Course toward Lorient

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21 February 2008

Course toward Lorient

It is 10 am on Thursday and the sunshine is inundating the ward. We are now 18 onboard Tara. We are going along the English coast on the starboard side at the end of which there will be the mythical Cap Lizard, departure or arrival point of so many races. Then, we shall arrive in Lorient on Saturday. The family has grown or rather has been reformed.

Etienne Bourgois, the expedition director and some crew members of the first winter and summer have joined the boat before the boat left from Portsmouth last night.
For some of them it was the first time that they could talk to each other face to face. This great team- the twenty Taranautes had only met during changing shifts. Since last night, these faces recognized sometimes thanks to movies or the website have become even more familiar. Something unites us. The same gestures, the same constraints often the same rhythm at least for the two winters.
“So the cold did not cause you any problems, and how about to break the ice?”

« I remember the pressure ridges against the hull. It was indescribable!” Shared impressions, converging points of view: “A moment that warms our heart and that remains engraved in our memory” according to Denys Bourget.
With other words Hervé Bourmaud, Tara’s captain, expresses the same feelings. He exchanges with another former captain of Tara, Jean Collet who is also onboard since yesterday. They also talk about mechanical matters as Jean was also a mechanic before being the schooner’s captain and thus another topic to exchange about with the present chief mechanic Samuel Audrain.

In short, we are constantly exchanging on all the subjects that concern Tara: the boat, the science, communication, the video, the projects…

Lady Pippa Blake onboard

Last night, we shared a very moving moment with Lady Pippa Blake. Sir Peter Blake’s widow, Tara’s former owner that was then called Seamaster.

First Alistair Moore, Peter’s former crew member arrived onboard very moved, this great kiwi fellow was feeling awkward. We were finishing our dinner; we invited him to eat with us and to enjoy a good glass of Burgundy wine. Soon, he felt more at ease and we started to joke around. But we could tell that many memories were mixing up in his mind.
It is on this boat on December 2001 that sir Peter Blake lost his life, shot down by pirates on the Amazone. One of the greatest sailors of the planet disappeared. For the Earth: the loss of a defender of her beauty and fragility.

But Alistair had come as a sort of scout. He is the one thanks to whom Etienne had heard about the Seamaster’s sale. And now he was waiting for his phone to ring. A few minutes later, Lady Pippa Blake, who has her home in Portsmouth joined us. She had not set foot upon the boat since 2003 when she had recovered her husband’s personal belongings at Camaret in France.

One can imagine also her emotion. After having spoken with the crew members, with Grant Redvers, the kiwi expedition leader, one of sir Peter Blake’s’ “spiritual sons”, Pippa signed the onboard visitor’s book. Etienne Bourgois, the expedition leader, new owner of Tara since this tragedy had arrived on time.

After talking to each other, the casting off being imminent, as a goodbye, Pippa and Etienne gave themselves a great hug. Silently, but one could sense the gratitude of Lady Blake for passing the baton so successfully. The Arctic drift is a great baby with several daddies. The achievement of a lifetime that Etienne at the head of the Tara Arctic team successfully materialized. Etienne was telling me this morning “that she came on board for us” Maybe she came also for Peter?

The great family of Tara, of the ex Antarctica and Seamaster is but one. United by this exceptional schooner under the banner of human adventure and the defence of our planet. The story of all these men and women is melted for ever in the aluminium of this hull. It navigates with her.

Vincent Hilaire