Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Incredible Flying Ruffino

Here's one of my all-time favorite photos from the US Gondola Nationals
in Stillwater, Minnesota. 
Funny enough - it's not a dramatic racing photo,
not a fun group shot, and not an image of someone receiving a medal.

This is a split-second image of a remarkable jump,
performed by Michael Angelo Ruffino.
He managed to do it while rowing,
and yes, he landed perfectly on the deck and kept on rowing.

Here's a close-up, just because, well, a shot like this deserves a close-up.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Waterfire from Above

photo by John Simonetti

This is an image that begs to be clicked on for enlargement.
Here we see one of Simonetti's wonderful photos of Waterfire in Providence, Rhode Island.

In the lower left-hand corner you can see a gondola just emerging from beneath a bridge.

The gondoliers at La Gondola are fortunate enough to get to row through this event many times each year, and when they hosted Nationals last time, they let some of us out-of-towners give it a try as well.

We've talked about this event here on the Gondola Blog many times, determining that as amazing as it really defies description.
Even so, a strong attempt was made in the post "What is WaterFire?"

I can't wait to see and experience it all again one day.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Always Alaskan

As I write this, and summer is getting into full swing here in
Southern California, The sun is also shining on Alaska.
In fact this time of year, it shines a lot up there.

Two of my favorite gondoliers are currently working on a fishing boat in Alaskan waters, enjoying the Midnight Sun, and having the kinds of adventures that young men dream of.
Jakob Easton lived in Alaska for many years, while Hunter Mitchell is experiencing the 49th state for the first time.

But when the season winds down, they will return to Newport,
and begin training for this year's US Gondola Nationals.

If you've ever lived in Alaska, you know that no matter how long ago you lived there, it'll always be in your blood.
I lived in Nome, Alaska in my twenties,
and even now, a piece of my heart is still up there.

The other day I was watching a show about a woman who lives in Alaska,
far north of the Arctic Circle, and her motto stuck with me:
"If it hurts, don't think about it."
- Sue Aikens

If ever there were a perfect quote for arctic survival - that's the one.
Rest assured, that this October, as we set out on the water to compete with our esteemed rowing colleagues at Nationals, I will be shouting that little piece of wisdom from Sue Aikens.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Simon Drops the Bottle

photos by Kalev Pallares
Here's a fun sequence of Simon Atkins dropping a message-in-a-bottle
in the water for one of his passengers to retrieve...moments before a
marriage proposal takes place.

He drops it!
Makes sure she didn't hear the splash,
Rows off a few strokes,
 And then nervously checks to see if it's still there!

A minute later the bottle was fetched,
the question was popped,
and she said "yes", of course.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Gondolas Spotted in Boston

photo by Kathleen Gonzalez
Our friend Kathleen Gonzalez, who wrote the book "Free Gondola Ride",
hosts a great blog called "Seductive Venice" - which covers topics on
Casanova, Venice, and all things Venetian.
She was recently in Boston and saw the gondolas there.
Take a look at her post "Not Just in Venice Anymore...".

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth

Happy Fourth of July from the Gondola Blog.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Two Guys Go to Tahoe

photos by Eddie Rivera
Eddie Rivera and Kyle Wolting of The Gondola Company of Newport
decided to drop in on Drew Ste. Marie at his servizio on the
blue waters of Lake Tahoe today.
They sent me some photos, which have left me profoundly jealous.
In the above photo, we see Kyle rowing on the Venice-built gondola
known as "Giallo".
Eddie snapped the photo while rowing "Theresa".
Both gondoliers were heading out of the jetty at the Tahoe Keys Marina.
And here we see Eddie at the dock with signage and boats in the background.
 At one time this gondola was painted yellow, and in serious disrepair,
until a friend of mine worked his magic and brought her back to life. 
The passengers seem happy too.
And here they are:
Kyle on the left, Eddie on the right, and Drew in the middle.

To learn more about the Lake Tahoe gondola operation, check out

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Twenty-Two Degrees from Above

A while back I posted a head-on shot of this same gondola
and called it "Twenty-Two Degrees to Port".

Since I rarely come upon an angle of the gondola that I haven't seen a thousand times, that photo really captured my attention.

As I went through the other images from that day, I discovered this shot.
The boat is still leaning to port at twenty-two degrees,
but this view is from a somewhat higher vantage point.

Like a fine wine, or a mysterious woman - you can spend years, decades, even a lifetime obsessing over her - looking at this remarkable boat.
She is beauty, she is grace, and she has captured the heart of nearly every man who has ever rowed her. 
And yet she has issues, baggage, and imperfection in the form of asymmetry.

Is she perfect?
Can you stop thinking about her?
Didn't think so.

I'm convinced that for as long as man inhabits this earth,
he will never build another boat that matches our beloved gondola.
She is the genuine article, and all of her contemporaries will be measured against her - never to measure up.