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In Châteaulin, five Ukrainians to the rescue of a mythical ship [En photos] – Brittany

The 2,400 km of road between Lviv and Châteaulin (29) did not affect their morale. Since mid-March, five Ukrainians have been trying at all costs to restore the Chaika Presviata Pokrova (“the Holy Virgin who protects”). This replica of a 15th century Cossack galley, built in 1992, after Ukrainian independence, is stranded near the Robert-Alba wharf. She has, for twenty years, sailed to meet the peoples of Europe. The operation – which took on a patriotic dimension in these times of war against Russia – was slowed down by a shortage of sawn wood. To the point that Myron Humenetskiy, team leader, even plans to “turn around in Ukraine to bring back wood”.

In search of wood for planks

“I found some on the side of Landéda (29), but it is absolutely not enough. I scoured all the sawmills in the area, attests Bernard Del Vallé Dinéiro, a resident who offers them shelter and a helping hand. I saw an ad for €1,700 per cubic meter on Leboncoin, it’s overpriced when it’s normally a few hundred euros”.

“And we thought we would find the chaika in better condition,” agrees Myron in French learned during his travels. The whole hull is to be redone, according to the only navigator of the band. The old planks have been dismantled: “We can’t find enough of what is needed: pieces of oak wood that are curved and long enough”.

An exit permit

This shoemaker by profession has been involved in many adventures, from storms in the middle of the Black Sea in 1992 to being stranded on the sand while sailing on the Vistula, a river that crosses Poland, in 2004, to the Maritime Festival of Douarnenez (29). The chaika, after ten years spent in Pont-Aven (29), ended in Châteaulin in 2021. “It sank in Port-Launay, not far away, says Bernard Del Vallé Dinéiro. To save her, we craned her here. A temporary solution for the time to retype it and browse”.

In the meantime, they are contacting shipyards and professionals… “A British sponsor would finance the wood for them”, indicates the Presvyata Pokrova association, in Pont-Aven. However, time is against them. Arrived on March 21, Myron, 54, has a temporary exit permit from the country. A condition applied by Ukraine, which normally prohibits men aged 18 to 60 from leaving their country since February 2022 and the Russian invasion.

A doctor, a war wounded…

Myron is the only one with an exemption. He gathered four men around him, many novices in navigation but passionate. Yuriy, 70, a former navy doctor, is the only one he has known in the past. Volodimyr runs a leisure equipment store in Lviv, while Dmitro is a ski instructor.

Next, Taras Sitko, 49, is the youngest. Beneath a playful smile, the former soldier spent nine months on the eastern Ukrainian front. He does not hesitate to show, proud and teasing, pictures of him, his hands on his Browning heavy machine gun. He was taken from the front, wounded in the explosion of a shell in Sumy, north of Kharkiv.

The worried captain from the front

The rest of the crew remained in Ukraine, a country decimated by a year of war. Two of them died, according to Myron, a balance sheet to which we add four wounded, including an amputee. Taras Beniakh, the illustrious captain, painter by trade, also joined a battalion, ten kilometers from the front. “He doesn’t understand what’s going on with us,” says Bernard, who is in regular contact with him.

In the house of Bernard, who welcomes them, the Ukrainian flag is never far away. The one brought back from the front by Taras Sitko is signed by all his arms fighters. “I’m waiting to see you at home”, “I want to see you fishing!” Everyone from here and there has one hope: that the chaika beats the waves again.


For information or to make a donation to the Presvyata Pokrova association; email, laurent-lesiourd@orange.fr

letelegramme Fr Trans

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