In Homage to Bernard Moitessier

I have often written about Bernard Moitessier (1925 – 1994), the French (born in Indochina) sailor who dared to sail around the world non-stop and single handed in the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. Instead of winning the race, he decided not to return home but to continue to Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean. Whatever he might have believed in, perhaps something inspired by Buddhism, he was a free spirit whom no one could imprison. A friend of mine here in France who is also a sailor knew Bernard Moitessier in the last years before his death from cancer.

Here is a brief presentation of Bernard Moitessier in French:

Je continue sans escale vers les îles du Pacifique parce que je suis heureux en mer, et peut être, pour sauver mon âme.

It was a great privilege to sail up to Le Bono from Port Navalo last Thursday and moor for the night as part of the Semaine du Golfe. I did not visit the grave of the great man of the sea, but he was present in my thoughts. I was visited by an interesting man by the name of Vernier Alavoine who was intrigued about the possibility of living for a week in such a tiny vessel as mine. His wife took the photo above. Vernier had spent more than a year with a scientific team on the remote windswept islands of Kerguelen. It must have been quite a spiritual and self-revealing experience for him!

I have put other photos up on my Facebook page.

O my brave Soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!

Walt Whitman

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2 Responses to In Homage to Bernard Moitessier

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Belated thanks for this, and wishing you and yours a Joyful Whitsuntide!

    Good to see you looking well, and (as it seems to me) so classically ‘nautical’! (Though the dress would differ in detail, you might be a seafarer of a century, or two centuries, ago, to my eye.)

    I can’t recall hearing of the Kerguelen Islands before (probably, I see from Wikipedia, from never yet reading Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Poe fan though I am) – wow! Hurrah for Vernier Alavoine!

    • Thanks for the encouraging word. I do have a pantomime tricorne hat and a baggy sleeved shirt, but I tend to avoid wearing stereotype dress when sailing. I don’t “have anything to prove”! My lifejacket is modern and I simply tie my hair back into a tail – so I suppose that is quite the style of an 18th century naval man as for gentlemen – and clergy. The essential is everything being practical.

      The Kerguelen Islands – see this view. The Southern Ocean will strike fear into the most experienced seamen commanding the stoutest ship.

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