Riquet Goiran: Last dive

Henri Goiran, called Riquet, veteran of Calypso, has rejoined the silent world after one last return to New Caledonia, which he loved so much. His ashes were spread today in one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world to be forever reunited with the waves and sea spray.

Along with Equipe Cousteau, the Cousteau Society and our veteran crew, I offer here resounding homage and testimony of my deep affection to the man whose intelligence, wisdom and enormous gift of laughter filled the time he so fondly shared with us.

Diane, Pierre Yves and I first met Riquet in 1991 when Captain Cousteau decided to take the controls of Alcyone and steer her from the Fiji Islands to Noumea. The Captain had taken on board his crew and our children, who were on their first expedition with their father. I waited for them in Noumea with Loulette, Riquet’s gentle wife. A strange, solid white mast on the horizon and there they were! We left for the port where a triumphal arrival awaited them. All of Noumea was there: the French navy, officials, vacationers, the press...

Riquet was in his glory: the joy of having made this crossing spilled from his eyes. With the great reserve of a sailor, he spoke not a word. That would come later when we left for the Isle of Pines, during a memorable crossing that would take us to a bay where perfect weather let us anchor Alcyone in an uncharted spot where no ship in history had sailed, so much was this coast usually battered by currents and winds. Many more reunions would follow.

Riquet was an open book of the history of his life with Cousteau. Every detail was engraved in his memory and recounted with unbelievable facility and a great sense of humor. His life with Cousteau was his life: a consuming passion for this unique adventure that he wanted, with his great generosity, to share with everyone, the stuff of dreams. When he spoke, he swept us off on Calypso. Everything would fall away as we followed him to the ends of the waves, far away...

In 1952 Henri Goiran stowed his seaman’s bag on board Calypso and embarked on the archeological work at Grand Congloué. In 1954, he took part in the first shoots for The Silent World. As Captain Cousteau’s faithful companion and diver, he followed on with the great moments of the history of discovery on the continental shelf: Grand Congloué, the gold of galleons, Silver Bank, and other mythic places where adventure awaited them in the midst of sharks, dolphins, shipwrecks and secrets of the sea. He would write down his memories in the book titled Compagnons de la Calypso.

In 1960, on the recommendation of Captain Cousteau, he took part in an important mission to study coral reefs in New Caledonia for the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. He fell in love with the South Pacific, settled permanently with his family and became an incontrovertible personage in Noumea. Since 1986, he had participated actively in archeological research on the Lapérouse shipwrecks at Vanikoro in the Solomon Islands and also became a founding member of the New Caledonia Museum of Maritime History.

Henry Goiran left us so quickly that it seems the irresistible call of a new voyage drew him to the hereafter but the memory of him will remain forever in our hearts. With my children and all the Cousteau crew, I offer to Loulette and her family our most sincere condolences and our deep affection.

Francine Cousteau