Christening of the polar expedition yacht Persévérance in Marseille | Polarjournal
Catherine Chabaud, the first woman to complete a circumnavigation of the globe in a solo sailing race, breaks a bottle of champagne on the port side of Persévérance, in the shadow of Marseille’s “La Bonne Mère”, the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. Image: Camille Lin Image: Camille Lin Image: Camille Lin

The team of Polar Pod expedition, led by a duo of explorers Jean-Louis Étienne and Elsa Pény-Étienne, made a stopover in the ancient port of Marseille in June to christen Persévérance, the expedition’s sailing vessel, in the presence of the French Minister for the Sea, Hervé Berville, and to install scientific equipment on board

A muffled thud on the hull, an overflow of champagne and warm embraces. On Wednesday June 14, Catherine Chabaud, godmother of the polar expedition ship, christened Persévérance with power and vigor. “When we have dreams that are bigger than ourselves, we don’t go beyond our limits, but explore our potential,” she declared in the preamble to the press conference.

The dream of owners “Jean-Louis and Elsa” is to launch a drifting station, the Polar Pod, a satellite in Antarctica, for scientists to continually analyze the nature of its waters. “We need to settle on this ocean,” he assures us. If the ocean remains scientifically unexplored, the Southern Ocean is even more so. A major constraint of such a drifting installation is the swell. Polar Pod would float vertically, highly buoyant, so that the equipment and the men and women on board would not be affected. During this drift, Persévérance would supply the station, crisscrossing the oceans on the southern hemisphere, north and south of the famous Antarctic Convergence.

The dream of a future in the Southern Ocean: the Polar Pod station and the Persévérance. Image: Official Polar Pod Expedition

A dream come true, the future Polar Pod supply vessel has reached France after leaving the French Piriou shipyard in Vietnam. “This shows Jean-Louis and Elsa’s ability to bring crowds together,” says Hervé Berville. “We hope to have her (the Polar Pod, editor’s note) for the United Nations summit in Nice in two years’ time”. The French government has committed to financing a major part of the Polar Pod project. The project meets two of France’s objectives: firstly, to decarbonize the maritime sector, and secondly, to answer scientific questions such as how the unexplored seabed functions, and how the climate is changing, with dramatic consequences.

“I’m Breton, but it doesn’t show,” explains Hervé Berville, Minister for the Sea, with a touch of humor. Originally from Rwanda, he was adopted by a Breton family in 1994. Image: Camille Lin

Jean-Louis Étienne and his wife Elsa still have to find the funding to complete the 18 million budget for the expedition. Persévérance finishes its stopover in Marseilles this week and then heads off to Svalbard, where it will run tourist cruises. In contrast to the rough exterior, grayed out by the aluminum of the hull, the interior is very homely. The tough floor materials and woods are pinkish-beige, and the fabrics, designed for heavy-duty catering, enhance these tones with black-and-white geometric patterns. “When you enter the cabins, the volumes widen towards the berths,” she explains. The salon is bright and airy, overlooking the sea, with the galley to port and a large salon on starboard. “It wasn’t easy to combine a working vessel with passenger service,” she adds. But she obviously did a great job, as a number of sailing companies have come to the shipyard’s quayside to draw inspiration from Persévérance‘s interior design plans.

For Elsa Pény-Étienne, it was important that the living spaces will be pleasant for passengers and crew alike. Image: Camille Lin

The captain of Persévérance, Yohann Mucherie, knows his trade as he sailed the French supply vessel Marion Dufresne II and La Curieuse around Kerguelen in the Southern Ocean. He will return with the Persévérance, but first there will be tests in the Arctic. Steering the ship around Svalbard and along the east coast of Greenland will depend mainly on the ice conditions. But the 42-meter vessel, with a crew of 5, is equipped for all weathers and an air of adventure in its sails.

Camille Lin, PolarJournal

More about this topic

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This