The adventure of Antonio Aiello on board the Aretusa Explorer, Sergio Davì’s Price 38
It seems almost obvious but, for those who still don’t know, Sergio Davì is traveling with a Nuova Jolly RIB, more precisely a Prince 38, from Palermo to Los Angeles. A ten thousand nautical mile journey, aboard Aretusa Explorer, this is the name of the Maxi-Rib which is crossing the Atlantic and continuing in the Pacific touching 11 countries: Italy, Spain, Cape Verde, French Guiana, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, the Caribbean, Colombia, Panama, Mexico and finally the States.
“We’ll follow him as closely as we can,” Teo Aiello, owner of Nuova Jolly Marine with his brother Antonio, had promised during the pre-departure press conference. And it can be said that Teo and Antonio’s promise has been more than kept: both were with captain Davì on board in two different stages of this “crazy flight” that went far beyond the Pillars of Hercules.
We have interviewed Antonio Aiello, on the day of his return, after having covered, together with Sergio Davì, 836 miles for almost 44 hours of uninterrupted navigation from Gran Canaria to Cape Verde.
“Exciting,” is the word he repeats most often. He, who built Arethusa Explorer, has therefore gone into action. “I mainly deal with the technical aspects and the construction of the boats. Of course, I test them at sea and every now and then I make short transfers but, in this case, leaving Gran Canaria behind and finding myself, front and back and sideways, only the ocean was almost traumatic,” he confesses, smiling.
“For someone like me, used to asking himself too many questions, it would have been the right occasion to panic, but no! Seeing the big and long waves, seeing these mountains of water coming up was really amazing, beautiful and very different from Mediterranean navigation”.
And despite the doubts and fears, legitimate, of those facing such an adventurous undertaking for the first time, the consolation and fixed point was the boat on which he was embarked.
“I trust our RIB completely. Before we set sail we did all the checks, the craft had already covered several miles, so I did a general check, checking everything, tightening a few bolts, then we left port.”
“And once we left port, the adventure began.”
It was all very nice, but it wasn’t all easy: the continuous, perpetual and inevitable motion of the waves, so much so that they forced me to take a Travelgum pill in the first few hours, put me in a bind. Navigating on a RIB is different from sailing. The route is straight, the speed is high and it forces you to collide with the wave motion, which in the ocean is constantly changing. And in the basket of emotions there couldn’t be without fear and tension, which inevitably arise in such adventures.
“You know… during the day you see, you can control everything, you know the boat, its potential and limits, but at night it’s dark. I was hoping for a little moon or a starry sky, but nothing. Impossible to see anything. Yes, there are radars that signal any large obstacles en route, but would they have been able to spot a log or large animal in time?”
Probably yes, but a night vision would have perhaps calmed him down.
“The first night of sailing I got very little sleep, as was to be expected, despite Sergio urging me to rest. We opted to take turns. At a certain point – continues Antonio – I noticed on the display a huge boat on a collision course, I woke up Sergio who reset the route pointing out to me that it was not a ship, but a cloud, with a curious marine shape, and that it was full of water. We avoided it.
On the second night, however, we were in danger of colliding with a fishing boat: the instruments were flashing, but the alarms were not sounding. Luckily I was awake!” He tells us relieved.
But the biggest comfort was having such a high-performance boat. The Arethusa Explorer is a very standard Nuova Jolly Pince 38, to which we could have made some changes, but then we would have missed the magnitude of the undertaking. This maxi-rib is not an “adventure” version, it is not a “strong” version. It’s a very normal Prince 38 to which the T-Top has only been modified, in order to add the electronic instrumentation necessary to tackle Sergio Davì’s Ocean To Ocean Rib Adventure. “This is a solution that, among other things, we are thinking of adopting also in the series production”, Aiello still anticipates.
In fact, the Prince 38 was the protagonist of this adventure together with Sergio Davì. “Aretusa gave me great satisfaction, with almost 3 meters of wave there was never a splash of water on board, even going up and down these mountains of water.
What amazed us most was the Prince 38’s ability to plane. With an additional 4,000 liters of fuel (about 3 tons, the equivalent of 40 people), the boat got up on plane without any problem. On board there are in fact numerous additional fuel tanks crammed on every available surface, which makes every “walk” a bumpy ride” – says Antonio Aiello with satisfaction, who adds almost moved – I know the Arethusa like the back of my hand, I pampered her for 3 months in the shipyard, the relationship I have with RIBs is one of bonding, and the one I have with Aretusa Explorer is like a father-daughter relationship, a daugther who filled me with pride.
The Engineer who follows our R.I.N.A. practices, had calculated that with 7,000 liters of fuel the boat would have been submerged 25/26 centimeters while, at the end of the day, with the 4,000 liters it was submerged just 7 centimeters and I was honestly amazed.
On the other hand, the Prince 38’s hull is famous for being out of the ordinary. It’s a RIB we tested up to 70 knots and it’s absolutely stable. The average consumption was 3.8 liters/mile, starting from 5 l/mile at full load and going down as the tanks were emptied.
Average speeds ranged between 20 and 30 knots, including slowdowns for refueling. The most delicate operation was undoubtedly refueling, as Antonio Aiello confirms: “You have to refuel every 3 hours at the most, and it’s a delicate maneuver with the RIB moving at about 9 knots.
You can imagine how in these conditions it is not difficult to get dirty with gasoline. Here, this was the most annoying thing of all: the smell of gasoline constantly on me.”
“The only critical issue I found was the absence of a footrest, which on the Arethusa was deliberately not installed. But perhaps it was a fortune because, in the last hours of the second night, when by then we had arrived to Mindelo, I, in that space of 45 centimeters, I slept there!”
The baton is now passed on to Teo, his brother, a more experienced sailor who has the longest leg of the journey, the one that will cross the Atlantic, from Cape Verde to French Guiana, a route characterized by several days of navigation, where consumption calculations will be extremely delicate.
What advice can be given to face such an adventure, which hides many question marks, many variables and an infinite possibility of unforeseen events?
” The most important advice I’ve given Teo is to support Sergio, who I’ve found to be full of energy, as always, but a bit worn out by the Covid he’s just overcome”.
But the adventures of the Prince range of Nuova Jolly won’t end with the Ocean to Ocean: in fact, a Mediterranean Raid is scheduled, which will touch several European capitals, obviously going up inland waters as well. And this time it will be the turn of the Prince 21.
Article also available in: English