From Tahiti to Fiji, in September-October 2016, the Valaisan designer Ambroise Héritier boarded Fleur de Passion for nearly two months. Besides the illustrations he began distilling, and on which he is still working, back in his studio on the heights of Sion, he delivered the following text written on board. A sort of report according to the navigation of the south Pacific that led to the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga.
Eight days of sailing.
Eight days without seeing any other living beings around us.
Apart from "Jean-Edouard," a crazy blue nose who squatted behind the boat one night, and some flying fish that came to die on the bridge, there is no one on the horizon.
The journey begins to undo us, bit by bit.
It forces us to go where we are not used to going.
In the midst of this great blue nowhere, "Fleur de Passion" is just a tiny speck of nothing on the map.
The show that unfolds before our eyes is often breath-taking.
Day after day, night after night, we let our solitary souls wander following the wind’s fancy.
Some pots and pans we thought we had left on land, are still trailing behind the boat.
The trip jostles, sculpts, erodes our beings to the rhythm of the navigation.
There is no possible escape.
Some have paid to be here, others are paid to be here, and others are here against their will.
If the horizon is the same for everyone, the questions we ask it are personal.
Each of us launched our bottle to sea.
Mirroring days flow into each other, there the individual experiences are, to varying degrees, echoes of our individual paths.
Like a sponge, I am trying to absorb snippets of stories sketched along the navigation.
A few snatched sketches,
lines on a notebook,
and hundreds of photos on the clock.
I will relive these stolen moments, on the blank pages of my drawing table, when I return to my studio.
It's been eight days living in the rhythm of quarters.
Monotony lulls the minds,
the bodies are exhausted,
melancholy takes over hearts,
Beings seek each other,
It is September 18, the sun is high, the ocean ... cobalt blue.
On deck, adrift, a flying fish dies.
Off the island of Tutuila in American Samoa, in September 2016 the crew of Fleur de Passion was treated to a live concert of humpback whale songs. It was enough to plunge the yoyo (manual hydrophone) in the water to listen to these strange monotonous chants coming from the oceans, with the clatter of the seabed in the background. Streamed to the Laboratory of Bioacoustics Applications of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, these recordings are part of the program 20'000 Sounds Under the Seas. They are then analyzed by biologist Michel André and his team, who then feed their project to map the noise pollution of the oceans. Not the whales’ sounds, of course, but that generated by human activity.
Fleur de Passion is now sailing to Australia. Meanwhile the investigation of underwater recordings made through the program “20'000 Sounds Under the Sea” during the first half of the Pacific crossing, from Chile to Tahiti, from April to June, continues at the Bioacoustics Applications Laboratory of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona.
Thus, in both sequences below, recorded respectively on 11 April 2016 at the approach of Conception in Chile (position 37 ° 04'42.2 "S 74 ° 43'17.4" W) and on 25 April 2016 north west of the Robinson island (position 29 ° 58'47.6 "S 82 ° 29'56.0" W), you can hear the whistles and clicks likely coming from pilot dolphins (Globicephala macrorhynchus / G. melas), a species belonging to the family of pilot whales. But the crew didn’t manage to see them.
Since the expedition departed Papeete on 2 September 2016, the favourable weather for sailing hasn’t favoured the surface water collection, which is part of the program on micro-plastics “Micromégas”. Due to strong winds, rough sea and the excessive speed of the boat - three key parameters - the Manta trawl could only be launched a limited number of times. Fortunately, a quiet area should address the "problem", without upsetting the progress of the boat to Australia.
A seventh designer boarded Fleur de Passion in Papeete early September 2016 as part of the cultural program of the Expedition: In Magellan’s mirror. Ambroise Héritier, from Granois near Sion, swapped the mountains of the Valais for other peaks, those of the South Pacific atolls between Tahiti and Fiji. And in a striking play of lights and shadows, he offers us a first dazzling vision of the island of Moorea, captured only a few hours after departure. Somewhere between sunrise and sunset, we cannot tell.
The ridges cut into a sky in a palette of greys that echoes the blackness of the water of, perhaps, an early morning. It is for us to decide. One can already feel the intensity of the sun, somewhere behind the island.
From Tahiti, Ambrose will stay on board until Fiji via the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga. So he can carry us for long while yet in this journey of salty sea revisited.