Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sensa in Venezia

photo by Moitza Nicolini

This past Sunday the people of Venezia took part once again, 
in the age-old traditional ceremony known as La Sensa.

Last weekend many of us here in California observed a similar ceremony in Long Beach, which was inspired by the one in the Venetian lagoon.

It all begins with lots of people heading out on boats.

One of the GSVVM's batelas makes it's way through the Grand Canal.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

 Several different club vessels passing the campanile in Piazza San Marco.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

 Eight remi and lots of varnished wood.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

 A bright red caorlina.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

 A GSVVM sandolo rowed by four of my friends.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

Un altre caorlina.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

That great big red boat from Brenta. 
photo by Moitza Nicolini

All of the boats follow a grand vessel, carrying several dignitaries, 
out to a designated spot.
A church official delivers profound words of blessing, 
along with those of a wedding ceremony.
The wedding takes place between Venezia and the sea.
At the height of it, the reigning leader 
(it used to be the Doge, now it's the Mayor) 
tosses a gold ring into the sea, sealing that marriage.

 The tossing of the ring.
Special thanks to Ruggero Zannini for this great shot

And in solemn reverence, everyone, on every boat, raises their remi.
photo by Moitza Nicolini

My sincere thanks to both Moitza Nicolini and Ruggero Zannini for the photos that made this post possible.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Sensa, Again!

Last year the folks at Gondola Getaway in Long Beach, California put together a great event - celebrating friendship between Long Beach and Venice, Italy.

Known as the "Sensa", this ancient annual gathering has gone on in Venice to commemorate the city's marriage to the sea.
Yesterday a few of us Newport gondoliers joined the ranks of Long Beach gondoliers to celebrate the second annual Long Beach Sensa.

I wrote a fairly in-depth account of last year's event in my post:
"The Long Beach Sensa 2017"

Last year I brought my own boat.
This year we were lucky enough to jump on board another out-of-town boat, as Drew from Tahoe Amore had one of his gondolas in the water.
We set her up with my clamp-on forcole and broke out my four-man set of oars.  Rowing her in "four wheel drive" was a blast.

At the last minute one of our four had to row another boat, so we recruited Tyson Davis - who grew up rowing in Long Beach, and was also co-founder of Sunset Gondola.  With a fourth guy on board we were back in business.

From front to back: 
Eddie Rivera, Gondola Greg, Tyson Davis, Drew Ste. Marie.

Before the ceremony, all boats made their way slowly around the inner canal loop of Naples - where most passenger cruises go.
It was part parade, part warmup, and a good chance for us to work the bugs out of our system, as the four of us hadn't rowed together like this, and the boat had never been rowed by four oars.

Next we were back in the basin of Alamitos Bay, getting ready for the official ceremony.

San Diego/Long Beach gondolier Mike Bixler and his wife - makin' it look good.

I swear, these two are still on their honeymoon.

The ceremony gets underway.

Spectators in various boats.

Important announcements.

Some passengers even came in costume.

Drew - enjoying his cushioned seat for a change.

Gary rows a much-loved pupparin.

After the ceremony, all the boats took off on a more spirited row 
around the whole of Naples Island.
Returning, we all made our way ashore for a feast prepared by Michael O'toole and his staff.

But first...a few pictures.

Coffee: the original energy drink.

As a nice surprise, John Synco of Gig Harbor Gondola made an appearance.
He grew up rowing at Gondola Getaway, 
so it was a bit of a homecoming for him.

From left to right:
Gary Serbeniuk, Eddie Rivera, John Synco, Gondola Greg.

Mille grazie to Gondola Getaway, for inviting us to join in such a fun event.
I'm already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Xochimilco on Cinco de Mayo

photo by Ruben Jay

Last year our friend Ruben went to Mexico City, and sent photos, 
video, and information on the "Venice of Mexico".
You can see that post at "Ruben Goes to Xochimilco"

Ruben was back there again today, and sent us another photo - probably to make me jealous, but I decided to build a post around it instead.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Ruben!
Thanks for the photo.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

photo by Mike Olsen

We thought about waving a big flag...but we've done that.

We thought about getting a bunch of mariachis on the boat...but we've actually done that too (see Viva Mariachis).

In the end, Eddie and I decided that the best way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, would be with tacos, and Coronas, on the back of a boat (but not right before rowing cruises).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Minnesota Repairs

Spring is in the air once again,
even in Minnesota.
John at Gondola Romantica wasn't sure it would come at all this year.
He told me they got eight inches of snow on a day when he usually has his boats uncovered and prepared for launch.

To make things more challenging, he discovered some soft areas on one of the gondolas, and he knew it couldn't be left until the end of the season.

That beautiful shot above is after the repair.
Here's a shot during the project.

The spot is towards the bow along the starboard side of the passenger area.

I told him he should put plexiglass there, 
and start marketing "glass-bottom boat tours"
but he was smarter than that, and didn't follow my direction.

The work is all done now, and soon the freshly repaired gondola will launch for what we all hope will be a great season in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Opportunity Comes to Napa

As you know from my post "It's All About the Wood", Angelino has been preparing things for his operation in Napa, California.  

The beautiful custom-built gondola featured in that post took her first passengers on Valentine's Day (see "The New Boat in Oakland"
and is now ready to fulfill her destiny - taking passengers and making memories on the Napa River in California's wine country.

This is a dream that Angelino has been developing for years.
He brought a boat to the location back in 2003, but the circumstances were different and things weren't exactly the way they needed to be.

Now, after decades in the business, the stars have aligned and soon the most beautiful gondola in North America will call the Main Street Boat Dock her home.

Ah, but things don't always go exactly as we plan them.
It seems that Gondolas aren't the only thing that Angelino is great at.
He's been working with an Italian wine import company for some time now, and it turns out, he's going to need to remain in Oakland (when not traveling through Italy with clients).

The bottom line:
He's looking for one good gondolier - who knows their stuff, is a strong rower, and is willing to relocate - to row that gorgeous gondola on the Napa River.

This will be like having your own gondola operation, except that you won't have to buy the boat, set up all the intricate details, and shoulder the many other burdens of company ownership.

Sound great?
Tell ya what - I'm jealous of whoever ends up getting the job.

A full-time staff will handle booking the tours, 
so most client interaction will only be on the docks and while cruising.
The base of operations is located at the base of the 3rd Street bridge at the intersection of 3rd and Main Street.
The gondolier will need to arrange their own living situation, 
and expect to be available 5 days per week.

If you're interested, contact Angelino at:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Out with Lucia

Just another sunset cruise in Newport,
this time on Lucia with her canopy on.
I swear, this just never gets old.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Five Hundred in the Big Easy

I wish I'd kept a tally. I wish I'd kept a score.
A simple sheet of paper, or scratches under a floorboard.
Ahh, but there are folks out there who are smarter than I am;

guys like Roberto in New Orleans.

Of course, he has had some run-ins with hurricanes,
but still, he has been smart enough to keep track of how many 
"big questions" were asked and answered on-board his gondola.
and yesterday, Nola Gondola hosted number five hundred!

Congrats to the happy couple,
and an even bigger congrats to Roberto - on such a great milestone.

Here's to 500 more!

No Sole Mio

After 17 years of operating on the Charles River in Boston,
Gondola di Venezia is now for sale,
and the boats are not scheduled to be launched this spring.

Here's an article in the Boston Globe about it: