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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 11:15 UK
Two Italians are rowing around Kent on route to Turkey

By Jo Burn
BBC Kent


BBC South East's Peter Whittlesea met the two rowers in Whitstable

Giacomo de Stefano and Jacobo Apis began their epic adventure on 15 April in London and hope to reach Istanbul by October crossing more than 15 countries along the way in nothing more solid than a Viking boat.

I met them on the slip behind Whitstable Yacht club as they prepared their boat for the next stage of the journey.

As Giacomo removes the covers and awakens his 19ft Ness Yawl for the next day of his adventures, he contemplates the tide and the wind and is grateful that the storms of the first few days of May have passed, but he is not a man in hurry. He is taking his time to stop and talk to those whose lives revolve around the rivers he crosses.

Giacomo de Stefano and Jacobo Apis
Giacomo and Jacobo stopped in Whitstable

He is travelling on no budget and is relying on local good will and a stove made from a beer keg to sustain himself and his travelling companion. The clinker built mahogany boat is British built but based on a Viking design using two narrow long oars each. They offer least resistance in the water but will require heavy work when faced with strong winds and currents.

He will travel through 15 countries and visit 100 towns and cities and it is all to highlight the plight of the 200 million people who live along the river banks he will pass.

Dressed in a woolly hat and oil skin he does not look like a man on an epic voyage but as his journey takes him through to France and then up through Eastern Europe to Turkey he is prepared for all weathers and will contemplate rowing naked if the weather improves. It is the prospect of the winds and the currents howling through the English Channel which keeps him awake at night though.

This is 44 year-old Giacomo's fourth river trip centred on tourism and water and when not on a voyage he lives what he describes as a "simple life" on a boat in a Venetian lagoon. He has been an architect and is now a film maker. On this trip he will be guided by the stars and often sleep on the boat itself but along the way he is making a documentary about the places he sees and worries he carries.

You can follow his diary at manontheriver.com

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