Emanuele Malloru, known as Emalloru, is the YouTuber who first boarded a sailboat this summer circumnavigating Sicily, later posting a video where he recounts his adventure. We had told you about him, and in the comments to the article and on Facebook there was a heated debate, between those who considered his adventure to be a dangerous madness and those who captured its deeper spirit.
For those who missed the first episode, Emalloru is a video maker and content creator who has been producing content and stories on his YouTube channel for a few years now, telling sports and human adventures with a modern and personal style. Over the summer, Emalloru was thunderstruck by the world of sailing and decided to buy a boat, Pampero, a 1981 Soxisix 9.50 manufactured by Rax Cantieri of Sambuca Val di Pesa, in the province of Florence.
Some people criticized him…
Summarizing some of the criticisms of Emalloru “There is no humility, no respect, and above all too much gratuitous protagonism” and those of the Sailing Newspaper “A sailor’s magazine for sailors would never have extolled this highly uneducational example,” the common sentiment leaned sharply. Most of the sailors who commented believe that Emalloru ‘s was a crazy, clueless, and downright wrong idea. Some reiterated that sailing is not for everyone, that it takes study, training, years of preparation, hours of sailing, experience and perseverance.
Emalloru: his story is good for sailing
But are we sure that this is really what sailing is all about? Isn’t it beautiful that a 30-year-old man has willingly and enterprisingly set out to enter a new world, sailing, from scratch? How can we hope to engage newbies by discouraging them at the first attempt, without understanding all the good that an example like Emalloru’s, which speaks the language of young people and uses the same communication channels, can do to sailing? We at the Journal of Sailing believe that Emalloru’s story, the visceral transport that drew him into sailing the passion he conveys deserve not only to be told, but also to be spread as widely as possible. So we had Emalloru tell us directly how his first sailing experience went.
Let’s start from the beginning, how did you get the idea to buy a boat?
Let’s say Pampero came almost out of the blue, then only in retrospect did I reconstruct well why I bought it. I actually re-discovered that there is a deep feeling underneath, which in fact has been with me since I was a child. I have lived in Milan for 6 years, but I am half Sardinian and half Sicilian, and I have lived the rest of my life between Sicily and Sardinia. I have always had a very strong relationship with the sea, and the idea of being able to go anywhere with a boat has always fascinated me. And then there is another thing. I love all the settings where nature is prevalent and you realize you are a very small part of the whole, they make me feel really alive. My two favorite sports are surfing and skydiving, where you are really a leaf gliding through the void. With sailing I sort of combined the two, the waves and the wind, being part of the sea and the wind, the air. Pampero I bought it in Gallipoli at the beginning of the summer, for about 10 thousand euros, then together with Francesco Sena I took it to Marina di Ragusa. I basically lived on the boat from July until I left for the tour, which was shortly after Ferragosto. Sanding, polishing, disassembling, and assembling…I spent a little on the work, but I had a blast! I changed all the halyards and sheets and refurbished the whole boat, even made my own homemade circuit for reefing.
Sailing has come overpoweringly into your life, the enthusiasm you have shown from the beginning is overwhelming.
Because of the work I do, content creator, but also because of the way I live, going with the flow of life, I have had and continue to have a lot of different experiences. When I start a new activity, I get gassed like crazy, because I know I am 0.0001% and have a potentially infinite learning curve. On the other hand, if you are already at 10-20%, two things can happen. Either you realize you can get to 100 percent, or you get a little demoralized because you understand that more than that you could not improve. And with sailing it’s like that, from the first moment I got on Pampero I knew I wanted to dive headfirst into this world with adrenaline pumping. When I am on a sailboat I feel that I am in my own, and I feel that I have before me an endless world to explore. I’m sure my journey is just beginning but I already have a thousand Pampero-related projects in mind, in fact one I’m already planning…
Tell us about it!
I’ve decided to do the Atlantic, even though I’m hearing from Giancarlo Pedote every day telling me to give up… I still have to figure out whether to do it with my boat solo, or with a crew, or as a crew member on another boat. What I do know is that I want to do it, and when I decide to do something, then somehow I do it. In the end we are all little ants moving on a ball of rock floating in space. We all try to fill our lives with excitement and situations, I now want to experience the feeling of making an ocean crossing, and I am ready to be overwhelmed by everything it can give me. So I’m going to do it!
If you had already received perplexing comments after the tour of Sicily, imagine the comments that may come to you after the Oceanic crossing…
I totally empathize with everyone who commented on the article. Unfortunately, the way the world works today, I imagine that many people commented even before seeing my video, or just without having seen it. Perhaps some people may think that what I did and the way I told it may cast a bad light on his sport, his world, which in this case is sailing. I can understand this reaction of “jealousy,” but what you don’t see in the video is all the preparation that went on before leaving.
Explain, how did Emalloru prepare and how did you prepare the boat?
For a whole month in Marina di Ragusa, every day I was totally dedicated to Pampero. In addition to working on the boat together with the pontoon boys, I went on several outings with an instructor and started studying for my boating license. I have taken the boat apart screw by screw, I know by heart any sea inlet, any pipe of the facilities. I went out so many times that after a while when I returned to the port of Marina di Ragusa, they would tease me from the VHF. What I want to make clear is that I did not get on the boat as a clueless person, and even when we were sailing I was always very careful. I probably did and learned in 30 days what a normal person can do in a year, because fortunately I had so much time to devote to it. The boat has no instrumentation such as a depth sounder or autopilot, but I equipped myself with Navionics and Aqua Map, always had the bathymetrics at hand, and was always above 10 meters. Each time we stopped, I briefed the guys on board to explain how to moor and unmoor. I went through everything almost paranoidly, involving the other guys on board with me as well. In addition, before I left, I planned all the stops I was planning to make, noted the VHF number of each port and the marinas’ cell phone, if any. Here, there is only one thing I regret and feel guilty about, but it made me learn so much.
Approaching Trapani I had Scirocco from astern, which was forecast not to exceed 15 knots. In Sciacca, which was an intermediate stop, a local person told me, “Look, the weather can tell you what it wants but we know our sea and we guarantee there will be waves and there will be more than 15 knots of wind.” Others in port reassured me that even if there were more than 15 of them, aft, they would not be a big problem. And there I realized that locals are always right: everyone knows their own sea. Not only that, when I got back to Marina di Ragusa and there were 15 knots of wind for me it was really nothing. I really understood that in addition to wind, you have to consider seabed, conformation of the coast and so many other factors. There I handled it patiently, trying to concentrate on the rudder so as not to catch any cross waves, and when I got to port I realized that I should stay in Sciacca. Even if staying there meant staying put for a week because the Mistral would come in. I didn’t want the schedule to be thrown off and we went anyway. It was challenging but it certainly wasn’t prohibitive conditions, certainly maybe with a little more solid boat it would have been better.
Besides this teaching, which is certainly fundamental, what has the sailing experience left you with?
Apart from that short stretch, the rest of the sailing was smooth and beautiful, it was a special 20-25 days. It often happened that the guys in the port where we arrived would follow us via social and then wait for us. One thing that really impressed me was the reception in the ports, it was really magical stuff. I had more fun in the harbors than in the roadstead. Of course, cooking your pasta dish at sunset at anchor is just as magical, but for me being a talker, the feeling of discovery and sharing that you experience in port is unparalleled. Exchanging a few words with other sailors, other boats, people from different nations even from very far away, and each one with his or her own experience and story…I live by stories and this really blew my mind! Another thing I’ve noticed is that while sailing, an extraordinary, very deep and beautiful bond is created with the people on board. People open up in a unique way, there is an alchemy that can only be created there, and this thing for me is incredible.
Here, these are the good things that sailing has left you with. Picking up on the end of your video though, from which it all originated, it shows that you also had to deal with a bad situation, can you tell us about it?
We were toward the end of our tour, heading back toward Marina di Ragusa, and set up roadstead between Marzamemi and Capopassero during the afternoon to enjoy our last moments together. Wind was forecast until 1-2 at night, so I planned to leave around 2 a.m. and arrive in Marina di Ragusa with the first light of dawn. Actually, toward evening the wind turned, and when all the other boats started to move, we moved as well. We set up about 120 meters from the coast, with 7 to 8 meters of bottom, and around 11:30 p.m. there was still some wind. I asked the guys to hang on for a couple more hours and then we’d be on our way again; the wind was dying down. At some point, however, I can hear the rudder start flapping, and I always block the tiller with the jib sheets in the roadstead, so I didn’t like that. I don’t know whether it was because I locked the tiller too rigidly, or because of stress from sailing, the fact is that a piece of the rudder pin broke off. If it had happened in the afternoon it would not have been a big problem, but at night it put me in a bit of a bind.
Emalloru, at that time how did you deal with the situation?
Once I found that the weld had failed and the part could not be repaired, what I did was to contact the Coast Guard. I asked if they could help us in any way, or if they had a number to call to get us out of the roadstead. But then, time to call the Coast Guard and the anchor chain breaks. I had checked it ring by ring before I left, it was not brand new but it was not rotten. The fact is that it broke down. At that moment, I immediately threw out the anchor of respect, gave the vests to the guys, and pulled out the smoke bombs because we were getting quite dangerously close to the cliff. I contacted the Coast Guard again and they passed us a fishing boat on the VHF. I told him we were under Tafuri Castle, which for those who know the area is an iconic place, but I couldn’t make him understand where we were. We showed up any way we could, I asked them if they wanted the coordinates, and meanwhile they were talking to me in Sicilian dialect. At one point I had to explain to the boys on board that if the boat leaned and tilted dangerously, we would have to jump into the water. I saw them bleaching, but actually I was calm because we were practically 5 meters from the reef, with two strokes we would have been ashore. We had been in that situation for about an hour or so but then fortunately the fishing boat came and took us away, some anxiety but in the end all was well.
What about Emalloru’s boat? How did she come out of it?
A little bit the boat was banging, a few bumps it took…now it’s in the harbor in Marina di Ragusa and every other day I have a friend checking my bilges. The boat had already been debugged three years ago, it has new studs, but I still want to have it pulled up from the boatyard and checked. I will certainly buy new anchor chain–and 50 meters instead of 30 meters like the one I had. Then I will also get a chain for the respect anchor, which had only one line. Then in addition to chains, let’s say that before doing the Atlantic some work on Pampero will have to be done!
You’ve had the boat for a few months, you’ve already circumnavigated Sicily, and now you’re only thinking about the Atlantic. What is it about the sail that got so deep into you?
I don’t feel that I did anything that exceptional, in the end I did a three-week sailing under the coast, going from port to port and being very careful about every aspect. During those days on board, however, I experienced feelings that I felt only there, that is, only because I was experiencing that adventure on a boat in the middle of the sea. What I feel I have realized, and I hope a lot of other people understand, is that sailing in addition to being an incredible world, it is really an accessible world. It is not a closed reality reserved only for those who are born into it, if you have the curiosity and willingness to learn and get involved you can meet incredible people and experience unique emotions even if you start from scratch, and arrive a year later to make the Atlantic. As I will.