A look back at a stormy navigation in the English Channel

© François Aurat / Fondation Tara Océan

19 February 2020

“The schooner Tara is leaving the “five port city” (Lorient, in Brittany), foghorns sounding the charge against Aeolus and his forces. Indeed, the sea is far from calm. A few fishermen greet us in their eternal foul weather gear.

A yellow sky accompanies us, the water is gray, and the wave crest fades as we sail out to the open sea. After 2 months in dry dock, the schooner finds her marks again as she exits the harbor. Sails are flapping, the rope tension is being adjusted, winches are rattling, the whole structure is adapting until it reaches a high point: gentle breathing.

The captain wants to achieve wind/rigging symbiosis. He praises softness: “When you can feel the boat breathing, it means she’s a little loose”;. Regarding the rigging of booms, he says: “See there, it’s slack; now, it’s good”;. The whole crew is active: the chief engineer is casually strolling around the deck, wearing hearing protection; the first mate has lost his thermostat once again and is setting the sails; Monch is carefully coiling ropes in a figure-eight pattern; the cook is sharpening her knives, and the deck officer is inspecting the rigging. The captain is finally sailing away from mainland, his cap secured on his head, looking pleased through the igloo opening, sometimes asking around: “Are you happy?” Caring about everyone’s opinion, he often consults the other crew members.

The swell makes the schooner oscillate between two fictional points. Her beautiful female curves, rounded hips and wide hull make Tara a protective matriarch in the Ocean matrix. We are near the Glenan Islands, a pod of dolphins surfing ahead of the bow. Let’s seize the moment, resting on the yankee, the slow motion of the stern, the swell breaking into a constellation of ocean spray while we sail around Armorica, a peninsula stretching westward, a promise for dusk. We will lower Tara‘s masts and sail up the Seine. Lutetia awaits us to hoist them again.”

Tommy Jegou, sailor on board

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