The Story of My Life so Far - Part 41 - Returning to France: From Papeete to BreststeemCreated 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 40

Returning to France

After several years in French Polynesia, where the capacity for ship maintenance is limited, it was time for the BDC Trieux to
return to France for a long maintenance period.

So, in May 1972, we said goodbye to Papeete and started a two month journey to France.

We stopped for a day in one of the Marquesas Islands ("Îles Marquises" in French), Nuku Hiva or Hiva Oa, I don't remember which one. Then we set course for the west coast of Mexico.

Clipperton Island

On the way to Mexico, we stopped for two hours near the only French possession in the North Pacific: Clipperton Island, an inhabited island off the coast of Central America.

Clipperton Island

To learn why this seemingly unimportant island ended up to be French, you will have to read the Wikipedia entry. It is a fascinating story, but I had no idea at the time because there was no Internet.

Although there is a 6 km2 coral reef, as there is also a small volcanic outcrop rising to 29 m, technically Clipperton is not just an atoll, but an island with a barrier reef.

Salina Cruz, Again

After more than two weeks at sea, we arrived off the coast of Mexico. Our first post of call was Salina Cruz, where I had already been 14 months before.

As the speed of the ship was very much dependent on the sea state and the wind, the length of our trip had been set so that even with several days of rough sea and high winds, we would arrive on time in Salina Cruz.

As it happened, we had rather calm sea wind and we were able to be near the coast of Mexico two days early. So, we needed to wait for two days before arriving in Salina Cruz. The crew was not really happy about that.

Salina Cruz Bay and Harbor

We stayed in Salina Cruz for 3 or 4 days. I have no special memories about this stay.

Colón, Panama

Five days after leaving Salina Cruz, we went through the Panama Canal. This was the second time for me to go through the canal.

But this time, we did not stay in Panama City, on the Pacific side, but in Colón on the Atlantic side, where we stayed for several days.

Colón, Panama

In our opinion, Colón was a much less interesting city than Panama City. So, one day, with several other officers of the ship, we took the train and went to visit Panama City.

Newport News, Virginia

From Colón we set course for Newport News, in Virginia.
You might think that this was not a very glamorous port of call that had been chosen for us.
The reason we went to Newport News was that we were taking delivery of some heavy equipment, armament or ammunitions ( I don't remember what it was).

Before arriving in Newport News, we went through the beginning of the Chesapeake Bay, and passed in front of Norfolk, Virginia.

Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth and Norfolk viewed from space

With the other officers, we visited Virginia, and went as far as Virginia Beach.

Brest, Brittany

After leaving Newport News, we crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in the major French Navy port on the Atlantic facade, Brest at the end of June 1972.

View of Brest Harbor, by Pierre Péron

This was the end of my first post, on the BDC Trieux.

At the beginning of July 1972, I went on vacation for two months, not knowing yet where my next post would be.

Continue to Part 42

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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 - Part 32
Part 33 - Part 34 - Part 35 - Part 36 - Part 37 - Part 38 - Part 39 - Part 40

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Super intéressant ! En tant que français ça me touche cette narration sur certaines de nos villes ! Quelle vie vous avez eu ! J'ai lu 2 parties pour l'instant, je vais vite m'atteler aux autres ! @vcelier



Et merci pour le like c'est très encourageant pour moi !
Bonne continuation,


Do you by any chance know how much does it cost today for a ship to cross panama canal? As the only one canal i have crossed until now is Corinth Canal in Grece. It saved us a few days if sailing, and Panama canal should be saving weeks :)


I have no special knowledge of the rates.

However a quick Google search found this:

It’s definitely best to go small than to look like a new money Russian tycoon. Small ships of less than 50 feet in length pay $800 for the transit.

You do not look like a Russian tycoon.


I am definitely not. It's quite alright, it says ~1k for a small yacht. having in mind time you save on around trip around South Americas :) Corinth even though savings in time was much smaller was about ~100EUR i believe. And if you can spare a day or two going around, that would be totally different story doing a roundabout of a few weeks.

Once again a very interesting installment. She you said goodbye to Papeete I was busy being born!

That island has had quite the history.

Finally time around my birth :D So... you were crossing Atlantic hahahaha
So many places... awesome. I miss even more stories about individual places. :)

Another great post @vcelier. Just seeing that island was a real trip. Clipperton....Never seen an Island that looks like that before. Have you spent much time in Central or South America in more recent times? I spent two years in Ecuador. Puedes hablar Espanol?


Have you spent much time in Central or South America in more recent times?

Not recently, no.

Puedes hablar Espanol?

No, no puedo hablar espanol.


That's pretty good grammar for not speaking Spanish! lol Have a great day!



Veux-tu que je te dise: gémir n'est pas de mise aux Marquises

Do you want me to tell you: moaning is not acceptable in the Marquesas.

Read the story with interest.
Will read other parts as well.

Fantastic sharing, very interesting and informative.

very interesting and I like the way you share friends, success is always for you @vcelier

Mannnn you make me wanna travel!!!

Very nice @vcelier

supper interesting story

fantastic story!

once again a fascinating report. Thank you for sharing.

Your travel story is very interesting. so much experience you get. you are great @vcelier

you have nice travel story God bless you