In the ocean with an Italian fisherman for 800 miles? It can be done, as evidenced by the adventure of two Italian fishermen, Luca Da Pozzo and Dino Lendano, who in 2011 went as far as Boa Vista in the Cape Verde archipelago from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
Powering them were two 280-hp FPT engines, mounted on Elias II, a DC10 Fisherman freshly baked by Dellapasqua Shipyards, which has an overall length of 11.30 meters. Set sail on Oct. 23 after refueling in Puerto Rico, a few miles from Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria, the two landed in Boa Vista: it took four days of sailing and 800 miles of the Atlantic. Both Dino, 61, a beekeeper and business consultant, and Luca, a 39-year-old professional skipper who has specialized in deep-sea fishing for 12 years in the African archipelago, grew up in the mountains of Friuli, but their love of the sea and fishing led them far from home.
Sea history: with a Dellapasqua in the Atlantic.
The venture stems from motivations beyond pure romance and the desire to confront the force of nature, but it is no less valuable for that.
“We wanted to move the DC10 to Cape Verde by entering by sea in order to avoid several months of sitting in the free zone, waiting for office resolutions,” explains Luca, “so the purpose of our adventure was bureaucratic rather than sporting. In addition, what better occasion to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the DC10, one of the longest-lived models produced by the Ravenna shipyard.
“We have a half-full bottle of whiskey on board. Dino and I drained the first half on arrival in Cape Verde, for the other half we are waiting for a visit from Giancarlo Dellapasqua (the owner of the shipyard, ed.). The bottle has become the symbol of our enterprise: we brought it on board at departure because in case we ran out of diesel in the middle of the sea, we could console ourselves with alcohol.”
Luca and Dino cast off their moorings, at two o’clock in the afternoon of October 23, with 2630 liters of diesel fuel, distributed among tanks, jerrycans and cans in the cockpit. “It cost less than 1 euro per liter, but that’s certainly not why we hoarded it!” jokes Da Pozzo. If you want to sail more than 800 miles in the ocean, where the unexpected is always lurking, be it rough seas, wind, or close encounters with sperm whales and other sea giants, it is good to be fully equipped.
The weather window, however, was inviting departure.
“The forecast gave stern winds for the first three days, then variable, but weak: conditions were favorable.”
The boat, brand new, delivered on site directly from Ravenna on Oct. 21 and prepared in two days with Gps, radio, echo sounder and adequate galley (lots of fruit, ingredients for rich salads, bread and canned goods: the swell in the Atlantic does not allow you to be the Gualtiero Marchesi of the seas) is ready to hit the road.
Just after leaving Gran Canaria, the DC10, weighed down by the large amount of diesel fuel embarked, struggles a bit, despite the calm sea: “By immediately draining all the water from the tank, on the strength of our onboard watermaker, and moving 200 liters of fuel into jerry cans in the forepeak, we improved trim while saving quite a bit of diesel fuel.”
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Keeping the engine at 1000 rpm, the hull advances at a speed of 6 1/2 knots, with an estimated consumption of 2200 liters. But won’t there have been a little too much dancing?
“We didn’t get seasick,” Luca explains, “we had waves from behind. At most we felt some discomfort from the smell of exhaust fumes: when you have the wind at your back, they tend to stop at the bridge.”
Navigation proceeds smoothly. On the second day a 200-pound marlin broke the lines that the two, inside fishermen, proceeded to throw into the water. Consumption is around 2 liters per mile, and on October 25, around noon, Dino and Luca pass the so-called point of no return, that is, the ship point from which turning back is no longer convenient.
“We set it shortly after departure because it has to be estimated taking into account the sea conditions, wind and currents encountered in the field. On a psychological level, it is an important goal because from that point on the unknown is more convenient than the known. The highlight of our adventure began right there. Thoughts change; a shipboard accident of a physical nature can be the source of serious problems, for example. So it’s good to update the first aid kit, replacing sunscreen with painkillers, diet pills with needle and suture thread, and so on. From there on you change your regimen.”
Indeed, the best is yet to come: a few hours pass and two minke whales and a whale shark appear flanking the hull.
“It was impressive to have it three meters away: it was at least 11 meters long, like DC10!” The urge to hit the ground begins to set in, along with fatigue. Dino writes in the logbook, “I think I heard a quail singing in the bow. I hope it is only a squeak and not a hallucination!”.
The next day, Oct. 26, the sea worsened, with waves reaching 3-4 meters in height com tells Luca. “Elias II’s hull has a pronounced ‘V’ hull that allows it to travel at cruising speed even in rough seas. Since there was more diesel fuel in the tanks than expected we had the luxury of switching to 2000 rpm, accelerating to 18 knots.”
But during the night, after enjoying a sunset in pure African style, it’s back to good old-fashioned displacement, because in total darkness there is always the danger of bumping into some wreckage or, worse, some animated and “pissed off” object.
At 9 a.m. here appears Senghor, a kind of volcanic “panettone” rising steeply from the ocean floor to a height of 80 meters.
“Besides being a magnificent place,” Da Pozzo explains, “Senghor is the scene of legendary fishing tales. We decide to stop, it’s a unique opportunity. We empty the last canister and all but the forward canisters of diesel into the tank. Consumption was lower than expected by about 15 percent, so we could afford a stop. All we would have needed to make up on the schedule would have been to proceed at full speed over the remaining 100 miles that separated us from Boa Vista.”
In Senghor the haul is modest, “only” a 15-pound wahoo, no marlin. But disturbing Dino and Luca, causing them to pull their rods into the boat prematurely, is the presence of a drifting fishing boat.
“It had no fishing gear either in the water or on board, it was not flying any flags, and on it were 4-5 people peering menacingly at us. We were reminded of an incident that happened just a month earlier in the north of Santiago Island (Cape Verde’s largest island, ed.). An old fisherman had found two crates brought from the sea containing bags of white powder. Convinced it was paint, he painted his small boat. A policeman in the village became suspicious and wanted to check; it was indeed cocaine. The seizure presented some problems because the fisherman did not want to hand over his powder: he had promised to paint a friend’s boat as well. In the night the police station was raided by armed men, and the crates changed hands. It was better to remove the curtains.”
Elias II proceeds shot toward Boa Vista: several flying fish splash out of the water every time the bow hits the wave.
“Luca told me that he narrowly avoided a fish headed for his face-now Dino is speaking. With all the risks I have assessed on this trip, I never imagined that a flying fish could take down a helmsman with a head-on collision at 60 kilometers per hour 4 meters from the surface!”
1:30 p.m. Feb. 27. The two Friulians make their entry into the port of Boa Vista, 10 hours ahead of schedule. There are still 600 liters of fuel floating in the tanks; they have consumed just over 2,000 liters by skillfully dosing the gas. A good sea story, the kind you can tell your grandchildren: the Ocean? It’s not just sailor stuff.
Considering the barrel of oil, which is 42 gallons, or 159 liters, the two 280-hp FPTs “drank” almost 13 barrels of diesel fuel, out of the 16 embarked both in the tanks and in the various jerrycans.
Article from the historical archives of Motor Boats
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