On-board Diary: Netters in Sorrento

Author: Soledad Esnaola
Date: June 10, 2006



Back on the Ranger. Twelve months after disembarking in Lagos after nearly half a year sailing around the world, I return. I think the boat has gotten bigger and more elegant during this time. Everything is cleaner and tidier; everything in its place, everything stowed away, “almost” nothing out of place. It seems different.

Now the landscape changes too. Behind us are the tropical coasts of central America, the Bahamas and Bermudas, and we sail along the beautiful Italian coast heading south. The memory of the warm Caribbean water came to mind when I first went diving on this trip in the cold Mediterranean waters of Ponza Island. Because, although the Spanish east coast seems baking in August, summer has still not arrived here and the sun needs time to warm up the depths of the sea.

As we travel along southward bound, and see the villages that line the coasts of the country of pasta, pizza and calcium, I am pleasantly surprised by the sensation that time seems to stand still in this part of the Mediterranean. They have known how to maintain an architectural style at least 60 years old. There are no grand and ostentatious hotels on the beaches, as there are on the Spanish east coast, nor immense buildings that seem to have been designed by our worst enemy.

On Saturday we arrive early at the cliffs of Sorrento. Our goal: locate, identify and follow illegal driftnetters. We find seven moored in front of the wharf and we go past on the Ranger to film and take close-up photos of the registration plates and names of these boats. Kike filming from the porthole of his cabin so that they don’t see the camera from outside, and Juan discreetly taking photos under cover. Although the truth is that our 23-metre long white catamaran with the colourful Oceana logo on the bow, is not easy to miss. Once the netters are recorded, we move away to observe their departure towards the fishing areas, in the 1000-metre deep levels. We wait patiently, doing shifts, for one hour... two hours... three... five... it is almost nine o’clock in the evening, the sun has set, and the boats are still moored there. I think we have been unlucky this time and we will not be able to catch them in action. Perhaps they have taken a few days off to see the World Cup, who knows.

Even though they have not gone out, we are going to patrol all night to see if we have any luck and boats have left from other ports. Maybe there is an Italian who is allergic to football and who prefers to go fishing rather than watch 22 men in shorts running after a ball. Hope dies last.