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Summer 2006

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



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Article by
Franca Urbani


I am a guest on board "PAB" and having savoured the owner's exquisite hospitality, I have a chance for a chat with Captain Salvatore Schiano and to know more about his professional backround, even though, having tasted his delicious vanilla ice- cream on board, I've already learned to appreciate his ability as a cook.

Which part of our beautiful Italy are you from Captain?

I was born in Porto S. Stefano in 1948 and I have had a passion for the sea since I was a boy, at the age of 15 I was a registered deck hand, at 16 I had already accomplished my first tour around the world. I joined the Merchant Navy rising from the ranks, deck hand, ship boy, seaman, travelling with the most varied cargoes and touching all the harbours of the world, from Canada to Japan via North-European ports.

When and why did you turn to yachting?

I decided to opt for leisure sailing to be nearer my family and to live at close quarters with the sea. So, in '72 I took command on board yachts and became a First Class Master.

Which was your first yacht as skipper?

A Baglietto in '72 which operated Charters in the Med. with 8 people on board, all VIPs and pretty wild. I then worked for 8 years with Moncada Yachts of Milan. My role was to collect and deliver boats and to operate Charters. Later, I returned to captain a Baglietto with which I voyaged for 7 years all over the Mediterranean and finally, I came to PAB.

Have you ever had any really close calls?

In Greece with a Meltemi blowing I was on baord a Picchiotti and we started having a hard time so we stopped in Hydra for two days. Then, even if the weather was far from improving and since some passengers had a plane to catch, we left at night and it was just terrible.

When we reached Cape Sounion we felt we had been put through a mixer: the Meltemi blows from the North and it is effected by the lie of the islands thus provoking a cross sea with freak waves, just raging, in a word. On that occasion there were 70 knots of wind if not more, and in those conditions no anchor is going to hold. At Cape Sounion a Prince who was on board wished to go out to sea "why don't we go to the island of Kea? It's beautiful !". Once there we were really stuck in it all. Everything was at a halt from ferries to aeroplanes. Whilst at anchor I had to keep paying out chain and I didn't sleep for two days. Times come when skippers should not please their passengers even if they're big-shots.

Were there any damages?

Yes! A very strange thing actually happened: following a hard roll, all the plates stowed in one locker transferred to another without any breakages! To even things out the bar table got unhinged and found its way down the stairs to the owner's bed. The bow's starboard side covering board, was literally raised six inches off the deck. I don't know what would have happened if a passing greek ship hadn't put us downwind. My advice as a captain, is to avoid the Aegean in July and August, it is instead advisable and often wonderful to be there in May and June.

What is your fondest memory?

It is really tied to my numerous encounters with marine life and I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all sea-goers to hold them in great respect. I am always delighted to watch the sea's true inhabitants. On one occasion, after a dawn departure from Cala Galera and in the channel between the islands of Giglio and Giannutri, we had dolphins everywhere doing their acrobatics, in the same trip we came across two turtles of approximately 130 Kgs. each which were happily swimming about. Another time, arriving in Costa Smeralda in misty conditions, I saw a rock which shouldn't have been there. I thought I had perhaps made a course error and went slowly on ahead. It was a sperm whale taking a nap, a deathly habit as ships do not see them and sometimes cut them in half.

What do you think about technological progress in the construction of new yachts?

I remember that in the past one would make do with a hammer, a pair of pliers, a bit of wire and sound experience, nowdays things have changed and electronics have taken over. Sometimes we make unnecessary use of it.

How is your rapport with the owner?

Undoubtedly it's one of trust and also of respect. The owner comes on board to spend some time relaxing with his family and friends, and the skipper must preserve that state of tranquillity hiding apparent problems and then solving them quietly.

Who organizes the cruises?

Usually the owner will state his preference and the skipper will jot down an itenerary and will take care of booking a birth for the boat in the ever busy harbours. In Italy as abroad, they have been building boats for over 50 years but the harbours haven't kept up the rythm and therefore fall short of demand.


Name: Salvatore
Surname: Schiano
Age: 58
Nationality: Italian
Last Assignment: PAB
Ensign: Italian
Boat's main characteristics: 31m Admiral with customized interiors. State of the art computerized lighting and electronics ( via touch screen) - Interiors: Designed by Architect Ivana Porfiri using a postminimalist styling. Custom furnishings produced by B&B.
Favourite marina: Porto Cervo ( Sardinia)
Preferred Course: Sardinia, Spain, Pontine Islands, Greece.