Facing Tromelin

©

20 May 2010

Facing Tromelin

From the onboard radio room a female voice identifies herself as the Tromelin meteorological station. We in turn reply with our own identification. On the radar screen the echo of this tiny island, flashing green, is drowned out by the interfering echoes of heavy raindrops. The silhouette of this island, emerging from the abyss, appears on the grey horizon.
 
Long, ocean swells lap against Tromelin, this treasure trove of biodiversity, bathing in turquoise waters, protected by its coral plateau. Wild and rebellious, she doesn’t allow herself to be easily tamed. There are very few opportunities to land by boat, which is one of the reasons why the four meteorologists, the sole and alternating residents of the island, arrive by plane every month.
 
Unfortunately for us today the swell, which is breaking all around the island, prevents our boat from being able to land safely. It’s a shame! Tromelin will have to remain a mystery to us, a place steeped in history and legend.
 
The running of this island has recently been taken over by the prefect of TAAF (French Austral and Antarctic Territories). Forming part of the Scattered Islands, a little piece of France scattered strategically in the Indian Ocean, Tromelin still resounds from the extraordinary epic events of its past; 60 slaves were shipwrecked here. Forgotten by the world for 15 years, they managed to survive 250 nautical miles from any human habitation.

Having made a wide turning to the south due to sea conditions, Tara stops for an hour in front of this weather station. We use this opportunity to film and take photos and share information via VHF with Beatrice, the meteorologist on duty. Then we set sail and head off for the north coast of Madagascar. Plotting a course for Diego Suarez, our next port of call, we leave gannets and frigate-birds in our wake.

Herve Bourmaud, Tara Captain