Monday, October 1, 2007


all photos in this post by Nereo Zane
Our first day was many things: amazing, challenging, educational, and as expected – it was filled with events and experiences that will influence not only the next five days, but future expeditions.
Chris and I were fortunate enough to be on the morning news, in studio at the Fox affiliate in Albany. It was a fun interview, Chris sang, I talked about the route, and they showed some “B-roll” of the team shot yesterday during a warm-up row.

We got back to the Albany Yacht Club in time to receive a very late shipment of oars and greet Scott Keller of the Hudson Valley Greenway who had paddled over on his kayak with a friend.
Our priest Father LeFever was perfect for this event: warm, genuine, and most of all, he’s the chaplain for the police department in Albany. Many thanks to Jodi, a police officer, for arranging things. We are doing this for police and firemen so we couldn’t have had a better priest to do the job. He blessed the boat, the gondoliers, the oars, and was very encouraging.
Camera crews from the various TV stations came by, one at a time, and when we got off the dock, it was about 9:30am.
For the first 10 miles it was Vittorio, Enzo, Chris and Bepi rowing at a strong pace. Nereo, John and I followed in the chase boat and had a hard time catching up after having been delayed at the dock. I was amazed at how far they had gone.

When John climbed into the gondola and Chris joined us in the chase boat, he looked at me with big eyes and exclaimed “those guys are machines!”
John rowed for the next 2 or three hours and I did the last segment. We all felt good about our shifts rowing with the Venetians, received some good instruction and can’t wait to get back on the boat tomorrow.

The first 10 miles were with light wind and a good down-river current. The guys made good time and the water was smooth. After passing under the Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge, conditions changed: the wind began to blow up-river and as it clashed with the water, which was flowing in the opposite direction, waves began to appear. At first it was a light chop, but a few more miles down the river and the guys were getting quite a ride. The bow of the gondola was well out of the water at times and our gondoliers proved that they had a good sense of balance.
At around 2pm the tide turned on us. Scott Keller had warned me that it would, and I assumed that we’d need to dock the gondola and come back after the tide turned again. I had not factored one thing into the equation: Venetians. They just kept rowing. An hour later I replaced John and the four of us rowed against the current with no problems. Vittorio reads the water with an expert eye and brought us through several areas where the water wasn’t as actively flowing. Where there was current we just powered through it. It was challenging a few times but having to keep up with the pace is easier when you have some of the best rowers in the world watching you.

We made land at Athens at 5pm. We were later in arrival than I’d like but we completed our first segment and discovered that we could row against the current, at least this far up the river, for some time without problems.
Earlier in the day, I brought the chase boat in to the fuel dock at Coeymans Landing and promtly broke the starter (I have a knack for things like that). Jim Costello at the repair center there had it fixed in a short time and was very good to us. Thanks Jim!

Today’s total mileage was 26.6, tomorrow we have another 25 mile row to Kingston. Please pray for good weather.

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