Lele Panzeri: “At 65, I made it. And I reveal what an Atlantic crossing is really like!”

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bee_panzeriUnbelievable: I did it! It is 2 a.m. local time here in Tobago Cays in the Grenadines and I am not sleepy, so I am writing, trying to put recent events in order. The project is, as usual, demented: to go around the world at 65/66/67/68/69 years old by sailboat (a 1987 Grand Soleil 46″) to the West and by car (a Land Rover 110 with a Beetle tent on the roof) to the East with the rhythm of the seasons favorable to one and the other thing, trying to put in as much time as possible.

Well, the ice is broken. The first stretch, the one that is also the most psychologically challenging, is done. The rest will be all downhill. So, I think back to a year ago: Cala Galera, boat on the reservoir, did hull, changed anodes, disassembled and reassembled rudder, added chain, sealed weak stanchions, checked rigging and mast, changed sheets and halyards, installed AIS, took explosive life jackets with MOB, pole with buoy and flag for possible falls, watertight barrels and water canisters tied to overhauled raft, checked electrical system, scouted and repaired pipe leak, changed desalinizer membranes and filters, rebuilt toolbox with new ones less prone to rust, converted berth to galley, bought every nautical devilry possible, and finally made “cutting” to the old, fickle, gruff Garibaldi, my fossil Volvo Penta.

Doctor, this engine the less we touch it the better. As soon as it stops starting regularly you change it“. Said, done. Leaving for the Canary Islands last August, upon arriving in the charming town of Motril, Andalucia, we realized that the mechanic’s words had something prescient about them. Garibaldi calls in sick and does not leave. Vacation ruined, plans changed, a million guesses about what is best to do, request for advice on Facebook in some fanatical sailing group resulting in, in half a day, at least a thousand completely different opinions.
I followed my instincts: I bought (arf…) a brand-new Yanmar 75-horsepower turbo. As soon as I saw it, I christened it Robocop. Do you have any idea of the mess that breaks out in a boat if you change its engine? I do not want to bore you, but please know that I have experienced moments of great discouragement. However, in the end everything fell into place and the day after Christmas (I could have said December 26) at Malpensa we board. With me my friend Ezio, Fabrizia, Andrea L. and my son Giovanni. At the last moment we are abandoned by a sixth component that I replace on the fly by fishing from my Facebook contacts among those (unknown) who had proposed…

FIND OUT HOW LELE PANZERI’S CRAZY ADVENTURE CONTINUES IN THE APRIL ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL OF SAILING, NOW ON NEWSSTANDS AND DIGITALLY

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