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.

 

The imprint we’ve left

When it comes time to leave, we wonder about what kind of imprint we’ve left in our wake. To get an answer, we asked some of the characters we met in Guadeloupe.

On making landfall on an island or a shore, the Race for Water Odyssey teams expend a great deal of energy, raise awareness among the local youngsters, play host to local protagonists and open up discussions about plastic pollution of the oceans so that a series of solutions can be geared up specially for them. However, what’s left once we cast off?

“All I’d like say, though it might sound like advertising… is thank you, thank you very much Race For Water”, says Soazig Lemoine, marine ecotoxicology researcher at the University of the West Indies in Guadeloupe. Following an initial meeting in September with the arrival of scientists from the Ephemare study project, the latter helped the teams from France and Italy by offering them storage space in her laboratories. Furthermore, with her extensive knowledge of the marine environment in Guadeloupe, the scientist came aboard the vessel to assist the researchers with taking their samples.

In Septembre, scientists come on board to study the plastic pollution impact on marine life

 

“Without the teams from Bordeaux, I’d have never been able to imagine carrying out a study such as this, as I don’t have the necessary human resources. Here, I’m the only scientist to be working on the contamination of organisms through marine pollutants”, explains Soazig. Touched by this encounter, she’s keen to continue the collaboration and is looking forward to the results of the study. “I hope that once the studies are published, I’ll be able to invite the Ephemare team to Pointe-à-Pitre to give us the results on Guadeloupe and its inhabitants.” Indeed, still in regular contact with the ecotoxicology team from Bordeaux, the two entities both seem to want to continue their collaboration in order to get a better understanding of the impact of pollution and plastics in Guadeloupe.

Philippe Wattiau, head of the sustainable development and environmental assessment mission at the DEAL[1], having organised a workshop on the circular economy aboard the vessel, believes “the approach adopted by the Foundation, by playing host to the public aboard the boat, by raising awareness among youngsters, as well as by highlighting the fact that solutions exist, is very relevant”. Working in the same way, the latter wished to use the vessel as a hospitality space in order to gather together multiple local actors. “My goal is to create synergies between them and successfully carry out practical projects based on models from a circular economy.” It’s a concept that maximises the available resources by considering waste to be other peoples’ raw material. “That’s exactly what Race For Water is considering”, says Philippe Wattiau.

Philippe Wattiau workshop’s on board

 

By way of an example, there is a project in the pipeline right now for a laundry in the Jarry industrial zone in Pointe-à-Pitre, which the DEAL has put in touch with a neighbouring cement works. Requiring high levels of heat, the laundry will be able to benefit from the heat emitted en masse by the cement works, resulting in a collaboration that has interesting environmental and economic benefits for both entities. “Marco Simeoni has shown real strength. I have great admiration for this man, whose convictions make you stand up and take action. In my own way, I’m trying to do the best I can. He’s a man who’s grasped the fact that it’s impossible to develop oneself to the detriment of others and that we cannot live with unhappy people around us”, concludes Philippe Wattiau.

The Race For Water Team thanks you

 

Galvanised by such testimonies, the Race For Water Odyssey teams are more motivated than ever. Indeed, it is in collaboration with local protagonists, through the strength of one’s conviction and each person’s desire to take action, that it will be possible to combat plastic pollution of the oceans. Many thanks to you.

 

[1] Directorate for Environment, Development and Housing

 

Race for Water sets sail from Guadeloupe bound for Panama City!

This Sunday 28 January brings to an end a four-month stopover in Guadeloupe punctuated by a series of exchanges and refit operations. Next destination, Panama City! This latest stage of the odyssey will enable the crew to trial the vessel’s new features before heading into the Pacific Ocean.

Originally setting sail from Lorient in France in April 2017, the Race for Water vessel is powered solely by a mixture of renewable energies. Her mission? To criss-cross the seas of the globe in order to raise awareness among the local populations about plastic pollution and carry out scientific campaigns, with the focus on proposing sustainable technological solutions geared at preventing plastic waste from ever reaching the oceans again.

On the programme for 2018, the Pacific Ocean! Lima, Valparaiso and Easter Island, Polynesia and Fiji will be this year’s key stopovers. For the Race For Water Odyssey teams, the reasoning behind this choice of venue is the massive scale of the plastic pollution in these coastal cities and remote islands. “At each stopover, we’ll be hosting a number of local protagonists aboard the boat, including political decision-makers, manufacturers and NGO members in order to open up discussions about this terrible problem. Together we’ll consider lasting innovative technological solutions with environmental, social and economic benefits”, explains Marco Simeoni, President of the Race For Water Foundation.

With regards to the sailing element of the programme, everything has been geared towards increasing our self-sufficiency in terms of energy. “To navigate the Pacific Ocean, we must make the best possible use of all the energy resources we have at our disposal, like sun, wind and water”, says Marco Simeoni.

The low-down on the upcoming stopovers

  • Panama: from 19 to 27 February, the vessel will moor in Panama City where various events will be organised, including those with Suez Environnement
  • Lima (Peru): from 15 March to 14 May
  • Valparaiso (Chile): from 31 May to 29 July
Map of the Race For Water Odyssey 2017-2021

 

Focus on renewable energy via kite

A 100-tons kite surfer

The trip from Guadeloupe to Panama is set to involve wind conditions that favour the use of the traction kite, with little call for electric propulsion. So how does this work? Measuring 40m2, this sail is capable of towing the entire 100-tonne vessel, thus enabling it to use the solar energy to recharge the batteries. Coupled up to the Race for Water vessel by cable, the wing is flown at an altitude of over 100 metres high, where it performs a series of figure of eight movements to increase its ability to ‘catch’ the wind, which is key to enabling it to propel large vessels and be managed in an automated manner. Once the kite is aloft, it is adjusted to the changes in breeze using an automatic pilot system developed by the company Skysails Yacht. “During Race For Water’s first year of sailing we recovered a massive amount of data about how the kite operates. This information then enabled us to refine the autopilot system and thus improve the kite’s performance”, says Sven Kilingenberg, co-founder of Skysails Yacht. This first sail of the year will enable the Skysails Yacht teams to trial this new software and sail all night long for the first time.

 

The Atlantic in figures

Children visiting the Race for Water vessel

1,400 children aboard the vessel were taught about issues with plastic pollution of oceans
Over 100 local protagonists (government, manufacturers and NGOs) invited aboard
1,000 people invited to general public conferences organised in universities
15 researchers of 6 different nationalities focusing on 3 international projects
443-million individuals potentially impacted by the media coverage.

Meeting eco-citizen children

With the sun barely surfaced in Guadeloupe, Peter loads his camera, video camera and tripod into the boot of the car. After over an hour’s drive, we arrive in St-François, on the so-called Grande-Terre section of the island, to track down a very special class

These students, which the crew of the Race For Water vessel welcomed on-board back in September, are in charge of preserving a beach. Indeed, just a matter of months ago, with the school year just beginning, they got a handle on the mission entrusted to them: campaigns to raise awareness among local inhabitants about the pollution, regular collections of waste and contact with town halls would become part of the daily routine for the children involved. After four months at school, what have they achieved?   

As we creep into this little school enveloped in lush greenery, someone tells us where we can find the class. Having barely set foot inside, Peter unpacks his gear, sets up his video camera and films the children. There isn’t a sound and the children look at us in stunned amazement, slightly uncomfortable about this morning intrusion. Midway through her lesson on ‘marine advice’, the teacher smiles and then explains how the lesson will play out: “Twice a week, we discuss the action we wish to undertake on our beach in order to preserve this fragile ecosystem”, explains Yanni Bardail, Director of the school and Head of the class.

During school, the children discuss how to preserve their beach before acting on the field

 

Among the class’ upcoming actions is the grand unveiling of their notices to raise awareness about preserving the environment, which will be posted up along the beach. “We also visit our beach to chat with the people that go walking there. Sometimes, when we offer someone advice, they take it badly and don’t want to listen to us! Fortunately, that’s not often the case”, explains Basile, 10. “We also wrote to Mr President Emmanuel Macron!”, adds Océane, 9. Somewhat amused, the Director explains to us that any decision is democratic here and that the majority of students wanted to invite the latter to the official inauguration of their signs. In addition to these actions, the children have collected rubbish, sorted it and counted it before creating graphs from the information and using them during maths lessons. “What we do out in the field is useful to what they learn in class and it motivates them”, says Yanni Bardail. “Visiting the Race for Water vessel was a revelation for these children”. Touched to learn that their mission to combat plastic pollution was being defended and undertaken by others, they were keen to find out more about energy-related topics and get a grasp of what hydrogen was. “In light of all their questions, I asked a chemistry teacher to come into class and we manufactured our own hydrogen”, the Director tells us.

Collecting plastics and Learning statistics with it !

 

To date, there are 8 such classes in Guadeloupe and other requests to participate in this type of programme are coming in from all over the island. “If I had to say one thing to the Race For Water teams, it would be thank you. For the hope they give us, for their motivation and for their action”, concludes the Director. The students back up this sentiment. “This planet is ours and if we don’t take action we won’t be able to live here in the proper manner when we’re grown up. It’s very important”.

In interview with Peter, children speak about their convictions

 

Three months of revisions ? Discover what’s new !

 

And we’re up and rolling once more! After a refit of over three months, multiple revisions and other improvements, the Race for Water vessel is ready to set sail for the Pacific Ocean! So, what’s changed aboard?

“On 10 December 2017, the vessel left the port to go in for her refit in the IMM shipyard, where she was lifted clear of the water using a massive barge”, explains Jean-Marc Normant, Technical Director and captain of the vessel. Shipyards boasting infrastructure such as this are few and far between and it’s the reason why the Foundation chose Pointe-à-Pitre for its technical pit stop. The barge, a kind of submerged base on which the vessel sits, can be raised so that the vessel is completely clear of the water. A ‘dry dock’ in technical terms, which has enabled the teams to check the usually submerged sections of the vessel’s hulls, fair them and then repaint them. “First off you have to pressure wash the hulls. Next up she must be faired all over before being repainted with antifouling, a paint that slows the inevitable return of the algae growth”, Jean-Marc explains. With new paint, the ability of the hulls to slip through the water increases. On a vessel like Race for Water, clean hulls equate to a 15% gain in speed and her range is increased as a result.

Figure 1: The Race for Water vessel in dry dock and the work on the submerged hull sections

“To prepare her to be painted, second in command, Annelore, took on the bulk of the work with the teams from the IMM yard”, says the Technical Director. “There were three members of Race for Water on site at any one time and those that work at the yard provided us with some valuable assistance”. In addition to the painting, the teams dismantled the propellers, checked the propeller shafts, which are the shafts that link the propellers to the electric engines, and gave both of these an overhaul.

Figure 2: From the engines to the propeller, everything has had an overhaul!

Meantime, Basile Prime, the on-board engineer, spent several weeks configuring new systems for the on-board electronics. The upshot of this is a new on-board touchscreen dedicated solely to managing the hydrogen energy, which is coupled up to the existing instrument panel. To guarantee the safety of the scientists and divers, a new ladder has been installed on the boat’s aft section. According to Jean-Marc, there’s no doubt, the vessel is “Gleaming and ready to set sail in complete safety!”

With regards to the kite technology, the teams from Skysails will be coming aboard between now and late January, to set up the kite’s latest state-of-the-art autopilot system. This new version has been developed using the data obtained at sea during the Atlantic crossing. A long stopover has enabled the teams to carry out a complete overhaul of the vessel so as to further increase her energy range.

Figure 3: A sunny relaunch