In September 1817, the “Uranie” left Toulon, France, for an around-the-world scientific expedition. Commanding the voyage was Louis Claude de Freycinet, a naval officer, appointed by the French government.
Louis and 22-year-old Rose Marie Pinion had been married just three years and did not relish the idea of such a long separation. They carefully plotted for Rose to stow away on the vessel, making her the lone woman among 125 men on the voyage. It was strictly against French regulation for women to sail on their boats.
Rose documented her adventures in letters to her mother and her dear friend Caroline in France. In them, she recounted the interesting cultures and customs she encountered on the voyage and included tales of meeting pirates off the coast of New Guinea and being shipwrecked in the Falkland Islands. Her letters, published in diary form after her death, were written with a great appreciation for detail, vividly describing the voyage.
Although never officially mentioned in records of the voyage, Rose’s presence was unofficially acknowledged in the naming for her of a new variety of dove discovered off New Guinea, two ferns gathered by botanists and an island in the Pacific near Samoa.
Rose became the first woman to write a complete account of a three-year circumnavigation. Tragically, she died at age 38 during a cholera epidemic.