The Captain Patrice Quesnel, Coordinator of the Calypso Program speaks out on actions to have the Calypso setting sail again
The entire interview of Tarik Chekchak, Director for Science and Environment in The Cousteau Society with the Captain Patrice Quesnel
My name is Patrice Quesnel, for two years I’ve been the captain of Alcyone and at that time Ms Cousteau asked me to coordinate the Calypso dossier and to take care of Calypso when Calypso was in La Rochelle.
What is the current stage in which we are about the Calypso realease program? Where are we?
So the step in which we are with Calypso, it is a wonderful step! Because I am sailor, so I am a sailor because I love the sea, but I think that I like more boats than the sea. And a boat for me is to be in its element. And… calypso in a hangar in Concarneau for years…. it could not last! So think that Calypso will finally leave its hangar and will be refurbised, it is the most beautiful gift that we could have in the beginning of this year.
And what are the technical challenges that Calypso must overcome in order to leave the shipyard?
The technical challenges are manifold:
We must know that the boat was unseted when it arrived in Concarneau. He was … it had spent several years in La Rochelle, it was not in very good condition, and plus it’s a wooden boat, do not forget that this boat was built in 1942, so this is a boat that is 74 years old. And … we must … we have dismantled, we removed all the superstructure and we made it completely empty inside, so now we have nothing else than the hull, frames and planking. Well … obviously, this is a boat that hasn’t a boat appearance but only its skeleton. And we had handled everything.
Moreover, it is over a marine railway, so this is its current situation.
Now the technical problem is that the boat is not very rigid, because most of its solid parts were removed, we have to move it on its railway, and it is estimated that there is about two hundred tons, that means, it weighs two hundred tons. So we will put it on a cart – we call it in simpler terms a “centipede”, since it is a cart that has around 400 wheels which will take the boat from below, we will roll it out of the hangar, roll it up to a dock where the cargo will come on board. So once we have rolled it, we will lodge it in the edge of the platform, and second technical challenge: counting with the help of superpowerfull cranes, we will take it on the dock to board it in the cargo ship.
Thank you, one last question
What is Calypso for you, personally?
So it’s a part of my life, Calypso! Because I have not sailed on Calypso. So … but I have sailed with everyone who had sailed on Calypso. So I soaked up in the atmosphere of Calypso! I was lucky, as the Alcyone Captain, I’ve meet many former sailors. And then I’m on this, I am this boat for 10 years! For 12 years, I do not know! So this is my life, this boat! And know the challenge … Ms Cousteau asked me … she agreed that the boat had to re-sail, so that now.. we will re-sail the boat, as I just said is something … unreal! It’s … it’s a dream that will finally come true!