The project

The idea and the realization

The peculiarity of 33 Isole is that one same person – Lucio Bellomo, from Palermo, Sicily, 34 years old at the time of departure – joined through his voyage two apparently different objectives:

  • a challenging and original voyage alone on a very small sailboat;
  • social investigation about the future of Italy’s small islands.

In the islands, the average stay lasted 2 days and a half. In only a few cases bad weather forced Lucio to postpone his departure.
During every stay, Lucio interviewed mainly young people able to witness, through their experience and personal story, about the central theme of the investigation: the “future” of Italy’s small islands. The total number of interviews accounts to more than 90.

In many islands, a small filming troupe was waiting to help Lucio with the interviews: the Peruvian director Donald Wilson, an employee of the American communications company Bonnemaison Inc. (in order Brooks Moore, Hannah Oneda, Mari Bonnemaison, Annelise Moore and Curtis Mariano), and the photographer Elisa Manganelli who took care of the group logistics. The Peruvian photographer Daniel Ducato was also present at the beginning of the journey. In the other islands, instead, Lucio made the interviews by himself alone.

Lucio sailed 2800 nautical miles in slightly more than 4 months onboard Maribelle, a prototype in-between a sailboat, a rubberboat, and a windsurf. She is 6.15 m long and has no cabin.
He always sailed alone, at day as well as at night, halting only twice during a given leg because of dangerous meteorological conditions which arose while sailing.
Lucio stopped in all Italy’s inhabited islands (put aside Sicily and Sardinia) with only two exceptions: the Tuscan Archipelago National Park refused him and Maribelle the landing in Pianosa and Gorgona; and 3 islands only were chosen among all those present in the Venice Lagoon.

The boat - Maribelle 615

Maribelle – that is the boat’s name – is a small sailboat (6.15 m longwithout any berth, designed and realized by Francesco Belvisi, a young and promising boat designer from Pantelleria (one of the most remote small islands indeed). Maribelle won several awards thanks to two very original characteristics: it is a «rubber sailboat» and its boom is a windsurf-like «wish bone». The inflatable tubes make Maribelle stabler than a traditional sailboat and therefore appropriate to single-handed navigation, whereas the wish bone makes it a funnier boat. Thanks to a carbon mast, a particularly wide mainsail and a reduced weight (about 600 kg at full-load), with Maribelle you get some really cool sailing too!

In the frame of the project Periplo, in 2012 Maribelle already circumnavigated Sicily in stages, followed by a support boat.

In April 2017 Lucio recovered Maribelle from the Lega Navale in Livorno, Tuscany, where she was laying dry since too long. Helped out by Francesco Belvisi and especially by Daniele Bertorotta, Vincenzo Murdaca, and  Gilson Monteiro Aquino from Sailing Italia Services in Palermo, Sicily, he spent the whole winter refitting and equipping her for the long single-handed voyage she was bound to do.

The main modifications have been:

  • new pivoting centerboard in order to reduce the draft if needed;
  • electric system with two batteries powered by a solar panel;
  • 55 lbs, 12 V electric outboard engine by Minn Kota;
  • new tiller rudder with autopilot;
  • full batten mainsail with one reef (during the voyage I added a small yet fundamental jib); several security equipment (VHF, masthead lights, lifeline, etc.).

Lucio sailed all the time, at day as well as at night, employing the electric engine only for moorings in harbors or bays. For the course, he used the naviagation software OpenCPN, free and open source, on his cell phone (a rugged one, that is, resistant to shocks and water) and the onboard compass.


Maribelle made it till Venice safe and sound. After all, only a few problems did she endure during the voyage. She proved to be robust, dry, easy to sail and faithful. Even rather fast, considering her dimension and the aim she was designed with (which for sure wasn’t this trip of mine!).

I cared for her so much…

The itinerary

Total Nautical Miles theoretical 2322, actual 2874

Total Sailing Time 42 days

Longest Leg Gallipoli - Tremiti, 339 miles, 5 days 8 hours

Credits: Gaia Cairo – Il cielo in una sogliola