants."

We did not go there in uniform (we were not that crazy!), but in civilian clothes, although we were forbidden to do so.
At some point during the visit, we saw many students gathered in front of a stage where several women were talking through microphone. Of course, we could not understand a word of what they were saying, as our English was not that good.

So, we asked one guy:

  • What are they saying?

His reply was:

  • We don't care. We are waiting for the police to come, then we are going to fight.

The worst memory was an accident that happened for two of my comrades, Michel and Jacques, on the San Francisco-Oakland bay Bridge.

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge

They bridge is double-decked and they have taken one of the deck in the wrong direction.
Michel was slightly injured, but Jacques had his leg so damaged that it had to be amputated.

We never knew who was the driver of their rented car, but Michel was convinced it was him and that he was driving while drunk.

Strangely enough, Jacques had a full carrier in the Navy, only ashore, while Michel was so traumatized by the accident that caused so much pain to his friend Jacques that he left the Navy early.

After leaving the Navy, Michel first became a school teacher on "Île d'Ouessant", known in in English as Ushant. After he recovered psychologically, he married and had children. He followed a completely different carrier in dog grooming. He opened several salons, had a dog grooming school and published several books on the subject.


After San Francisco, we went to Acapulco, in Mexico.

Beach at Acapulco

One day, I had got the authorization to spend the night ashore, instead of returning aboard as was the rule.

So, I checked in in an hotel and was ready to sleep late, instead of being awaken on the ship at 7:30AM and being forced to get up.

Unfortunately, the hotel was near a military garrison, and I was awaken not at 7:30AM, but at 6:15AM!
So much for sleeping late.

In Acapulco, we were transferred to the other ship that accompanied the Jeanne d'Arc (that was curiously called the "conserve"), the Aviso-Escorteur Victor Schoelcher. The idea was that being a smaller number of us on the conserve, we could practice the various duties on the bridge more often.

Aviso-Escorteur Victor Schoelcher

Unfortunately, there was a problem on the Victor Schelcher that necessitated to put the ship in a dry dock.

Salina Cruz

So, aboard the Victor Schoelcher we went to Salina Cruz

Salina Cruz Bay and Harbor

Salina Cruz is situated near the mouth of the Río Tehuantepec, on the open coast of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec on the Gulf of Tehuantepec, and has no natural harbor.
The harbor was formed by the construction of two breakwaters, the western 3,260 ft (990 m) and the eastern 1,900 ft (580 m) long, which curve toward each other at their outer extremities and leave an entrance 635 ft (194 m) wide.
Connected with the new port works was one of the then-largest dry docks in the world 610 ft (190 m) long and 89 ft (27 m) wide, with a depth of 28 ft (8.5 m) on its sill at low water. [Wikipedia]

We were the first French Navy ship to ever go to Salina Cruz. So, we had to create a document that exists for all ports in the world where a ship had gone: the "guide du port" (the harbor's guide).

We stayed only three days in Salina Cruz, then we joined the Jeanne d'Arc to go to Panama City before taking the Panama Canal to the Atlantic Ocean.

Continue to Part 33

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Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8
Part 9 - Part 10 - Part 11 - Part 12 - Part 13 - Part 14 - Part 15 - Part 16
Part 17 - Part 18 - Part 19 - Part 20 - Part 21 - Part 22 - Part 23 - Part 24
Part 25 - Part 26 - Part 27 - Part 28 - Part 29 - Part 30 - Part 31

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So when the ship was called Conservé, it was in the meaning conserve France, or something like that? I immediately thought of canned food.

The etymology of the word "conserve" in the English Wiktionary Is:

From Old French conserver, from Latin conservare (“to keep, preserve”), from com- (intensive prefix) + servo (“keep watch, maintain”).

The prefix "con" means "with" or "together".

So, you can see two different meaning of "conserve": one is "to keep watch together" and the other is "to maintain together".

In the XVIth century, the French verb "conserver" meant "to sail together, staying at viewing distance of each other". This is in this sense that the ship accompanying the Jeanne d'Arc was call the "conserve". In this sense of the word "conserve", there is the French expression "de conserve", still in use today, even if rarely, meaning "going together".

In the sense of "to maintain together", you have for example this meaning for the English word "conserve":

A jam or thick syrup made from fruit.

And in French, you have "boîte de conserve" (tin can) or "faire des conserves" (to make canned food).

In English, the verb "to observe" takes from "to keep watch", while "to preserve" takes from "to maintain".

When you look at the latin it is actually obvious. So: guarding or serving together with.

Michel? That's my name! And guess where I live, San Fran-fricken-cisco.

Wow. That sounds like a horrible accident. I am so sorry your friends had to endure that (both psychologically and physically).

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Nice post ! Very informative
Thank you for this !
Keep it up !

Definitely worth an upvoted and a resteem :)

Great post.


I cannot believe I am just now finding this! Fantastic chapter! Going back the beginning as I am intrigued.

good post friend

Hope you have unforgettable memories.

And another beautiful episode from your life. Thank you!
Its funny how one enlists to go to war if needed and then a drunken driver injures him so badly... very tragic actually...

Reagan's sentence about Berkely... hahaha but didnt those guys there just validate it in the end?

Well, they may be many protesters in Berkeley, but where are the communist sympathizers and most of all the sex deviants?

Oh, I meant the part that they are waiting to fight with police just because it is fun. Of course Reagan is way out of proportions :D

I wanna know more about the alcatraz prison.

Wow, you've had quite a colorful life sir. They could easily make a top notch TV series about you.

Oh... I just thought for a while that I've found a new good blogger around. I was wrong, you are not that new ;-)
Part 32, huh...
Nice to meet you :-)

Thank you, Gandalf.