At 25, he goes to live on a boat, refit it and set off to explore the Mediterranean


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At the age of 25, he went to live on a boat, put it back together, and set out to explore the Mediterranean in the footsteps of Odysseus. This is the beautiful story of Marco Martinez who received the Garmin Beat Yesterday Awards 2021, handed out each year to particularly deserving sports projects for realizing a dream of theirs by overcoming a limitation of their own.

That’s what was the small feat of Marco, a Neapolitan-born Pisan, that allowed him to receive the Garmin Beat Yesterday Awards 2021 from the hands of Michele Cannoni of the Luna Rossa team.

All grandfather’s fault

Since he was a child, every summer he has gone to sea with his grandfather who has a small old gozzo in Procida. Little Marco Martinez gets hooked, wants to sail and reach Capri. But Grandfather forbids him to do so: “too far,” he says, knowing that the old goiter’s diesel engine would not hold up.

Marco, however, has caught the sea bug and as soon as he can, he gets his boating license. “I simply wanted to go from Procida to Capri,” he recounts. Coincidentally, he decided, while he was at it, to take the sailing certification as well. And here is the turning point, he takes a course at Caprera and catches the second virus, that of a passion for sailing.

I’m going to live on a boat

So when the 2020 lockdown arrives, he decides to turn his life around as a student finishing a doctorate in economic history. He finds an old Arpège (9 meters) from 1973 in Genoa. It is sound, but decommissioned. He takes it to the Lungarno in Pisa, the city where he resides, and refurbishes it. In fact, he does more. He goes to live there. “With the sander, I removed dozens of layers of antifouling, accumulated over fifty years. I got the boat I was living on 24 hours a day back on track. Slowly I realized what my goal was, to sail around the Mediterranean in the footsteps of past civilizations“.

Marco Martinez has turned into a little Ulysses. Complicated by his passion for history.

Discovering the Mediterranean

In 2021, he departed with his Arpege from its mooring along the mouth of the Arno River heading south, continuing eastward and reaching Turkey. An extraordinary journey, which led him to understand how geographical boundaries, as we imagine them, are limitations in creating a solid international community of sailors, sharing languages, passions and traditions.

From aboard Marco Martinez’s Arpege.

Now Marco has taken a liking to it, and his Mediterranean discovery adventure has a new goal: exploring the coasts of Mediterranean Africa. Meanwhile, he promised, he continues in the work of reviving the Arpège. This boat also has a glorious history and Marco wants to bring it back as it came out of the Dufour shipyard in 1973. He deserves it.

The legendary Arpège (file photo)


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