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