“At sea we were afraid of the depths, but the world we had created was our world and we had to face only our judgements. Now, we have to deal again with the expectations of the others. And at first sight, apart from the happiness of seeing our families again, the world of the land is nothing special.”
(From an interview given by Marco Di Candia to ‘Il Secolo XIX’ on 13th October 1999)
On May 4th 1999 four navigators sail from the Canary Islands with the purpose to get to America. They are the Amoretti brothers (Marco, Mauro e Fabio) together with a friend of theirs, Marco De Candia. The hard conditions of the first part of the crossing lead Mauro and Fabio Amoretti to give up before going beyond the 60-mile limit, because once you have crossed that limit it could be complicated to accomplish a rescue mission. Marco Amoretti and Marco Di Candia keep on navigating the Atlantic Ocean. All this would not be a matter of great importance if these four men were the crew of a comfortable steel ketch equipped with GPS, auto-pilot and satellite connection to see the weather forecast and to greet the family. Nobody would be surprised even if they would be at the helm of one of those little boats specifically designed for this kind of enterprises, for example the Mini Transat 6.50. Well, sometimes we hear about people doing these things using a rowing canoe such as Alex Bellini, Al-One 2005, following in Gerard d’Aboville’s footsteps, in 1980. The truth of the matter is simply that the four navigators have not sailed away on a boat: they have put out to sea pushing into the water a ’81 Ford Taunus and a ’87 Vw Passat, filled with expanded polyurethane to make them unsinkable.
Marco, Mauro and Fabio are Giorgio Amoretti’s sons. Life is made of choices, so everyone can decide weather to define Giorgio Amoretti an eccentric character or someone who fought for what he believed in and for an idealistic spirit of adventure which was neither conventional nor ordinary. Just to make myself clear: in 1950 he made a tour of the world using a Lambretta; in 1957 he reacted to an unrequited love with a winter crossing of the Garda Lake, swimming 50 km in 23 hours and 55 minutes; on two occasions he crossed the Sahara Desert, first by an all-terrain vehicle and then by an ascensional parachute. Since he was not a superman but an ordinary man living in the human society and persuaded that this society could be better, he threatened not to register his son Marco unless the Imperia Town Council promised to plant a tree every year until the boy reached adulthood. He won his battle and the practice of planting a tree for every new-born child turned into a law in 1992, one of many broken Italian laws.
In 1968 he got the idea of sailing with a floating car, supported by the enterprise of a French doctor, Alain Bombard (1924-2005), the voluntary survivor who in 1952 demonstrated that if you go adrift you will land somewhere, that the greatest danger is in your mind and that you can survive at sea eating fishes and plankton, rich in vitamin C, and drinking salted water in moderation. In 1978 he put out to sea to start his cruise, sailing from the Canary Islands, but the Spanish authorities stopped him. Ten years later the English authorities stopped him while he was trying to cross the English Channel after sailing down the Canal du Midi as far as Calais.
We are in 1999: in a rush his sons organize the crossing. In a sense, this is inevitabile: Giorgio Amoretti is dying of cancer. At all costs they want to do something to do justice to everything their father believes in. They leave with him (later he will be admitted to hospital, where he dies on 28th May) driving two cars and a van. They reach the Canary Islands and in two months they finish fitting out the cars and sail away. Very soon Marco Amoretti and Marco Di Candia cut off their calls: the photovoltaic system supplying power to their satellite telephone suffers from saltiness and humidity. But on 5th July they manage to bring it back into use. Everything is going well, even beyond their expectations. Some makeshift sails let them cover 30 miles a day; they have fishes and plankton in abundance so they manage to let their supplies of food intact. On 12th July they cross the 40° western meridian. On 31st August they reach Martinique.
What it looks like the history of a fascinating adventure or the biography of off-grid men reveals that there are many other aspects under the surface, as it often happens. It is also a good example of the way the world of media is inhumanly sensitive only to certain stimuli. With the exception of Riccardo Tivegna for the public radio and the Genoese newspaper ‘Il Secolo XIX’, their enterprise was systematically ignored by the media. The news blackout is still going on and this happens with the complicity of the protagonists themselves, who are maybe stung by the hostility and the scepticism of the media. Too many things didn’t sound right, too many things didn’t appeal to the public. There were too many things far from the ruling model (the carbon fibre and the Prada shoes of the America Cup), far from the armchair strategists who lead the solitary sailors, far from the popular concept of the car (which is almost a totem in Italy). In the end, at least in my opinion, the only television broadcast which did really justice to their enterprise was an episode of a MTV talk show to which Marco Amoretti and Marco Di Candia had been invited. I vaguely remember those two young men which were absolutely further (unlike Fabio and Mauro Amoretti, an essential component of their grounds was represented by the necessity of leaving the world to explore themselves). Even the vj Andrea Pezzi regarded them as outsiders: he was quite embarrassed. At least they kept away from every manipulation and they managed to keep their personal and spontaneous dignity. Thus, painfully, like the memories of the android Roy in Blade Runner, the enterprise of the Amoretti family is also lost, like tears in the rain.
Translation by Barbara Bandini