Sep 16 2010
Corsican Voyageur Wintering in Kodiak
Thursday, 16 September 2010
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Phillipe Hercher aboard his converted French Navy tug Le Manguier. Maria Jose Riquelme del Valle photo


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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 in 2002.



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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.


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He'll return to France next week but plans to return in February to prepare for the next voyage.


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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.


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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.


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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.