Arques to Cambrai

I’m back on board.

The leg from Arques to Bethune was completed by Bruno and Francesco Cappelletti, our guest sailor. Fine followed at short distance aboard Serena, the support boat that, so far, is travelling with us.

Bruno and Fine are doing their best: He’s an extraordinary skipper, knowing every secret of navigation, she drives Serena and is in charge of taking pictures, updating her blog and solving little emergencies.

I joined them in Bethune along with Sandro, a dear friend from Venice that is now our second “sailor for a week” (or even more…)!

Before arriving, in Lille, we  interviewed a few officers from VNF, the company managing the french channels.

We leave from Bethune very early in the morning, heading to Douai: Sandro and I take over from Bruno and Francesco.

We’re waited by a 41 km row under the rain and against the wind! A very hard leg that, however, gives us great satisfaction.


We spend the night in a beautiful Marina before Douai: It’s placed in an artificial basin surrounded by secular plane trees. Here, by chance, we meet a few english sailors, friends of some other people that we had the pleasure to meet in London.

The next day Clodia flies over the water for hours with Sandro and Francesco, at the tiller, aboard.

The “Grand Gabarit”, a canal running from Bethune to Douai, is rather dirty, full of dead fishes and lots of commercial boats raising annoying waves. Fine and Bruno collect two bags full of rubbish: From now on we’ll try to give our contribution to the environment. Thanks to them for this simple yet effective idea.

After 40 km of navigation, we stop for the night in Etrun, close to the access to Saint Quentin canal. We moor in a nice basin illuminated by a mediterranean light. Here we rejoin our new English friends, waiting to offer us plenty of wine and beer. For dinner we have a tasty rice cooked by Sandro. We squeeze aboard Clodia: five people in five metres, we’re strong and happy.

The night is very cold: We wake up amidst a thick fog, that soon vanishes. Just before entering the canal of Saint Quentin, Serena gets stuck in a sandbank and Clodia comes to rescue. Thanksfully Bruno sorts out the question very quickly by using a rope.

Saint Quentin canal is wonderful: There are many locks, but very well organised. Passing is easy and fast, I wish I could say the same elsewhere.

In Cambrai, Captain Jean Luc, director of the “Port de Plaisance” grants us free mooring after listening to our story. Every time it happens I’m moved: Thanks Captain!

All people want to talk and sail with us. In the port of Cambrai I carry aboard six mad kids. Douce France indeed.

Tomorrow we’ll take the notorious “Souterrain de Riqueval”, a tunnel 5670 mt long, not aerated. To get through, we rely on the electrical ferry that goes forth and back twice a day: At 9 in the morning and at 5 in the afternoon. My travel mates are fantastic in a very tough condition. We covered 170 km in four days, very little by sail.

See you soon. Giacomo


After hours from Jasmine Lane

The travels of a bottle

“Dear Sir,

Today monday 16 may we found a bottle on the beach with a letter.

We found it, during a evening walk with our dog, at the beach of Dishoek near Vlissingen in Holland. We already visited the website Man on the River and we wish this project a lot of luck. Also thanks for the t-shirt offer.

Good luck, Anita en Ton Pas”

We get this message the 16th of may, very late at night. As soon as possible, we ask Giacomo for information about it, getting to know that midway through the English Channel he had thrown into the sea the evergreen “message in a bottle”! And now it was found in Holland!

In the videos below you can read the letter: the map will help you discover the rather surprising itinerary of the bottle. Last but not least, above left we’re pleased to present the beach where the message was found and Ton and Anita Pas.

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2 Responses to “Arques to Cambrai”

  1. molly says:

    Hi Giacomo,
    How wonderful that your bottle was found. and so soon! in Holland by Tom and Anita. And they knew about your trip! Co-incidence?
    I very much admire your trip and your intentions. Brave man.
    Keep up the good spirit. Wish you lots of good luck.
    Molly (Amsterdam)

  2. Thank you very much indeed Molly. I am so happy too that the bottle was found in Holland. I love, and I loved your lands, your water and your people. In particular one wonderful person, but not enough..
    Sorry for this personal digression.
    We are so happy despite the hard days passed rowing against the wind. It is so beautiful here and we are learning so much.
    I hope to meet you soon, maybe on Clodia..
    Take care Be water

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