When Corentin de Chatelperron visited boot Düsseldorf in January 2020, he came barefoot in sandals. Sure, that's a little cold, says the 36-year-old Frenchman with the frizzy hair and the open smile. But he doesn't have any other shoes. Besides, he's just disembarked from Mexico, he says he doesn't need any warm shoes anyway.
Corentin de Chatelperron is as unusual as his project, which he has been driving forward for four years. Since then, his circumnavigation of the world with the catamaran "Nomade des Mers" (French for "marine nomad") has taken him almost all over the world. Including mast breakage and other minor and major disasters, and above all: against the prevailing wind direction. But he didn't even know that when he drove off.
Looking for original solutions
Because Corentin de Chatelperron is only in second place as a sailor and navigator. The engineer's primary passion is tinkering and inventing. Since 2016 he has been sailing from continent to continent with a changing crew in order to find, try out, develop and disseminate so-called low-tech solutions all over the world.
The skipper explains the project (French with English subtitles)
The itinerary so far
On site, his team tries out original solutions for the sustainable use and reuse of resources. In Morocco it has developed a technique for desalination of seawater; Algae obtained from Madagascar for food and recycled in Sri Lankan plastic waste.
Greenhouse in the saloon, chickens at the stern
Their ship, a VPLP catamaran of the Kennex 445 type, serves as the laboratory, which is supposed to supply and feed the crew with energy. The salon resembles a greenhouse, a chicken coop is attached to the stern, and home-grown insects complement the galley.
All of this may sound like a more than exotic adventure - and this is exactly where the likeable Frenchman from Vannes is an expert. It is not his first expedition in search of more sustainability.
In a jute fiber boat through the pirate area
After studying engineering, Corentin de Chatelperron worked in a shipyard in Bangladesh and developed a boat made of 40 percent jute composite material. In order to prove its capabilities as a boat building material, he unceremoniously sails the "TarTari" from Bangladesh to Africa and through the Red Sea back to France; at a time when Somali pirate raids in the area are peaking. It is his first big trip, which is much noticed in France and sometimes life-threatening at sea.
Corentin built the "TarTari" out of 40 percent jute fibers and used it on his first sailing adventure
But the young engineer catches fire and builds his next prototype, this time completely from jute fibers. He then sails through the Bay of Bengal for six months and begins to devise low-tech solutions on board - in search of a self-sufficient existence.
Documentation for television
And now the circumnavigation. Since the voyage started in February 2016, the "Nomades des Mers" has rounded Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, crossed the Indian and Pacific Oceans, passed the Panama Canal and meanwhile reached the Atlantic coast of Mexico. Countless stopovers, encounters, adventures and inventions lie in the wake of the crew.
The TV channel Arte is accompanying the trip, 15 episodes have already been broadcast under the title "With a compass and a head on the high seas". Further episodes are planned for this year.
Trailer of the ARTE documentary about the unusual circumnavigation
240 pages tinkering and sailing
A book about the French crew's fascinating circumnavigation of the world was also recently published in German ("Sailing for future. Around the world with low-tech and low-budget", Delius Klasing Verlag, 24.90 euros). In it, the skipper not only reports on the sailing challenges of circumnavigating the world against the prevailing wind direction; Together with co-author NinFasciaux, he will also present the low-tech projects that the crew put together on the first half of the trip - including instructions on how to recreate them.
Friends: Corentin de Chatelperron and Boris Herrmann (r.), Here at the book launch in January 2020
YACHT readers will soon find the entire story of Corentin de Chatelperron and the catamaran "Nomade des Mers", which is sometimes as hair-raising as it is fascinating, in the magazine.
Photo gallery: The boat as a laboratory