After 2 years in the shipyard, Energy Observer went through the 08.40 lock on 25 June, leaving Saint-Malo for Paris, the first stop on her 6-year tour of the world to promote ecological transition.
Final farewells to family and friends took place in the lock before setting out to sea.
She headed for the open sea, sailing past Saint-Malo, Energy Observer’s home port. On board were Victorien Erussard, Jérôme Delafosse, and a crew of navigators and engineers to manoeuvre this extraordinary vessel, as well as a production team to film and photograph this first experimental voyage.
The first voyage
The first stage was to reach the open sea to get past the cloud front in order to allow the 130 m2 of photovoltaic panels to produce energy.
That is the speed record reached by Energy Observer off Raz Blanchard, as she headed towards Cherbourg.
The crew began to find their bearings aboard, alternating between technical meetings and logistical organisation, without forgetting to make the most of their first evening at sea.
After arriving at night, Energy Observer remained in Le Havre for 24 hours, which was necessary for the CEA engineers to carry out maintenance on the fuel cell, and to welcome Pierrick and Jimmy, the two Bateaux Mouches captains who joined the crew to guide Energy Observer all the way up the Seine.
She sailed under the Normandy bridge, came across freighters, discovered a wild section of the Seine… Energy Observer began its voyage up the Seine while the crew continued to work on the vessel with one goal in mind: to get the fuel cell working in order to extend the boat’s autonomy to offset the thick cloud cover and rain during this first voyage.
The boat is very sea-worthy, handles very well and has excellent manoeuvrability. It's very encouraging for the next stage and suggests fine sailing ahead.
I felt like I was in Houston when Armstrong took his first steps on the moon: it was like NASA! We were all caught between concentration and excitement, with the ground crew on the phone not wanting to miss anything from this unique moment.
In order to successfully get the fuel cell to work, the boat stopped again for 24 hours at Rouen in order to carry out maintenance on the hydrogen system. A beneficial stop, because it was on the crossing to Conflans that Energy Observer would draw on its stores of hydrogen for the first time ever. The effort paid off : she reached Paris under hydrogen power!
After several days, the Eiffel Tower finally appeared on the horizon. The penultimate leg that was initially scheduled for Boulogne Legrand would in fact be made to Port de Grenelle for docking reasons. The crew enjoyed an exceptional view of “The Iron Lady” of France for two evenings.
Finally, on the morning of July 4th, Energy Observer turned back to Issy-Les-Moulineaux to complete a full voyage to the port of Gros Caillou, where the catamaran will stay until July 15th. It is the occasion for the crew to capture this unique moment, which will not repeat itself for another 6 years, when the boat returns from its Odyssey around the world…