Get on board Pandora and become a real sailor!


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Once again this year, young (and old) visitors to the TAG Heuer VELAFestival will be able to board the charming 30-meter schooner “Pandora,” on which expert sailors will be waiting to teach them how to tie knots and splices, climb the mast, sail safely, and repair a sail. Indeed, aboard this charming wooden schooner, which will be moored inside the Santa Margherita Ligure marina for the duration of the TAG Heuer VELAFestival, it will be possible to participate inspecially created seafaring art workshops for the enjoyment of adults and children alike. Traditional nautical gestures and vocabulary will be reenacted on Pandora’s deck, and the charming schooner will be the scene of real events during which visitors will be part of the crew and take care of the ship as they did in the long sailings of yesteryear. Splicing and splicing with three-tie ropes, sail maintenance, furling, sewing of ferzi, sea and pirate stories for the little ones will be the main activities of the four-day sailing festival.


Wake up! Breakfast. Hurry! It’s sunny! Away with the awning, hoist the sails and leave the buoy that kept us safe all night! Let us dry the sails of this beautiful Lady! Yesterday evening passed quickly, after three, and I mean three kilos of baked pasta. Everyone bunk early to warm up and make the most of the hours of rest, not to mention that the anchor hit bottom around 12:30 the night before. We lift the gill to the sails, the mainsails and jibs, three to the throat halyard and three to the peak halyard, free the sheets and start hoisting…it’s heavy, if you’re not used to it, they’re tenacious, they’re eight years old, the instructors’ cheers make them laugh, they lose their strength…oh hoist! Oh issa! Turn and seize at wagon wheel! Well done, now it’s the turn of the jibs, foresail and jib, who’s going on the bowsprit to run the garrocci? Quick let’s try not to miss this breeze that makes us lower our bows to the open sea! Well, clear the buoy! All downwind! Here we go, way to go Pandora! Free of buoys and other boats we head for Lerici and begin to enjoy the thermal. Prepare the mainsail, one at the halyard, one at the sheet and one at the tack. You, at the halyard, get the sail up on shore while I go up too, after that you’ll have to hoist a little at a time to allow me to tie each garrote to the mast, you at the tack keep the sail down that it doesn’t bang! Release the bando sheet so I can secure it to the sail, now hoist! Stop! Heave! Stop! Well vault the halyard, dick well of walls and vault! Go sheet open and secure the sail! Well, turn! Good guys, catch and hang all the halyards and let’s go open the grenade.” No this is not the beginning of a piracy novel, this is life aboard Pandora, beauties! An excerpt from the ship’s logbook that well describes life aboard this thirty-meter schooner (outside all): everything is done by hand, there are no technological aids or buttons. Every maneuver forces one to rely only on human strength and brains, just as traditional seamanship teaches according to principles and behaviors that make a sailor a true sailor.
Lucone, Fanja and Luca live aboard Pandora, a reproduction of a cage schooner built in 1995, echoing the lines of the sailing vessels that plied the Baltic in the late 18th century and used for postal or customs services. Stepping aboard Pandora is like stepping back in time almost four hundred years, not only because of the lines of the vessel, but also because of the lifestyle on board, decidedly Breton: “Ours is an approach related to traditional seamanship and to teaching not only the technical and theoretical notions but also the values and behaviors that make a sailor a sailor. The boys who come aboard Pandora are measured by watch shifts, galleying corvee even with formed waves, the day that becomes night”-Fanja tells me-“Pandora is today one of the symbols of the city of La Spezia, a bit like what happens in the northern seas. An honor and a wish, to see the Port of La Spezia as a Mediterranean Brest: it is my dream in the drawer!” Between unseen knots, seafaring workshops and pirate stories, Pandora has created a network of volunteers around it who help the three managers with maintenance costs.


Pandora arrived in 1995 from Russia in Genoa, where she was abandoned by her captain, and in 1999 the wreck was purchased by a sea dog from Milan, Marco de Amici, Pandora’s historic captain: “he also lived aboard, summer and winter, Pandora wants to be treated that way, constantly. Luca Buffo helped with restoration as a teenager and learned the art of seamanship from Marco. In 2000 the schooner started Sail Training and has not stopped since. There was a natural succession from Marco to Luca, with no trauma to the boat, but maintaining the standard of maintenance of the boat from the time of restoration. In 2011 Marco decided to let Luca continue the activity independently and gave the boat on loan to the association, but it is a pure formality. For a boat like this, we are not talking about owners, we are talking about who the boat itself has as guests, conductors, maintainers. We could do charters and have significant economic income, but that is not what we want. We love to teach, to push young people towards the passion for the sea, the simple one, not the one of “pussy” sailing, we want to dismantle this stereotype of sailing as “the sport of the rich,” our size is not like that, we believe in the taste of beautiful sailing. We ended up doing what we do by chance: Lucone is an adopted Breton who trained in Les Glénans and brings the spirit of the North Seas aboard Pandora, Luca has been aboard since he was fifteen years old and that says a lot, and as for me, I have been sailing since 2006 nonstop and have found Pandora to be my true home!”



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