Capt. Sergio Davi loves to cruise the open ocean aboard Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs)—and we mean open ocean. The 57-year-old Italian native has captained a variety of RIBs powered by his sponsor, Suzuki outboards, traveling from his home base in Palermo to Amsterdam (3,000 nautical miles), North Cape (4,000 miles), New York (7,000 nautical miles through dangerous Arctic waters), and Recife Brazil, roughly 6,000 nautical miles. Boating caught up with Davi on the final leg of his recent and most ambitious excursion—a 10,000-nautical-mile run from Palermo to Los Angeles, California, encompassing two oceans, four continents and more than a dozen countries on stops along the way. We joined Davi aboard his latest rig, a 38-foot Nuova Jolly RIB with twin Suzuki DF300B dual-prop outboards, aptly named Aretusa Explorer.
How did you get into boats and boating?
My father had a boat, so I’ve loved boating all my life. I had my own boat at four years old, which I would take only 5 or 6 meters from the shore where the water was calm and shallow. I appreciated the peace of the sea at an early age.
Why do you use RIBs for all your adventures?
I think of RIBs like a Jeep in the desert; they are very safe boats for tackling challenging conditions. Plus, my passion for RIBs began in my youth. I owned my first RIB when I was only 17.
People call you a thrill-seeker, adventurer or environmentalist. How would you describe yourself?
I am a boating enthusiast at heart, and a very curious person who simply wants to discover new things with an atypical vessel such as a RIB. I am also very attentive to the environment, but in a realistic way. I’m aware that environmental protection and safeguards require adequate time in order deliver a better world for the next generation. (Davi partners with several Italian environmental organizations, collecting water samples and data from remote locations during his voyages.)
What is the most dangerous situation you’ve encountered during a voyage?
When I crossed Greenland I was afraid of the ice, because the ice sheets were huge, and I was afraid of doing damage to the motors. These are not conditions one normally encounters in a small outboard-powered boat. On this most recent trip, I was approached by pirates at night off the coast of Venezuela. Fortunately, I was able to recognize the danger, punch the throttles on my twin 300s and say “ciao” to them rather quickly.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your just-completed ocean-to-ocean voyage?
Planning and organizing a trip like this during a global pandemic was very difficult, and at times even demoralizing. Persevering through this, however, game me the strength to continue the voyage. There were also several lengthy delays to bad weather (Davi also had a personal bout with Covid-19 during the voyage).
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What’s next? Are you planning any future adventures right now?
Of course, I’m thinking about what my next adventure might be. But I am also thinking of different things I could do that can help us better understand the ocean environment and recapture humanity’s love for the sea.