Wednesday, October 3, 2007


All photos by Nereo Zane

Getting an early morning start

The forecast for today: overcast at first, a little wind activity, and possible light drizzle for a short period in late morning. We did get some drops on the windshield while driving to the gondola but after that I think we had a total of 1 minute’s worth of drizzle.

Bepi, Enzo, John and Vittorio left Kingston at approximately 8:30am, making their way down the roundout to the famous lighthouse and, as usual, got a good start – making the 5 mile mark by 9:40am. They would have been there sooner if they hadn’t spotted a large recently-dead carp fish floating in the water. This fish was easily 2 feet long and they couldn’t pass up the chance to pick it up and pretend they’d caught it for the camera.

No, they did not catch that fish by whacking it with a matter what they tell you.

As we move down-river, we are seeing more pleasure boats, all curious to see the gondola, many wanting to know more. The Hudson River has commercial traffic as well; it’s not uncommon to see a huge barge pushing up-river. We encountered a small cruise ship yesterday; I’m sure we’ll see more as the days go by.

Many of the people I spoke with when I was planning this expedition said that we probably wouldn’t see much in the way of fall colors. It has been mostly green, but each day there’s a little more yellow, orange and red in the trees. This is such beautiful country. We are now in Bald Eagle territory; we don’t always see them, but whenever we’re rowing near shore, we can hear their distinctive calls.

At mile 7 the sun came out and the wind picked up just a bit. The light reflecting on the water was something to see. Conditions up until now had been great, but my biggest concern was with the river 4 miles ahead. From the Crum Elbow to our destination at Marlboro, the river can become a “wind tunnel” for about 9 miles.

At 10:45, the gondola reached 10 miles. At 11:55am they stopped under the abandoned railroad bridge at Poughkeepsie after rowing 16 miles and Chris took over for John. They passed the Pirate Canoe Club (19 miles from Kingston) at 12:30pm. The wind was building, the water becoming choppy, and the skies darkened. It was looking like rain for a while but then the sun broke through and we drew a sigh of relief.

Rowing in the sun, a few miles from Marlboro.

I took a short day today, rowing the last few miles with Bepi, Enzo and Vittorio. It is incredible rowing with these guys. You can’t get off the boat without having learned something new and every stroke seems to be better than the last. Having Vittorio right behind me up on the poppa deck makes for some excellent instruction, not to mention a little pressure-to-perform.
Everyone on the team knows that Chris Harrison can sing; he is excellent and some of them regard him as “Pavarotti numero due”. Today he did something new: he sang to us from the chase boat for the last mile. As we rowed, we heard a full version of “Non Piu Andrai Farfallone Amorso” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Vittorio liked it so much that he stopped the gondola, fished out his video camera, and demanded more. Chris responded by singing “Notte Giorno Faticar” from Don Giovanni.

We arrived at the Marlboro Yacht Club at 1:30pm, a full 45 minutes ahead of our scheduled time of 2:15. Everyone was in a great mood. The sun was shining, the wind was minimal and the folks at the Marlboro Yacht Club treated us with such hospitality that we had a hard time leaving for dinner.

The team in front of the Marlboro Yacht Club.

I know many of our friends have been praying for good weather, and especially for light winds. We got what you asked for today. This day was a big one with many factors combining to potentially become a “perfect storm”. First of all, the gondoliers were a little fatigued from the 50 miles they’d already rowed. Second, we were travelling through a section of river which heads directly south while the winds have been prevailing from the south. As I mentioned on day 1, when the wind and tide oppose each other, we get waves. So not only does a headwind hamper the gondola’s progress, it also tosses her around, making rowing difficult. The third factor was the fact that winds often tend to build in the afternoon and we were scheduled to be in the “wind tunnel” just when it starts to really blow. Yesterday I quietly predicted an arrival time of about 3pm at the Marlboro Yacht Club. I’m so happy to have been wrong!

Tomorrow we row 24.5 miles to the Peekskill Yacht Club in, you guessed it, Peekskill. Keep praying for good wind conditions.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Greg and the rest of the fearless gondolieri - we're cheering you on from Colorado! And praying for good weather and safety. :-)

Buona Fortuna!

Danielle Versluys