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Global Solo Challenge: Bernard Moitessier, the man, the sailor and the wave of destiny

by Global Solo Challenge 6 Jul 2021 02:48 PDT
Bernard Moitessier on Joshua © Global Solo Challenge

The great sailor and writer Bernard Moitessier is a legend, a pioneer of solo sailing and a great writer. An article by Margherita Pelaschier.

Scrolling through his biography, one glimpses the sense of a wave of destiny that hits him several times, destroying boats, relationships and pushing him to wander the world.

Only towards the end of his life, in his last attempt "Tamata" (in Polynesian "to try") he finds piece and alliance with the elements with his restless spirit. The "Wave" has become gentle and can thus push him with his lightened soul and together with the forgiveness of the spirits of his native land towards his Last Journey.

Bernard Moitessier, a wanderer of the seas, a solitary sailor and above all a writer, has made generations dream with books that tell of his adventures. A restless life always lived in search of new challenges, new horizons, new oceans, new boats and new women.

His journey begins in his mother's womb, as he writes, as an "unconscious embryo", when his young father Moitessier marries and decides to leave France in 1925. His father, fresh from his studies in Commerce, leaves with his mother carrying canvases and brushes to move to Indochina, to Hanoi he was born. Given in care to a native nanny, Bernard immerses himself in virgin nature and in a culture pervaded by spirits and rituals. His early childhood lays the foundations of that Alliance with nature that he talks about in his books and which will never abandon him.

At school he gets thrown out of all the ones he attends, attracted more by the call of the surrounding nature than by books. When fifteen years old he finally arrives at the Industrial Institute of Saigon and at the Agricultural School of Ben Cat where he learns the technical notions he will need on at sea.

Moitessier: Navigation and the Wave

Navigation enters his life in a natural way: he begins to sail in the Gulf of Siam on the junk-rigged boats of the fishermen. He recounts this in his books, when he tells of the experience he had at the age of 13 with the father of a friend, his first mentor of the sea. A storm had caught them away from the land and they were waiting downwind of Hon Non Tai Island for the worst to blow through. After a week at anchor they returned to the village and an unexpected and anomalous wave surprised them and forced them to spend hours emptying the boat from water.

Bernard learns a first great lesson from the fisherman that will be prophetic for his entire life. "Immediately after bad weather, we think that everything is back to normal, we feel happy and we tend to let our guard down. It is then that a last great Wave can rise from nowhere and sink the boat in an instant. It was so that the ancestor of Kieu's father was caught out. If that day the Dauphin had not intervened, it would have been the end for him, as today it came close to happening to us".

That Wave will try all his life to surprise Moitessier, sinking his boats, leaving him without money on beaches and always writing new endings and beginnings. The Dauphin, his inner strength and courage, however, will keep him afloat and will always save him.

Read the full article here...

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