- Hello, Vincent?
- Is that you, Gérard? So, any news?
- Yes, we’ll be setting out again in April for four or five months. Are you in?
- Why not... Is Brieuc still the first mate?
- Absolutely, I just spoke to him.
- And who else?
- Antoine is the electrical engineer, and that’s it for now.
- Well, you can count on me.
- Aren’t you going to ask me the schedule?
- Fire away...
- I can’t give you the details yet, but we will start out with a trip to Boulogne sur Mer, then we will pass through Morocco—the northern part of the country this time, then a few days in Monaco for press and to be on the judging panel during the solar boat races, and most likely a mission for the University of Geneva in Greece, with the department of ancient sciences this time. Take a look at the PlanetSolar blog for more.
- Not bad, I was right to accept!
That was in January, and PlanetSolar was in dry dock in Concarneau for winter maintenance work—strengthening bows, inspecting valves and thru-hull fittings, repainting underwater portions of the boat—before heading back to the Cité de la Voile -Éric Tabarly in Lorient, where the catamaran spent the winter next to Tara, and old acquaintance. Not easy when depressions were rolling in on end, one after another. So many that Brittany was victim to storms and floods, to imagine a cruise in the sun... And then eventually, the days slowly started to get longer, and the sun made some timid appearances. PlanetSolar came back to life, her panels increasingly charged from day to day. The list of winter maintenance work got smaller, and summer plans started taking shape...
Having left Lorient on April 10, PlanetSolar made her entrance in Boulogne-sur-Mer on April 13, not without bringing a few VIPS aboard in the harbor, including Frédéric Cuvillier, City Mayor and Minister of the Sea. We stayed here for over a month, and this first stopover of the 2014 season was a highlight— PlanetSolar being the guest star of the Festival of Sea Images organized by the National Sea Center Nausicaa.
As usual, the stopover has been an opportunity to receive hundreds of visitors onboard, notably schoolchildren and high school students, allowing PlanetSolar to play her role as ambassador of solar energy once again.
Brieuc, a thrill enthusiast, dove with the Nausicaa sharks. Antoine, who accompanied him and took pictures in anticipation of an exclusive scoop, was disappointed; the sharks placidly welcomed the intruder, as they already had their breakfast.
Bernard Abeille, who makes whales sing using the sound of his double bass, unless it is the whales that make his double bass sing, came to serenade us onboard. He was accompanied by Claire Flipo, who plays the didgerido. The instruments were placed on the carbon floor, and the hull created a soundbox. It was a great time!
Augustin came to give the crew a hand. A young and energetic student, he is relying on Antoine to teach him the intricacies of PlanetSolar. He is also learning to be a seaman, but as an intern, a perfect mastery of the coffee machine is one of his first missions.
And then on May 25 at 9:30, we cast off and PlanetSolar headed toward Atalayoun, near Nador, on the northern coast of Morocco. Are you wondering what we will do there? Don’t expect me to tell you today, avid readers. I must keep something for my next posts!