Bound for Lima in Peru

The vessel, ambassador to the Race For Water Foundation, is continuing its odyssey by setting a course this Tuesday 27 February for Peru, where she is set to make landfall in Peru in mid-March, after a 10-day stopover in Central America. The latter stopover in Panama City proved to be intense and highly educational thanks in particular to the “recycled waste, clean oceans” campaign mounted by SUEZ, partner to this stopover, and to the diversity of the audiences encountered along the way.

  
Analysis of an action-packed Panamanian stopover

For 4 days there was a steady stream of visitors aboard the boat, totalling over 500 people in all, including 20 journalists, architecture students and engineers attending a workshop, as well as nearly 450 Panamanians who won a competition, and 40 representatives and local characters. These four days of action-packed operations were made possible thanks to the collaboration of our stopover partner, SUEZ.

  

Marco Simeoni: Our Panamanian stopover was very successful, mainly as a result of the fantastic “recycled waste, clean oceans” campaign put together by SUEZ, our partner during this stopover. The diversity of the public audiences we encountered here and the quality of the exchanges give us a great deal of hope going forward about Panama’s ability to make the switch towards the more sustainable treatment of its waste. The idea of spending three days working with groups made up of architecture students and environmental engineers on managing the waste in their city is just great. The creativity of the projects presented makes us hopeful that we’ll see tomorrow’s cities being devised and designed in a sustainable manner for the protection of the environment.

Given that Panama City is the second largest producer of waste per inhabitant in Latin America with 1.6kg/day/inhabitant, it was also crucial to invite Panama’s general public aboard. Explaining that the ocean provides security for all life on earth and showing how plastic pollution is in the process of poisoning this vital resource helps us to get people to commit to better behaviour in this regard. It’s important that everyone understands that the best way of tackling plastic pollution of the oceans is to reduce their production of waste, and plastic in particular. The recycling-based games organised by SUEZ are also a fun way of introducing the population to the concept of selective sorting of waste and to environmental gestures that can preserve our oceans.

Finally, these events enabled us to meet with protagonists committed to making changes in Panama, whether it be in terms of the government, Panama City or the local industrial fabric. The new, recently adopted 173 law puts the treatment of waste in context and it’s the first extremely important step in the efficient management of waste.

The success of this stopover is testament to the relevance of our collaboration with SUEZ. We strongly believe in public/private/NGO partnerships for the implementation of sustainable projects. We now intend to continue the field work with SUEZ by supporting Panama City with the implementation of practical solutions to prevent illicit plastic waste from reaching the waterways in the first place.”

Rendez-vous in Lima in Peru from 15 March to 25 May for another equally intensive programme, during which we’ll have the honour of welcoming aboard Race For Water the father of the Blue Economy, Gunter Pauli.

Encounter

During our Panamanian stopover, we have the pleasure of working with the teams from Suez Central America for the “RESIDUOS RECICLADOS, OCEANOS LIMPIOS*” operation. On this occasion, we’ve had the opportunity to meet with Mrs Ana Giros, CEO of the Business Unit Europe – Latin America. Joint interview with Marco Simeoni, President of the Race For Water Foundation and Ana Giros.

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What is your view of the current world and the major problems human populations are facing?

Ana Giros: There are three fairly distinct problem areas. The first issue is exponential population growth. Next, populations are grouping together around towns and cities, which is a big challenge for the planet. Finally, climate change is having an impact on the resilience and everyday lives of citizens.

Marco Simeoni: In addition, there is a growing social divide between emerging countries and the so-called developed countries. I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of travelling and I realise that the gap is widening, which worries me enormously.
Globalisation has a considerable impact on the environment. We would need to bring activities back to a local level so as populations can find jobs and hence be in a position to redress the balance.

In your view, how can we build a future that is more respectful of our planet?

Ana Giros: On a very macro level, there is only one way: to create a circular economy. We’d banked on a planet with infinite resources, but we realise that concept is now over. We need to adapt to the fact that, once treated, the waste from one process becomes the raw material for another process.

Marco Simeoni: Exactly. To date, in terms of technologies, we’re coming up with some highly polished solutions that mean we can envisage viable and sustainable energy transition. However, we need to reinvent our economic model. It is based solely on considerations about direct profitability. It is becoming vital to take into account the social and environmental impact, which are all too often overlooked.

What do the oceans represent in your mind? 

Ana Giros: The oceans represent life; life comes from the oceans and we need to preserve them in order to continue having this life on the planet. One important thing to understand is that the oceans nourish half the planet. Another crucial point is that they balance out climates, because they contain half the C02 on the planet. They make a massive contribution to climatic balance in different areas.

Marco Simeoni: The ocean is life and it’s also the future of our planet. For me, the oceans are synonymous with freedom, travel and inspiration. They enable us to breathe and nourish us. However, today, we treat them like a massive dustbin. Since they belong to no one and everyone, it’s a complex matter and few of us feel concerned by it.

Suez and Race For Water together in Panama, an obvious pairing? 

Ana Giros: It’s obvious on a local level, because SUEZ has a very strong presence in Panama, a country which is our main hub for the whole of Central America and the Caribbean. We’ve been here for many years and we continue to work with the Panamanian population and the public authorities to develop the water infrastructure and then work on the performance aspect of the municipal water cycle services. We’re beginning to look at opportunities to manage waste as we can see that the country is rallying together around this matter, with some very practical ideas about waste treatment on an industrial scale, including the BASURA CERO programme.
The second point is that we’re very committed to the protection of the oceans on a global scale. This local partnership with Race For Water embodies more global aspects like our agreements with UNESCO and our collaboration with various COPs from the COP 21 and the SUEZ group’s road map for the oceans.

Marco Simeoni: What more can I say! This collaboration is self-evident really because we’re concerned by the same synergies. Firstly, SUEZ manages water treatment and the Foundation is keen to preserve water in the broad sense of the term. After that, SUEZ manages the treatment of waste and our aim is that the latter cannot reach the waterways. To that effect, the work carried out by SUEZ upstream is therefore essential.

During this Panamanian stopover, what local challenges have been mentioned in terms of waste management and the preservation of marine resources?

Ana Giros: I believe that on a local level, there is a very strong focus on the decontamination of the waters to protect Panama Bay, which is still very polluted today. There is a particular focus on the waste in the water and the treatment of the waste water.
With regards to the collection aspect of solid waste, there are some initiatives beginning to take shape. We must now take things to the next level and decide what to do with this waste other than taking it to the municipal landfill. We must also consider how to get around the issue of recovering this waste and how to deal with it upstream because such a move enriches the country, thus creating value within it. That’s the final hurdle for Panama!

Marco Simeoni: On a personal level, my main focus is going to be on plastics because that’s what Race For Water is all about.
In this regard, I understand that the percentage of plastic in the waste is higher than the global average.
I recall that of all the waste generated, there is 19% plastic, whilst on a global scale we’re already looking at 10%! As such, we have nearly double the plastic waste in Panama! I don’t know what the reasons are for this but it’s worrying.
I had the opportunity to go to Portobelo, 1hr15 by car from Panama City. Throughout the journey, I could see waste to my left and right. I said to myself that there’s still a lot of work to be done within the context of education, raising awareness and the collection and treatment of waste, especially of a plastic nature.

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*For the first time in Central America, an event dedicated to the protection of the oceans and waste management took place from 22 to 25 February 2018 in the city of Panama (Fuerte Amador, Isla Flamenco): “RESIDUOS RECICLADOS, OCÉANOS LIMPIOS”. The two bodies behind this initiative, the SUEZ Group and its guest Race For Water Foundation organised various local activities in a bid to inform the general public about the need to optimise waste management and promote the recycling of waste.

THE GROUP SUEZ AND THE RACE FOR WATER FOUNDATION WORK TOGETHER TO OFFER A UNIQUE EVENT IN CENTRAL AMERICA : “RESIDUOS RECICLADOS, OCÉANOS LIMPIOS”

For the first time in Central America, an exclusive event dedicated to the protection of the oceans and an affective waste management is held from February 22 to 25, 2018 in Panama City (Fuerte Amador, Flamenco Island): “RESIDUOS RECICLADOS, OCÉANOS LIMPIOS”. This initiative is led by the SUEZ Group and its guest, the Race For Water Foundation: the two entities want to raise awareness among the general public about the need to optimize the management and to promote the waste recycling, through various information actions and local events.

The town hall of Panama supports this project considering the prevention and education are the first actions needed to implement a good waste management. This project is part of a wider territorial dynamic: the objective is to promote a change in behaviour regarding the production, separation and classification of waste considering that “islands of garbage” have appeared in the Pacific and Caribbean regions.

In Panama and Colombia, one generates more than 1.2 kg of waste per day, which is mostly dumped into rivers and seas, with catastrophic impacts on biodiversity. This situation is frightening since Panama has a unique mangrove forest whereas Colombia hosts 70% of the typical marine species within the biogeographic region of the “tropical eastern Pacific”. Thus, it is important to identify and valorise technological solutions in terms of waste management to protect these resources.

In this way, “RESIDUOS RECYCLADOS, OCÉANOS LIMPIOS” has started on February 22 with the implementation of a students workshop within the famous 100% ecological catamaran of Race For Water. Indeed, fifteen students from the Technological University of Panama (UTP) and the ISMUTH (School of Architecture) discovered the ship and the objectives of the workshop: studying the issues of the urban development of Panama associated with a good waste management. The following days are dedicated to a press conference, the testimonies of local and international actors (ANCON, UN Environment) and awareness activities for adults and children as well as the employees of SUEZ.

“The protection of the oceans is highly important within the fight against global warming and the preservation of biodiversity. In Central America, Panama and Colombia, as everywhere else, SUEZ considers the protection of the oceans as one of its top priorities. We intend to provide concrete solutions to limit the marine pollution from the sources: less waste and less untreated wastewater. In the capitals of Panama or Bogota, more than half of the waste is not recycled: rivers and beaches are littered with hazardous wastes that jeopardize the marine life. SUEZ is determined to play a key role in developing a sustainable waste management policy.” explained Ana Giros, General Director of SUEZ in Latin America.

“Race For Water is not only trying to raise the awareness about the actual state of oceans. We also want to offer solutions that can help fighting water pollution arising from land. The ETIA solution makes possible to transform plastic waste into energy, it can be seen as an added value for the economic growth of countries.” explains Marco Simeoni, President of the Foundation Race For Water.This alliance with SUEZ and this stopover in Panama are an opportunity for both of us considering that we share similar values and the same objective: to reduce marine pollution”

It has been more than 50 years that SUEZ is present in the region, supporting the development of coastal cities such as the city of Panama or Cartagena de Indias. Thus, the Group built the first wastewater treatment plant of Panama and numerous drinking water treatment units in the Caribbean islands (Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Jamaica). Today, nearly 3 million people benefit from the sanitation services of SUEZ throughout Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia..

Our transit tale!

 

Anchored in Colon, we’re ready and waiting for our pilot, without whom there will be no canal! The pilot arrives and immediately asks us to make for the canal as quickly as possible. The cargo ship that has to go through with us is already on its way so there’s no time to hang around making our introductions! The anchor chain is hastily raised.

 

Aurélio (the pilot) calls us up onto the bridge for a general briefing.“The docking pilots will throw their lines… (this is a rope with a ball at the end, which enables it to be thrown some distance with precision). First interruption: “but our deck is made of solar panels… glass in other words… We’d prefer to throw our lines to them!” Accommodating, Aurélio tells us that this is possible and that he’s even going to ask a small boat to approach us so we don’t need to make an Olympian throw.Once the docking pilots have our lines, they move forward with us along the locks, then they bring our lines back so they can take hold of our mooring warps and slip them over the bollards.

 

We’re going to be passing through the canal at the same time as a little cargo ship, so we’ll have to be as far forward as possible in the lock. Once we’re made fast, the lock gates will close and the water will rise around ten metres or so. On the floats and up forward, the crew will have to busy themselves taking up the slack in the warps and hence limiting the boat’s motion.

It’s down to me to coordinate them so the boat doesn’t end up side on in the lock, particularly with a quartering tailwind to port. As a result, on the port float, the one which will tend to swing out, Eric and Raphaël will have their work cut out! Fortunately, they have a massive amount of experience. Eric probably has the most extensive maritime experience aboard and Raphaël is the person originally behind the Planet Solar project who completed a circumnavigation of the globe on this famous vessel, which today goes by the name of Race For Water, our boat!

The Race for Water vessel between the gates of Panama Channel

 

When the gates open, the cargo ship ahead of us starts up and generates significant wash! Fortunately, we are prepared for it and though the boat turns a little, there is sufficient space. There are 3 locks to go. The docking pilots pass us back our mooring lines attached to a messenger line, and walk along with them as we make headway along the lock. It’s kind of like they’re walking us on a lead, or the other way around maybe. At the next lock the process is repeated.

The Panama Channel and a night on the Gatún Lake

 

The first lock has closed the gates to the Atlantic to us and a succession of 3 climbs ensues till we reach Gatùn Lake, where we’ll spend the night. The following day, we repeat the operation for the descent and the last lock opens the gates to the Pacific… and a magical moment!

Annabelle

The Race for Water vessel at Panama City on the Pacific Ocean 

 

 

 

From one ocean to the other On the eve of a symbolic passage:  Race for Water at the gateway to the Panama Canal

In 3 days’ time, after her passage through the Panama Canal, the Race for Water vessel will make it into the Pacific Ocean and Panama City, the 7th stopover for the Race For Water Odyssey 2017-2021.

After leaving Guadeloupe on Sunday 28 January, the crew of this ambassador vessel powered by a mixture of renewable energies has been on stand-by in the Bay of Portobelo in the Caribbean Sea since Friday 9 February to carry out the necessary administrative formalities linked to their passage along the canal.

On Thursday 15 February, the Swiss Foundation’s flagship vessel for spreading the word about combatting the plastic pollution of the oceans will traverse the Panama Canal.

This 77-kilometre journey, taking in lock gates and a lake, will enable the crew of Race For Water and its guests to travel from the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Panama in the Pacific Ocean. With a scheduled one-night stopover on Gatun Lake at the heart of the canal, the entire journey will take 48 hours.

 

Marco Simeoni & Raphael Domjan, at the SolarPanet Foundation

Aboard Race For Water alongside the crew for this symbolic passage, will be eco-explorer Raphael Domjan and one of the Foundation’s ambassadors, Eric Loizeau.

Between 2010 and 2012, Raphael Domjan, founder and President of the PlanetSolar Foundation, completed the first circumnavigation of the globe using solar energy aboard PlanetSolar, the current Race For Water, as expedition leader. In 2014, he launched the SolarStratos mission with the aim of reaching the stratosphere with a solar plane. A new world record is in his sights for 2018.

“7 years ago, together with my fellow adventurers from PlanetSolar, we travelled the length of the Panama Canal for the first time using solar energy. Today, thanks to Marco Simeoni, the adventure taken on by this unique vessel continues with as much passion as ever for high-tech input by being powered by a mixture of renewable energy. The sun, the wind and the water are the energy resources required for a cleaner future. The Race for Water embodies energy transition and energy efficiency. Having the privilege of accompanying the Race for Water Foundation’s teams during this symbolic passage is a great demonstration of what unites us, because it is by coming together that we’ll be able to build this better future.”

 

Eric Loizeau, a Race for Water Foundation Ambassador

Eric LOIZEAU, adventurer, skipper emeritus and experienced alpinist, has been working alongside the Foundation since 2015 in the struggle against the plastic pollution of the seas and he is devoted to numerous missions aimed at preserving the oceans and energy transition.

You can circumnavigate the globe 3 times and never have journeyed via Panama. Till now though, for my part, it has been more in race mode. As such, the name Panama had more to do with the big hats of rich South Americans and the exorbitant cigars that go with that image. Today, I can’t help thinking about my great-grandfather, a master mariner who went around Cape Horn numerous times, who would certainly have preferred the calm waters of the canal to the trials and tribulations of this hard cape he so dreaded. Were he to imagine the maritime splendours enjoyed by his heir (that’s me) of being able to pass so easily (I hope) from the Atlantic to the Pacific aboard a strange boat powered by the sun, it would probably intrigue and amuse him, as much as it does me today, thanks to Race For Water…

 

Passage along the Panama Canal:

Having covered 8,757 miles since leaving Lorient (France), Race For Water, the catamaran powered by a mixture of energy, sits at the gateway to the Pacific. Like over 14,000 cargo ships a year, she is now preparing to negotiate the Panama Canal, which first opened in 1914. Tomorrow, the catamaran will negotiate the first three lock gates, which will take her some 26 metres up to Gatun Lake, where the crew will spend the night, right in the middle of the Panama Canal! On Friday 16 February, Race For Water will negotiate three more lock gates, which will enable her to drop back down, this time to the waters of the Pacific…

Pascal Morizot, Captain of Race For Water: “This unique passage is eagerly awaited aboard Race For Water. We haven’t had any specific preparation for it, other than the fact that we’ve had an inspector from the canal aboard, who checked out the specific features of our vessel. He asked us for some stable, safe pilot steps. In terms of organisation, we’ve got the appropriate 25 to 30-metre warps ready at each corner of the boat and plenty of people to deal with all that as we pass through the lock gates. The pilot who’s accompanying us will handle the timing and authorise us to enter the lock gate. It’ll take us two days with a night anchorage in Gatun Lake. There will be three lock gates to go up the first day and three to drop down on the second and then we’ll be in the Pacific!”

 

The team on-board for the negotiation of the Panama Canal
Marco Simeoni, expedition leader and President of the Race For Water Foundation
Pascal Morizot, captain
Annabelle Boudinot, second in command
Martin Gavériaux, on-board engineer
Anne Le Chantoux, sailor
Olivier Rouvillois, steward
Peter Charaf, media content manager
Raphaël Domjan, eco-explorer and President of the PlanetSolar Foundation
Eric Loizeau, ambassador of the Race For Water Foundation

 

The Panama Canal in figures

1914: inauguration of the Panama Canal

77km long

8-10hr crossing

40 boats a day, 15,000 a year

5% of the commercial shipping fleet

3 lock gates, 33.53 metres wide, 304.8 metres long, 25 metres high and 200,000 m3 of water for the passage of each boat

Gatún Lake: 423km²

 

 

A few hours before crossing the Panama Canal: let’s tell Anne about her feeling

 

Today, on 15 February, we begin negotiating the Panama Canal. I’m very intrigued to see what this famous canal looks like and how big it is in particular. I’m finding it hard to get my head around it. In any case, it will take two days to get to the other side, so that means the seven-knot cruising speed we racked up between Guadeloupe and Panama is a thing of the past!

Tomorrow, we’ll begin by negotiating the first three lock gates, which will take us up to Gatun Lake (around 30m). We’ll then spend the night on this lake, smack bang in the middle of the Panama Canal. Two days later, we’ll negotiate three other lock gates, which will enable us to drop back down again. Beyond the gates to the latter… we’ll make it into the Pacific!

Computer graphics representing the lock gates and the lake that make up the Panama Canal (Source: Courrier International)

 

 

Anne

 

 

On the eve of their negotiation of the Panama Canal, Annabelle gives you the low-down on the maritime history of this site

 

For me, Panama and its canal lie at the core of a piece of maritime history, which I’m keen to tell you all about. It all began in 1502, when Christopher Columbus discovered the town of Colon, which still lies at the departure point for the canal today! However, he couldn’t have envisaged that a new ocean was hidden behind the isthmus…

Map of the Panama Canal (source, ARTE)

 

It was in 1513 that a man called Balboà was the first European to ‘see’ the Pacific! Indeed, after several days spent exploring the lush jungle of this Central American land, he discovered that beyond the Americas, there was indeed another ocean.

However, due to the maritime spice trade in the South American continent, the story behind the construction of the Panama Canal is linked to that of the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. The latter, located at the southern extreme of the South American continent, is traversed by the Strait of Magellan. It was named after its first explorer, Fernand de Magellan, who discovered it in 1520.

At this time, this natural passage was the route most favoured by sailors wishing to sail from one ocean to the other. However, in 1600 things took a turn for the worse. With trade developing extensively, controlling the Strait of Magellan became an interesting prospect… At that point, the Dutch East India Company gained the monopoly of the Dutch merchant shipping and began to control the Strait of Magellan, requesting taxes from those passing through.

A painting by John Chancelor of the little English three-master River Boyne in 1875 with a solid fuel stove at Cape Horn

 

Loathe to pay up, the canny little Dutch sailors from the village of Hoorn, decided to make the rounding further to the south to avoid the tax. There they discovered the famous cape, which explains why the name doesn’t really have a Spanish ring to it… However, the route via Cape Horn was perilous and frightened the sailors, thus limiting the commercial exchanges.

Over 200 years later, in 1881, the French (oh yes indeed!) decided to find a way around this dangerous obstacle in the Deep South. And so it was that they decided to build an artificial passage in Central America: the Panama Canal. Shorter, safer and quicker, the idea of holding power in such a place was ingenious and would clearly be just as profitable.

However, the work being momentous and complicated, the French would abandon its construction and the job was taken on by the United States. It wasn’t until 1914 that the Panama Canal was finally opened. It was a Dantean taste, the build cost proving to be Pharaonic both in terms of currency and human lives since it was on the scale of the Egyptian pyramids…

 

 

 

Today, over 14,000 cargo ships negotiate the canal every year! On a personal level then, as I await this date with history, I’m making the most of the lush vegetation, the numerous seabirds and land-based birds and the odd porpoise, which come and track us down in the bay where we’re waiting our turn to slip through the canal.

Annabelle

 

Literary inspiration:

“Magellan” and “Les très riches heures de l’humanité” by Stefan Sweig

“Les voyages d’Amerigo Vespucci” by Jean-Paul Duviols

Source:

Wikipedia

 

 

Making landfall on Panamanian soil!

 

We arrived in Panama 4 days ago and we had a one-night stopover in Colon harbour to go through formalities. Indeed, to negotiate our way through the Panama Canal, the vessel must have her tonnage measured and a professional canal pilot comes aboard to look over the vessel.

The Race for Water vessel in Colon harbour in Panama to go through the formalities required to negotiate the canal

 

On the evening of 9 February, once the formalities were complete, we relocated the boat to the harbour of Colon, which was some 20 nautical miles away and better protected from the wind. In Portobelo the sea is calm, we’re nicely sheltered and we’re going to spend the last remaining days here before the transit. On the jobs list are washing the salt off the vessel and giving her a good scrub down before our departure for the canal and our arrival in Panama City!

However, following the maintenance work on the vessel, yesterday evening we set foot on land for the first time in a fortnight! It’s always nice arriving in new destinations via the sea. Given how extraordinary the boat is, she soon gets noticed and photographed by all the little boats passing by.

Added to that, our arrival here falls at a rather opportune time of year. It’s carnival time right now! All around us, the locals are in fancy dress, good humour reigns and there’s a festive atmosphere in Portobelo, with the streets punctuated by music, decorated carnival floats and bright colours… A warm, festive welcome then and what better way to make our first contact with the local Panamanians!

Anne

 

The end of the Atlantic Ocean… Anne, Annabelle and Martin tell all!

 

That’s it, we’re approaching the end of our Atlantic journey and with it a fine chapter draws to a close. Feeling somewhat nostalgic, I think back to the intense encounters we’ve been lucky enough to make at every stopover, all the great memories of the moments we’ve shared along the way and our efforts to raise awareness about the problems of plastic pollution around this ocean. To sum things up, we’ve had a fantastic year in the Atlantic.

Ambiance at sea between Guadeloupe and the Panama Canal

 

Whilst we’ve spent the past 10 days sailing with just the vast ocean on the horizon, by later today we’re going to be able to make out land once more. Thus far, we’ve been pretty much on our own on the water, barely crossing tacks with any other vessels. Since yesterday though, the close proximity of the Panama Canal has really been making its presence felt. The shipping has intensified and right now, on the AIS (a radar that enables us to see which ships are navigating this zone), seven boats have appeared. To the naked eye, they’re so far away that we still can’t make them out yet, but we’re no longer alone and we need to remain vigilant when crossing tacks with them.

As far as our sailing is concerned, conditions have been very favourable! We’ve had stable, downwind conditions pushing us along from Guadeloupe and the sea hasn’t been too heavy. The perfect weather for Martin and Annabelle to learn how to pilot the kite in fact. The good news is that, together with Basile, we’ll soon be able to take care of the manœuvring completely on our own, from take-off through to landing. Indeed, that too is what the Race for Water Odyssey is all about, constantly learning, understanding new things and helping to make advances in clean, sustainable technologies.

 

A N N A B E L L E

Yesterday evening was our last Atlantic sunset!

Panama and the Pacific lay ahead. 85 days to cross the Atlantic, whilst another will circumnavigate the globe in 42 days… But it’s a rather different mission after all! Our crossing is far from direct and as far as our delivery trips are concerned, our motto is that “slow and steady wins the race.” In addition, like the tortoise, we’re not only carrying with us our home, but also our exhibition space and visitor centre!

A few days behind us now is Guadeloupe. The evening of our departure emotions were running high: “we’re going to miss you!”, “we’d grown accustomed to you”, “thanks for everything, you’ve started something here!”, “I’m going right now, otherwise the tears will flow…” Our presence has made an impression and the enthusiasm we’ve drummed up is touching.

And, when it comes to knowledge and ideas, the sense of enrichment goes both ways. It’s been fascinating for us to discover an association like “Mon école ma baleine” (My school my whale) and their marine protected areas. Companies like Ecodec and the desire to recover waste on a local level without resorting to the mainland and maritime shipping or local waste collection centres. It’s also interesting to see the desire of certain politicians to apply the principles of a circular economy to the autonomous port of Pointe à Pitre. We dream that all these initiatives will see the light of day and trigger an ecological transition.

As far as the crew and the boat are concerned, they’re making for the setting sun like Lucky Luke, bound for adventures new. Fortunately, the team onshore will be able to follow up on the initiatives started in Guadeloupe, as it is doing for the previous stages.

At sea, the sailors are constantly making improvements to the vessel: review of the kite sails for Annabelle.

 

M A R T I N

A journey like the one we’re about to complete is something you’d sign up for every day! 10 days with the wind right on our tail, good wind, sun and perfect conditions for the kite, which has really helped tow the boat along. The upshot of this is batteries that are nice and full at the end of the day so they fire up without issue at night.

After a gale and short 3 to 4-metre waves for around twelve hours, conditions are gradually calming down as we approach the coast, and it’ll soon be time to book our slot for going down the canal. We mustn’t waste any time getting in the waiting line if we want to gain access to the Pacific any time soon. We’ll have a short 10-day stopover in Panama City then we’ll head due south to Lima in March.

 

There are always some improvements to be made aboard and engineer, Martin, is busying himself with the electronics!

 

Race For Water approaching the Panama Canal before linking up with Panama City and the SUEZ Group, our partner for this stopover

 

The Race For Water vessel, ambassador of the eponymous Foundation, is continuing its odyssey and is currently approaching the Panama Canal, before making for Panama City in the latter part of next week.
This first Pacific stopover will be punctuated by a collaboration with the SUEZ Group, which has had a presence in Central America for over 10 years. During this four-day partnership an extensive programme will be rolled out to raise awareness about preserving the oceans and the problems with processing plastic waste with the support of Panama City.

 

The Panama Canal, from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Having set sail from Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe on 28 January 2018, Race For Water, the catamaran powered by a mixture of different energies – wind, sunshine and hydrogen – is making for Panama and the gateway to the Pacific. This voyage will have enabled the crew to further test the efficiency of the boat’s kite propulsion in downwind conditions.
On 10 February, the catamaran Race For Water will enter the Canal and begin making her way up the Isthmus of Panama on Friday 16 February, once the usual regulatory formalities have been fulfilled. The 100% ecological vessel will reach the country’s capital and Fuerte Amador, her stopover port, late in the day on Sunday 18 February.

 

 

 

The SUEZ Group, Panama stopover partner from 20-28 February

Sharing a common vision, the Race For Water Foundation and the SUEZ Group have decided to join forces for the iconic passage along the Panama Canal. With extensive support from Panama City itself, this collaboration is coloured by their mutual conviction that there are solutions to combat plastic pollution and that the latter needs to be implemented on shore. Once it makes it into the oceans, the plastic deteriorates and coming up with a plan to collect it all becomes a somewhat utopian ideal. However, to ensure the effectiveness of these solutions, it is absolutely essential to raise awareness about the pollution and educate the local populations, and the children in particular.
With these objectives in mind, the SUEZ Group and the Race for Water Foundation are together organising a 4-day event called “RESIDUOS RECICLADOS, OCEANOS LIMPIOS” (Recycled waste, clean oceans). It is an approach aimed at opening a discussion on the challenges of preserving the oceans in a region of the Caribbean, which is experiencing a fast-developing economy, industry and tourism, but where less than 30% of waste is recycled.

Through conferences, a student seminar and an open day, this project intends to have regional scope thanks to input from both local and international speakers.

“We’re delighted at the prospect of being welcomed by and working with the Suez group in Panama, which is one of the major protagonists in waste management and has a global view of the problems affecting the whole of Central America”

Marco Simeoni, President of the Race For Water Foundation

 

Programme for the Race For Water vessel

  • from 9 to 15 February: Race For Water on stand-by at the entrance to the Panama Canal
  • from 16 February to 18 February: passage along the Panama Canal
  • from 18 to 28 February: Stopover in Fuerte Amador in Panama City,
  • 28 February: Set sail for Peru

Joint programme of activities with the SUEZ Group

  • Day 1 – 22 February: Work session on solid waste management in Panama City with university students.
  • Day 2 – 23 February: Press conference and exhibitions on the theme of the protection of the oceans in Panama and Colombia.
  • Day 3 – 24 February: Public open day – Tours of the boat following participation in a competition. + Conference at the Biomuseo
  • Day 4 – 25 February: Special in-house day for SUEZ’s associates to promote the protection of the oceans.