Monday, January 2, 2017

Memories of the Capitan San Marco schooner

Sources here and here
The Capitan San Marco - a three-masted schooner registered in Lebanon - was impossible not to spot. There may have been bigger yachts but this one due to the masts was so incredibly eye-catchy. It was owned by Belgian identical twins Jacques and Alfred (Fred) Fremal. Jacques was one of the biggest noses of the perfume industry but due to cancer - first he was amputated of the leg and then eventually passed away.
The late Jacques came up with a perfume dubbed "perle des oceans" which had a roll-on tip instead of an atomizer and I even remember seeing samples of it as at some point we were supposed to do an advertising for it. Jacques even told the story of him showing the sample to Baron Bic - owner of the famous Bic company, which apart from lighters also ventured in perfumes - and when the Baron saw the roll on tip (identical to the pen!) he screamed "s**t!" ("m*rde!") because Bic had issued perfumes with atomizer tops whereas roll on was the exact Bic pen concept.
Fred's ex-wife owns a restaurant in Malta where the ship, following a collision with an illegal tuna-fishing vessel in December 2005, has been dismasted and now lays abandoned in the bay of Marsaxlokk in Malta. Apparently Fred won the lawsuit but was never given the money the court stipulated.
The "San Marco" was such a huge attraction when it was in Beirut. I myself had the pleasure of being on board several times, whereas I can say I was never a great sailor, at least I never had sea sickness for all the time I spent there. The Fremal brothers were a little like Dupont et Dupont from Tintin. Identical in appearance with Fred echoing the last words of the late Jacques' sentences. "Et puis on a decide de faire la transat'" (Jacques) "La transat'" (Fred) which is also reminiscent of "je dirais meme plus" of the Tintin inspectors' fame. And they had so much to tell and adventures they have lived.
Stories abound about the boat being "cursed" (check this link in the comments), but my memories of it - on beautiful sailing Sundays along the sea of Beirut were quite "blessed". There was something magical about being on the deck as the Lebanese coast strolled in front of you - not too distant but far enough to be seen as "tranquil" and indeed likable.
When you told people you had spent your day on board the San Marco you could feel the glitter of jealousy in their eyes, and truth be told, when on board, all you could think of - was not how to upstage your friends - but simply how "peaceful" Beirut seemed from a distance.
I am not sure what brought me to check the whereabouts of the San Marco, and yes, there is a tinge of sadness knowing the state it is in right now. Above is a spotted image of the "epave"(dating back to 2015) and underneath the ship in its beautiful heyday in 1994.