The Piriou shipyard has just delivered the supply ship for the Polar Pod, a drifting station designed by Jean-Louis Etienne that will record physical changes in climate at the confluence of the Antarctic Ocean and the rest of the globe. While waiting for the Polar Pod, the ship is preparing to embark scientists, photographers and passengers to sail around Svalbard.
D’épaisses lettres noires sur fond métallique : Persévérances. On February 28, in Ho Chi Minh City, the Piriou shipyard finally delivered the Polar Pod drifting station supply ship to its owner, after conclusive tests. “The engine, we knew functional, but we tested she under sail and it is good, so: happy!”, rejoices Jean-Louis Etienne, this explorer who “puts what he knows how to do at the service of an idea, the idea of setting out on a voyage (…) to discover”, as he so aptly put it to France Culture.
Perseverance is “lighter than a steel vessel, consumes less and offers better performance,” says chief engineer Aurélien Hébrard. Its aluminum hull reinforced for ice will go to the Svalbard archipelago in spring. She will take scientists, photographers and cruise passengers who are interested in ecotourism to experience the pleasures of sailing in the fjords of the archipelago.
The ship will anchor at the foot of the glacial valleys. Seasoned photographers such as Férial or Florian Ledoux will be on the trip. Jean-Louis Étienne, incredible well of science, will guarantee the unforgettable. Scientists will be on board to calibrate the instruments of Météo France, CNRS and Ifremer and record the first measurements.
The adventure is already starting, the crew is meeting at the quay to leave mid-March for Europe. “The commander, the sailors and the chef have already arrived,” adds Aurélien Hébrard.
A good walker, “she is making good progress, 15 knots on the bottom with 20 knots on the beam,” says the engineer. And we still have some room for improvement. Two 33-meter masts are bolted to the schooner. The main one has a crow’s nest to scan the ice. Perseverance’s wardrobe adapts to all circumstances. Mainsail, Yankee, staysail, jib, storm jib, 754 m2 of sails if needed.
Forty-two meters in length, 11 at the beam and with a pronounced freeboard the spaces are voluminous and comfortable. Eight passenger cabins and 5 crew cabins are interspersed with a laboratory and several squares. Elsa Pény-Étienne, director of the Polar Pod expeditions, described to Voiles et Voiliers the interior : “I chose exotic wood veneer, in warm tones, a little red with very pale pink. The fabric used in the saloon and in the cabins comes from Casamance. They are art deco patterns with a lot of character.”
A 23 square meter laboratory will house scientists to record the characteristics of the waters and atmosphere through which the ship will pass. “It is equipped with a set of sensors, embedded in a Ferrybox, which measures photosynthetic activity and other parameters describing the ocean. A Météo France station will be perched in the mast, when it arrives in France” explains Cécile Malavaud, scientific mediator of the Polar Pod. This data will be crucial, as Perseverance will sail where very few ships venture.
Naturalist guides will tell the story of the places and the biodiversity they host and will make the people on board aware of the fragility of nature,” she adds. They will also establish a link with French high school and college students who are following the Polar Pod project. A sustainable science under sail project.
Camille Lin, PolarJournal
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