Capt. Sergio Davì, headed to LA, battled COVID-19 and suspected pirates along the way
On Dec. 15, 2021, Sergio Davì motored away from his home port of Palermo, Sicily, on an inflatable boat.
On May 20, a group of Italian Americans is spearheading a greeting for him when he arrives at 955 Harbor Island Drive in San Diego, his last layover before completing his nearly 10,000 nautical-mile voyage from Italy to Los Angeles with multiple planned stops along the way to refuel and rest.
“Sergio represents great pride for the Italian and Sicilian communities in San Diego, carrying on a great tradition of scientific discovery and nautical exploration,” says Tom Cesarini, San Diego’s honorary Italian consul and head of the Convivio Society, a Little Italy-based nonprofit focused on Italian history, heritage and culture.
Cesarini translated for me as I spoke to Davì on Wednesday by phone. He had pulled into a marina in Ensenada, his final way station before entering the United States.
The journey has been tough for the veteran sea captain, 57, who traveled solo most of the way in his rigid-hulled dinghy powered by two DF300B HP outboard motors.
He forged through unpredictable, rough weather with raging winds and waves up to 10 feet. He fled from pursuers, whom he believed to be pirates, who chased his boat in the dark off Venezuela.
But his biggest setback was coming down with COVID-19 soon after leaving Sicily.
This is the route taken by Italian ocean adventurer Sergio Davì in his 38-foot inflatable dinghy from Italy to Los Angeles. (Courtesy photo)
It’s difficult to imagine piloting a 38-foot boat solo while suffering from the coronavirus — without a doctor in sight.
The bad news was delivered through his COVID-19 test kit on the boat and confirmed when he reached Spain’s Grand Canary island. He wasn’t feeling well and was running a slight fever, he says. Davì quarantined himself in a hotel there for 15 days.
What he anticipated to be a 100-day journey has stretched out more than five months due to COVID-19 and weather delays. Alas, on Friday he will be welcomed to the United States by a greeting party on Harbor Island assembled by Cesarini and expected to include Pietro Bellinghieri, deputy consul of the Italian consulate in Los Angeles.
Davì also will be reunited with his life partner, Elena, who flew here from Italy to meet him.
She has been extremely understanding throughout his adventure, Davì said through his interpreter. “She’s very proud of my work and supports me 100 percent.”
His trip is sponsored by Suzuki, Simrad electronic equipment and several others. He posted a Facebook video about this challenging undertaking.
His love of boating began at age 6, when he helped pilot his family’s boat. As an adult, he decided to pursue a career as a sea captain. For 25 years, he has been skippering motorboats. Over the past decade, he has focused on taking a series of extreme adventures.
His first was piloting his inflatable boat from Italy to Amsterdam in 2010. “It was very hard, but I have great memories of that adventure,” he says in a Simrad-sponsored video. In addition to the experience, Davì says that first trip taught him to be prepared for the unexpected.
“A situation can quickly get out of hand on the ocean and safety is very important,” Davì notes in the video.
In 2012, he steered his inflatable craft on a longer voyage from Sicily to the northern tip of Norway. His next extreme adventure, from Palermo to Rio de Janeiro in 2015, was aborted en route due to an engine fire.
But Davì and his crew again set out in spring 2017 and made it safely to their destination of Cape Verde, Brazil.
His greatest challenge was a voyage from Sicily to New York via Iceland and Greenland in 2019 across the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Now, in what he calls his “Atlantic Ocean to Pacific Ocean RIB Adventure,” he posts online updates (in his native language) of his ongoing odyssey on the www.ciuriciurimare.com website with a link to a real-time map of his route.