18 February 2015
Work is going well in Keroman, the technical zone of Lorient. Tara is in dry dock for one month being renovated. “The whale” is in the expert hands of a small repair team, among them the captain Samuel Audrain, who has been working onboard for 9 years. He agreed to interrupt what he is was doing to tell us about the progress of the renovation.
What is the major work being done on Tara?
We made a list of things to do when we returned from the Mediterranean expedition. We’re advancing gradually, but one thing adds to another and the list has gotten longer. Currently, we’re 5 people working on board: some sailors who know the boat, and others who are discovering Tara for the first time. We also bring in a team of welders full-time, and a carpenter. The boat is made of aluminum so there’s a lot of work to be done on the hull. We undertook a major overhaul of the motors. Work on “Therese,” the starboard engine, is a little behind schedule. She is still stripped and waiting for parts. The other important job concerns the diesel tanks. Tara has a 40,000-liter capacity divided in 5 tanks. After 25 years of sailing, the schooner is experiencing some electrolytical problems typical of aluminum boats: “cankers” have formed, ie, certain metal sheets were corroded in places, letting the smell of diesel fuel escape into some cabins. So we purged and cleaned all the tanks before pressurizing them in order to find the leaks. This is not an easy task because all the boat’s furnishings were built above these tanks. But we’re finally coming to the end.
We’re also checking the pumping and fire systems, and we’re modifying some pieces of aluminum pipe, etc. On deck we’re checking the winch transmission systems. In fact, as soon as we pick up a board in a certain place, or open up an area, we do a little check-up, or we reposition things to modify the systems. Obviously all this takes time, and we’re working within a deadline: Tara will be relaunched in late March or early April.
Work on the site is complementary to what you do everyday when sailing.
I’ve already participated in several boat renovations. As a crew member, being present during an overhaul is very interesting, because we discover other facets of the boat, we discover things we can not access at sea. It’s also very rewarding for Loïc and Nicolas who are working here for the first time. Loïc is taking apart “Thérèse” with Daniel, and he’s learning a lot.
From a personal point of view, in terms of rhythm, our habits are shaken up. I’m discovering land-life, with a small apartment, a social life, weekends, and time to do sports. All this is very different from what we experience at sea.
After the repairs, what preparations will the boat undergo?
At this point, we’re treating the schooner for symptoms of old age. The next work will be devoted to preparing for the Coral Mission 2016. We’ve already disassembled the dry lab and will transform it into a cabin. The lab will be housed in what used to be the “petit carré.” We’re thinking about changing the rear crane to accommodate a semi-rigid zodiac necessary for the diving program.
As you can see, we’ve also installed 2 large hatches in the main cabin, in order to access the engines easily, and not have to cut open the floor every time. Now everything is removable and we have access quickly. It’s a small change!
Interview by Noëlie Pansiot
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