From one island to another

© Yann Chavance / Fondation Tara Expéditions

12 September 2016

Tara left Rapa Nui – Easter Island – last Wednesday, due west toward Pitcairn Islands (Great Britain) and specifically to the small deserted Ducie Island. Only a few  days sailing for a crew mostly renewed began under the fury of the winds.

The one week stopover at Rapa Nui (Chile) was clearly not easy. The already intense program had to be adapted hourly depending on weather conditions. The island’s only port was not sufficiently large to accommodate Tara and the schooner kept changing anchorage according to wind and swell. Despite these conditions which made embarking difficult, all newcomers took up residence before departure on Wednesday night. Thus in complete occupancy – 16 people – the schooner left behind the Moais and their mysteries for the open sea.


The new full crew gathered in the mess room for a security briefing © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


Among the newcomers, the Australian Pete West, specialist in macroscopic coral photography, replacing David Hannan as underwater cinematographer. Calixte Berger, oceanographer engineer, assists Guillaume Bourdin on the rear deck for daily plankton sampling. The five other newcomers make up the coral team: Emilie Boissin, one of the scientific coordinators of the expedition will dive with Becky Vergathurber, University of Oregon. Christian Voolstra is a biologist at KAUST (Saudi Arabia ) and Pascal Conan, a biogeochemist in Banyuls-sur-Mer. Guillaume Iwankow (CNRS) will be in charge of fish sampling. Finally, the visual artist Elsa Guillaume completes this new crew.


For this newly embarked crew, the schooner was not gentle with the weakest stomachs: deep troughs over six meters and wind gusts exceeding 40 knots. The first two days of sailing from Rapa Nui shook up all occupants of the schooner before the weather calmed down to offer brilliant sunshine and a deep blue sea.


David “Monch” Monmarché, divemaster, enjoying the return of good weather on Tara © Yann Chavance / Tara Expeditions Foundation


This peaceful landscape delighted the 16 Taranauts before arriving at deserted Ducie Island, a part of the Pitcairn Archipelago. Tara will stay for an exciting short week – rarely have divers ventured this far to the small island lost in the middle of the Pacific: full of corals but also sharks.

Yann Chavance

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