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Classic | New life from Sangermani

Patinia, a pilot boat born to sail

The Nineteen Seventies - after graduating, Renato Marengo from Milan, born in 1936, started work for Capelli & Marengo, his family's FIAT dealership. He spent his leisure time on a wooden Bermuda seagoing motorboat built by the Posillipo yard. One August Bank Holiday he left Porto Santo Stefano with his girlfriend and set course for the island of Montecristo, blissfully unaware of what was to come. On reaching their destination they put in at Cala Scirocco and la Maestra, then set off for Corsica. After visiting Portovecchio they decided to go back to Tuscany, but half-way there they were struck by a violent libecciata wind. They began to ship water and the starboard engine cut out. The seas worsened and waves battered the boat. The stern was now almost underwater. Panic reigned on board. The couple put on their lifejackets, then saw the island of Montecristo rising out of the sea not far away. A mile off the coast the valiant Posillipo came to a stop and lay dead in the water. Luckily a motor yacht was leaving Cala Maestra, heading for the lee side of the island to shelter from the strong wind. As he had no radio, Renato tied a red towel around an oar and started waving it desperately. Their fate hung in the balance - if the other boat didn't see them, they were finished. But the crew of the yacht spotted their signal, approached and towed them into the nearest cove. On her transom was written Ekim III, the unmistakeable name Mike Buongiorno had given to his yacht (read it backwards!). The famous TV presenter wasted no time scolding this Milanese sailor, who had so recklessly challenged the waves.

Meanwhile the story of the shipwreck has reached the coast and a week later a fishing boat packed with friends from Santo Stefano accompanied the Posillipo to a local yard. This is just one of the tales Renato Marengo tells about his seafaring experiences. After the oil crisis in the 1970s he became a parking and service area entrepreneur. Even the most passionate sailor might have allowed an adventure like this to dampen his enthusiasm a little, but not Renato! His love for the sea and sailing was as intense as ever, and in the mid-1890s he bought a wooden gozzo in Chiavari. His passion for boats built in that most noble of materials then led him to acquire Patinia, the former Cala Junco, project number 189 from the Sangermani yard, launched on 16th July 1975. The yacht, 13.72 metres long and with a 3.84 metre beam, can be regarded as a forerunner of the lobster boat types that have featured so largely in the nautical market over the last 15 years. To be exact, she was a development of the 10-metre Scilla, now the Duchessa, a craft inspired by the pilot boats made by the same yard in the previous decade. She was built with double longitudinal mahogany planking about 32 millimetres thick, with solid and laminated iroko keel and posts, iroko, oak and steel frame and mahogany beams. The craft is designed with a rounded hull, flat stern and a pronounced sheerline.

Cala Junco was commissioned by the former owner of Scilla (the Sicilian owner of a jewellery shop in Milan), a sailor with an expert knowledge of yachts and yacht-building. Until the mid-1980s she often sailed between Sestri Levante, her home port, and Sicily, her owner's original home. She carried nets and lines for fishing while under way. However, when his trusted crewman and companion on long voyages died, the owner decided to sell the boat. Cala Junco returned to Sangermani and stayed there until she was acquired by a member of financier Jodi Wender's family. Her new owners renamed her Patinia, and the modifications they introduced included an external helm position on the flying bridge. In 1985 Marengo noticed the pilot boat, once again in the yard. It was love at first sight, and sea trials were arranged. Mounting her original pair of 290hp MAN engines, the craft planed at over 20 knots, showing excellent handling and performance. The deal was done. As soon as the handover was officially completed, the boat was transferred to her new home port of Lavagna and over the following five years she sailed mainly around Liguria. In 1990 she moved to Corsica. For ten years she was based in Portovecchio, setting out from there on cruises to Ajaccio, Bonifacio Bay, Bastia, Cavallo and Isola Piana. This time Patinia met the challenge of high winds and rough seas without mishap, showing exceptional seafaring qualities. In 1999 the two MAN engines were replaced by a pair of more powerful units.

From 2000 to 2005 Patinia was based in Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, then Porto Lotti in the Bay of La Spezia. The yacht was given regular maintenance and overhauls at the nearby Beconcini yard, followed by a refit in 2007 at Sangermani, where she was built. Here she was given a new teak deck and the deckhouse roofs were re-waterproofed. Patinia features a large cockpit with visible beams, a sheltered helm station and large windows providing a 360-degree view. Below decks two twin cabins and two bathrooms can host four people on long cruises. After celebrating the silver anniversary of his relationship with the boat, Marengo has now decided to offer her to a new owner willing to give her the TLC she deserves (info@velmaryacht.com). Twenty-five years of uninterrupted sailing are ample proof of the quality of the design and the strength of a construction that's passed the test of time with flying colours. Given her current excellent condition, this pilot boat has earned the right to join the list of illustrious craft built by Italian yards. One thing is clear - whoever takes her on will be able to continue sailing on board her until the golden wedding!

Paolo Maccione



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