"I am particularly fond of this project, which combines the three facets of the Veolia Environnement Foundation: outreach, workforce development and environmental conservation. Not only does the project draw on student trainees and youths in difficulty, for an environment-friendly renovation, but in the operating phase, the social dimension is reaffirmed by the GIP, because the ship will welcome disadvantaged publics."
Association des Amis du Marité was created in 2002 and, at that time, was called "Association Pour le Retour du Marité en Normandie". The last French Newfoundlander (name given to ships equipped to fish for cod on the Newfoundland Grand Banks) was up for sale in Sweden. On the impetus of Gérard d'Aboville, the nonprofit worked vigorously for its return to France, mobilizing several hundred volunteers and donors in order to finance the purchase of the big five-century-old three-master, alongside the local Norman communities, which formed a Public Interest Group (GIP - Groupement d'Intérêt Public) where the nonprofit has its headquarters.
An outreach and ecological refitting
Association des Amis du Marité, which has been dormant for some time, has been asked by GIP Marité to add an ecological dimension to its refitting project.
Between 2008 and 2010, the hull of the sailing ship was completely overhauled by the Bernard shipyards in Saint Vaast la Hougue (Manche district) using certified woods. The rigging, wheelhouse, propulsion, fluids management, water supply circuit and wastewater treatment are part of the second phase of the operations (2010/2011). The GIP assigns an educational and social dimension to the project: students from a vocational school, people in difficulty, long-term jobless, minimum-wage earners and young people on back-to-work contracts are enlisted in the work. An agreement signed with the Justice Ministry secured the services of some 50 young people engaged in penal civic service for minor offenses. Besides, Voiles Écarlates, which organizes sea initiation and reintegration courses for young people in difficulty as part of penal civic service, joined hands with the Cherbourg vocational training center for the long-term unemployed, to work on the project for six months in 2008. Finally, in its plans to operate the ship, the GIP includes the organization of sailings on behalf of specific publics (school children, seniors, persons suffering from a handicap or social difficulties, etc.).
The renovation involves reconditioning operations which preserve the appearance of the sailing ship as it was in 1923, while providing it with the latest and, above all, ecological equipment. Association des Amis du Marité therefore approached the Veolia Foundation for the installation of the ship's wastewater treatment system. These facilities will help Marité to deserve its status as an exceptional ship attributed by the Grenelle de la Mer environmental conference.