Saturday, February 28, 2009

Restoration of the Wedding Gondola

My beloved Wedding Gondola is back on the water. Like most gondolas, once you pull a boat out of the water, you usually need to "tend to things" a bit before she goes back in the drink.

With a boat that's over 50 years old, there's a little more involved when it comes to "tending to things".
Take for instance, the inevitable separation between the fiuboni (mahogany deck planking) and the sochetto (that hand carved chunk of lime wood at both ends of the gondola). For years I've been calling this imperfection "the sochetto spread"

The sochetto spread at the bow of the gondola.

Then there's the typical decay on the trasto da prua, an area which should be protected by the canvas boat cover, but gets exposed all too often when wind blows things around.

Lucky for me, this part of the deck is made of cherry wood, which handles the elements better than some other woods.

And then there's the big ugly secret.
The one I deliberated over, wondering whether I should post it.
Think less of me if you want, but this photo is here for posterity sake, and also to remind all of my gondola-owning friends out there, that out-of-sight-out-of-mind can come back to bite you.
And the older the boat, the more vigilant you need to be about every single piece of the gondola.

When I scheduled the haul-out for this gondola, I had plans to reinforce the ribs. Then I lifted the pagioi (floorboards) and realized how timely my plans were.

Ladies and gentlement, I give you...
the amazing floating rib.
I hope for your sake, you never see one of these on one of your boats.

After some preparation, my staff and I stepped out of the way and let an expert do some of the heavy lifting.
Boat builder and restoration specialist Douglas Smith-Ginter worked his magic with West System, replacement lumber, stainless hardware, and some creative thinking.

The results were terrific.
She looked decades younger...but then that sort of thing isn't all that unusual here in Newport just doesn't usually happen to boats.

The hand-carved deck, restored, sanded, and ready for paint.

On the left is a rib-frame in the middle of repair, and on the right, one that has received new life from an expert.

Now here are a pair of photos taken on Valentine's Day in front of the Villa Nova restaurant.
All dressed in her parecio, my Wedding Gondola is primped and ready for her passengers.

On top of all that "tending to", magic from the expert and few coats of fresh black paint, and she's back in her glory.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful boat! Hope she gives you many more years of good business.

Unknown said...

Wow she's beautiful. Makes me want to go back and get married again. Thanks for your honesty in sharing the "dirty secret". :)

grigory-never-get-there said...

Oh, Man! I bet you can't stop staring at her after this was done. Congratulations on having her back.