Tara’s former lives

© Blakexpeditions

During her stopover in Vietnam, Tara welcomed the visit of one of her former sailors. Jean Prat – aka Janot -  who sailed on board while she was still called Antarctica, then Seamaster. In all, he spent almost 5 years on Jean-Louis Étienne’s and then Sir Peter Blake’s boat. Some memories of Tara‘s past lives:

It was particularly humid that day at Nha Trang port, where Tara was moored for a few days. A motorcycle stopped on the dock in a cloud of dust and Janot dismounted, black curls and a gold ring in his left ear. He was lost, but quickly found his way by following the schooner’s 2 masts. He knew them well, having experienced long ago some wonderful adventures aboard. He began a new life several years ago here in Vietnam, about 4 hours’ drive south of Nha Trang. When Captain Samuel Audrain suggested a visit, he couldn’t resist. He had not seen this boat for 15 years!

The reunion was inevitably sentimental. “The schooner was my home for almost 5 years. Seeing her was an emotional shock for me, but after a few steps on deck, I found all my bearings.” Reminiscent colours, odors, little details, fragments of a now distant routine. Seated at the main dining table, the captivated Taranauts listened to the sailor evoke Tara’s past lives. “In fact, nothing changed on board, I found exactly what I had left so long ago. An amazing feeling, to go back 15 years in a couple of seconds.”

 

Antarctique-1Sea Master’s crew in the Antarctic in 2000, with avec Peter Blake and Ollie Olphert, second mate – © Blakexpeditions

 

He and Samuel first met in Clipperton in 2005. Both participated in the expedition led by Jean-Louis Étienne. They embarked together on Rara Avis, the old rig of Father Jaouen, leaving Brittany and sailing to the Pacific atoll. That’s how Samuel heard about Tara-Seamaster: “Janot had the schooner as a screen-saver on his computer, and during the night shifts he told me about his adventures aboard”.

It was in 1999 that Janot first set foot on the schooner. “I first boarded as a volunteer on the Antarctica, which still belonged to Jean-Louis Étienne. He was leaving for a few months “chartering” in the Svalbard Islands. As soon as we returned to Camaret, our home port, we heard that Sir Peter Blake was interested in the schooner. He was very busy with the America’s Cup in New Zealand and sent Ollie Olphert – his future first mate – to size up the boat. It was love at first sight.”

 

Beginning of “Blakexpeditions”

Peter Blake bought Antarctica and, after years of offshore racing, he changed his career with this new boat: adventure. Ollie Olphert invited the old sailors to join the new crew. “I was the only one to accept, so I sailed the boat to Auckland, New Zealand.”
First approached by Cousteau to become his expeditions captain, Peter Blake eventually left the legendary commander’s team. The former offshore racer then founded Blakexpeditions, “to finally do what he dreamed of, without the weight of the Cousteau organization limiting his thirst for adventure”. The result: in September 2000, the boat left New Zealand with a 5-year around-the-world program and a new name: Seamaster.

When Peter Blake was murdered by pirates on January 5, 2001 in Brazil, Janot was not on board. “I was part of the team chosen to bridge the Rio Negro and Orinoco on pirogues. We thought we’d be the most vulnerable, but fate decided otherwise”. Janot remained in Newport, Rhode Island with Ollie, assuring maintenance and watching over Seamaster until she was bought by Etienne Bourgois in 2003, to become Tara.

 

Antarctique zodiacJanot and Alistair Moore, deck officer – © Blakexpeditions

 

When Peter Blake was murdered by pirates on January 5, 2001 in Brazil, Janot was not on board. “I was part of the team chosen to bridge the Rio Negro and Orinoco on pirogues. We thought we’d be the most vulnerable, but fate decided otherwise”. Janot remained in Newport, Rhode Island with Ollie, assuring maintenance and watching over Seamaster until she was bought by Etienne Bourgois in 2003, to become Tara.

Janot built a house in Vietnam, today runs a small guest-house and lives happily with his wife and 2 daughters. He smiles. “I changed my adventure.” Janot has settled down. And if we proposed embarking on Tara? “Where do I sign up?” The adventure never really stops.

 

Agathe Roullin

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