"The fabulous history of ARC EN CIEL"
‘Arc en ciel’ is more than a simple sailboat. She is alive! Oh yes…Maybe you don’t believe me. But she truly talks to us! When we are sailing and we get some speed up and pass seven knots, she starts to vibrate, happily humming and sing away under sail.
Probably one of the first catamarans designed for blue water sailing and ocean passages. It was in 1983, when my family left to set sail on her, when I was just three years old. She was to be my home for the next ten years, taking my family to some of the most isolated and marvelous places in the world. She wasn’t our first boat, we had been sailing an eleven meter monohull the previous three years. But as the family grew, that boat was starting to feel a bit cramped.
I fell in love with the dream of a cata at an early age. This catamaran, a Naviplan, built by the architect J.P. Chauvinaux, ticked all the boxes. More space, less draft, better performance when sailing down wind. Everyone wanted to get on board. So, we sold the monohull ‘Jolie Mag’, who was moored in Venezuela, and moved back to Brittany, France. To buy the empty hull of what was to become ‘Arc en ciel.’
It took several months of work for my father to completely build the interior of the boat and get things ready for us to live aboard. Once the work was complete we left for ‘un grand tour’ of the Atlantic ocean. We sailed as a family for ten years, down the coast to Portugal, then across the Atlantic to the warmer waters of the Antilles and up into the cold and ice of Greenland. After this time, ‘Arc en ciel’ sailed mainly along the east coast of Canada and America and eventually moored in Central America. Over the next twenty years, my parents worked with ‘Arc en ciel’ as a charter boat around the atolls of Belize and its sublime coral reef. I can never thank my parents enough for all the marvelous adventures that we lived aboard ‘Arc en ciel’.
Some years later, My brother and his family decided to come and join us in French Polynesia. They sailed ‘Arc en ciel’ across the Pacific and spend two years living in Polynesia. Sadly, after that, she stayed at the marina for two years unoccupied. My parents didn’t wish to do anymore long ocean passages and ‘Arc en ciel’ was starting to show her age. A decision had to be made. “What should we do? Is it time to sell?”
My parents and brothers are starting to think that way…..Its true, a boat that is not lived in or looked after quickly goes downhill. Also, there is a risk of cyclones in Polynesia and its not simple to take care of the boat from a distance.
A solution has to be found quickly. Initially I hoped that it might be possible that, together with my brothers, we might keep the boat and plan a trip once a year to sail and take care of her in in Polynesia. However, it was soon clear that it wasn’t really a viable option as everyone had their own projects.
What was to be done? Sell ‘Arc en ciel’ the boat that had rocked me to sleep as a child? For me it wasn’t possible. Together, with Jo we made the decision to take her over. It wasn’t an easy decision. At that time our daughter Juliette, had just been born. Work and our life in Lisbon was taking off. We had for the first time settled down in a nice appartement where we could take out of storage all the souvenirs of our travels together. After eight years in Polynesia, we were happy to finally be closer to family and friends. To leave again, would be to once again leave those we love behind.
However, its not every day you are given the opportunity to have a catamaran! The opportunity seemed too good to miss. We didn’t want to live with regrets. We decided to seize this opportunity and live in the present moment. So, once again we sold all our possessions, packed up our souvenirs once more, and started to make plans to head out on a new adventure. We both felt that in this modern world, everything was going so fast, too fast. If we stayed, we would join the process of working hard and having less time. The deciding point was that with our little Juliette just born, we wanted time, time together to live as a family. And without question, I wanted to share the same gift that my parents had given me. A life of adventure. A life on ‘Arc en ciel’.
‘Et volia’, brave ‘Arc en ciel’ we will take good care of you. You will set sail in the ocean once again, but this time with a new crew aboard and a new captain.
Our program: Renovate ‘Arc en ciel’ and bring her back to Europe, finishing her around the world navigation. The journey is long and exciting. Lots of questions remain to be answered. Which direction should we take? Pass by the Suez Canal and risk encounters with Pirates or go the much longer way back around South Africa? How will we earn money whilst travelling? How long will this trip take? We don’t really know just yet….we are free, we have love and life is beautiful!