The association “Les Amis du Musée Maritime” of La Rochelle launched an appeal. “Save the Joshua!”. The mythical boat with which the famous navigator Bernard Moitessier retired to Polynesia “to save his soul” while leading the 1968 solo round-the-world race (Golden Globe), has been on dry land since 2019 and is in urgent need of refitting.
Incidentally, the famous 40-foot steel ketch is expected to be the guest of honour at the second Golden Globe Race, which will start from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday 4th September 2022.
Why is the Joshua (Moitessier named her after Joshua Slocum, the first sailor to sail around the world between 1895 and 1898 on his Spray) a mythical boat and one that should be preserved? Not only because of its navigator. But because, for its time, it was an ingenious design. The mast of the 40-foot steel ketch was a telegraph pole. That alone would be enough to make her unique.
More specifically, Joshua (14.12 m overall, hull length 12.07 m, weight 13 t, ballast 3 t) was designed by Bernard himself and Jean Knocker, who put the French sailor’s ideas and sketches into practice.
After 14 months of preparation, in 1962, Jean Fricaud’s Meta yard built the steel hull in just three months. Moitessier only paid the out-of-pocket cost of the sheet metal. But the operation turned out to be a profitable one; no fewer than 70 twins were produced. And now on board Joshua. The first thing that strikes you is the “Norwegian” stern.
He conceived it so because: “it divides, directs and cushions the violent thrust caused by a breakaway crest in a breakaway speed”. Noteworthy are the very low freeboards, just 75 cm amidships! Like a tugboat, the hull is all underwater, with a star-shaped hull with a long keel that ends with the outer rudder blade.
The bow is powerful, with a tubular bowsprit a couple of metres long, supported by chains (yes, those of the anchor!).
That’s also how the dragnets are made, painted black because, as Moitessier used to say, “you can see them better at night”.
The sails: main, mizzen, yankee and foresail. They are very heavy with 10-ounce fabric. Bernard, before the World Tour, where he installed four winches, used to rig them by hand with hoists. Everything is simple, repairable and serviceable. For example, the wheel steering circuit with the brakes running freely on the deck. There’s an incredible feeling of course stability when sailing. And safety. If you let go of the wheel Joshua goes straight ahead….
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