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Expeditions 2024

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Port Navy Super Services

Just a year ago, we had a tricky task when we had to select a technical base on the Mediterranean coast to transform our newly acquired Lagoon 570 catamaran from 2001 into an OceanoScientific Explorer platform called LOVE THE OCEAN, and then commit to carrying out annual maintenance there over an eight-year cycle. At the time, we had no real knowledge of professionals in the sector. Over 45 years of professional activity on the Channel and Atlantic coasts had forged solid habits in this area, particularly with the excellent V1D2 Marine Services technical base (Caen - Normandy - France). After a great deal of work, our choice fell on Port Navy Service in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, where we placed the preparation of our Lagoon LOVE THE OCEAN under the coordination of Frédéric Switala and Benoît Gabriel (META Yachts Services). With just a few days to go before we cast off for the first of the OceanoScientific Coral Reefs Expeditions 2023-2030, we can only congratulate ourselves on having made the right choice. We appreciate the collaboration with the elected representatives of the town of Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, in particular with the Mayor, Martial Alvarez, and his teams from the Pôle Nautisme Mer & Développement (Nautismed). At the Port Navy Service site - Club Lagoon's official port of call - we benefited from the presence of skilled specialists who helped us prepare for calm long-distance ocean sailing. From now on, we will have to wait for the storm "Louis" and its Mediterranean consequences to blow elsewhere before LOVE THE OCEAN can set a course to the South-West...


The Lagoon 570 catamaran LOVE THE OCEAN manoeuvres to berth at the Port Navy Service quay. 

Drone photo Maeve Fabre - Port Navy Service

Since last May, Port Navy Service, managed by Philippe Froment, and the Club Lagoon have been combining their skills to offer exclusive benefits to owners of catamarans produced by CNB (Beneteau Group) who are members of the Club Lagoon. These include first-class berths, exceptional discounts on port services and many other privileges. This partnership is tailor-made for Lagoon lovers like us! In fact, LOVE THE OCEAN is one of the Ambassadors of the Club Lagoon. This community of excellence offers its members access to a network of prestigious marinas in many countries and exclusive discounts on the online Lagoon Boutique.


At Port Navy Service, in addition to the multi-disciplinary commitment of META Yachts Services - comparable to what is practiced in the preparation of ocean-racing yachts in the English Channel and Atlantic - we benefited from the services of the talented and rigorous team of Christophe Ortin (Atelier Marine Services), who worked efficiently on our two Yanmar engines, their saildrives and our Onan generator. They are also responsible for monitoring the maintenance of the Suzuki engine powering our Vanguard RIB. A valuable tandem with proven efficiency for the OceanoScientific eDNA Mediterranean Expeditions.


Port Navy Service is an increasingly renowned technical base. It is not uncommon to meet famous sailors like Paul Meilhat, who is wintering his personal catamaran here. Or famous ships, like the schooner TARA here, which has just completed its campaign on the Rhône and is preparing to return to sea. Drone photo Maeve Fabre - Port Navy Service

All the Raymarine equipment was installed by Nicolas Escande (AD Nautic - The Wind Ship), who also checked and re-commissioned the interior lighting, as well as some electrical equipment such as the windlass, essential for our oceanographic missions. The saddlery work was carried out by Stéphane Lebar (WBS Yacht Service - Global Nautic).


Two outside companies were involved on board LOVE THE OCEAN during its stay in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. ROM-arrangé, THE reference in the capital of world ocean racing (Lorient - France) in terms of computer equipment and satellite links, thanks to its branch in Mauguio (near Montpellier - France) equipped our catamaran with the best equipment in this field. YACHTELEC, a company based in La Ciotat, renowned in the world of prestige yachting and superyachts, but also the only representative on the French Mediterranean coast of desalinator from the Italian brand Idromar, has refurbished this guarantee of unlimited freshwater autonomy. An important complement to the energy autonomy produced by the 2,000 watts of solar panels. Everything needed to be able to sail and explore without CO2 emission, even in the heart of protected marine areas...


At the time we publish this text, while the storm "Louis" is likely to ravage the North of our Atlantic coast and those of the Channel as far inland as possible, the Southern part of the storm will generate a severe South-Westerly storm, right in front of the bows of LOVE THE OCEAN. Nature imposes its own rhythm, which must be respected. As a result, we are going to have to wait for the weather window on Thursday 29 February to cast off. We will be staying at Pontoon K in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône for a few days and don't expect to return to our technical base at Port Navy Service until the second half of August. There, we will carry out the maintenance before embarking on the Tour MER & MÉTIERS – Revealing the vocations of Tomorrow. A big month along the Mediterranean coast from Nice to La Grande Motte and we will be heading to Bordeaux in mid-December. This will be an opportunity to take part in the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Lagoon brand (140 years of the Beneteau Group) at the CNB boatyard pontoon, on the right bank of the Garonne.


Pontoon K in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, specially designed to accommodate catamarans, is exceptional year-round, whether you are wintering in the Mistral or looking for a quiet stopover in the summer, when the surrounding marinas are overflowing and excessively noisy. A stopover that we recommend! Photo OceanoScientific

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Heading for the Parc national de la Guadeloupe

While the first of the OceanoScientific Coral Reefs Expeditions 2023-2030 had been planned for a long time to the island of Juan de Nova (Indian Ocean - Eparses Islands - France - TAAF), the Board of Directors of the philanthropic association of general interest OceanoScientific approved on Tuesday 6 February the alignment of its tropical campaigns with its global strategy. Instead of Juan de Nova, this first mission will take place on the other side of the Atlantic, in the Parc national de la Guadeloupe, in close collaboration with the management of this exceptional site and with its own scientific and educational partners. As Yvan Griboval, Director of the OceanoScientific Expeditions and skipper of the Lagoon 570 catamaran LOVE THE OCEAN, explains below, this is a change of direction that is totally in line with our strategic direction: to focus all our science-based activities on "Guiding young people towards the new professions of the Blue Economy". The preparation of our innovative oceanographic platform - which will sail with total energy autonomy and no CO2 emission - is now coming to an end in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône under the coordination of Frédéric Switala and Benoît Gabriel (META Yachts Services).

Photo_01-PNG-Grand_Cul-de-Sac_Marin-Vue_aerienne-Photo_Anne Chopin-Lt.jpg

The Parc national de la Guadeloupe, which includes the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin cove in the north of the island, is an exploration site rich in biodiversity. Like the rest of the Caribbean, it is suffering from the combined effects of climate change and anthropic pressure. Using in situ DNA sequencing to collect genetic data of marine organisms threatened with extinction as a result of the Sixth Extinction is of the utmost importance in safeguarding Guadeloupe's heritage. Photo by Anne Chopin with the kind permission of the Parc national de la Guadeloupe

"As we wish to carry out OceanoScientific Expeditions whose purpose is directly linked to benefiting young people in the territories explored, Juan de Nova, one of the five uninhabited Eparses islands, whose scientific interest is unchanged, no longer met our priorities", explained Yvan Griboval at the end of the Board of Directors meeting on the evening of Tuesday 6 February. "But not being able to take high school students to discover molecular genetics aboard our 17-metre catamaran is not the only reason for this change of objective.


Indeed, despite the sincere enthusiasm of the highly competent scientists from the universities of Mayotte and La Réunion with whom we were starting a collaboration, no scientific program could accommodate our OceanoScientific Expedition, because of its extremely innovative nature, outside traditional oceanographic standards. No one imagines that in situ DNA sequencing is possible and, above all, useful for the preservation and enhancement of genetic data from marine organisms threatened by the Sixth Extinction and anthropic pressure!


Self-taught, I'm an instinctive person. So I was keen to make the special trip to Saint-Pierre in La Réunion for a meeting on 21 September 2023 with the Prefect of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises - TAAF) and her department heads. During our 90-minute meeting, I realised that the welcome we would receive from the TAAF administration would not be commensurate with our commitment. I felt that the efforts made by our sponsors and partners to enable us to carry out this exploratory mission - at depths of five to eight meters in order to preserve unknown genetic data - would not be rewarded by a constructive collaboration to ensure the success of this undertaking. I deduced from this that the two times 80-90 days of sailing with an incursion into the Roaring Forties below the Cape of Good Hope should at the very least be postponed until the TAAF administration understood what was at stake. The enthusiasm of the Bureau de l'Action de l'État en Mer (BAEM) for the South-West Indian Ocean zone was not enough to counterbalance the TAAF's position.


The idea of working on a "proof of concept" in Guadeloupe, on the same dates as those chosen for Juan de Nova: Monday 8 to Friday 19 April inclusive, was obvious. Initial contact with Valérie Séné, Director of the Parc national de la Guadeloupe, and her colleague Sophie Bédel, confirmed this. Another factor in favour of the choice of a mission in the lagoon of Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin was that the École de l'ADN, chaired by Professors Philippe Berta and Christian Siatka, is currently being set up in Guadeloupe to give young people access to careers in genetics. Christian Siatka, Vice-President of the OceanoScientific association, is also our onboard reference geneticist in his capacity as Scientific Director. Carrying out the first of the OceanoScientific Coral Reefs Expeditions 2023-2030 on this island in the French West Indies will speed up the implementation of this project for the benefit of the people of Guadeloupe.


We will be setting sail for Guadeloupe late February and we are delighted to be able to start working with the teams from the Parc national de la Guadeloupe and its scientific and educational partners".


The Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin cove is a jewel of marine biodiversity in the Parc national de la Guadeloupe, to the north of the island. It is probably one of the most strictly controlled marine sites in the French Overseas Territories to ensure its sustainable preservation, thanks to the teams who manage it with passion. However, many of its organisms are still poorly understood, especially when it comes to their genetic characteristics. Map published with the kind permission of the Parc national de la Guadeloupe

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