In April 2018, Vittorio Fabris set out for what he thought would be a solitary 20,000-mile journey around the world. Inspired by “Moby Dick,” the septuagenarian planned to spend a year and a half circumnavigating the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in his 33-foot sailboat, Mia, following the routes once traveled by 19th-century whalers.
Things did not go according to plan.
After watching several film adaptations of Herman Melville’s classic novel, Fabris came up with his own interpretation of “Moby Dick.” The white whale, he told the Enterprise, symbolized nature and the inherent danger it presented to man. From his vantage point in the 21st century, though, Fabris knew that the real threat was mankind’s potential to destroy nature.
He hung a banner from the port side of his boat: “I’m going to apologize to the whale."
So Fabris opted to take the much longer southern route to Nantucket. His GPS tracker shows that he sailed from the Canary Islands to Cape Verde in January, before setting off for a long slog across the ocean. He touched land in Guadeloupe in March, and took a break to rest and replenish his food supply, according to the Times. From there, he continued slowly making his way through the Caribbean, likely confusing vacationers with the banner on the starboard side of the boat announcing the journey he had initially planned: “Venezia-Nantucket.”
Finally, over Memorial Day weekend, Fabris set sail from Long Island under calm conditions. Fourteen months after he first left home, Nantucket and its gray-shingled cottages finally came into view. He was just 1,500 feet from shore when his boat capsized.
According to the Times, Fabris had turned on Mia’s motor to guide him into the harbor, but the engine unexpectedly died and he began to drift. Before he could drop an anchor to hold him in place, the sloop flipped over and he was plunged into the frigid waters of Nantucket Sound.
In Falmouth, Mass., the unexpected arrival of a sun-tanned mariner who only spoke Italian and wore T-shirts declaring that he wanted to apologize to the whale initially baffled local officials. “The big issue was he didn’t speak English,”
Once home, he plans on writing a book.
“The trip was not for sport or joy,” he told the Times through his interpreters. “I did it for the whales.”