The scale of an inland sea
“Water is my home and the lake is my passion. Everyday , i marvel at its winds, storms and colours.”
Native of Yvoire, David Baillif joined the CGN in 1993. The journey of a “lake boy” who became a ship captain.
“Back when i was out fishing every day at the age of 5 or 6, i already felt less and less land-bound and more and more of a sailor ! The CGN boats then governed my everyday life : foghorns, paddle wheels…”
His passion didn’t change. “Water is my home and the lake is my passion. Everyday, i marvel at its winds, storms and colours”.
He started off as a deckhand and worked his way up captain after passing an exam issued by the Berne Federal Office of Transport. “We guarantee the safety of over 500 passengers : it’s a job with a lot of responsibility. Over the last few years it has developed with the introduction of crossings for border residents. Winter is no longer reserved for repairs in the shipyards, we sail all year round”.
He could have given in to the siren calls of deep-sea shipping but he has kept his feet on the ground:
“My family matters. I recently transported the Princess of Lieichtenstein. It was quit something to be able to tell my 10-year old daughter : i had been a princess’s captain when i came home that evening.”
Yves Ergagnian is harbour master in Sciez-sur-Léman. “My role is very versatile : i welcome the boaters, ensure that the harbour is well-maintained and clean, that everyone is safe and secure, and i provide information to visitors.” From the harbour master’s office, Yves is the eyes and ears of the harbour everyday, with a front row seat for Léman’s stories.”A harbour is a family, a team. The pleasure boats arrive in April. We try to give visitors the vacant places, it’s a sharing in good intelligence…
In the summer, the harbour is a local hotspot : pro and amateur fishermen, sailing and driving club, lifesaving federation and weekly parties drive the water-based agenda. As well as sailing courses for schools, rowing, stand-up, paddle, windsurfing and kitesurfing provide fun filled moments for all levels and ages. Each year, a dozen or so regattas bring the summer season to life culminating in the unmissable gathering of old sailing ships. Getting 70 boats together require quit a bit of logistics, but the team is well-prepared and form a true community, united by key values such as conviviality and solidarity.
With his tanned complexion from a life spent outdoors, Yves nevertheless calls for vigilance : “the lake isn’t a duck pond, it’s dangerous. You don’t realize until you’ve seen the joran !” This brief but fierce wind coming from the Jura Mountains hits the lake in just a few minutes, throwing up 1.20m-high swells. An area of freedom, Lake Geneva is a true internal sea where seasoned sailors such as Arno Machado come to train before a solo transatlantic race.
The art of lounging around
The largest freshwater lake in Western Europe, the Leman lake remains sheltered from urbanization. Its shores include many sensitive natural areas and a Natura 2000 area. So seize the day ! Breakfast with a view of the beach at the hotel followed with a chilled yoga and stand-up paddle morning, lunch on the go at L’O Café on Sechex harbour, sesta out at sea, “after-work” drinks on the promenade in Nernier facing the sunset…it’s a no brainer !