KABEER YOUSUF –
A French family of five (5) with their pet ‘Betty’ left the shores of France onboard the 60ft Fleur Australe in 2009.
They would embark on an extraordinary journey of sharing knowledge and for every country they visit, they will meet with children and educate them on the importance of taking care of the environment especially the marine ecosystem.
In the last eight (8) years, their journey took them to more than 120,000 km passing through the most hostile of seas to reach dozens of destinations.
And after years out in the sea, crossing country after country, the boat will eventually land in the shores of Oman.
Philippe Poupon, an acclaimed explorer, the father, shared that in the last eight years, he and his family met with thousands of children from different countries.
He said that together, they talked with local children and explain to them the importance of protecting the oceans. Their programme is simple — with them, they bring along films, show it to the children and allow a lively discussion where participants can engage in educational debates.
He said that their goal is simply promote greater respect for oceans and impart better knowledge on how to protect the environment.
After visiting Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti this year, the family arrived in Oman last week and was hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Oman Sail. After the brief meeting, they were off exploring the country and its rich marine habitats, even meeting people along the way.
As Philippe shared, they and their boat have to brave storms — from North Pole to the Arctic, from Alaska to Polynesia — they’ve fought different weather conditions to make it to their next destination.
“It is not always simple. We also have arguments on board. But we know that everything come to pass very quickly. We must not let conflicts settle down,” shared Géraldine Danon, an actress, mother, and wife to Philippe.
The couple also shared that although they are often the ones giving out education, it also became apparent that they were also learning in the process especially about the culture.
The two also shared that the children also were able to learn different geographies and landscapes.
About their boat, Philippe shared that Fleur Australe is a polar expedition sailboat which he especially designed for high latitudes incorporating the plans of Michel Joubert.
He said that the boat was built in Strongal, with thick aluminium made even stronger and better by 20 metres long lifting keel, divided rigging, good engine and has been made for long range travel. He also said that it can fit eight people on board and is equipped with two rescue boats, survival suits for each of the people on board and also has two distress beacons and watertight bulkheads.
“We have almost everything in doubles on the boat, two annexes, two HB engines, two pilots and two radars, even an emergency saffron. Everything was put together with security in mind and autonomy for expeditions even to the end of the world,” Philippe said.
On Wednesday, April 26, the family would meet with more Omani people and share their adventurous saga of events during the voyage and to inspire the listeners at the Marina Bandar al Rawdah.