Multihulls Match

Crossing the Atlantic: independently or with a rally?

Published on 24 january 2018 at 0h00

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Completely independently, of course! 

By Christophe Dasnière, from the project Grandeur Nature or “La Parole des Enfants".

Grandeur Nature is an association based in Sète (South of France), which over nearly 20 years and 40 transats has been carrying out extraordinary educational work with youngsters from 14 to 17 years old. It uses the catamaran and the Atlantic voyage as a support for innovative educational work, and obtains remarkable results (www.grandeurnature.org). 

On reading the theme of this Multihulls Match, I asked myself two questions:

Why ask this question of us, who organize 10-month expeditions with youngsters, off the beaten tracks? Do I have an opinion, as I really don’t know what an organized rally involves? Of course, over the twenty years or so that we have been carrying out expeditions with the Grandeur Nature association, we have encountered these fleets, for example last year in the Cape Verde islands, in Mindelo marina. We weren’t in the marina, but in the anchorage opposite, as we didn’t have the means or the wish to spend two months’ salary for a Cape Verdean, for one week on the pontoon!  You will have understood that we rarely stop in marinas during our voyages. We did it 6 times on the last expedition, generally for provisioning.If the aim of this text is to speak ill about rallies, the readers will be disappointed, because I prefer to talk about what I know and what interests me about a voyage in a sailing boat.For our voyages (from September to July), we choose a big Atlantic circuit, leaving from our home port. Our 15-meter catamaran, built in plywood/epoxy/glass and designed especially for this project by Denis Kergomard, is a simple, fast, strong boat, with no superfluous comfort. This is all about an adventure with the youngsters; we share in the discovery of the world, and also of ourselves. Our crew consists of 4 adults, including a professional skipper, and 7 youngsters, half of whom are entrusted to us by the children’s social assistance services. Taken out of the school system, they need to head for the open sea, far from their problems (family, social, personal).The other crew members have no identified problems; they are young adventurers whose imagination has been fired by our voyage.The adventure and the dream are important tools for learning to surpass yourself, to overcome difficulties and to grow up! I must even say that this also applies to the adults! And for me…after 37 years of adventures in boats (see the 6-page article in Multihulls World 125), this doesn’t mean that we take risks or put ourselves in difficult situations, on the contrary! We choose the best periods for sailing and the safest shelters for our boat. The risks we agree to take are those of discovering a country and the people we meet during our stops. As rich as the transatlantic voyage in a sailing boat, or the efforts and apprenticeships necessary for reaching each stop, may be, we set off above all to learn from ...

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