Saturday, February 18, 2017
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
As the sun set behind the buildings across the water from our docks,
I caught this shot of John Kerschbaum from Gondola Romantica in Minnesota - heading out on a cruise with happy passengers,
as one of Newport's ubiquitous crew boats paused between runs.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Sunday, February 5, 2017
A brilliant sunset in early February.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
It was a wonderful evening.
I'm really not sure if we all deserved it,
but I will say that I have spent quite a lot of time
pumping rainwater out of my gondolas,
So I'll take it.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
In the photo above, John managed to create
an image of himself...rowing himself!
Continuing the fun, here's a shot of the
gondola with passengers...walking towards you.
Thanks for the great photos, John.
I'm so glad to see that things are going well for you there.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Yesterday I professed my undying affection
for a wonderful device known as the sump pump.
I spent plenty of time pumping out boats,
and then placing a "Stella system" on each boat,
so I could sleep through the night.
Well, I slept. Slept through more rain, and even hail.
When I arrived, I was reminded that "Murphy" might as well be
my middle name.
I pumped out fifteen boats yesterday.
This morning, fourteen of them were still floating on the surface.
But then there was Stella.
She had a battery that didn't fulfill it's duties,
and was summarily baptized in salt water.
The very boat that I chose to use when I named the "Stella system",
was the one that had tried to make a mad dash for the bottom of the bay.
She failed, of course, because Venetian boats are made of wood.
But there she sat, a lowrider gondola.
If gondolas could speak, this one would be saying:
"you haven't given me enough attention lately,
but today I made sure that you would."
But then...your plans don't always
Sunday, January 22, 2017
After years and years of living in drought conditions, Southern California
is enjoying some major relief in the form of rain - LOTS of rain.
And while I know we need it, it's not always soothing.
As I sit here typing, I can hear the clatter of strong rainfall
as it hits the roof and the sides of the house.
It reminds me of a few things:
First, it reminds me of the many hours I spent today,
pumping out boats that were sloshingly full of fresh water.
Second, it reminds me that I'll be doing more of the same tomorrow morning.
Third, it reminds me of the summer of '89, when I lived in Nome, Alaska.
We liked to joke that we had two seasons up there - frozen and wet.
But Mother Nature really took us to task that year.
I think we only had about five days all summer when it wasn't pouring down relentlessly.
As a rule, I like to have a bilge pump and a battery set up on each boat
(you can read more about it in my post "The Stella System").
But after so many storms, I found that many of my batteries were either discharged or no longer functioning.
Enter the sump pump.
This is not something I picked up at the local boating store.
It's a hardware store item.
The sump pump is mostly popular with folks who have flooded basements,
but when the rain gets serious, I reach for one too.
The one I got to spend so much quality time with today is a Flotec "Intellipump" model that boasts a 1/4 horsepower motor that will blow standing water out of a boat at 1,790 gallons per hour.
They retail at about $145, plus the hose.
If you don't either step on or tie down the end,
it'll shoot all over the place like a firehose.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
For the longest time, gondolas in Venice were symmetric:
perfectly even in their design, with the port and starboard sides
measuring the same exact numbers.
But in the mid 1800's, as the story goes, Venice fell upon hard times,
and the gondola went from a two-man boat to a one-man boat.
Up until then, the boat was rowed by a master on the back of the gondola,
and an apprentice up front.
At some point a conversation took place between a builder and his client.
The client's name is unknown,
but the builder was a guy named Domenico Tramontin.
Recently, the city had fallen on hard times.
The apprentice got a pink slip,
while the maestro ended up doing twice as much work.
(yes, this is a familiar story these days)
The iconic gondola had become a one-man-boat.
There was probably wine involved in this conversation.
The client said "build me a crooked one".
Mr. Tramontin is believed to have said:
"they're all gonna laugh at you,
'cause you're the one who's gonna be rowing it, so what do I care?"
The client was tired of correcting hard to compensate for a missing front man.
Domenico built the very first asymmetric gondola.
Sure enough - when the owner of this new lopsided boat rowed her,
other gondoliers laughed...until they saw how easy she was to row.
Next they wanted to try rowing her.
Then they wanted one of their own.
It is said that from that point,
nobody build another symmetric gondola in La Serenissima.
At the time, Domenico Tramontin was just one of many gondola builders.
but his decision to create an asymmetric gondola,
Well, that elevated him to "gondola royalty."
I can't speak from a boat builder's perspective.
But I can tell you that as a guy who rows these remarkable vessels,
the asymmetry is fantastic, and if I could go back in time,
I'd love to shake hands with Domenico Tramontin.