Jean-Baptiste CHARCOT : A new ‘Pourquoi Pas ?’

Jean-Baptiste CHARCOT ( to the right)

No, captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot’s ship, the ‘Pourquoi pas’ (the ‘Why not?’), has not left us. Still today, the echo of the terrible event of the shipwreck reaches us from Iceland.

All was not over then when everything was swept away by too big a green wave. Even the legend takes hold, to the point where a child has grown up with Jean-Baptiste Charcot and his ‘Pourquoi Pas ?’.


Quentin has come from Alsace to the Saint-Malo naval high-school where he has dreamt of seeing this beautiful 3-masted craft, all sails hoisted, fade behind Cézembre, sailing to that horizon which all explorers watch getting further and further away as they travel. Quentin and his ‘mates’ have enthusiastic people with them, to accompany his youth with their experience…

Nowadays, virtual imagery allows us to reconstruct the ‘Pourquoi Pas ?’,  but that was not enough to satisfy the ‘dream’ of Quentin and his gang. A lot more had to be done.

So Quentin decided not to make a hologram but a real ship, one that you could touch, aboard which you could sail, aboard which you could study, aboard which young students could take their science classes with today’s teaching and technical means. Some would climb up the main mast to learn the manoeuvres that all sailors must know, getting lashed by sea-spray and high winds that no ‘simulator’ can have them experience. Others would learn the scientific approach to observation…

So a new ‘Pourquoi Pas ?’ will break open the ice floes via new passages in the Arctic, she may even go down towards Australia and fly captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot’s pennant and our country’s flag, as the Hermione is doing at this moment.

The ‘Pourquoi Pas ?’ was launched in Saint-Malo from the François Gautier shipyard on the 18th of May 1908. We have all the original plans of the ship. A shipyard is looking at the cost right now. At Dinard Yacht Club, the memory of this was kept for a long time.

Very happily the sea has no frontier and today’s means of communications enable us to pass on the information that an association to construct a new ‘Pourquoi Pas ?’ has just been officially declared. Already friends from Iceland, Sweden, Canada and all over France are interested.

Its an ambitious project. We are aware of the difficulties. The respect we owe to captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot must mean that each of us should ensure that no obstacles are put in the way of the construction.

 The seed is sown. The 3rd September, the official installation of the Association for the construction of a ‘New Pourquoi Pas ?’ ( has been a real success. Already more than 50 people have shown their interest and support and of whom around 30 were present at the legendary L’Univers in Saint-Malo, with whom we have an agreement.

See  this excellent movie, realised by par Marc Jampolsky on Jean-Baptiste Charcot adventure: « Une aventure polaire – Jean-Baptiste Charcot »

See also :  Une aventure polaire : Jean-Baptiste Charcot, réalisé par Marc Jampolsky – Coproduction Arte France, MC4 (90mn)

We thank Anne Manipoud  for various Charcot  commemoratitombe-du-cdt-charcotons recalled below :…/klippa/80-ar-sidan-pourquoi-pas-forst

See also Stéphane Dugast communications  :


facebook Stéphane Dugast reporter page

Cols Bleus website   » journal de la Marine « 

and of course facebook page Société des Explorateurs and  facebook page of the  député Lionel Tardy



Our friend Alain-Marie Gautier has also given a lot of  historical documents and his DVD describing the « Pourquoi pas ?  » construction by his ancestor François Gautier.