This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
The BDC Trieux in French Polynesia in 1971-1972
The job of the BDC Trieux and of the other two BDCs in Tahiti was to transported all kinds of goods to support the Centre d'expérimentation du Pacifique that was conducting nuclear test on the atoll of Moruroa.
There were two main destinations: the atoll of Hao that was the support base at 500 nautical miles from Tahiti, and the atoll of Moruroa at 280 nautical miles of Hao.
The Atoll of Hao
Hao is a fairly close atoll with a very narrow pass on the north side. Although the tides are not very big in the South Pacific (35 cm or less), the current in the pass may be quite strong because of the size of the lagoon. So, the Trieux needed to enter the lagoon only when the current was not too strong in either direction.
There was an airstrip on Hao so that military airplanes could transport people and urgent packages.
The Airstrip in Hao
When in Hao, the Trieux would be anchored from its bow and have its stern on a wharf so that goods could be loaded or unloaded easily.
The Trieux in Hao
The atoll of Moruroa was much more open, so there was no problem of current to enter the lagoon.
Like Hao, there was an airstrip and a wharf.
The Atoll of Moruroa
source: Google Maps
We would also transport some goods to various small atolls, either in support of military posts or to deliver big items to local inhabitants.
On these small atolls, there was no way to dock or to anchor. So, the Trieux would stay outside of the atoll, going at low speed to be still able to maneuver, and the goods would be delivered by cargo-sling by one or two helicopters.
Cargo Sling on the Trieux
For very heavy or voluminous items, we would use what was called "baleinières" (whaleboat) that were staffed by Tahitians (the "baleiniers") that knew how to go over the coral reef with the swell.
For really voluminous items, such as a truck or a concrete mixer, the baleiniers would attach two baleinières together to make a "baleinière double" and would go over the coral reef.
"Baleinière double" Loading Heavy Stuff
Continue to Part 40
If you like this story, please consider to follow me
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8
Part 9 - Part 10 - Part 11 - Part 12 - Part 13 - Part 14 - Part 15 - Part 16
Part 17 - Part 18 - Part 19 - Part 20 - Part 21 - Part 22 - Part 23 - Part 24
Part 25 - Part 26 - Part 27 - Part 28 - Part 29 - Part 30 - Part 31 - Part 32
Part 33 - Part 34 - Part 35 - Part 36 - Part 37 - Part 38