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