On board the first RJ 130 with Capt. Gabriele Carniglia

2 July 2021 By Claire Griffiths
On board the first RJ 130 explorer yacht by Cantiere delle Marche with Capt. Gabriele Carniglia

Claire Griffiths is Dockwalk’s contributing editor in the Mediterranean. She fled to the sunny south of France from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Claire has a background in journalism for national and regional UK press and a career in political and corporate PR prior to that. Claire’s hobbies include eating, sleeping and dancing at inopportune times. She tries to avoid sheer drops and Olympic bobsled runs. Email Claire at

Cantiere delle Marche's first RJ 130 explorer is designed for navigating to the furthest corners of the globe...

Capt. Gabriele Carniglia was born and grew up in Sestri Levante between the iconic Mediterranean villages of Portofino and Cinque Terre. As a boy, he loved boating and fishing with his grandfather and father. “That’s where my passion for the sea and boats began,” he says. “From the smallest sailing vessel to the commercial ships, I loved being on the quay, visiting the military ships when they came into the bay, or watching ships launch in the nearby Fincantieri headquarters in Riva Trigoso.”

All imagery courtesy of Guillaume Plisson

After years of summer jobs as a sailor, he decided he wanted to become a Master, taking the first courses and licenses while still at school. His first job was with Giorgio Mussini in Portofino; his first crew job on a large yacht was as first mate on a modern 35-meter sloop. “I stayed for three very satisfying years and I learned a lot, thanks to the very experienced captain and I am still in touch with the people I worked with then,” says Capt. Carniglia. Twelve years ago, he met his current owner, who asked him to skipper the first M/Y RJ.

“I have been a Master for twelve years and have followed the construction of five new boats from Italian shipyards and now the latest RJ built at Cantiere delle Marche,” says Carniglia. Now 42, Carniglia has been on boats for 29 years.

Carniglia and his owner appointed Cantiere delle Marche to build an explorer yacht, believing them to be the leaders in this sector. “I was involved with the boat about halfway through construction,” says Capt. Carniglia. “We took over a project that had already started, gaining time on the construction period, which normally is around 36 months. We tried to include ‘our vision’ as much as possible. We started working on it in September 2019. COVID-19 slowed construction and we launched in January 2021.”

RJ 130, a 40-meter steel and aluminum yacht, is the first model in the RJ range. She was designed inside and out by Francesco Paszkowski with naval architecture by Hydro Tec. She sleeps 12 guests and accommodates seven crew in four cabins. “It is always extremely exciting to experience a project from the inside, manage the technical aspects, or make improvements thanks to one’s own and others’ experience, assisted by modern technology,” says Capt. Carniglia. “The success of the ship project is the fulcrum of everything obviously, but perhaps the most exciting thing is the synergy that my team and I were able to weave with this shipyard. That’s what struck me most and I don’t think it is so easy to find.”

This was Carniglia’s first experience in building a steel and aluminum yacht and “for a passionate and fussy navigator, I enjoyed working on this project with the yard; a more solid and robust construction than they usually build — working out thicknesses, materials, systems, equipment, autonomy, etc. I learned a lot of new things from people with different experience to mine.”

Carniglia will wait a few thousand nautical miles before pronouncing his final impression but the sea trials revealed excellent navigation skills, stability, long range, soundproofing, and comfort in general. “There are always things that you would change at the end of each project, but at some point, you reach the deadline you have set, beyond which you cannot go,” he says. “That’s why every time you think you have built the ‘definitive boat,’ in reality, it’s always the penultimate!”

Capt. Gabriele Carniglia

RJ 130’s home berth will be Porto Antico, Genoa, and once COVID restrictions are lifted, the yacht will make plans to cruise in Greece before heading for the Cannes and Monaco yacht shows. “After [a] two-year warranty period, we will organize trips outside the Straits, perhaps in the Fjords, or in the Caribbean. Just like the film said, ‘The world is not enough‘ (with this ship)!”

This article originally ran in the June 2021 issue of Dockwalk.


More from Dockwalk