10 August 2017
Docked in New Zealand since June 18th, Tara set sail this Wednesday for the 2nd year of the Tara Pacific expedition devoted to coral. The annual maintenance is completed, and a new chapter of this maritime odyssey begins. By the end of October, scientists aboard the schooner will have collected hundreds of new coral samples from the planet’s 2 largest structures built by these animals — in Australia and New Caledonia.
© François Aurat / Tara Expéditions Foundation
After torrential rains lasting almost all day, the sun slowly came out 2 hours before our departure to offer us an exceptional late afternoon. The landscapes surrounding Whangarei and its river resemble those of Normandy or Limousin in France.
Before the end of the traditional clearance* procedure Tara’s new captain, Simon Rigal asked chief mechanic Charlène Gicquel and Daniel Cron (who will debark in Sydney) to start the 2 engines. Seeing that everything was on the right track with the Kiwi customs officer, Simon was eager to leave Whangarei and carry out the departure maneuvers during this window of beautiful, dry weather.
Samuel Audrain, outgoing captain and Marion Lauters, outgoing cook, played dockhands and released the moorings on land. Slowly, after a slight move forward on the last mooring, Simon backed up to the end of the dock.
Hailed one last time by Marion and Samuel, Tara then headed east leaving a wake behind the gray hull. Ahead were 15 km of nighttime navigation to leave this beautiful sinuous river and reach the sea.
© Vincent Hilaire / Tara Expéditions Foundation
Less than 2 hours later, the first signs of rolling indicated that we had left this sheltered path for open water. Like a dromedary advancing in a sea of sand dunes, the schooner bobbed and throbbed forward.
We navigated with the motor for almost a day before encountering more difficult conditions. Weather reports announce 30 knot** westerly winds for the next few days.
This means we will start sailing to Sydney into the wind and the hours ahead may be a bit taxing for the 10 who are on board. They will have no choice but to quickly acquire their sea-legs. To stabilize the schooner and reduce rolling, the sailors hoisted the mainsail and foresail.
We are expected on August 18th in Sydney, a distance of 1,215 nautical miles.*** On our first night at sea there’s a nearly full moon. This is the second time the schooner will come into Darling Harbor. In March 1990, Jean-Louis Étienne finished the trans-Antarctica with 6 other explorers in this Australian port.
* authorization for departure
** 55 km/hour
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