Italian journalist Stefano Rossini, tv radio technician and local police officer Matteo and Pieteo Munaretto do not accept that our sea is so full of plastic. For them, it’s a real “Mal di Plastica”.
They had already talked us about their project ” to raise awareness about disposable plastic pollution in the sea”. The project is called “Mal di Plastica”. ” We have decided to deal with such a serious issue with a lot of irony and a crazy challenge”.
” The goal was to build a 6×3-meter catamaran with recycled material, especially plastic bottles collected by the pupils of some elementary schools in the Rimini area, who will receive an aluminum water bottle in exchange “. The intention was to sail aboard the catamaran from Rimini to Venice, on a 95-mile route. And they did it, in summer 2019.
The following is their precious logbook
” What about building a DIY plastic bottle catamaran to raise awareness about disposable plastic pollution? What about using it to sail to Venice?”.
Well, this was how our Mal di Plastica project was born. It took 8 months of hard work, over 3,000 plastic bottles, an indefinite amount of material collected here and there and … a sea of friends.
We met over 1,000 primary school children. Thanks to them (and their bottles) our boat floated: three empty plastic bottles in exchange for a splendid aluminum bottle! We always managed to snatch a smile from everyone, few believed it. A DJ and radio host, a journalist-writer and a Local Police officer; it almost sounded like a joke.
But the dream of these 3 grown children became true and, on June 4th 2019, we set sail from Rimini to Venice on a boat made from 3,000 plastic bottles.
“Mal di Plastica” – Construction and technical specs:
Boat Type: catamaran
Dimensions: 6m x 3m
Propulsion: sail, pedal motor- 6HP engine – Solar oven
Structure: hulls composed of wooden cages (recovered from pallets) filled with (fishing) nets full of bottles.
Sail rig: Trident
Sails: waste material for awnings
Rudders: old building boards
Day 1 : Tuesday 4th June 2019
Tuesday 4th June: a crowd of cheering children, friends, relatives, onlookers and journalists accompanies the departure of Mal di Plastica, the catamaran built with recycled wood, recycled material and 3 thousand plastic bottles.
Some engine problems slowed the exit: we were forced to be towed out of the port, but then everything started working fine again … at least for a while!
A technical note: although our catamaran was sailing, and equipped with a pedal motor, in the dock, by law, we move with the engine, for safety reasons.
Out of the port, far from the entrance lighthouse, we opened the sails and there we had the first nice surprise. We expected a speed of 1 knot or little more, but we are propelled to over three knots (that is, three miles per hour). We are escorted by the Coast Guard, police jet skis, some boats of friends and the civil defense who brought in the Paralympic athlete Mirco Acquarelli. Arranged with his wheelchair under the tree, he sailed with us for a few hours.
At sunset, we got Milano Marittima. At 2:00 am, off the industrial port of Ravenna, the engine goes out continuously. In the light of a torch, Piero disassembles the outboard and cleans the carburetor. The engine restarts a little, a little effort, but in the end, at 7:00 am, we manage to dock in Porto Garibaldi, Comacchio.
Day 2: Wednesday 5th June
In Porto Garibaldi, we are joined by Italian actor Roberto Mercadini who, intrigued by our project, stays with us all the morning, taking some videos to tell the story and meaning of Mal di Plastica.
At the time to sail off, the engine abandons us definitively. Nothing, It does not start.
We inform our team of supporters made up of Yacht Club Rimini, Marina di Rimini and BlueSea, which sets off from Rimini and in a couple of hours brings us the engine of a member to continue sailing. Are we leaving? No. Because, in the meantime, the sea got rough and the wind got up. The conditions are not good for sailing. We look forward to the evening. The forecast gives a good weather window between 9pm and the next morning. So around 8 pm we finally leave Porto Garibaldi, towards Porto Barricata, at the mouth of the Po delle Tolle.
Waves are moe than one meter high, the wind is strong. This situation stresses a lot our boat and team. The wind and the sea continue strong all night, making navigation very difficult. We are forced to reduce the sail to maintain stability and attack the engine but it often stops due to the big waves and the boat’s fallout. With great difficulty and a lot of effort, we arrive in Porto Barricata at 3 am.
Day 3: Thursday 6th June
Sea conditions are still harsh, so we decide to change our plans and continue along the river. We have start the engine. Navigation on the Po is pleasant and allows us to rest after the fatigue of the night and little sleep. The great river is placid and we do not meet anyone. At Taglio di Po we dock and go down on foot with the cans to make gasoline. A car comes alongside: “You are those of Mal di Plastica. I saw you on the news. Come up and I’ll accompany you “. Who would have thought. We are famous! We take advantage of the passage, we chat with Giorgio – this is the name of our savior! – and then we resume.
We start to cross the waters that lead to the minor channels, the Adige and Brenta mouth, near Chioggia. Landscapes are gorgeous, the trees stretch over the water, flowers and leaves float spreading sweet scents, the air is clean and fresh. Unfortunately, however, near the piers and in areas close to the shore, where the current carries logs and debris, there is a lot of plastic.
We cross the industrial area of Chioggia. A financial police patrol boat joins us, they ask us some questions. Then they go away. It is one o’clock when we arrive at the Chioggia nautical club, which is hosting us.
Day 4: Friday 7th June
The day starts with the arrival of Andrea, a boy from Chioggia who is part of an association that collects plastic in the lagoon and in the sea. We climb on board his fast motorboat and we take a quick tour of the lagoon city, of the beautiful and wild island of Ca ‘Roman, and also a breakfast worthy of this name after days of frugality.
The Mayor contacts us and asks us to moor the boat in Piazza Vigo, the central square of the city overlooking the sea, to tell about our project and take some usual photos. The day thus passes between chatter, relationships and new friendships, including Mario, a lively 85-year-old who is stationed at the nautical club, tells of his life, his love for the environment and beautiful girls.
Day 5: Saturday 8th June
At dawn, we cast off for the first time. We head for Venice. Throughout the journey, along the island of Pellestrina and the Lido, many boats pass by, greet us and encourage us. Same thing from the ground. At the mouths of Malamocco we must stop to avoid passing too close to a large ship, the first of many that we will encounter during navigation.
The last stretch we are even escorted by the Local Police, Civil Protection and Port Authority.
“But are they escorting you or taking you away?”, a gentleman asks laughing from a boat that passes us quickly.
Our arrival in Venice is suggestive. Seeing the bell tower of San Marco coming out of the haze and becoming sharply shaped, together with the silhouette of the city is exciting. It is the first time I arrive in the city from the sea, unlike Piero and Matteo who are more experienced than me. And I must say that in this way the city takes on a whole different charm, another essence.
We are welcomed by the well-known Compagnia della Vela. Our friends from Rimini are there, too. Unfortunately, the berth is a little far and only few people realize what is happening.
Luckily, however, the journalists of TG3 Venezia arrive and document our arrival.
The epilogue of the trip was Sunday, with the last phase of navigation, towards Cavallino Treporti, hauling, disassembly and return to Rimini.
In the end we made it. More adventurous than expected, even complicated, but beautiful. We were accompanied by the enthusiasm of those who followed us from home and for some sections of navigation, we talked about us and the problem of plastic in the sea. We are satisfied. We go home tanned and happy.
Matteo Munaretto, Piero Munaretto, Stefano Rossini
For furher details: www.apstormentina.it
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