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Dispatch. Story: Kahuna, an epic in polar land

After 5 months in Norway and Svalbard on Kahuna, a JPK 45 FC launched in March 2022, Yvan Lazard, Baptistin Coutance, Robin Villard and Quentin Lustig, 4 engineering college students inform us about their journey to the North. Yvan, the skipper, tells.


ON MARCH 5, 2022, round forty folks gathered on the pontoons of La Base in Lorient to have a good time Kahuna’s baptism. This JPK 45 FC is the seventeenth to depart the Larmor-Plage yard. On this event, Jean-Pierre Kelbert, the location supervisor, spoke: “For us, Kahuna was an actual problem, it is our first electrical propulsion”. This ceremony marks the departure of the sailboat in the direction of the Arctic Circle.

Certainly, to make this sailboat extra dependable, Bruno, the proprietor, has agreed to depart us the keys for a five-month expedition that can take us as much as 80°N. In change, we cowl the present prices of the sailboat (mortgage, insurance coverage, repairs) at some stage in the journey and check all of the tools on board. For us, that is the right alternative. We will perform our sailboat-ski touring expedition. I assembled a crew with my classmates, three engineering college students aged 22 and 23, largely mountain dwellers. I’m the one one who already has crusing expertise on the day of departure. Too unhealthy, they’ll be taught on the job…

This system is as follows: depart Lorient at the start of March to cross the English Channel and the North Sea in the direction of Bodø, take the touring skis out of the maintain for 2 months between the Lofoten Islands, Tromsø and the Lyngen Alps, and, as soon as the melted pack ice, cross to Svalbard to proceed snowboarding, this time within the land of bears and icebergs.

The primary navigations after the beginning are an actual pleasure. A strong anticyclone has taken up residence close to Denmark and is giving us the right situations to get from Lorient to Dunkirk. It can take us 11 hours to achieve Camaret, then 42 hours to finish Camaret-Dunkirk. The boat is highly effective, and we’re holding the common 8 knots (nearly) with out forcing.

We then deal with the North Sea, and regardless of surprisingly favorable situations for the month of March, we all know that this isn’t going to be a cakewalk. Sandbars give technique to DSTs [Dispositif de séparation du trafic, – un quart du trafic mondial passe par ici]oil rigs and wind farms.


We’ve our nostril on the AIS on a regular basis. At this second, we’re the one pleasure boat in all the North Sea. Hydrogeneration, pushed by our two OceanVolt SailDrive 15 kW electrical motors, reveals its full potential right here. At 8 knots beneath sail, we simply must run the propellers 12 hours a day to maintain our 30.4 kWh of Lithium-NMC batteries full.
Fortunately we’re going quick, too, as a result of beneath 7 knots, there is no level in attempting to supply: deploying the propellers makes us lose 1 knot, and manufacturing at 6 knots is insignificant.

Within the North, mountain tools usually takes priority over sea clothes. Credit score: Kahuna.

Nevertheless, after we set foot in Norway, we’re not removed from it. Certainly, we folded our growth in half on the final jibe earlier than the end. In 31 knots of wind beneath mainsail alone, we thought that absorbing the shock of passing the sail with the sheet could be sufficient. Sadly no. A brand new, extra resistant growth was rapidly ordered from VMG Soromap, which managed to supply it in lower than per week.
Will probably be delivered to us in Tromsø a month later, after many twists and turns. Rely €3,400 for a JPK 45 growth, half of which for supply to northern Europe.

Throughout this month of ready, we even have to unravel the sailboat’s youthful defects: a windlass distant management that fears the water, a generator battery that doesn’t recharge, {an electrical} panel that takes a bathe of condensation. What’s most stunning is that three of the boat’s Andersen winches gave up the ghost within the first month, with out having been specifically used. The lot was faulty and the offending half was rapidly returned to us by parcel.

Between two repairs, we nonetheless handle to get the skis out for the primary corridors. The snow is great and it’s good to stretch your legs after a month at sea. We climb about ten peaks round Bodø, limiting the variety of miles. And for good purpose, with out mainsail, it’s only our electrical motor that transports us, and our vary with out recharging is barely 24 miles at 4.9 knots earlier than having to begin our generator which permits us to recharge our battery fleet. .


So even when most Norwegian pontoons permit us to attach, it’s advisable to restrict too lengthy navigations. Navigating electrical encourages us to vitality sobriety and we really feel a pinch within the coronary heart as quickly as we begin the heating or the group. It have to be mentioned that it paid off. In 5 months of expedition, we’ll restrict our whole diesel consumption to 594 l, together with 140 l for heating and the remaining for propulsion.

The frenzy to the North continues, and it’s between Bodø and Lofoten that the satan surprises us: beneath the staysail alone in 25 knots of wind, the boat involves a sudden cease. A powerful fishing entice anchors us on the backside. The rudder and the port engine are hooked, which directs Kahuna downwind, and the two m waves break, filling the cockpit. The state of affairs could be very disagreeable and presents few choices. The water is at 4°C, the ocean is tough, I am actually afraid that the rudder inventory will twist and {that a} leak will get away.

Huge night time galley: a locker within the port rudder on the excessive seas, in 25 knots of wind…

So I do not hesitate to launch a “preventive” PAN PAN in case the state of affairs will get worse. This may save valuable minutes. My message to the Norwegian Coast Guard is obvious: “I don’t require any help in the intervening time”, however they resolve in any other case and ask a freighter to divert. I do not prefer it, however I’ve different fish to fry. Certainly, Baptistin is diving roped to free us. 5 minutes later, he overcomes this cursed buoy and Kahuna is freed. We verify the waterways, not a drop, phew!

The coastguards are reassured and so are we. We have no idea what this entice was doing, in 200 m depth and greater than 10 miles from the coast. It was an actual stroke of unhealthy luck that took us! We are going to nonetheless dive the subsequent day to examine the sail-drive and the rudder. Their resistance is spectacular, as a result of the shocks they acquired had been highly effective. Choice is taken to not sail at night time, which doesn’t commit us a lot as a result of in per week, the day ought to be everlasting at this excessive latitude.


The Lofotens are then accessible to us and we take nice pleasure in snowboarding this glorious snow. This white gold begins to soften regardless of every little thing, and we proceed our epic in the direction of Tromsø, close to the North Cape. On this port, Kahuna appears tiny. You must make your method between the spectacular metal and aluminum expedition sailboats. All of them take their shoppers to the well-known Lyngen Alps to do like us: ski & sail.

On this world-famous massif, the snow situations are glorious, and among the many twenty or so ascents on skis that now we have made, there’s one which has marked the crew: that of the north face of Retailer Lenangstinden. At 1,624m, it is the very best level on the northern Lyngen Peninsula, and we made the primary recognized descent on skis from the northern slope. This was a tipping level for the expedition as Norwegian skilled skiers began to take an curiosity in us after this ‘first’.


On the finish of Could, the ice lastly opened up, and we set sail for Longyearbyen. This city of two,000 inhabitants with the looks of the Far West is probably the most northerly on the earth, and as soon as our rifle has been rented – the presence of bears obliges – we start our first descents. The dedication is whole but it surely’s value it!

We come throughout walruses, whales, killer whales, reindeer, seals and a large number of birds. All of the fauna has made an appointment on the finish of the world for the happiness of our eyes. Solely the bear is desired, and it’s just a few days earlier than our departure that we will observe it from the boat. Fortunately he did not shock us after we had been on the bottom as a result of this carnivore can assault people.

The drone, ideally suited for – photographic – searching of polar bears! Credit score: Kahuna.

Along with the fauna, Svalbard presents a large number of atypical factors of vacationer curiosity. Along with the well-known world seed reserve which is sadly forbidden to go to, we found Pyramiden, a city of Russian miners deserted since 1998 which takes you again in time. Between statues of Lenin and Soviet structure, it is an actual change of surroundings in a post-apocalyptic ambiance. Throughout our month in Svalbard, we could not ignore 80°N. The eightieth parallel marks the tip of all maps.


So crossing it, we thought we had been in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, on the finish of the world. We anticipate to see the ocean cease within the abyss. Our devices are additionally disturbed by this proximity to the pole. The Earth’s magnetic discipline is so weak within the horizontal aircraft that compasses start to inform nonsense.

It was beneath spinnaker, on June 16, 2022, at 10:46 UTC, that Kahuna crossed the eightieth parallel. It thus turns into the primary sailboat with electrical propulsion to achieve such a latitude. The time to show south is approaching, and Svalbard begins to chase us. Certainly, our Gribs downloaded by way of Iridium point out a despair approaching the archipelago.

We then spend three tiring days in 45 established knots. At sea you do not sleep, and neither do you at anchor. It is the primary time we have slipped with our 27 kg Spade anchor and its 100 m of chain. In Longyearbyen Bay, even the large Ponant cruise ships are struggling. At the very least we’re not the one ones! As soon as these troublesome instances are over and our farewells made to Svalbard, we due to this fact head south for the primary time after 4 months of expedition.

Mirror, oh my mirror… Within the Arctic, onerous instances and moments of grace comply with each other.

The deadlines are tight and now we have three weeks to achieve Lorient. Regardless of every little thing, we select to cross Scotland by the Caledonian Canal and the well-known Loch Ness. This protects us from spending an excessive amount of time within the painful North Sea and we will lastly relaxation a bit of. The canal additionally marks a return to civilization which precedes our return to France. Households are notified, and the Kahuna expedition ends on July 23, 2022.

The circle is full, everybody has returned in good well being, and the boat is prepared for brand new adventures. We’re profiting from the newfound heat to seize the ultimate sequences of our movie which is scheduled at journey festivals this fall. Hoping that the pictures we’ll present will encourage future adventurers!

Textual content: Yvan Lazard.

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