Phillipe Hercher aboard his converted French Navy tug Le Manguier. Maria Jose Riquelme del Valle photo
An odd-looking vessel will be
wintering in Kodiak this year. Le
Manguier [leh-MONG-ee-ay] - that's French for Mango Tree - is moored up in
Kodiak's St. Herman Harbor. KMXT's Jacob Resneck caught up with its skipper who
is preparing for next year's Arctic voyage.
The seventy-foot former tug boat
was bought at auction in after being decommissioned by the French Navy. Its skipper
is Philippe Hercher who purchased it for 20,000 euros - about $26,000 dollars
-- (hercher4 26 sec)
He says nearly $400,000 dollars has
since been spent retrofitting the tug which now has two large A-frame sailing
masts, solar panels and a new 450 horsepower engine.
Last year he and his wife and
daughter left his native island of Corsica in the Mediterranean to explore the North Sea
and Arctic. They landed in Scandinavia,
Russia and decided to skip Japan last fall and instead headed to Alaska.
Le Manguier was here for the May
Crab Festival and Hercher says he's picked Kodiak as his winter port.
-- (hercher2 26 sec)
He'll return to France next week but plans to
return in February to prepare for the next voyage.
-- (hercher5 18 sec)
He's also trying spread a message
of environmental sustainability. He's made some basic additions like solar
panels and recycles heat from the engine and added more efficient LED lights.
He's also trying to teach and learn
from other seafarers on ways to make sea travel more environmentally
sustainable. He says his voyages aren't pleasure cruises.
-- (hercher8 18 sec)
Already he's in talks with
researchers about taking samples of sea water in the Bering Sea to help
scientists measure acidification in the Arctic Sea.
-- (hercher6 18 sec)
The 55-year-old skipper will be
joined by his wife and daughter early next year before the 250,000-pound
tugboat steams out of Kodiak's harbor this spring.