THE LETTER: “Tragicomic chronicle of a quiet afternoon at roadstead.”

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Photo from visitelba.info
Photo from visitelba.info

Among the many letters and emails we received again this summer, we were struck by our reader Marco Rende’s amusing (but somewhat bitter laugh) chronicle after a day spent at roadstead on the island of Giglio. We bring it to you in full and invite you, once again, to comment to tell us about your experiences. Do you agree with what Marco writes to us?

Dear GdV,
as a sea and sailing enthusiast, I have often thought of writing to you during my sailings. I finally do it now, after the first earthy vacation in years: no boat, but a small house in the Maremma countryside. One day, with my wife, we decided to go to Giglio Island and rent a gozzetto boat to go and enjoy the beautiful waters of the coves south of Campese.

We still gave shelter from the libeccio that blew lightly in the 10-knot range, without which we would have been cooked like spit-roasted chickens, despite the many baths (by the way, the sea at Giglio is always incredible!). After about an hour, we are approached by a dinghy about six and a half meters, with a nice outboard and all equipped for fishing. At the helm is a fully dressed lady, complete with America’s Cup-style technical Bermuda shorts and the latest sailing shoe; at the bow is a young man in figurehead guise, apparently undecided about what to do or simply inexperienced.

The dinghy veers and sets properly with the bow in the direction of the wind, while the skipper issues dry and precise directives, including a peremptory, “Get the anchor sheet!” I hear a “pluff” and, after a few minutes during which the two remain at the bow of the dinghy to check the anchor hold, I see them safely drifting across the stern of my goiter. We set off again for the maneuver and, I confess, this time I could not resist the retirement-style temptation to observe the scene, partly because they were getting closer and closer to us. No dice, it seems the anchor just doesn’t want to know how to do its duty.

The couple does not give up and as they prepare for their third attempt, a voice rises from another nearby barque, with Roman couple intent on drinking aperitifs in the cockpit: “
Ahò, maybe it works mejo if you open the anchor!
“. Moment of embarrassment for the dinghy crew, who decide to change cove…

In the early afternoon the bay emptied of sailboats, which seemed to be pointing toward Elba (stronger winds are expected in the night), and were replaced by a small motor fleet. And here, Fantozzi and Filini must have taken over the helm. Or maybe it’s me who missed some sailing lessons…. Out of five boats that arrived, four performed the same maneuver.

  1. Arriving in the roadstead at high speed and sudden braking.
  2. Stern strictly facing into the wind and forward gear engaged.
  3. Lowering the anchor chain without the slightest attention to the concept of swinging.

Result: all four boats damaged the fiberglass of the starboard bow with the anchor chain and had to redo the maneuver at least a second time, because the risk of running into the other boats already at anchor was very real…

Dear GdV, I have tried to write this letter of mine in a semi-serious and somewhat joking tone, but I believe that the issue of safety at sea is increasingly relevant. Electronics and equipment are not enough if one does not even know the basics of going to sea and maybe, as I have seen with my own eyes, one has 500 horsepower at one’s disposal in the stern… Is there no way to force these people to take a new (serious perhaps) driver’s license test?

Good wind

Marco Rende

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