18 August 2017
After 8 days of intense sailing, we moored in Sydney today at 9am, local time. Until the very end, it took all the experience of Captain Simon Rigal and the crew to sail in these well-established westerly winds, oscillating from 15 to 50 knots. Exhausted, the 10 team members are now relishing setting foot on land after this crossing of nearly 1,215 nautical miles (almost 2,300 km). A one-week stopover is ahead of us, with local press meetings, scientific conferences and public visits.
Tara in 40 knot wind. © François Aurat / Fondation Tara Expéditions
Around 6am this morning, before sunrise, the first building towers appeared on the horizon. Sydney was slowly waking up before our eyes, while facing at last a calmer sea. Progressing at more than 10 knots with her 2 engines, the main sail and foresail reefed in, Tara engaged in her final sprint.
After playing submarine and leapfrog a good part of the journey from Whangarei (New Zealand), this well-deserved arrival was worth the energy expended by the team.
“We experienced a little bit of everything during these harsh sailing conditions” summarized Simon. “It’s true that in this season, depressions follow one another between the Australian east coast and New Zealand like in the North Atlantic Ocean”.
Arriving in the early morning of August 17, we avoided yet another important low with a forecast of 40 knot westerly winds. Lucky us!
First mate Nicolas de la Brosse hoists the local colors. © Vincent Hilaire / Fondation Tara Expéditions
After this marine episode, the entrance to the Sydney Bight was a highly anticipated moment. Arriving by sea into one of the most beautiful bays in the world is always a pleasure. François Aurat and I were sharing memories: “Do you remember our arrival in Rio during the Tara Oceans expedition? (smiles) and in New York? Yes, but we weren’t there together”.
After passing a last headland topped with a nice white lighthouse on the starboard side, the famous Sydney Opera House appeared bathed in sunshine in an azure sky. Aboard Tara’s dinghy with our cook, Dominique Limbour, and François, I took the traditional picture upon arrival with some of the crew members on the fore deck. It reminded me of the photo I took in New York with the Statue of Liberty behind Tara and Daniel Cron lifting his arm, mimicking Auguste Bartholdi’s famous sculpture.
Tara passes in front of Sydney’s famous opera house. © Vincent Hilaire / Fondation Tara Expéditions
We passed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which resembles the Brooklyn Bridge but with 2 Australian flags at the top, and turned left to reach the quay of the Australian National Maritime Museum, at Darling Harbour. Clémentine Moulin, logistics coordinator of the Tara Expeditions Foundation, was waiting for us to assist Dominique.
Since then, customs formalities were carried out and sailors are washing away the salt from the deck, fittings and sails. It’s a Tara in salt crust that brought us here!
Tomorrow, the press is invited to attend a conference on Tara Pacific in the presence of Serge Planes, scientific director of the expedition.
As with every stopover, public tours and school visits are also scheduled on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
On August 24, we’re leaving Sydney to set sail towards Heron Island, south of the Great Barrier Reef. We’ll then head east to Chesterfield Islands and New Caledonia.
We’ll be 15 on board with a full scientific team once again.
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