Yves Marre completes 1st voyage of “Sunflower kayak” amidst turbulent seas

Staff Correspondent
Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Yves Marre on the Kayak


The first Kayak to be equipped with a Wingsail and solar power, “Sunflower Kayak”, had set sail on March 27 across Bangladesh from the Indian Border down south the Brahmaputra river towards the Bay of Bengal.


Manned by French/Bangladeshi sailor-extraordinaire Yves Marre and Darpan Chakma and a project of Maritime Search & Rescue Society (MSRS), they aim to sail the rivers Brahmaputra, Jamuna, the Ganges and the Meghna.


The first leg of the trip has covered over 100km in distance, which concluded near Dewanganj upazila in Jamalpur, more specifically near the “Char of Anger”.


Yves narrated their journey to Dhaka Courier, which he believed to be a terrifying experience. He mentioned that the inhabitants of those Char areas are afraid whenever it is time of the “Kalbaishakhi” storm, the tropical storms from the northwest.


“While sailing to the south we saw the sky darkening like at night fall on our north,” said Yves, “having sailed previously in these area, I knew these chilling signs and hurried up to the shore of the char closest to us; (we discovered later that its name was the char of anger.)”


“Then began what all people would like to avoid: being alone and without any kind of possible shelter under a desert sand island with winds reaching 80 Km/+ with higher gusts, dust, sand, rain and hailstones flying horizontally while the skies are crisscrossed by incessant lightings which may hit anyone.”


He mentioned that both he and Darpan had to stay holding their kayak to prevent it from flying. “We were hit by rain and hail for about an hour. The wind reduced after shifting 180°. We thought it was over but another storm came a few hours later. We hardly slept in our support boat where everything had become wet.”


The next morning he said the weather was perfect. “We went shopping for food and water for the rest of our trip in the village of Dewanganj. Comforted by this stop over we restarted to the South at a good speed with a light breeze helping us thanks to our wing-sail. The same scenario started again. Night falling on our north in the middle of the day.”


The next day, it was more like a turbulent sea. “We stopped for the night on another char of the Jamuna and again tried to relax with a hot dinner and were needing just to rest and sleep. But at about 1 AM our kayak which was attached to our support boat woke me up hitting its hull. A new Storm was on us illuminating the skies with even more terrible winds. So strong that I could not come out to take care of the kayak. Well covered with my all-purpose hat, I could only watch it but could not stand the wind. I really thought the Wingsail and our whole craft would disintegrate. What happened is that the big waves filled up totally the hull which is unsinkable, and the heavy kayak could not fly away. The wingsail managed the wind on its own.”

“Then, having taken enough risks for that time, I decided for obvious security reasons to postpone the end of our sailing across Bangladesh till after the monsoon. We lastly stopped at Guthail Bazar, Jamalpur from where we shall restart for the rest of the trip after Monsoon.”


What Yves takes back from this journey is plentiful to tell stories about. “What we can summarize from our sailing experience on the mighty rivers of Bangladesh and amongst the countless chars is our filling of beauty and pleasure playing with the wind and water, enjoying unique riverine landscape, experiencing the encounter with the “Char people” and riverine people who are still my eyes, the authentic population of the country. They face so bravely the incessant difficulties of natural elements.”


“Our experience is also that we can face nature with light crafts well designed and correctly built. We can and should also learn more from the naturel elements, keeping great respect for nature and water. We should also learn to love it also for the fertility it brings us. We should play with it and not be afraid but learn its patterns (although evolving due to the climatic impacts).”


This premiere of Sunflower Kayak was done to promote water sports in Bangladesh, as well as to create awareness of the MSRS project in this regard.


The Sunflower team consisted of Yves Marre, Darpan Chakma, photographer Suman Paul, Mitu and Rahim.

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