Elio, the crane artist
29 April 2014 | Crotone, Calabria, Italy
I am in awe. I had never seen anyone doing the things that Elio Balzano from Porto Vecchio Yacht Services can do with his crane. His boat yard was packed with vessels of all types, mostly sailing mono-hulls, a few catamarans and some small powerboats. The only spot he had open for Por Dos was in the middle of the yard near the main gate. It wasn’t even clear to me that she would fit through the gate!
Elio has a 60 ton crane where the boom does not rotate, so all the turns need to be done by the whole truck turning. The crane was fitted with big spreader bars and very slowly and carefully Por Dos came out of the water (OMG! Is her butt really that dirty! – No wonder we were so slow!) It truly was a pleasure to see Elio at work with his team. Getting our boat out of the water is always unnerving to me. It seems unnatural – boats must be floating in water, not in the air or on dry land. Once they are lifted out by a crane or travel lift, boats look a lot bigger and at the same time so fragile – not a good combination. In any case, Elio was absolutely fantastic, a true artist. I can’t begin to explain how he would move boats all over his yard, packing them in the tightest spaces. He and his team worked methodically, checking every thing before doing small careful moves. During the following days, Mark and I would sit in Por Dos’s cockpit watching Elio move boats around, marveling and commenting on his work.
While making sure we could do the critical tasks on the boat during the first two days in Crotone we finalized our plans for the spring and summer. We decided to concentrate on the Adriatic, mostly Croatia and not try to sail down to Turkey and back before summer. So we were going to end up giving Turkey a miss this trip, but then we decided we should take the opportunity while the boat was secure on the hard to fly to Turkey for a week to visit Istanbul and Cappadocia. This is the fastest that we (this is a royal we, as Mark did all the work) have ever organized a trip. We checked with Elio that we could leave Por Dos for an extra week in his yard. He gave us the OK on Thursday; we booked that night and left Saturday early morning for our marathon trip to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Rome.