Approaching the finish line


26 November 2013

At 7:30 am Monday morning in the small port of Saint-Pierre, Tara cast off her mooring lines one last time, having completed her 25,000 km journey around the North Pole. To finish the expedition, we have only the Atlantic Ocean to cross.  

We almost didn’t reach Saint Pierre and Miquelon because of a storm last Thursday. Then problems continued at departure time. Baggage containing an anemometer for the boat got lost in the maze of airports. Originally, we had planned to leave the archipelago Sunday at noon, but the expected luggage did not arrive until that evening, forcing us to postpone our departure until Monday morning. So, at night in the midst of a snowstorm, the sailors had to climb to the top of the 27 meter mast to attach the precious instrument.

This delay was unfortunate, since time is short before our scheduled arrival at Lorient — 2,200 miles away on the other side of the ocean. We have only 13 days to do the transatlantic crossing. For everyone on board, this voyage is not a trivial matter. Especially for Jerome Coindat, who embarked at Saint-Pierre, after the departure of Patrick Wincker, Christian and Noé Sardet. “My origins are in Brittany, and my great-grandparents came from Newfoundland, at a time when fishing in that part of the world was a real adventure.”

The adventure may have faded gradually with technical progress, but excitement is still present for those preparing a first transatlantic crossing. “This is a legendary voyage and it’s really great to be able to experience it from the inside.” said Marc. His enthusiasm is shared by Dino: “A transatlantic crossing still remains a challenge. For years I’ve been talking with sailors, and now  it will be an experience I can share directly.”

As for the sailors, this “crossing the river” (as they call it) will not be their first. Baptiste will be doing his 4th ‘transat’: “It’s always the first time that counts the most. All sailors dream of doing it at least once in their lives.”  “It’s very symbolic for a sailor,” continues Daniel, “it’s like rounding the 3 capes, or crossing the equator.” A vision shared by Martin, the captain, who has done 7 transats. “It’s even more important for us Europeans. For a long time we didn’t know what came after the ocean. A transat means going from one continent to another!” 

For Nadège, this voyage is a challenge: “It’s rare to do the crossing so far North, in a very stormy region, and especially this late in the season. Few boats attempt it.” A challenge that we are all ready to meet, since the goal so is close.  As Nico says: “We really feel that we’re approaching the finish line. This is a good way to complete the expedition.” Our next mooring will be at the docks of Lorient, the port we left seven months ago.

Yann Chavance