Sea Cadets learn the ropes on French Navy’s old­est sail­ing cut­ter

The Oban Times - - News -

FOUR Oban Sea Cadets and three of their in­struc­tors have been learn­ing the ropes aboard the old­est serv­ing sail­ing ves­sel.

Petty Of­fi­cer Rab Neil and civil­ian in­struc­tors Richard Dob­son and Thomas Kennedy took cadets Cal­lum Neil, Charis Simp­son, Kate Home and Christo­pher Den Hei­jer, from the train­ing ship Pharos, aboard Le Dundee Mutin – a 91-year- old cut­ter built in 1926, which joined the French Navy in 1964 – and helped sail her from Cor­pach canal basin at Fort Wil­liam to Oban.

This was an hon­our for Oban Sea Cadets to be in­vited aboard this ex­tra­or­di­nary French Navy ves­sel, es­pe­cially as it was Bastille Day.

The Mutin cur­rently pro­vides a nau­ti­cal role in the form of a train­ing ship but also a cul­tural one, rep­re­sent­ing French na­tional her­itage, and a his­tor­i­cal tie with the Bri­tish Se­cret Ser­vice’s Special Op­er­a­tions Ex­ec­u­tive as a spy-boat dur­ing the Sec­ond World War from 1940 to 1945 car­ry­ing out var­i­ous mis­sions as far as the Adri­atic coasts. She was handed back to France in March 1945.

The mo­ment the cadets boarded the Mutin they were im­me­di­ately en­cour­aged to get in­volved in all as­pects of crew­ing the ves­sel, learn about her his­tory, par­tic­i­pate in prac­ti­cal sea­man­ship and nav­i­gate with the crew.

The French sailors had very lit­tle English but were nev­er­the­less able to com­mu­ni­cate, help and en­cour­age while show­ing pa­tience and pro­fes­sion­al­ism in their teach­ing abil­ity.

Most of the seven-hour trip was done un­der sail which was an im­pres­sive sight to see along the Firth of Lorne.

A won­der­ful sail­ing ad­ven­ture was had by all on the day, in­clud­ing a three- course lunch pro­vided by the ship’s cook, and the cadets would like to thank the French Navy, Com­man­dant Pierre and his crew for this mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence.

The com­man­dant and crew were ex­tremely in­ter­ested in the for­ma­tion of the Sea Cadet Corps as they do not have any­thing like it in France. Fur­ther to this, Com­man­dant Pierre com­pli­mented the cadets on their ex­em­plary pre­sen­ta­tion, con­duct, be­hav­iour and ea­ger­ness to par­tic­i­pate, and for show­ing in­ter­est aboard the Mutin.

Oban Sea Cadets have a ju­nior sec­tion for young­sters aged 10 to 12 who meet every Tues­day evening and se­niors aged 12 to 18 who meet every Thursday evening at Tweed­dale Street Cadet Hall in Oban.

The cadets and their in­struc­tors pre­pare to leave Cor­pach, main pic­ture; Cal­lum Neil as­sists the French sailors; and Le Dundee Mutin sails into Oban bay.

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