Tara is in its initial running-in period


28 May 2014

“We are at the stage of setting up protocols”
Interview with Samuel Audrain, captain of Tara

Since last week, there’s been excitement on board: the captain’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing, the crew expects deliveries, and many groups take turns visiting the boat during this stopover in Toulon. In chief mechanic Martin Hertau’s workshop, adjustments are being made on the sternposts. Paul Dufay, a talented electronics trainee is optimizing the electric panel wiring. There are final purchases to be made and parts to be found for minor repairs. The deck officer, François Aurat, has the shopping list: hydraulic bladder, plumbing for the dry lab, ampere-meter clamp, cyalume stick. All crew members are busy preparing the boat, leaving nothing to chance for the expedition. Samuel Audrain is aboard Tara again, captain for this leg.

Tara has been docked at Toulon’s “Quai d’honneur” for the last week.  The crew welcomed nearly 1,000 visitors aboard in just three days. Outside of visiting hours, what is happening onboard?

I recently embarked and this stopover lets us speed up preparations of the boat. We are still in reach of our French suppliers, making it easy to order parts. We have to anticipate the up-coming seven-month expedition (with stopovers in many foreign countries).

We carried out a safety check and tested each of the life jackets for buoyancy. We’re making sure we have all the necessary equipment on board before departure. As for the machines and motors, there’s always something to do on a daily basis.

We’ll be in the Mediterranean and it will be hot, so we’re looking for fans. All these things take time. Yesterday, technicians came aboard to check the air-conditioning in the dining room. Our stopover in Nice will be as long as here in Toulon and will let us finish installations. We have to advance every day and not wait until the last moment. And all of this while welcoming visitors — the general public and schools groups. But I really enjoy starting the expedition and sharing our experience with the public during stopovers.

Who are the embarking scientists?

For the last couple of days, Hervé Le Goff, CNRS engineer, has been responsible for setting up the dry lab for the Mediterranean mission. Jean-Louis Jamet, professor at the University of Toulon, has just boarded and is scientific coordinator for this leg. He is in contact with Gaby Gorsky, scientific director of the TaraMedPlastic project and designer of our entire scientific program. We are all discussing the implementation of protocols for data collection and sampling.

In short, many things are being finalized and this stopover is rather intense. We are in a phase of setting up protocols, and want to be efficient from the very start, i.e., from the 2-9 of June.


Noëlie Pansiot