The family has been on a mission since 2009 to spread awareness on climate issues, including protecting the oceans. The Ministry of Tourism officials welcomed Poupon, his actress and producer wife Géraldine Danon and their children in Salalah.
The family started their cruise this year in February from Istanbul and have been to Beirut in Lebanon, to Port Said in Egypt, following the Suez Canal they travelled to Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti from where they arrived in Salalah.
Talking about the risks involved in sailing near the Gulf of Aden, Poupon stated in his blog, “The Gulf of Aden is the only way to reach the Indian Ocean. We have taken all possible precautions for our safety and prepared the boat at best to respond to a potential intrusion. It’s true that we were strongly advised not to engage in this adventure but after studying the matter we decided to risk it in good conscience and without insurance because nobody wanted to ensure our sailing in these waters.”
Poupon was one of the big-time French solo sailors in the 1980s and 1990s and participated in events including the Vendee Globe, OSTAR, and Route du Rhum. The family has been roaming the oceans for over eight years now on Fleur Australe, the 20m polar expedition sailboat designed by Poupon himself. From the Arctic to the Antarctic via Alaska and Polynesia, Philippe Poupon has been sailing for five to six months each year for a better understanding of the planet.
The trip also involves scientific fact finding as the boat is equipped with sensors that allow temperature and salinity readings. A submerged camera can identify the areas of floating waste. The yacht is also equipped with a mobile station capable of sending scientific data on clouds, waves and temperature back to France. Part of the mission is also to raise awareness about the protection of our oceans and the family crew makes it a point to meet children at their stopover points. The meetings usually involve screening of films followed by lively discussions. On board the boat, everything is provided for safety, with two life rafts, survival suits for everyone, and distress beacons.
“We have almost everything in duplicate on the boat, two annexes, two engines, two pilots and two radars and an emergency rudder. Everything is designed for security of the people on board,” said Poupon.