Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Short-Lived Vancouver Gondola Operation

If you have read my post from December 2nd, you know a little about the boats Tom Harper built back in 1994 and operated in Victoria's Inner Harbour.

After they were sold, two of them ended up on the mainland in Vancouver.
The new owner dressed one up for passenger service, and kept the other as a possible future passenger boat or "parts car".

The one boat that ended up taking passengers only operated for about two years, but a lot of people had memorable and enjoyable experiences aboard.

As if the original configuration of these gondolas wasn't unusual enough (electric trolling motors powered by forklift batteries, which were fed by solar panels), the new owner literally transformed the one boat into a dinner cruise vessel.

The solar panel canopy was replaced with one of the canvas awning-type, bench seats were installed on port and starboard sides, the area which had originally held the main passenger seat was fitted with a sink counter for food preparation, the sink was supported with hot and cold running water, and tucked up inside the canopy above the sink counter was a china cabinet for dishes and other serviceware. One other addition was the stainless steel barbecue - a model designed for use on sailboats - which hung over the port side where the on-board chef/steward could reach it. Meals were served on a central table, which mounted to the floor using mounts similar to ones used in RV's.

Perhaps the most eye-catching thing about this boat was the upholstery and curtain decor, which reminds some of a movie theatre in the 70's.

If all these unorthodox features haven't been enough to intrigue or shock you, the additon of a gas-burning outboard motor might do the trick. People sometimes ask me "what's the fastest gondola you've ever seen?"
I usually tell them about the time I dragged a gondola from Orange County to Vegas at over 100mph, but on the water, I think the one in Vancouver was probably a record-setter - at least among non-Venice-built gondolas.

Here are a few photos from when the boat was operating in Vancouver:

Feel free to lob your most vicious comments at me, but remember that I've only written about the curtains, the sink and the other items - I didn't install them.

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