Viva La France!
One afternoon on a blustery fall day, a young couple took their three children sailing for the first time. Xavier Larbarriere serves as a colonel in the French Army, assigned to NATA at Norfolk Naval Base. He enjoyed seeing the US Navy sub through the binoculars.
“You know,” he told me in an aside, “Norfolk has more ships and planes than the entire military in France.” I was happy to describe to the couple the important contribution by the French to the Battle of the Capes and the Siege of Yorktown. I showed them how Admiral DeGrasse outflanked Admiral Thomas Graves off Virginia Beach. Then DeGrasse drew the British south so Admiral DeBarras could sneak into Chesapeake Bay with troops and artillery for the Siege.
“To think,” Xavier added, “that they court-martialled DeGrasse a few years later for countermanding an order. History is remarkable.”
Amy found herself conflicted, historically. “I am English by birth and French by marriage. We came here only a few months ago, and our children speak English better than we do.” Amy used to sail, and it showed. She held the wheel with great confidence even as the wind and waves built up. Their son Thomas did a fine job on the helm as well.
On a more modern note, Xavier asked about the current value of passing sailboats. He was surprised they were so cheap. “That explains why my friends are buying sailboats here and shipping them back to France for sale.”
Let’s Go Sail
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