Channel Crossing Completed!

Cheer up! Read the report of the successful navigation from Ramsgate (UK) to Gravelines (France) through the English Channel. We used the CET time zone (France time).

16.00 – ARRIVED Giacomo and Bruno aboard Clodia just reached the french shores of Grand Fort Philippe (Gravelines).
Giacomo’s first comment: “It’s a great emotion, we had a fantastic sail all day through, much smoother than expected and under a bright sun. We’re a bit tired after the 9 hours, 35 nautical miles Channel crossing, but seeing the bell towers around Gravelines is a wonderful reward! Tonight we’ll moor in the small harbour of 16th century’s Fort Philippe but tomorrow we’ll be on the move once more to reach Saint Omer.”
Thanks from Giacomo, Bruno and the entire team to all the people who supported Man on the River so far.

14.27 – 7 nautical miles to Gravelines (about 13 km, 8 miles). Sunny, sailing a 4 knot speed despite an opposite stream of 1.3 knot.

13.02 – 11 nautical miles to Gravelines (about 20 km, 12 miles). Still sunny, sailing a 3 knot speed despite an opposite stream of 2 knot.

11.07 – Halfway through the English Channel. Sunny and little windy. Everything fine so far.

6.45 - Clodia has left Ramsgate, 3 knot speed, weak wind.


Faversham to Ramsgate

We’re in Ramsgate again, a year later. A great emotion!

Here, last year, I could have passed away: I had the pleasure to meet again Pat Corby, who literally saved my life by driving me all the way to the Heathrow, to catch the first flight to Venice. In the meantime his coffee shop, specialised in serving delicious homemade cakes, has won a prize.

Yesterday we towed Clodia to Ramsgate thanks to Alastair, that being a true sailor, went out of his way to help us.

I initially planned to sail downstream the Stour river from Canterbury to Sandwich, however the recent experience and an unfavourable weather forecast (a North-Easterly wind over 35 knot against us) suggested me to come back where the project was interrupted in 2010.

Last night, at ramsgate harbour, the boat was wobbling a bit, but we enjoyed a good sleep: Moreover the angelic food by Alex and her magic kept us in good shape.

Clodia is happy: Sails hauled down, very high waves (often going well over the barrier of the dock, 8 metres high), we still could sail at about 3 knots!

As usual, last week was full of surprises and interesting, sometimes bizarre, people.

Margy and Noel hosted Fine and Bruno (and me too, for a while) in their wonderful and very warm house. They used to own an Art Gallery in London, so they still kept all their curiosity and an extraordinary capacity to get together people, talent and creativity.

We also met the guys from the Abbey Physic Community Garden, an association that takes care of a beautiful vegetable garden where everyone can create and cultivate, even by using Permaculture (a technique respectful of the nature, banning fertilizers and pesticides).

One evening we have been invited for dinner at Margy and Noel’s place, where we had the pleasure to meet Henry Dagg, former BBC sound engineer, composer and creator of very unusual musical instruments, such as the Shapsicord. Henry’s abilities will soon be discovered by the thousands attending the upcoming Bijork concert in Manchester.

A good way to understand Henry’s talent is visiting his own house, where you can play the entrance gate. Sheer musical genius applied to simple things. I was honoured to listen to the sound of Shapsicord and other instruments: An experience that I’ll soon share with you by mounting my next video. Bear patience, my time is very little and the journey intense.

In the last few days I’ve also been so lucky to meet  Alastair and Elisabetta, two friends that live in a gorgeous 16th Century house in Boughton, a few miles away from Faversham: As I previouly said, they helped us in towing Clodia to Ramsgate, which was a fantastic gift.

Reluctantly, I had to choose to take off from Ramsgate after a celebrative start in Faversham on Sunday May the 1st, from the Standard Quay.

A nasty wind over 30 knots from NE could have stopped us for a week or more, and we can’t afford to waste too much time: We need to cross the Channel as soon as possible and we’ve got to catch the right window.

Before leaving Faversham, we received a marvelous gift from Lena: A food heater that has revealed of great help. Last night the temperature nearly reached 0°C and the wind eventually calmed down.

The English Channel yesterday was still scary, especially over the Goodwin Sands in front of Ramsgate where I thought to see strange, huge cliffs. I said to myself: “Don’t worry, French coast is much flatter”, however I soon realized that they weren’t cliffs but ground swells, rather terrifying.

In the evening we’ve been invited aboard by Silvia, Argentinian living in Australia, and by Glyna, Australian of Welsh origins. We share a common sea life, and we spent a very good time together.

Bruno can’t wait to set sails and I understand him, I wish to leave too. Today the wind is about 10-15 knot and the weather is good, but we’re waiting for Paolo, the producer of our documentary and director (along with Nicola Pittarello) that wants to film our departure. Last year he was of great help and this year, despite the lack of funds allocated for good projects, he decided to keep following our journey because he believes in us.

Thanks Paolo, once again. This time, it may be the right time to cross the Channel.

Thanks to Alex, Lena, Bob, Alaister, Elisabetta, Frog, Moray, Simon, Tony Boughton and Alan from the Iron Wharf Boatyard, that hosted us generously. Also, all the people from the Abbey Physic Community Garden. If you are around Kent, don’t’ miss Faversham, it’s full of angels.

A big hug to every body.


On Riverside Stories
Enjoy Fine’s report about the Physic Community Garden in Faversham and the Royal Wedding.




Last week was full of encounters and unforgettable moments.

Alex welcomed me aboard the Sheppey Queen, where I have been cuddled for three nights by the tides and delighted by the colours of memories of this glorious ferry.

This is Alex’s kingdom and, beside enjoying the sunsets over Faversham Creek (and the wonderful people living here), she is also a master chef, her kitchen being a van where she prepares great food that’s reinvigorating me. Her catering must be truly “angelic”: don’t miss it.

The food is abundant and, to say it with Feuerbach’s words: “You are what you eat”. Take a look to Alex’s website,, and call her for a healing and tasty banquet.

Last Friday Alex gave me a lift to London. We leave at 4 o’clock in the morning aboard her van, equipped with professional kitchen and Tibetan Prayer Flags waving along the motorway. We’re in London in a blink of an eye, although wandering in a nasty suburb.

Alex needs to move some equipment to another vehicle: distracted by this job, she nearly leaves me there alone. Thanksfully I jump aboard a van driven by Andy, a wise chef that, predicting for me a short future in this awkward area, moves me to safer quarters.

I quickly find a coffee shop: Here I find many angels with no wings and no future. Angels with bags under their eyes caused by sleepless nights in the streets.

I fall asleep under the faint lights and I get lost into my nomadic world. A faltering light, finding its way through dull windows, wakes me up.

I look for a London Tube Station and I quickly find myself in the Thames 21 headquarter, where I meet Rita Serra. Thames 21 is an organization taking care of cleaning the Thames riverside and other London areas by over 15 years, and Rita is one of its manager. She kindly takes me for a brief tour of the offices, where I drink an excellent tea, then we move to an area close to the sacred Lea river, a Thames feeder that we’ll clean up today.

In a Mediterranean London (reaching 26 Celsius, about 79 Fahrenheit), we start working along with six other voluntaries, to remove invasive vegetation from this nice area.

Rita is very capable: She gets everyone going with clear information and distributing rubber boots (called Wellies in the UK, from Wellington’s boots), gloves and lots of solidarity. It’s useless to say that Rita works harder than anyone.

What’s notable about Thames 21 is that they never give up. It’s not like in many other places (Italy at first) where there is a big launching event and then oblivion for months or even years.

At Thames 21 they carry on cleaning the river every week, since 15 years: A model to be followed to make things happen.

My week gently gets by, sailing and rowing along the Creek with many new friends aboard, such as Simon, a Master Shipwright from the Standard Quay, Moray, Hobie and Maxi Yacht Sailor, and Russell, a liveaboard Scotsman very well known in the Iron Wharf. They all pay me compliments for the virtues of Clodia.

Of course, I have to share them with Roland and Silvio for the hull, Nicolò and Diana for the masts, Ombra and Daniela for the sails and with all the people that, much more than me, are worthy of praises for Clodia.

An old Thames Barge was found, buried under the mud for over 15 years: There are plans for restoration, assuming to find the money needed. Anyway, it was a very exciting and somehow touching moment.

Last Saturday, me and my mate Clodia, went very close to sink Orinoco, a Thames Barge built in 1895, long over 30 metres and weighing 70 tons.

My Viking DNA brought me to risk a bold manoeuvre that, helped by a nasty wind (quite possibly from Norway too) and too little mud (very useful as natural brake), led Clodia to hit the black side of Orinoco at full speed.
This accident brought a couple of immediate consequences: A large hole in the Thames Barge and a sleepless night for me, thinking about the months that I should have worked to repay the damage.

Thanksfully, the generosity of Frog, Orinoco’s owner and captain, saved me from stopping Man on the River due to hard labour. Frog lives aboard this wonderful boat and is restoring it himself: Another Faversham angel, thanks Frog!

Fine and Bruno are here already. On Friday the Royal Wedding. On Sunday we should be set sails. Busy Week!

Unfortunately the weather forecast is not very good. Rain is coming from North-East. I remember last year, nearly two months waiting for better conditions: Rain, wind, cold and mould under the back! Any memory, Jacopo?

We hope to find the right window to cross the Channel swiftly. I’m writing from Creek Creative, where I’m given a friendly hospitality, thanks to them.


A big hug to all of you.



Faversham’s Angels

A year later, I’m in Faversham once again, right in the heart of Kent, the garden of England: Many friends, like Lena and Bob, welcomed me as warmly as they would a member of their own families.

I now sleep over a boat bearing a celtic name, moored at Hollowshore – Oare – about a mile away from Faversham. John Walpole kindly allowed me to stay aboard for a while.

Early in the morning I wake up by the sound of seagulls and ducks, then I grab a bike and ride through flower fields and green meadows – where cows and sheeps run away at my sight. Eventually, I reach the docks where I’m getting Clodia ready for the long journey awaiting us.

The emotion to see it was huge: Clodia was my house for three long and troubled months last year.

It’s now moored in the Iron Wharf, a boatyard where over a thousand boats are docked, and enriched by a community of bizarre, but very wise, liveaboards that taught me a lot.

They are of great help, such as Captain Alex (a nice lady) living aboard the Sheppey Queen, an old wooden ferry that carried thousand, maybe millions of people across the Thames and the Swale.

Alex was once working in the London media industry: She now teaches her wisdom of healer, beside being a great cook (I can tell, I’ve enjoyed very tasty and healthy meals)!

In Faversham I also had the pleasure to meet the guys from Creek Creative. They involve the community in many activities related to creativity, craftsmanship and art.

With little money and plenty of passion, Bob, Anne, Georgia, Simon, Keith and many other organise wonderful events, meetings and workshops.

They invited me to present Man on the River, which happened last Sunday in front of a warm and appreciative audience.

Richard Fleury, film director and member of Creek Creative team, is shooting a documentary called “The Quay”. He told me many stories about the Standard Quay in Faversham, a magic place where the Thames Barges still live and are being restaured. These historical, large flat-bottomed boats, used to carry goods to London cruising the Thames upstream, thanks to their excellent maneuverability.

Unfortunately, speculators want to set the area free from the Quay, to let space for new constructions. This is a valuable land, nestled beside the Creek, a canal running from the Swale river up to Faversham: Centuries ago the Roman ships, as well as Henry VIII’s fleet many years later, used to sail it upstream waiting for the right tide. By the way, the current tide is about 7 metres.

A very special friend gave me his support: I can call him an angel, among many other angels that I met here. His name is Moray: He’s a Scotsman born in Hong Kong, and a very conscious traveler. After practicing for a long time as a lawyer, he’s now mastering natural medicine, being a healer too. He fed me with his wisdom and his food, that’s quickly bringing me back to a very good physical shape.

It’s a nutrition based on a simple diet that purifies the body from all the junk that we usually swallow, from too much coffee and industrial foods. It would be as simple as observing nature to greatly improve the way we eat, but I don’t want to be too obvious nor shallow.

Clodia is now moored next to the Sheppey Queen. In the last few days I practiced rowing, carrying aboard two special guests: Susanna and her daughter Carlotta, Italian friends that invited me for dinner where I had the pleasure to meet Jonathan (Susanna’s husband and Carlotta’s dad).

Clodia is in a great shape, I’m catching up. I’m relaxed and happy, just waiting for Bruno and Fine and enjoying Faversham’s angels.

Right now I’m in Beaulieu, close to Southampton, Hampshire, along with Lena and Bob. We came to visit a fantastic nautical fair, full of old stuff. We have set our tent in a huge meadow, next to the ruins of an ancient abbey: We are cuddled by the sound of traditional songs played by local musicians. Tonight I sleep here, then on the 21st I plan to get to London to help the guys from Thames 21 in cleaning the Thames riverside.

A little change of programme: I decided to restart the journey from Faversham. In London there is the royal wedding and the odds to get through safely are very little: the Thames will be full of large ferries (whose high waves are quite dangerous for a small boat like Clodia). Moreover, in Faversham they still need my help to save the Standard Quay.

See you soon.



Past and future

A short post to keep you up to date. Once got back to Italy, I’ve been immediately recovered to Venice hospital where I stayed for 18 days. Now I live in my parents’ house to continue the medical treatment.

The pneumonia has nearly gone but I’m still very weak. Unfortunately my immune system is now at very low levels: I’ve lost 13 kilos and my muscles have disappeared.

I’ll need a long time to fully recover so I don’t think I’ll be fit enough to continue the voyage this summer. I had to surrender to a tiny being that changed a lot my life. The days in hospital gave me the time to think.

In the beginning I lived this illness as a curse: Then I understood that, as usual, nothing happens by chance. I undertook this adventure in an akward psychophysical situation: Bad weather, unfit diet and worries did the rest, so I got sick.

Now, along with all the team, I’ll try to fine tune the organization of the journey for next year. In the wake of that, I’d love to travel around Italy an abroad to tell about this first part of the adventure, so meaningful and rich of encounters. Helped by Paolo Muran (the producer of the documentary) and Nicola Pittarello (the director) I’ll mount part of the movie and show it. The beautiful pictures taken by Massimo Di Nonno and Michele Spiller will also contribute to tell our journey along the Thames.

First of all, I’ll take care of getting fit as never before.

Clodia is still moored in Ramsgate: My dear friend Harry, who lives in Withstable, will take care of it.

I wish to thank the Director and all the staff from the Ramsgate Port, and David, Peter, Ian in particular.

They’ve been close friends and didn’t ask for any fee for mooring more than one month. Think that we were planning to stop there for two days at the most…

Life is so full of surprises. Thanks to all of our partners: With their materials we have experienced the perfection of Clodia, from mattresses to solar panels, from sails to nautical wood. Thanks from the deepest of my heart.

Thanks to Eden Exit, they did a wonderful job, Emanuele, Matteo, Claudio, and Ivor for the translations.

The mast and the boom were made very quickly and wonderfully by Nicolò Zen and his girlfriend Diana. Thank you my friends.

Armando Rossato and Franchino worked to make our life easiear. And Carlo took wonderful pictures.

Francesca, we loved you. Nicola Zago, Nicola Baggio, you were the beginning. I will never thank you enought.

Thanks to Marco Scurati, Sandro Soramaè, Pati De Ross. Without you things would have been different.

The Circolo Velico Casanova, Mr. Rallo and Mr. Bruson, the Canottieri Giudecca in Venice, Mario Brunello,all the staff of CaterpillarMichael Kierkegaard, Michele Raunich, Andrea Tagliapietra, Tito from Campalto, for the drysuites and the life jackets, Mr Sacchetto for the boom tent.. And so many more that I will take time to remember all of them!

A special mention goes to Ali and Anne who took care of me for nearly a month, in London. Thanks also to Roland Poltock who built the boat, to Silvio Lago with him and to all the Lago’s staff that made Clodia possible. Thanks to Jacopo who saved my life in the first place.

The second saviours are Venice Hospital doctors: Thanks Doctor Rosini. And thanks to all the people who gave us hospitality, support, help, such as Patricia and Iain in Ramsgate, Lena and Bob in Faversham, Earl, John and Harry in Withstable and many more that I’ll thank very soon.

And  all my gratitude to the Erith Yacht Club, the Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club, and all the wonderful persons who helped us in such a generous way.

Now I have to stop, but the journey goes on.

Giacomo De Stefano


Project paused

From the team: after two nights aboard Clodia under a thunderstorm, Giacomo had a relapse. The doctors suggested him to get back to Italy for a couple of weeks, since resting seems not to be enough of a cure.

He will shortly be in Venice to undertake a therapy that should allow him to continue his voyage.

In the meantime Jacopo, who was working in a farm in Southern France, waiting for Giacomo to get better, has decided to walk his way back to Venice along the following itinerary: Grigioni region up to Tirano, Tonale pass, Val di Non, Val di Fiemme, Val di Fassa, Val Badia, Agordo, Belluno, Venezia.

He wants to thank al the people who helped hin in the last month: Francesca and Ben, Gerard and Costant, Serge and Patricia Desboulles from the Tejuliande farm, their son Laurent, Marion, little Celia, Stephanie and her partner Mickey, their daughter Emile and all friends from Sant Nicolas de la Grave. He also thanks Edy, her husband and their daughter Alice, Emma and the town of Savognin, Don Antonio, Don Matteo all the boys from Tonale school camp.




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