(French version)

Drawings made by Charles

Pour sûr nous n’étions pas des marins aguerris, juste des voyageurs un peu barges tentés par le large. D’Acapulco au Mexique à Playa Los Cocos au Costa Rica, nous aurons navigué plus de 2000km et vécu 20 jours en compagnie de cap’tain Bob sur le vaisseau Milagro.

Sous ses deux mâts en bois qui lui prêtaient des airs de voilier de collection à la “Rackham le Rouge”, nous parcourions chaque jour son plancher de tek brut, entouré de rambardes d’acajou vernies, orné de winchs et passages de cordes en bronze massif, de 2 panneaux solaires et d’une petite éolienne en appoints.

Fidèles compagnons depuis 9 mois, des confins asiatiques de Singapour à Hanoi, les bicyclettes ne furent sûrement pas mécontentes de ce repos mérité. Nous croisions tout de même les doigts pour que la corrosion les épargne.

Au quotidien, nous assurions tour à tour nos quarts sous un large soleil, les yeux jonglant entre le large hypnotique, le ciel étoilé des traversées nocturnes et le gps de bord rassurant par son modernisme. Nous fîmes le maximum pour arriver à bon port en temps voulu, en assistant le capitaine dans ses manipulations de voile, principalement pour dresser, border ou choquer le fidèle working jib au près et/ou la grand voile et sa baume en vent de côté. Quand ce n’était pas une ancre à jeter puis remonter tant bien que mal, des cordes à arrimer à quais, des fenders à ajuster ou des voiles à couvrir.

Les impondérables, aussi, ne manquèrent pas : une patte d’alternateur fendue, un “générateur d’eau potable” capricieux, un génois déchiré sur 50cm après s’être coincé dans un éclairage, une baume avant fracturée, un rotor d’éolienne serré…

Nous plaisantions aussi parfois avec cap’tain Bob sur nos tocs de frenchies, son snobisme pour le café ou son aversion pour Trump et ne nous lassions pas de nos podcasts radiophonique dans les instants de solitude à la barre*.

Les premiers jours, au large du Mexique, du Guatemala puis du Salvador , nous assurions une modeste vitesse moyenne de 5 noeuds sur des mers plutôt calmes, aidés d’un bon vieux diesel 50Hp pétaradant. 5 noeuds, 9km/h, cette fois nous expérimentions réellement une lenteur presque inconnue, même à vélo ! Comme une ellipse spatiale et temporelle, nous trouvions ainsi le temps de repenser à nos folles vadrouilles à bicyclette, aux pays si variés que l’on avait eu l’infinie chance de traverser ces derniers mois, aux rencontres sur la route, aux amis et à la famille que l’on avait hâte de revoir.

La seconde semaine, portés par 4 voiles variablement utilisées et combinées (le mizzen, la grand voile, le working jib et le genois), nous connaissions de beaux épisodes de vent au large du Honduras et du Nicaragua où le bateau se cambrait puis adoptait cet angle caractéristique d’un “good sailing”.

L’aventure fut belle, dépaysante et très différente de notre quotidien de cyclo-voyageurs : alors que nos cuisses étaient d’ordinaire notre principale préoccupation corporelle, nous concentrions plutôt nos efforts sur le regard, la posture du dos en tenant la barre, ainsi que quelques gestes vifs de cordes. Une autre forme d’endurance.

Et puis l’océan, que l’on apprivoisait dans toute son immensité, sa surface toujours variable, ses vents tournants, son horizon décoré par le balais des astres ou des bateaux de pêche, sa profondeur et ses mystères.

Arrivés à bon port, nous connaissions une dernière frayeur en heurtant un rocher non-identifié sur le gps de bord. Rien de grave, le ballast était solide et notre vitesse lente. Le récif aussi restait indemne.

*On vous recommande ce reportage émouvant sur la rencontre de l’univers de la voile avec le monde carcéral :

On the shore !

We just arrived safely in Costa Rica, after 18 days really intense on the sea. We are very very happy to have accomplished this challenge 🙂

Just landed in Playa del Cocos

Pending a more complete telling of this adventure in a future article, we share with you the text of our captain, Robert, about the most difficult part of this navigation: the Papagayo!

“We planned our passage to Costa Rica using the papagayos which were predicted to be in the 20 to 25 knot range from the NE which would yield a close reach through Nicaragua following the shore then a broad reach to Punta Santa Elena in Costa Rica. In the afternoon of the second day the winds began but dead on the nose so we tacked out using the working jib on the club foot and main which gave us 25 degrees into the wind but resuming our heading we began to miss Punta Elana slightly. During the night the main had be dropped as the papa’s kicked in. During the morning the next day a wave broke on the deck blasting the working jib tearing the clew track right off the club. Resetting the working jib on the jib track we lost almost 10 degrees of heading missing Punta Elena by a lot sending us out to sea. Two days earlier we were told of a couple who got caught by the papas and were blasted out 300 miles. The wind continued to build to 30 knot range and we were still beating into the wind and intense waves losing more and more degrees off the mark. Around mid morning I took the helm for the next 8 hours scraping every fraction of a degree to gain back our losses tracking every maunucia in the jib telltales running engine to prevent losses when the jib luffed. It was a suffer fest of blasting water in your face as the waves built higher but then a new texture appeared on the water off in the distance as it hit 40 knots of horizontal mist flattening the wind waves. The boat surged in the waves and real gains in degrees began to accumulate and we hit the mark but the screeching wind blew out the bearings in the wind generator and compressed the main mast step from the pressure which has to be repaired. It pushed the for deck down more than an inch cracking beams with all the shroud and stays hanging limp. The young French couple crewing were real champs taking every watch with grit but did remind me as we lay at anchor inside Punta Elena bay that I did warn them that there was the possibility of serious shit and there sure was. They have a good story to tell!”

Sailing to Costa Rica !

After 2 months of intense and very varied journeys in Mexico, from Tijuana to Acapulco passing by La Paz, Ixmiquilpan, Mérida, Tulum, Bacalar, Palenque and Oaxaca, 1500km of cycling and the double by bus and ferry, we are ready to take the sea !

Since our meeting at La Paz, in Baja California, appointment was taken with Robert and Milagro, his double mast veissel all wooden of 38 feet. Freshly retired from in Designer activites, he re-built the ship from 2002 and embarked on this adventure last September: from his city of Seattle, he’s sailing on the Pacific waters towards the Panama Canal and the Virgin islands where he plans to arrive on mid-2020.

We are happy and lucky to join him to realize the sailing trip from Acapulco to Costa Rica with our 2 bikes on board!
2 weeks of navigation off the coast of Guatemala, Salvador and Nicaragua who promise to be full of adventures and marine challenges!

The “main genoa” and “floating genoa” sails on the small mast (front) of “Milagro”

Arrival at Costa Rica is planned for the beginning of February, we’ll meet there Clea’s twin sister, Betty !

The wide imagination

By Sylvain

Last February, “L’avion, plaisir coupable de l’écolo-voyageur” is published in Le Monde (1). I come out of the lecture with the bitter sensation of suddenly having a theatre light focused on my secondary role. “The Balinese getaway”? We’ll experience it in three months as part of our long-term trip. Lyon-Montreal (equivalent to Paris-New York cited in the article)? I took it 4 months ago to visit my brother. With Cléa, we are also concerned and actors to preserve the environment as much as possible in our daily lives.
But speaking about “guilty pleasure” or “schyzophreny” of the traveler seems too strong to me, there is something to debate …

Last May, from Sulawesi in Indonesia I finish reading the essay “Travelling” (2) with the feeling of being straight in my boots. We have been backpacking for more than a month without planes, even if we “loose” long hours using local buses and ferries. Like the two authors, I experiment slowness, relativity and uninterrupted land (or maritime) connection. It is a pleasure, undeniable, much more than to borrow the alienating plane and its poison of climaticide kerosene. Besides this hierarchy, in no motorized transport, the plane like the others, I feel no candid enchantment. If I allow myself to go this or there, it’s because I consider the discovery or experience more inspiring and growing than the means is harmful to the Planet. A pharmacist would talk about a positive benefit/risk balance, at least I definitely wish it is and hope that nature does not suffer in any way from my passage. It’s selfish but it’s sincere.

July is coming, it’s in Thailand that we begin our second week cycling and I believe that this time, finally, I can talk about pleasure without guilt. We are free on bikes and we consume nothing but our own calories. Sur we experiment air pollution but we don’t participate in it in any way. Neither for carbon impact, excluding food. If, as french writter Colette said, “travel is only necessary for short imaginations” then on a bicycle we experience and largely assume the need to dream.

Of course we could have, like repented Sylvain Tesson (3), walked and satisfied ourselves with the black paths of France. But that’s another story and we want to take part of it when we’ll come back home… then, as those who have rightly displayed it for months on their demonstration signs during climate protests, as long as ncessary, we will give up with appeasement the madness of sky traffic.

(1): The article, for subscribers only, is available in full version on

(2): “Travelling” by Tanguy Viel and Christian Garcin, J-C Nattes (2019)

(3) : “Sur les chemins noirs” by Sylvain Tesson, Gallimard (2016)

Berlin, erster Halt !

22nd of April 2019, adventure begins:)

We prepare the gears quietly… fingers crossed so that everything passes in the saddlebags and does not exceed 30kg each!

5pm, departure by train from the “House” of Franche-Comté, direction Belfort then Basel then Hamburg then Berlin!

After 18 hours of travel, we finally meet Betty the sister of Cléa and Pablo a longtime friend. It’s time for a crazy Berlin week, perfect opportunity to roder our bikes and discover famous German bike paths!