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Sep 22, 2005

New Harbor Master’s Office Nears Completion

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The construction of the new harbor master’s office is almost complete. It is in the same location as the former port office on the Quai General de Gaulle, across the street from the tourist office. The new building is much larger than its predecessor and includes a 2,000 sq. ft rectangular room upstairs, complete with a balcony and terrace, to be used for special events and gatherings. The entrance to the building is via a central door that is part of a glass facade that reflects the colors of the sea.

The port staff, which had been crowded into cramped offices for many years, should be able to move into their new space as of mid-November. According to the plans, the ground floor is reserved as a reception area for clients of the port, plus a storage area for equipment. The upstairs houses offices, including a ‘lookout’ that allows the staff to have a clear view of the entire harbor from inside the building.

The building was designed by the architectural firms of Pierre Monsaingeon and Philippe Stouvenot, who collaborated on the plans. To cap off the ‘lookout’ they envisioned a domed cupola, as a contemporary element that evoked the world of shipbuilding within a traditional structure with its wood shingled roof. To realize this unique architectural element (it is the only one of its kind in the world), Pierre Monsaingeon called upon naval architecture specialist Olivier Petit, who builds racing sailboats including the single-hull boat with which Titouan Lamazou won the first edition of the Vendee Globe Challenge. As for the construction of the cupola, that was entrusted to the Larros shipyard in Gujan-Mestras, a small town on Arcachon Bay, approximately 60 kilometers from Bordeaux. This shipyard. which specializes in the construction of racing boats, recently completed a 60’ hydroplane/catamaran with twin rigs for sailor Yves Parlier.

The designers of the dome have nicknamed it the “Frisbee,” as it more or less has the same characteristics as the popular toy: a light, yet solid round shape. With a diameter of 22 feet and a weight of just about one ton, the ‘Frisbee’ was built like the hull of a boat with composite materials in layers alternating with fiberglass and balsa wood. After five months of construction, the cupola crossed the Atlantic in a sea container, arriving without any damage in Saint Barth on Saturday, September 10. The following Monday morning work began for the assemblage of its two equal halves. The ‘Frisbee’ was assembled on the dock then lifted into place by the crane from Batibarth, and placed delicately atop the eight wooden pillars that support it. The lookout is now protected from wind and rain, creating a covered room that can be accessed via a staircase from the harbor master’s offices. In the event of a hurricane, the architects have supplied a cable system to hold the dome in place.

The finishing touches? On the inside, painting, tile, and the balconies and terraces of the upstairs meeting space. Outside, the principal dock will be paved with granite paving stones in October, and hook-ups for water and electricity will now include telephone, cable TV and high-speed Internet access. The director of the municipal technical services office has indicated that in the near future, the port will also be equipped for the collection of gray water.

The latest news is the official announcement concerning the next Transat ag2r, the bi-annual transatlantic race aboard Figaro Beneteau sailboats. Lorient, France, which has been the starting point of the race since it was launched in 1989 has been replaced Concarneau, a magnificent city in Brittany. The race is set to depart on April 9, 2006 with an arrival in Saint Barth at the end of the month.
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Cécile Lucot


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