Martin Hertau, returning captain | Tara, a schooner for the planet

Martin Hertau, returning captain

© Yann Chavance / Fondation Tara Expéditions

30 October 2016

After a transatlantic crossing and more than 4 months of navigation, Samuel Audrain is relayed as Tara’s captain by Martin Hertau. Throughout the entire Tara Pacific expedition, the 2 sailors will take turns every 5-6 months in this key function.

You’re back on board. What does the position as Tara’s captain involve?

The captain is of course in charge of navigation, safety and maintenance of the vessel. He also makes sure everyone is at their workstation, that work is properly done and there’s contentment on board. All crew members have an important role to play and the captain ensures global cohesion. He’s like an orchestra conductor. The education outreach component is also crucial aboard Tara. During the stopovers – whether for visits, receptions or welcoming school groups- there is a real role to play. This is an area I had no expertise in because it has nothing to do with the seafaring profession but it’s at the very heart of the Tara project.

What do you like most about this role?

I really enjoy its versatility – very important aboard the schooner. It’s not just navigation, we also take part in refitting for example. For Tara Pacific, as for other previous expeditions, I’ve been involved since the beginning of the project. On the work site at the beginning of the year, we prepared the schooner for this mission, from the viewpoint of maritime safety, of course, but also for science: this is a multipurpose vessel and we equip it differently according to the mission. Finally, I like Tara’s aura, tangible in many ports of call. I have exceptional memories of the wonderful welcome we received during previous expeditions, in Beirut, Tangier, Naples or St. Pierre and Miquelon: there’s a human dimension that makes it all even more thrilling.

How did the handover in Tahiti go with Samuel?

When I left the work site at the beginning of the year, many parts – like the new engines and the derrick used to hoist the tender – had only been quickly tested. A lot of new equipment have been added since then, so it was important to check them all with Samuel: learn how the material held up during this half way around the world, what worked well, what needs to be improved, etc. We also talked about scientific protocols, since Samuel and I also participate in diving activities during the entire expedition to help the team in charge of plankton sampling. This is all new to us, and even if it’s really interesting, it also gives us more work and things to integrate. In the end, the handover lasted 2 whole days, and it was rather heavy!

 Interview by Yann Chavance

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