By Dona Bertarelli
My ‘Everest’ was the extraordinary journey which is the Jules Verne Trophy.
For three years, I prepared myself for this. I lived the adventure, a day at a time, fully, intensely, full of excitement, looking wide-eyed at the world, at myself, at those I love, among whom Yann, who opened up the doors to offshore sailing to me. My greatest joy was being able to share this adventure with the school children who were following us as part of our Spindrift for Schools programme. Throughout the 47 days onboard Spindrift 2, I wrote a series of articles titled ‘Out of the Classroom’ inspired by our encounters with marine life, the weather we experienced and the incredible places we passed as we sailed around the world. We didn’t beat the record, but what better present than to have been able to share what we learned from sailing around the world, and share a modern-day experience of Phileas Fogg’s adventures.
Spindrift 2 set off on January 16th, 2019, on another attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy. And it is with a touch of nostalgia that I would like to share my articles again, to give you a glimpse of this wonderful adventure.
TRISTAN DA CUNHA AND GOUGH ISLAND
Day 11 at sea. Our planned routes would have taken us very close to Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, the last outposts of the South Atlantic, but we have managed to stay at the edge of a front that is taking us straight towards the Cape of Good Hope. As a result, we are now 200 miles north of the two islands.
The volcanic archipelago is located in the heart of the South Atlantic, almost midway between Brazil (2,700 km) and South Africa (3,200 km). The islands are considered the most isolated in the world, not only because they are so far away from any other land, but also because access is so difficult due to the climate in this part of the globe. It takes six days by sea to reach Tristan de Cunha from Cape Town. It was therefore something of a surprise to the island’s 250 inhabitants when, on November 26th, 2011, the Puma crew in the Volvo Ocean Race landed on the island after being dismasted! They stayed on the island several days before being repatriated by a cargo ship.
Tristan da Cunha is the larger of the two islands, and rises to a height of 2,060 metres above sea level. Discovered in 1506 by Portuguese navigator Tristão da Cunha (Tristan is an Anglicised form), the two islands are now part of a British overseas territory and are a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Gough Island is located in the Roaring Forties, 350km south-east of Tristan da Cunha, and is even more wild and inhospitable than its neighbour to the north-west. Today, Gough Island is a wildlife reserve, home to elephant seals and fur seals. Several thousand mice not deliberately introduced by man currently pose a threat to the island’s biodiversity and to the nesting of birds.
The waters are rich in biodiversity thanks to the island’s location at the junction between tropical waters and the cold waters of Antarctica, creating whirlpools that bring food to the surface for fish, octopuses and crustaceans, which in turn make ideal meals for birds.