Modern Day Argonaut Here’s one mariner who logs more sea miles each year than just about anyone else living in the Palmetto State. By Dan Dickison Dan Valoppi (far right) joins Luiz Kahn and Brad Van Liew as they stand watch on board the Santa Cruz 70 Midnight Rider during the 2006 Newport-Bermuda Race. Photo by Dan Dickison.
utumn is here, and in coastal South Carolina that means a noticeable increase in boat traffic along the Intracoastal Waterway. From September to November, sailing vessels (and others) crowd this waterway, most of them migrating south to warmer climes. Of course, there are also those boats that you can’t see, the ones making their migrations offshore. Out there, on any given day during this season, it’s a good bet that Dan Valoppi is on board one of those craft, piloting it safely to its appointed destination. Google his name and you won’t find too much more than a few listings, including Valoppi’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages and a handful of items mentioning his racing exploits. Despite his relatively low profile on the Internet, Valoppi is one of the more active mariners you’re apt to encounter. With over 30 years of sailing experience as a delivery skipper and avid racing sailor, he regularly logs about 250 days a year on the water. This profession has taken Valoppi to destinations throughout the Caribbean, up and down the Eastern Seaboard and to ports across the
Atlantic. (Horta, in the Azores, is his favorite.) He has logged well over 150,000 sea miles delivering all manner of sailing vessels and has raced aboard everything from small one-designs to maxi yachts. We caught up with Valoppi while he was en route from Charleston to St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., to deliver a Beneteau 411 for the owner. “This is pretty much the norm,” explained the 52-year-old mariner via ship-to-shore text. “I’m offshore with three crew. We’ll be under way for about a week, and once we get the boat safely berthed in St. Thomas, I’ll be back to Charleston to pick up the next ride.” As it turned out, this particular trip didn’t go as planned. On the third day out, the boat began taking on lots of seawater, and Valoppi and crew had to reroute to Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas. Such unexpected twists are just part of life when your profession depends upon man’s inventions in an ocean environment. But Valoppi made the best of it, spending his 50th birthday onshore at the famous Snappa’s Bar, which happened to be staging a rockin’ 10year-anniversary party that night. This recent delivery notwithstanding, Valoppi says most of the boats that he signs on to deliver are in great shape. “Usually, the only things I need to do are routine engine and deck checks—watching for chafe or loose shackles, that sort of thing. Of course, you do have to manage the onboard systems, keep the batteries topped up and make sure all the electronics are functioning, but that just comes with the territory. On deliveries, I find that sailing the boat is normally the easy part. The most important thing that I do is stay on top of what Valoppi crewing for Anna-Marian Renken on board her Class 40 double-handed speedster, Sevenstar Yacht Transport, in the 2012 edition of the Atlantic Cup. Photo courtesy Billy Black.
46 November 2014