How I turn your boat into a home

The tricks and tricks of the Portesan family, who live aboard an Oceanis 430 without feeling the need to return to land.

By now they are stars. At the TAG Heuer VELAFestival “the Portesans” Fabio, Marina, Valerio and Leilani (but without the two cats Vicky and Pacho) were among the guests most questioned by visitors. Their appeal? Certainly they are all very beautiful and sunny, but they have done what so many just dream of: escape the city and live at sea.

The idea had been born right after the honeymoon, but as is often the case, it had stayed there.

“Then when you realize that your partner is fed up, you do what she says!” jokes, but not too much Fabio who continues a bit more seriously but never losing his smile: “When you realize that you, a computer scientist, work 13 hours a day, your wife, a store manager, works 13 hours a day and often on weekends too, the children go to school another 8 hours… You wonder: but when are we going to do it? So to keep it from remaining an idea, we said: we give ourselves two years (which expires in October when Valerio has to go to middle school) and we do it,” Fabio says. And indeed they have left.

And from them, who have now become experts, we had them tell us how to turn a boat into a real home in which to live 12 months of the year (and making as little port as possible). The Portesans start from an assumption: what is important for a family is not where you are but being together.That is why, they say, there has not been much customization work.

But a premise is necessary, as Marina explains, “Before you get your hands on the boat, experience it a little bit: a lot of work done before we realized that we could avoid it or do it differently. By using it you understand what you need, there is no need to be in a hurry to modify.” To go into more detail Fabio steps in and specifies, “Major changes no, however, it is essential to have a good water supply.”

The Portesan family chose a former charter boat, the Oceanis 430 Gentilina “We wanted to change her name and call her Valeila, which then remained the name of the project, then we saw her and she looked like Gentilina in name and in fact and so we didn’t rename her.”

A 13-meter boat with four cabins, 660-liter water tanks, 200-liter diesel fuel. They added an extra generator, two 100 W photovoltaic panels a 400 W wind generator, “and changed the autopilot out of necessity and now we have two: the watchword in the boat is redundancy, now we have everything double, because when something breaks then it all goes to chain.” In short, prevention helps to cure, in this case.

But the rule for finding the best compromise is one: don’t be afraid to experience the boat because it is only when you are outside that you will understand what there really is to do.But even more than the facilities and equipment to make a boat home is the atmosphere. Fabio explains, “Very important are the paintings. You have to bring your own paintings, your own things to attach or else you don’t feel it as your own thing. We also created the children’s room and put our own photographs on the bulkheads. “In short, you need personal belongings that remind you of a home, “but with the foresight to secure them, a little more than you would with a boat you only go out with on weekends so that if some sea comes they stay in place and in order,” says Marina.

For example, the books fit in the square, but we stopped them with a string so that they do not go around. Finally, do not pretend to take everything with you. In boating you have to strive for minimalism: only what you really need. The Portesans already state that they have been ashore as well, “but we still realized that we brought too much stuff with us. After three months at sea you realize that what you don’t use for 10 days you can get rid of because you actually don’t need it, you don’t need it.” Basically we need to remember that happiness is measured by a yardstick that we construct ourselves and not borrow from others.

Valerio, Mama Marina and Leilani struggling with lunch in the cockpit.

Everyone has their own size. “We’ve seen families of four live happily on eight-meter boats with awnings made of bamboo cane and sewn by hand, just as we’ve seen couples living on a 50′ hyper-accessorized megacatamaran,” Marina recalls. it is important then that children have their own spaces, not only physical, but also emotional and personal growth.

Valerio is a little 10-year-old man who gives you answers of such intensity that you cannot tell whether his is an innate gift or the result of the experience he is going through. His commitment as a homeschooler is the first thing he puts on the table when you ask him, “What do you do in the boat?”, “I study, I read, I fish…”. He has finished elementary school, and so the family is wondering whether he should face secondary school, middle school in a more “normal” setting, giving up the boat and choosing a location that is still close to the sea. Valerio reads, “First Roald Dahl when I was younger, now I read Jules Verne, I also read Harry Potter, but I didn’t like it very much: it’s a bit monotonous,” the young globetrotter explains, but mostly he fishes.

Valerio’s first outing as an “adult”

As can be seen in one of the photos in this report, his first “adult” outing on his own was actually to go fishing. “We woke up and found a note, that was Valerio’s greeting, he had gone fishing,” Fabio says. “I fish with anything,” the young “Sampei” continues, “depending on where I am, if it’s a sandy place I go for fish with a spear or a hook, and on the rocks I use limpets or mussels.

In the beginning I used worms however I was not catching much, then as I got more experience and especially the fishermen I met taught me that things are not bought. First because fishing items cost a lot, and second because they are also polluting, as they told Medplastic (wise and careful guy!).

Then I use the things I find directly in nature, and also the fish are more used to everything they already feed on in the sea. In fact, I asked myself, ‘but then, the fish, where are they supposed to find the worms and larvae?’ And in fact, since I changed baits I have been catching more. Here, I never caught huge ones, however, they were good!”



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