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Italian sailor’s boat SOS

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Vittorio Bonazzi

An Italian mariner whose boat was badly damaged during a violent storm has appealed for help from the island’s sailing community to get his around the world expedition back on track.

Vittorio Bonazzi’s 42ft vessel Workshop limped into St George’s on April 14 after its aluminium mast “exploded” in treacherous conditions 400 miles from Bermuda.

The 44-year-old has been stranded on the island for the last two months trying to find a cheap replacement mast for his boat as his own funds have gradually run out.

Mr Bonazzi set off from the Canary Islands with a friend and six passengers in the boat that he had fully refurbished himself at the end of January this year bound for Martinique.

After stopping briefly in Antigua, Barbuda and St Maarten, he and his friend set sail for Bermuda at the beginning of April to experience the 35th America’s Cup.

But disaster struck when the vessel’s aluminium mast snapped in 50 knot winds and six-metre waves hundreds of miles from Bermuda.

“It was the middle of the night and it just sounded like the mast exploded,” he said. “We could not run the engine for five hours as we hauled the sail, the rigging and parts of the mast that had gone overboard back on board in darkness and six-metre waves.

“Under that kind of pressure you don’t feel fear, it’s just the stress.

“It took us six days to finally reach land in Bermuda under engine power, and the last six miles took 14 hours. It felt fantastic to eventually sail into St George’s; there were times when I was worried we would not make it.”

Over the last two months Mr Bonazzi, who previously worked as a chef in the Canary Islands, has anchored his boat on the north side of Hinson’s Island.

He has scoured the island looking for a suitable replacement mast that he can afford but without luck.

He told The Royal Gazette that he did not want to abandon his boat in Bermuda and hoped that someone in the expanded maritime community here for the America’s Cup could find it in their heart to give him a helping hand.

“I would still like to continue with my around the world expedition, but the simple fact is I need a new mast,” he said.

“If someone could help me either afford one or find one I would be happy to take them on as crew for the next leg of he journey to the Caribbean and then on to Panama.

“But so far I have not been able to fund anything that I can afford. It would not have to be an aluminium mast, a wooden one would still work, and it would have to be between 54ft and 58ft.

“I have loved my time in Bermuda, but it is time for me to go.”

If you can help Mr Bonazzi he can be contacted on 703 1793 or vitombo@gmail.com