A few sailors have greatly inspired me to do the things i have done in sailing. As a young IOR deck hand and bow monkey it was people like Sir Peter Blake and Eric Tabarly sadly now both long gone ‘over the bar’. As a more mature cruising sailor it was the Pardey’s, the late Charles Stock and Roger Taylor who seemed to inform my sailing. Today i have a lot of time for young couples such as Troy and Pascale (Free Range sailing) but i still look to some of the people who have done major voyages on improbable and often home-made craft for inspiration.
It seems to me that there has always been a young, passionate and penniless French guy or young woman rebuilding a small boat on a shoestring budget and then going off on a big old adventure. Some of these sailors seem to be right out of the same mold as Moitessier in that they genuinely break new ground or show us something new and different.
One such sailor that i keep going back to is Frenchwoman ‘Capucine’ Trochet and her adventure with ‘Tara Tari , partially because of her quirky, oddball boat but also largely due to her own story as a sailor.
Let me begin with the boat.
I remember when i first saw a picture of the boat, it was in a French (Breton) newspaper or magazine and we were aboard one of Brittanny ferries ships on the night run to Roscoff out of Plymouth. Of course i couldn’t read the article, only wonder at the photograph of boat and skipper . The next morning after breakfast we would head down to the Biscay coast somewhere near the Spanish border for our annual camp in Les Landes : a 10 hour drive and totally worth the effort. While i think about the place we usually camp i also have to remember the Berque twins and their small ocean going boats ‘micromegas’ built just a few miles down the coast from our camp. That’s an amazing coast by the way, from Cap Ferret in the north to Cap-Breton in the south it’s 200 km of broad golden sand, sometimes surf, backed by dunes and pine forest…..and much of it ‘sans culottes’.
When we got back to the UK several weeks later i, frustrated, couldn’t remember the name of the boat or it’s female skipper and spent hours on the internet trying to find just a single picture or reference. I did eventually find some pictures of the boat named though ‘Tara Tari’ and her second skipper Capucine Trochet.
The story of the boat is very unusual and starts with another French boat designer and even more strangely in the bay of Bengal. There a young boat designer, Corentin de Chatelperron was designing and building an experimental boat using jute fibre as the primary building material but with some glassfibre cloth and conventional polyester resin. The rest of the boat, it seems, came together mainly from scrap….the mast being a section of pipe !
To conventional eyes Tara Tari is a very odd looking boat, to me she looked more like a very long and slightly wider than normal sea-kayak : something like a ‘3 hole’ Baidarka crossed with a modern expedition boat but by way of a very narrow Florida sharpie . For sure she has a very conventional looking bermudan rig but she is very sharply double-ended and relies on lee boards to not go sideways. She is clearly tiny and low inside with barely sitting room even when sat on the sole.
The first photograph that i saw and used, the title one here, is the one that really gripped my attention. It looks like a decent sea running, a bit threatening, although the skipper seems to be well in control.
If anything at all the boat reminds me of a single hull from my old Wharram Tiki 26 catamaran….about the same amount of headroom and space inside. On that boat i had to be super-organised to get anything done although with the Wharram i could work, cook, sleep and live in the large central cockpit while at anchor : and of course i had 2 hulls anyway. Now, although i love the sharp ends and extreme sheer, again a bit like my old Wharram, she also reminds me of another extreme boat from my Whitbread race days….a boat called Fazisi . When i look at Tara Tari now i can’t help but think she would be a better sea boat if she was just slightly larger all round and with a slightly less extreme sheer…..but then she wouldn’t be Tara Tari any more. One thing i never did quite grasp is why the designer chose to work with jute for the hull as the panels are essentially flat and just shout ‘plywood’ to me…..the curvy deck for sure works well with cloth. The reason, i guess is that jute is the locally available material as is the considerable amount of scrap materials from the local ship breaking industry.
For a while i was even trying to draw a version of Tara Tari for myself made in more logical ply-epoxy but even then thought that if i went down that route i might as build a full-on sharpie although there are crucial differences in the 2 hull forms.
Anyway, back to the boat and her original designer/builder.
So….having built the boat in Bangladesh, Correntin then sailed Tara Tari the 18,000 km back to France via the Red sea and the Mediterranean arriving back in La Rochelle in 2010. At that point we lose track of the boat for a while until Capucine Trochet appeared on the scene to rescue and refit the boat for her own adventure.
Correntin, as far as i can see, returned to the Tara-Tari boatyard back in the bay of Bengal and started work on a new design for a native style fishing boat/sampan to be built in all jute cloth and local materials. The product of that design and build was the boat below : ‘Gold of Bengal‘
All of that really just serves as an introduction to the main course today : the life and adventures of Capucine Trochet and her time with Tara Tari.
Now, i mentioned La Capucine in a previous post ‘The French connection’ and recently posted that on the facebook page. For this post i really wanted to get in touch with Capucine herself and build the whole story around an online interview maybe : it would be my first venture in that direction. Of course she has her own website and instagram account so anyone can go there directly and follow what she is doing. Here though i have just had to read and copy from what others have said so far…..equally i have had to borrow all the pictures used here from other sources, none of them being my own work.
Rather than copy from this work i thought it best just to link to the whole story as all i would have been able to do at this stage is use sections of it myself and in this case i don’t think it does her story full justice.
In the meantime i have high hopes of engaging the excellent Ms Trochet in an online chat which i shall endevaour to record and add to this amazing story.