After the Hudson River expedition, the gondola was loaded into a moving van, where she was transported all the way back to Southern California; securely riding on her trailer like a shipping cradle. She was delivered to the headquarters and storage facility of one of our sponsors, Rudd’s Transfer and Storage, and I towed her on-trailer back home. With the gondola parked in front of my house, I pulled everything out and laid it on my garage floor to sort through. There were a lot of things I recognized, but I came across a few things I didn’t expect to see as well.
Here is a list of some of the things I pulled out of the gondola:
Red cover – This canvas cover came with the gondola when I bought her. It’s not your typical gondola covering approach (like the two deck triangles you see on most gondolas in Venice), but it covers everything nicely with a bungee cord around the perimeter. It’s more effective at keeping snoops out of the boat than protecting from rain. We also found it quite useful as a windbreak on the bow of the chase boat.
Bilge pump – I brought a 500-gallon per hour pump that I keep for “emergencies”. Complete with long pre-stripped wires and a portable jump-start battery with built-in jumper cables, I wanted to be totally ready to deal with leaks, dribbles, or even gushers. Fortunately it never had to be put to use. In the wise words of John Kerschbaum: “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”.
Floorboards – With interesting wear patterns telling who stood where, and how they moved around.
Fodra boards (the ones facing inward in the passenger area) – One has a small chunk taken out of it. This is really the only damage to removable pieces I’ve encountered. I’ll have to repair and re-paint but it’s a small price to pay considering all the different ways things could have gotten knocked around and scratched.
Seats, chairs, pusioli (arm pieces) and of course, the big brass seahorses – All in great condition. They were mounted on the gondola for her launch and some press photos. After that they were stored at the Albany Yacht Club until right before the Columbus Day Parade. Elisa and I drove back up, loaded them into the rental car and brought them down the The City. We dressed the gondola on the morning of the parade.
5 pontapiedi – The foot wedges we used to push off with the rear leg. I made six but gave one to John Kerschbaum.
6 remi – My new set of four that Franco Furlanetto made for this expedition, one of my older ones which was brought as a backup, and one that I inadvertently swapped with Joe Deverrel.
A soap-and-water spray bottle from the Albany Yacht Club - As if I didn’t already owe a debt of gratitude to the dockmaster, Ed Larvia. Hey Ed, I owe you a spray bottle now too, don’t let me forget.
Extra forcola da poppa and prua – I didn’t expect to break either forcole but I also didn’t want to find myself sitting on a gondola in New York, looking at a broken forcola and saying to myself “Dang! I’ve got another one of those at home!”
Wedges, roofing shims, mallet, hammer, Crisco – On any rowing boat in Venice, you’ll find wedges, some kind of hammer, and of course, a forcola lubricant. Most lubes are of the animal fat type – like lard but more likely poured out of the pan after Mamma fried up some bacon. We tend to use Crisco here in the US; not everybody but a lot of guys do. I thought the Venetians would burst out laughing when they saw the Crisco but they didn’t. Maybe they just waited till I was out of earshot. The wood wedges were cut from scrap wood on my band-saw in the garage. I picked up the roofing shims at a Home Depot in Albany.
Portable bow light from Outdoor World – Joe Deverrel gave this to me just in case we needed to row at night. He’d used it on his gondola when he rowed from Cross Lake to Albany. Joe’s advice and words of encouragement were very helpful.
Bag of nuts – Probably John’s.
Moleskin – Great for dealing with blisters or high-friction areas on the palms and fingers.
A camera case I misplaced halfway through the trip.
Two of my gondolier hats – Un-crushed, thank God.
Ratcheting tie-straps – Used to secure the gondola to her trailer during transport.
Dock lines, fenders, lifejackets.
Hitachi 18 volt cordless drill kit – I’ve gotta have tools! This was invaluable on a few occasions.
Empty cans and bottles – These were mostly from water, Gatorade, and orange soda. Also an empty Heineken can from Day 4. We were floating along during a fruit break and a couple cruised by in their pleasure boat. Bepi stood up and began shouting “Acqua, acqua!” like he’d been stuck in the desert. They didn’t have any water so they tossed over a bunch of sodas…and for Bepi: a big 24 ounce can of Heineken. Hey Bepi, you’ll have to teach me that trick!
Torn FDNY shirt – this one puzzled me. The navy blue polo shirt was torn in half, and I found the bottom half first. Because it had no markings, I assumed it was just a rag from one of my old shirts. When I found the top half, with its FDNY lettering, I realized it had probably come from the guys who towed the gondola to Staten Island. Funny thing about that shirt – I’m sure it was just “another old shirt” to the fire boat guys, but once I realized what it was, I felt like I was handling something sacred.
A product called “Friliver – Energy” with packaging all in Italian. I’m guessing this was Vittorio’s because it was at the very aft of the gondola, under the poppa deck. It appears to be an energy drink mix, with powder in foil packets. I haven’t tried it though. I’m not big on energy drinks – I tend to be fairly hyperactive to begin with.
Toilet paper roll with the hotel wrapping still on – This was my favorite discovery. Many times I’d wondered to myself “what do I do if I need to go number two?” Remaining regular was a priority because of this concern. It appears that I wasn’t the only one worried about such things. The wrapping was from a hotel so I have my suspicions. Again I must Quote John: “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”.