Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday Night Traffic in Newport


A snap from tonight in the canals of Newport.
Gondoliers Michael Angelo Ruffino and Kyle Wolting 
just off the bow of my gondola.
Somewhere behind me, 

Eddie was probably planning on passing all three of us.
Traffic on the road is miserable.

But traffic on the water is actually fun when you're in gondolas.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Gondolier Job in Napa



A while back you saw a gorgeous gondola in my post "It's All About the Wood". Angelino of Gondola Servizio in Oakland had it custom-built for an operation in Napa, California.  

This is a dream that Angelino has been developing for years.
Due to other obligations, the only thing missing from the equation is...
someone to row the boat!

That's right, the hunt is still on for a gondolier. 
This position will require rowing ability, and the ability to work independently.
A full-time staff will handle booking the tours for people who call in.
Additional business can be arranged in-person on the dock.

If you're interested, or have further questions, 
send a text to April at:
510-333-6328

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Oxnard Haul

photos by Mark Schooling

Boats are made to float.
They're made for the water, and they live in the water.
But now and then you've got to pull your precious baby 
out of the water and give her some TLC.

Mark Schooling at Gondola Paradiso set aside a few days recently to do just that with his batela "Maria".

Tim Reinard of Sunset Gondola has a wise phrase:
"The most dangerous place for a boat is out of the water".



Mark made sure Maria was secure for all the work,
and when it was time, the boatyard staff got her back into the water.


I like to call what you see in the above photo: 
"the most nervous moment in a boat owner's life".
(For more reading about hoisting and nervous moments, 

Back in his stripes, and back on the boat, Mark was a happy gondolier.


The tide was high, which meant he would have to take the long way home, but he didn't mind so much.  
It felt great to have the work done and the batela back in the water.

Home again, home again.




Final thoughts from Mark:
"No paint on my shoes after two and a half day's In the yard... guess my art degree paid off."

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Capitano Nereo


This past weekend saw the 44th annual Vogalonga in Venezia.

All of the "usual suspects" were there again:
dragon boats, kayaks, English-style crew boats,
all piloted by folks from places around the globe.

And of course, there were lots of Venetian boats 
(the ones that started it all back in 1974).
For the 33rd year in a row, our friends at Gondola Getaway were there.
Boats from all the rowing clubs were on the water for that grand tour of the lagoon.
And on the back of one of those boats...
was my dear friend Nereo Zane - taking his first turn as popier in that annual rally of a row.

It even made the newspaper!
Here's a look at the spread in the paper Nuova Venezia:


Nereo even ended up in the online gallery of Il Gazzettino.

Captaining a six-oar caorlina requires a lot of a rower - in strength, 
timing, and thinking ahead.
It's even more demanding on a 30 kilometer course, 
shared with a multitude of other boats.

Bravo Nereo!

Here's a Getty Image of the full shot:

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.