Wave around the world 

A project conceived and produced by BNP Paribas

Le Nomade des Mers

A collaborative expedition for research into low-tech solutions

Project initiated in 2013 at Muzillac

Nomade des Mers (Nomad of the Seas) is both a catamaran and a catalyst for low-tech innovation (simple and ingenious systems that meet basic needs). To build the boat and invent the solutions to fit it out, the crew of the Gold of Bengal association is calling on a community of Makers from a range of backgrounds and from all around the world. Via an online collaborative research platform, these contributors are invited to invent low-tech solutions with a significant environmental and social impact, which will then be installed and tested on the boat.

An experimental laboratory for low-tech solutions, Nomade des Mers is a large catamaran that will embark on a round-the-world expedition in 2015.

An experimental laboratory for low-tech solutions, Nomade des Mers is a large catamaran that will embark on a round-the-world expedition in 2015.

The crew of Nomade des Mers: from left to right, Corentin de Chatelperron, Pierre-Alain Levêque, and Elaine Le Floch

The crew of Nomade des Mers: from left to right, Corentin de Chatelperron, Pierre-Alain Levêque, and Elaine Le Floch

To build the Nomade des Mers, the crew is calling on a global community of Makers via the collaborative research platform www.nomadedesmers.org

To build the Nomade des Mers, the crew is calling on a global community of Makers via the collaborative research platform www.nomadedesmers.org

Corentin and Gold of Bengal off the coast of a desert island, in Indonesia.

Corentin and Gold of Bengal off the coast of a desert island, in Indonesia.

« It’s satisfying to see that we can have an impact on the lives of other people, even when we’re young. C. de Chatelperron »

History of the project

Led by Corentin de Chatelperron, a young French engineer and adventurer, the Gold of Bengal team has been conducting research since 2010 into a new material based on jute fibre from Bangladesh, which is attractive from both an ecological and a social perspective. In early 2013, the association launched the first boat in the world to be entirely constructed out of natural fibres: Gold of Bengal.

Corentin is setting out to test the prototype at sea in a new adventure: 6 months solo sailing among the desert islands of the Gulf of Bengal and Indonesia. To enable him to be autonomous, the boat needs to be equipped with simple systems that he can repair himself: a manual water desalinator, a low-consumption wood stove, a hydroponic greenhouse, and even a pair of chickens will be included in the voyage...

This is the point at which the team started to focus on low-tech solutions: simple and ingenious systems that meet basic needs. These solutions have been neglected by traditional research entities because they are not very profitable. Information about these types of systems is mostly shared through YouTube videos posted by tinkerers and do-it-yourselfers!

To conduct this research and to innovate in the low-tech zone, there’s a need to pool the knowledge and expertise of specialists, and to give them a common objective: thus the “Nomade des Mers” project was born. The challenge is to make the boat autonomous in terms of water, energy, food and materials, but above all to develop a new research model that’s socially-minded, collaborative, and designed for the direct benefit of people and the planet.

50
low-tech technical challenges to fit out the boat
2015
the departure date for the boat’s round-the-world expedition
3
billions of users of wood stoves, with an R&D budget of almost zero
« Gold of Bengal has taken an innovative approach to finding the right specialists in France and Bangladesh.  »

Interview with Corentin de Chatelperron, founder

What are “low-tech” solutions?

These are very simple and ingenious systems that meet basic needs and are very accessible. They are inexpensive and they can be made anywhere in the world, out of local resources or recycled materials.For example, a solar oven, a wind turbine made from recycled materials, or a bicycle-driven motor that produces the electricity to recharge a telephone...

It seems to me that you’ll be setting your community even more challenges...

For several months, their help has enabled us to develop solutions for our basic needs on the expedition. In September, we’ll be taking it further: we’re launching 50 technical challenges that engineers, researchers, weekend handymen, students, and company employees can attempt to meet. They’ll post their competition entries as short videos presenting their inventions. The most promising solutions will be installed on the boat and their inventors will be invited to install and test them during the construction and the expedition!

What are your plans for 2015?

We’ll continue to fit out the boat, which is starting to look pretty damn good! We really think we’ll be ready to go in summer 2015. And we’ll be sharing our adventures with those who can’t be on board. Our dream is for Nomade des Mers to become a benchmark, the flagship of low-tech innovation worldwide.

Flora Clodic-Tanguy

« The boat is a tool to test low-tech solutions and help them to better meet their purposes.  »

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