Sunday, December 2, 2007


Most gondola operations outside Venice use trailers to haul out their gondolas. Some use them to haul out for winter storage,
some use them for servicing their gondolas, and others use trailers for transportation between waterways or to tow a gondola in parades.

Mike Novack is probably the foremost authority on trailering gondolas in parades – he’s done it so many times that his gondola is practically a fixture in Columbus Day parades on the East Coast. 

Roger Carlson in Adelaide, Australia has told me many times about when he’s established “unofficial land-speed records” for trailering gondolas Down Under.

For the Hudson River Expedition, we used the gondola trailer as a shipping cradle when transporting her in a moving van.
Whatever your purpose, if you have a trailer, chances are you keep it somewhere safe so it will be there when you need it. For the longest time, I kept a trailer in a safe lot by a boat ramp in Henderson, Nevada.
It was behind two locked chains and within a gated community.
Unfortunately that wasn’t enough.
I had plans to go out and service a gondola using the trailer to do it,
but when one of my gondoliers out there went to check on it,
 the trailer was gone.

Nobody knew where it was, who had taken it, or when it went missing.
There were three or four other trailers being stored there – just my luck, mine was the one that was stolen. Eventually I found myself on the phone with the police department in Henderson and was told that there wasn’t much that could be done.
I could file a report but it would essentially be a waste of time.
My trailer was quite unremarkable in its description and could have been anywhere by the time I’d discovered it’s absence.
The police didn’t do much to brighten my day but they did mention something interesting about the theft:
“it was probably stolen as part of a wire theft operation” was what the officer told me. When I heard the term “wire theft” I thought they were talking about wire transfers, as in bank-to-bank. What the police officer was talking about was the theft of copper wire from construction sites. It’s apparently a big problem, and easier to accomplish…with my gondola trailer!
I know what you’re thinking: don’t trailers have VIN numbers? Sure they do, but on many trailers they’re about as easy to remove as the license plate. It’s quite easy to change the appearance of a standard galvanized trailer by simply removing the license plate and removing or replacing decals.
For my regular contribution to the “I’m a bonehead club”: the trailer wasn’t insured against theft. But then again, who would expect it to disappear from a location that’s behind two locked chains and within a gated community?
In my case the problem had only one solution: buy another trailer.
I had to reschedule my trip out until I had the new trailer.
I was pretty mad about having to shell out more money but it wasn’t a dire situation. Imagine if this were to happen on the East Coast during a hurricane warning, or in the Midwest right before the lake ices over.

For a gondola operator, having a trailer safe and ready to use can be of ultimate importance.
Here are some tips:
1. Keep the gondola in a gated area.
2. Use cable locks for each wheel. If you have a two-axel trailer, a longer cable lock can be threaded through both wheels and the frame on one side. I’ve had good experiences with the Python by Master Locks (see It’s not the cheapest lock on the market but it sure beats losing a trailer.
3. Lock the tongue, where the trailer attaches to the hitch. Trimax makes several good locks and locking mechanisms (see
4. Maintain the trailer. You don’t want to get halfway across town with gondola-on-trailer and get a flat tire or have one of your hubs go out.
At that point there are at least a dozen possible outcomes and I can’t think of one that’s good.
The truth is that unless you keep your trailer in a bank vault, if the crooks want it bad enough, they’ll figure out a way to take it. The object here is to make sure it’s not worth their time and trouble, so they’ll either move on to another target or decide that maybe a life of crime isn’t for them after all. HA!
I’ve heard some recommend that the best way to keep the trailer from being stolen is to remove the wheels, leave it up on blocks, and chain the frame to a fencepost or tree. I’m happy to live and operate in areas that aren’t that hardcore. The fact remains that we need to be prepared, and to take measures towards prevention of the loss.
Your boat trailers are easy picking for thieves. Lock ‘em up!

No comments: