log book - Loïc Vallette, Tara’s new captain
Loïc Vallette, Tara’s new captain
Vallette – that’s the new name scribbled in the signature column of the logbook. It’s the family name of Tara’s new captain. Loïc took over the helm in the legendary port of Valparaiso, and for his first leg he’ll take the boat to Easter Island. Here’s a bit of this young man’s story. By the way, he doesn’t like to be considered a young captain. Reading about his life, you’ll understand why.
Born in Marseille in 1978, since early childhood Loïc Valette has been immersed in the world of sailing. Whether on the family sailboat with his father, or on a dinghy with his team-mate at Red Point Sailing Club, Loïc quickly learned to master the sails and became familiar with winds and currents of the Mediterranean.
On life’s map, the trajectory seemed clearly traced for Loïc. Navigation would become his profession. Without much hesitation, after a scientific baccalaureat, he attended “l’hydro” in Marseille (Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande). “I couldn’t see myself working in an office. I wanted to earn a living rapidly, so I chose the career of officer in the merchant marine.”
After a first ‘voyage of initiation’ aboard a container ship along the African coasts, the following year Loïc departed for a two-month trip in the direction of South America. In among the Croatian and Philippino sailors, Loïc found his classmate Olivier Marien. “It’s the kind of adventure where you either become great friends, or else you detest each other for the rest of your lives.” Olivier and Loïc became friends. And it’s through Olivier, former captain of Tara, that Loïc discovered the research schooner.
But let’s not lose the thread of our story. Having completed his third year of school, it was time for the apprentice-officer to get serious. The ENMM program requires two years of navigation. Even before embarking for the seas of northern Europe aboard cable-layers, Loïc understood that he had not chosen the easy life. “When you embark, you know that for several weeks, even months sometimes, you’ll have to do without certain essential things in life, for example, nature, friends, leisure time.”
During this period, the young officer was already doing other things besides sailing. He spent every vacation, all his free time, mountain-climbing. In the French Alps, the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, or in Morocco, Loïc feels free in these grandiose landscapes. “And I love the relationship that develops with climbing companions. It’s a very strong bond; we’re like brothers.”
In 2003, having earned his officer’s diploma, Loïc embarked again on container ships, this time as first mate. The constant criss-crossing of the Atlantic, the stopovers in commercial ports where machines have replaced men – all this didn’t really suit the young sailor. At the time he even considered completely changing professions – becoming a mountain-climbing guide for example. But the charms of Marseille seduced the native son to stay close to home.
The “Compagnie Méridionale de Navigation” offered him a job as assistant mechanic on the ferries sailing between Marseille, Corsica and Sardinia. Loïc worked at this job for 4 years.
The Mediterranean islands began to wear on the young sailor who was longing for more exotic destinations, new horizons. Loïc decided on his childhood dream, New Caledonia. He moved to Noumea and embarked on the Havannah, a small ship that goes between the Loyalty Islands and Vanuatu. Diving and fishing in the turquoise-blue lagoons, the joie de vivre of the kanaks – no doubt about it, our man from Marseille had found his little corner of paradise.
While he was enjoying this peaceful time in Noumea, Loïc was contacted by Romain Troublé, who wanted to meet him in Paris. Noumea, Paris – violent culture-shock. Fortunately Loïc left quickly for South America and joined Tara. On board the research schooner, he is rediscovering his passion for sailing. And though his heart often yearns for the mountains, Captain Vallette doesn’t doubt for a second that with Tara, he’s going to have some extraordinary maritime adventures.