Gilles, oceanographic ship’s captain

Interview with Gilles, captain of the Pourquoi Pas ? 

“I am one of the old Ifremer – Genavir oceanography commanders. I have been commanding oceanographic vessels for 22 years and I have been in the company for 32 years.”

“I have a merchant marine background. At the beginning, I was on cargo ships to learn the trade, then very quickly I was able to branch out into this type of specialised ship. I found it much more fun and interesting than carrying pure cargo. Ironically, I started with the old boats like the Jean Charcot and now I’m ordering the Pourquoi Pas ?, Charcot’s boat.”

“On the mission itself, my main and important job is to check that the underwater devices are properly deployed. This is the tricky part. They are piloted by a team of specialists, but in the end the decision to put them in the water, or not to put them in the water, is the delicate moment, and that is more my responsibility. I’m also in charge of the overall manoeuvre, because it’s a slightly dangerous manoeuvre. If the equipment is damaged, it means tens of thousands of euros of damage, so it’s important to be attentive at this moment. I am responsible for this first of all. And then you have to make sure that the boat works well in general, that the life of the boat is good. This is not particularly difficult when everything is running smoothly. It’s well organised so it almost runs itself.”

“I can talk about the fact that we already know each other well with Javier, one of the mission leaders. We’ve already done two big missions together on the same themes, including one in the area. It’s always a pleasure to work again with people we know. We’ve already created links, it’s easier. I think it’s more efficient. We understand each other well.”

“Otherwise, it’s a rather classic mission for us because it’s a site, Rainbow, which has already been studied and on which it’s not the first time we’ve come to work. But it’s always interesting because each time it’s a new mission. This time we explore in a different way than the first time. It’s always interesting or new for us.”

“You have to be curious and not afraid. It takes time, you have to persevere. It’s always quite long to do interesting things like that, but it’s worth it. So you have to listen to your desires and your heart. Go for it. And above all, don’t give yourself too many limits. Because it often takes time but… in any case, I don’t regret it! It’s a real pleasure to do this work!”