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A picture that made the tour of the world

Le Belem dans un coup de vent.

Published in posters, postcards and books, this picture of the Belem is well-known. It almost did the tour of the world… I saw it in many places always with the same emotion : in a shop of Bouvelard Saint-Laurent in Montreal, in a café in the island of Ouessant (France), in a English shipchandler store…

This spectacular picture was taken by Philip Plisson, an artist to whom we owe beautiful pictures of ships and of Brittany, a French region I’m fond of.

Looking at this picture, you will remark a yellow spot, a man in oilskins on the forecastle port side. It is me! I was there with a German trainee (the silhouette to my right), during a voyage from Cadix to Nantes.

The picture was taken from an helicopter off Belle-Île-en-Mer (a beautiful island in the Atlantic, situaded off the South coast of Brittany) mid-november 1995.

Philip Plisson had followed the journey of Belem since Corsica. He was working on a report for the centenary of the ship. For more than a month, he had known only “la pétole” (light winds). Pictures of the Belem in stronger wind conditions were really missing from his work.

This small unhoped-for gut of wind off Morbihan’s coasts, a day prior to our arrival in Nantes, was a gift of heaven for him…

Since then, I’m always proud to say to more of less doubtful people that I was the yellow spot on that wonderful picture!

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