15 January 2015
When Taranautes welcome visitors on the boat’s deck, they share her story, explain the science and respond to questions from the curious. The same issues often come up: life on board, the schooner’s design but also the crew recruitment process. The Tara adventure makes for dreaming, inspires vocations, and team members are envied. Actually, there is no normal recruitment process for extraordinary expeditions. Team members were hired for their profile, skills, or from encounters.
Children’s questions are often very different from those of their elders. They don’t ask about recruitment or CV. Rather, they want to know about the crew’s daily life. The youngest are invited to visit the interior of the boat and can hardly wait to discover the sailors’ cabins. Even if they rave about the photos of the boat locked in the Arctic ice, their questions are down to earth and logistical: How does one make food on board? What does one eat? The sailor in charge of the visit then turns to Marion Lauters or Dominique Limbour, Tara’s excellent cooks. And one or the other stops making lunch for a few minutes to answer the questions. Children will also avidly ask about the coexistence of 14 people for several months in such a small space. Since they themselves spend their days confined in a classroom, they tend to bring up this important point.
A catalyst for unusual characters, the boat welcomes scientists, explorers and artists — individuals who, for the most part, don’t know each other before they board Tara. They come from a variety of professional backgrounds, with very different lifestyles and temperaments. They come together for several weeks or months to work on a boat that is only 36 meters long. They share their cabins, meals and work together all day. Their paths perhaps would never have crossed without Tara.
Nevertheless, on board, some kind of magic happens: team members do their best to live and work together in a friendly atmosphere. This micro-society is organized according to the same principles as on land. Except that everyone is particularly careful to cohabit in harmony. Friendships develop rapidly as the days pass at sea, and during the privileged exchanges of night watches. People find common interests, discover they share the same values, admire the professionalism of their fellow crew members, or rave about their past exploits. Whether diver, cook, scientist, sailor or journalist, the team members become Taranautes and relish the time shared on board. Fleeting moments each person tries to savour every day, despite the fatigue from work or close quarters.
When a public tour of the boat comes to an end, it is not uncommon that a visitor remarks to the guide, “How lucky you are to take part in such an adventure!” Aware of his privilege, the Taranaute nods in agreement, then replies with a big smile, “The Tara adventure is also, and especially, a human adventure.”