Every woman enjoys a good romance story and if it is connected with a sea faring adventure, all the better. I recently ran across such a adventure as I was surfing the internet. This is a true story and that makes it that much more interesting.
Some of you may have heard of Rose de Freycinet, born Rose Pinon in 1794. You may be thinking how could a story of a woman living in
the 1800’s be adventurous? After all, weren’t they always shielded and protected from the outside world? This was not so with Rose.
At the age of 19, she married 35-year-old Louis Claude de Freycinet, a member of the French aristocracy. He had sailed the seas on a voyage that produced the first map of the Australian coastline. After his marriage to Rose he was given command of a ship, Uranie, which was to take him around the world while performing scientific measurements and to collect specimens of natural history. Newly married to Rose, they conspired a plan that was considered illegal.
Thus marked the beginning of one of France’s great and lasting love stories. Refusing to face a painful separation from her husband, Rose dressed in an officer’s uniform and stowed away on board the Uranie. When the story became known, there was indignation universally shared, but at the many meetings with authorities where she could have be ordered ashore, this didn’t happen.
Rose was a spirited young woman, and not only spirited, but brave. Her adventures stand as one of enduring love. Her husband had taken a
grave risk in regard to his career, so little mention of Rose’s presence on board was made.
The ship, which was called a corvette, was 112 feet long, 28 feet wide and 14 feet deep. It carried two main cannons. It was considered to be a small vessel especially with 125 men aboard and also a large amount of scientific equipment. Her husband had prepared for his wife’s presence and had living quarters renovated and attention was paid to hygienic standards, food safety and health.
Apparently, though, becoming a stowaway was Rose’s own idea; she may have hatched the plan as early as October 1816 and went on board on September 16, 1817. Report of her presence reached the French media soon after, leading to sensational reports in the press. Her presence aboard a Navy vessel was illegal. However, the Navy was powerless, since the ship’s first port of call was Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, and it wasn’t reached until 1818.
Rose’s around-the-world trip, so as not to be separated from her husband, included a shipwreck, being stranded on an island, disease,
pirates, storms, near-starvation, picnics of penguin meat, much dreaded sea gull meat, strange customs, island royalty and travels to remote locations, all ingredients for a great adventure story. Rose documented her story in a diary and became the first woman to write an account of her experiences of circumnavigating the world. The whole voyage was three years and two months. How did Rose fare through all of this? She’s been described as “retaining a most surprising firmness and composure of mind.” So did many other French ladies during this murderous period of the French Revolution.
In Paris, in 1832, Rose nursed her husband back to health, following a bout with cholera, but she herself succumbed to ill health and died on May 7, 1832. Her love story is remembered through her book, “A Woman of Courage: The Journal of Rose De Freycinet On her Voyage Around the World, 1817 -1820.
This love story caught my eye, because our grandson, Jeremy, a recon
marine, will soon be deployed at sea and leave behind his wife, for a full year. I’m not suggesting that Karlin stow herself away aboard ship, but, being an ex-marine herself. she could manage such an adventure and, maybe, become today’s Rose de Freycinet.