The adventure will soon begin!

Going all out to get ready, I have tried to stay focused in this final phase of preparation while staying calm—on the outside at least. My stress level, which I thought had reached its peak in recent weeks, went up a notch over the last few days—on the inside I am chomping at the bit and raring to go. In short, I am more than ready to get started. I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep as I’ve very often been kept awake by the many questions rolling around in my mind—it goes without saying that I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will bring.

There are still a number of details that have to be worked out before leaving, many to-do lists that have to be completed and just as many unforeseen events which pop up every day. All of this makes me feel like I have more than one brain which are all in overdrive at the same time. This feeling is both thrilling and exhausting.

In any event, the die has been cast. There are only a few more days before I travel across France, with Solarboat Icade right behind me, being towed in a trailer to be more specific, bound for Luxembourg. There, Cargolux, the expedition’s partner, will be responsible for transporting Icade to Calgary in Canada. Once unloaded there, our journey is far from over. After going through customs and obtaining official authorisation allowing Icade to enter Canada, it will have to once again be loaded on a trailer and attached to a car and driven the 3,600 km which separate us from the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk on the coast of the Beaufort Sea.

The Arctic is something you have to work for and getting there is not easy! Calgary, Red Deer, Fox Creek, Grande Prairie, Whitehorse, Gold Bottom, Eagle Plains… So many places haunted by the memory of Jack London that we will travel through filled with the feelings of respect I have for this great man. How could I have ever imagined when reading Call of the Wild that one day it would be my turn to venture into these regions, with a solar-powered boat in tow! Life sometimes has out-of-the-ordinary experiences in store for us and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this one for anything in the world.

But if truth be told, the logistics for such an expedition more closely resembles a ball of yarn which has to be untangled one day at a time with not only care and thoroughness but also with patience, which unfortunately has not always been my strong suit. I know that it serves no purpose to tilt at windmills, but over the course of my travels, I also learned that you have to persevere when you know what you want and you want it with all your heart.

I’ll provide updates in the coming weeks about the next stages of this solar-powered polar voyage which will soon be setting sail. Feel free to subscribe to the newsletter to keep up with the latest news or visit the Facebook page dedicated to the expedition: www.facebook.com/expeditionarcticsolar.

 

The christening of the Divine child!

It wouldn’t have taken much for me to spend day and nights on the Solarboat Icade over the past weeks.  There were so many details to handle before the great day, the « Christening of the Divine child ».  It’s close to incredible that such a small prototype (barely six meters!) requires so much attention and thoughtfulness. On board,  nothing matches the standard so, we have to know how to use our brains and find new ideas to work out problems as they come up. Demanding, Icade left us no respite and no tolerance on our part lately. It should remain this way intil its departure from France by the end of May.

Last Thursday in Concarneau, Icade successfully appeared before its godmother, the singer, Nolwenn Leroy as well as its godfather, the writer Yann Queffelec, wearing his most beautiful vestments.  Tied up at the pontoon and rocked by a light breeze while the sun  shone with its generous  and unexpected rays, it did not even flinch at the crashing of the champagne bottle on the stem.

The christening of a boat is a highly symbolic event and emotionally charged. An incredible atmosphere grasped the participants. It wouldn’t have taken much that I shed a tear. Yes, even “ocean adventurer” cry!

Many partners replied favorably to the Icade invitation as well as family and friends. They all took part in this ceremony as they had contributed to the preparation of the Arctic Solar expedition.  I must admit that over the past two years considerable goodwill went into the re-birth of the little boat that crossed the Pacific Ocean powered only by a kite in 2011. In that regards, I was beautifully accompanied on that so special day.

The opportunity was ideal too for the group to be together before the launch to the Great North and was a wonderful pause in these stressing days before the long voyage.

Stay tuned and… fair winds to all of you in the meantime.

PS : A new section titled « Fan’Arctic » has been added to the website.  Be curious and find out what’s the matter with it.  And, if you feel like it…

© Ronan Quéméré
©Ronan Quéméré

 

The countdown is on!

With just over 60 days left until my departure for the Arctic, the pressure increases and stress rises although it has become quite familiar those past months. I do not make to much out of it anymore. Whatever I do, wherever I go, here it is, ready to pounce on the least little error that I try to correct at any point. Small, but forever unpleasant. Regardless, hitches occur every day, whether they be important or not, they are always unpleasant. Read more “The countdown is on!”

A brand new look for the website

Fresh and beautiful…Here is the new version of the Website which has been regenerated as it needed a deluxe facelift».  A big”thank you” to the whole digital crew of ICADE who worked hard for months. I am aware the job was much more difficult than initially planned, but after screening the pages, I’m convinced it was well worth the effort!

Read more “A brand new look for the website”

On the water…again

I had been looking for it for weeks and finally It showed up! A favorable weather window, quite short but so enjoyable which made it possible to go back to sea and navigate on board the Solarboat Icade. The main reason for this navigation was to validate the latest modifications made on the prototype and make sure solar panels were working properly. What a pleasure to be rewarded for our efforts! The sun was missing, but despite this, the 4 Torqeedo batteries (fully charged the day before) did a great job and I enjoyed myself beyond imagination. The following pictures provide evidence. Read more “On the water…again”

Dans ses habits de fête !

The Year 2018 launched with a « Bang ». In the first few days of January the shores of Brittany were swept by storms Carmen and Eleanor with such force that it was impossible to navigate on board the Solarboat Icade as planned.  Winds of over 120 km/h teamed with heavy swell have completely changed our program.  Nature doesn’t really care about our state of minds and since she always has the last word, we stayed on land.

This forced rest allowed us to finish the lettering on the Solar boat which now wears its party dress.  Such a time was ideal to work on the logistics of the expedition as well. Sending the boat to Tuktoyaktuk is no easy task.  Administrative requirements or « Red Tape » isn’t easy and truly, the route to the Arctic is an adventure of its own. Nothing can be left to chance! Each detail has its importance.

But this isn’t my first expedition and it should be easier to plan this complex phase.  That being said, we’re hoping for better weather conditions to find our way on the water quickly. Not long now before departure for the Far North.  The deadline is looming each passing day and I am impatient to take the Solarboat Icade in hand. It is my priority from now on.

No more paddle or kite to control, only solar panels and electrical equipment, I must well mastered before next May.  It will be less demanding physically but, tactically speaking, error isn’t allowed if I want to maintain a steady pace throughout the Northwest Passage. To produce, at least, as much energy as I use will be my only obsession.

As you wait for the next news, accompanied with a few photographs of our next outing,  I wish you all a Happy New Year, to the image of Eleanor the storm, right below : powerful, spellbinding and stimulating!

Enfin les premiers tests grandeur nature…

Last week was reserved for the first tests of the Solarboat, on Neuchatel Lake in Switzerland, making for a very challenging period.
The engineering crew from the CSEM (Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique) whom, since last June, conceived, created as well as installed the latest solar modules and I, tested the performance of the new panels and checked the reliability of the complete electrical installation. This was truly a dress rehearsal! Read more “Enfin les premiers tests grandeur nature…”

Et encore un pas en avant…

A wonderful partnership was established with ICADE Corporation, just after the summer holidays. « Innovation, mobilization towards sustainable development,  community involvement and a desire for human challenge with the objective of pushing one’s limits», were the words of the director-general of the corporation, Olivier Wigniolle, highlighted to explain the cooperation with the Solar Arctic expedition project.  Read more “Et encore un pas en avant…”

C’est la rentrée !

 

That’s it! The summer holidays have ended and it’s back to school for the children , while I’m getting more and more ready for the ARCTIC SOLAR expedition. This promises an incredible frenzy, which, oddly enough, had been set aside for the past two months. Now, business appointments have been piling up since the end of August while life is rushing by! Read more “C’est la rentrée !”