Miceli returns to the track: this time he challenges the polar ice!


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downloadMatteo Miceli is getting back into the game. The Roman sailor last year had embarked on a zero-impact round-the-world voyage with his Class 40, but it had sunk off the coast of Brazil after traveling more than 20,000 miles (here is the account of the shipwreck): like any self-respecting good sailor, Matthew just doesn’t know how to stay ashore. And here he is embarking on a new adventure: this summer he will attempt the mythical “Northwest Passage” by sailboat: aboard Pachamama, a 15.15-meter aluminum boat that has been traveling the world since 2002 to draw attention to climate change by performing extraordinary feats, with two Swiss husband and wife, Dario-Andri Schwörer and Sabine Schwörer-Ammann, on the bridge. The special feature is that this couple always sails together with their five children, five blond devils who range in age from 11 years to five months. Along with Matteo Miceli, Corinna Massimi, a swimmer and sailor, will also be leaving to document this adventure. Depart in May for Hawaii, where Pachamama is docked, and then set course for Alaska in early June.

“We will leave Hawaii as soon as we get news that the ice is melting,” Matteo says. “From the Aleutians we will go to the Bering Strait passing, possibly, between the two Diomede Islands, one Russian and the other American, where there is the date change line. Then the Beaufort Sea, perpetually covered by ice through which we will have to find a passage to get to Baffin Bay in Greenland and then finally into the Atlantic.”

What will Miceli be up against? Telling us about it is Salvatore Magri, who completed the Northwest Passage accomplished it in 2012, on Best Explorer, a 15.17-meter steel Cutter, with the bow reinforced with 6mm. of stainless steel and 21 people who took turns on board, captained by Nanni Acquarone: “It’s a very complicated undertaking,” Magri comments, “in which a lot of patience and a lot of common sense are needed. There are many problems to deal with, and among them, paradoxically, there is no cold weather. We are in the climatically best season, with melting ice allowing, not always, passage, but the temperature outside is certainly not prohibitive. Water’s is, however, because it is always just above zero due to the large amount of ice it continuously receives from melting glaciers. Falling out of the boat is equivalent to dying. The survival time at those temperatures is about 5 minutes, and it is difficult to recover a man at sea in such a short time. We were always bonded when we were on deck. There have been no exceptions, and it is a recommendation I feel like making to Matthew.”

ab728afb-d0fc-4896-8436-97903bf58db1BUT WHAT MAPS!
For his part, Miceli is well aware of what he will face: “We have clearly seen how to deal with ice and icebergs and how navigation is different at those latitudes.”, says Matthew, “where maps are almost useless. In fact, many areas are not even mapped. Then again, the shifting of the ice is such and so fast that what you can find in front of you varies from hour to hour. After seeing the pictures I understand why certain absurd routes are drawn on the map. After two days you may find yourself passing through the same spot where you were stopped by a wall of ice. It will be navigation by sight. One worrying aspect, doing us with Pachamama the reverse route from Best Explorer, is that sailing in Greenland in mid-August, we will also have hours of darkness and this will increase the dangers.”



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