Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sandolo Limbo

There are many benefits to rowing a sandolo:
- The shorter length makes for tighter turns and easier docking.
- The rower stands on the floor, bringing their center of gravity on the boat lower, and aiding them in balance.
- The boat and rower, when compared to a gondola and gondolier, have less windage.

But the virtue I'm here to point out with this point is HEIGHT.

One day I was watching some guys and their sandoli next to Campo Sant'Angelo, and I saw this guy duck through a passageway no gondola could have fit under...
doing what I now call the "Sandolo Limbo".


René Seindal said...

Hi Greg,

I often pass there as its one of the 'special' places in Venice.

Its Rio Malatin on the side of the photo, and Rio Santissimo on the other side, and the passage goes straight under the apsis on the Church of Santo Stefano. There aren't many places in the world where you can paddle or row under a church. You can say your prayers without losing a stroke :-)

The height of the passage naturally changes with the tide, and at low tide I have seen gondolas go under, but at medium or high tide there's no chance.

There's a gondola station on the Rio Santissimo side, and they have to back in the entire Rio Santisissmo when the tide doesn't allow passage from the Rio Malatin.

There's a station for sandolisti on the other side, and they too pass under whenever they can.

In a kayak it is very easy to pass under the church, but often more difficult to negotiate the Rio Santissimo whenever taxis or mototopi wants to enter or exit.

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

Did anyone try a folding ferro? Some time ago Greg has posted images of removable poppa spires to allow passage under low-laying venetian bridges.

If the front part could also be tilted to deck level, a gondolier laying prone on the boat may propel it with hand and leg through the smallest of tunnels.

I think it is regular practice to move venetian gondolas under small bridges by "walking upside down", when there isn't enough space to row.

Another option would be the submersible gondola 8-) Maybe as a prop for some future James Bond movie? (He already used a flying gondola in the 60s.)

René Seindal said...

I've never seen a gondoliere use his feet under a bridge to get under. I have the impression that the gondola routes are made taking tide (and height of bridges) and currents into account.

I can't say I have understood the system of the gondola routes, except that I believe the tide and the currents are the main factors. For example, sometimes the Rio delle Veste and Rio di Verona around the fenice are completely full of gondolas, and some gondolieri will tell me that its a bad time to paddle there, and at other times the two rii are completely deserted and empty.

I suspect that the height of the bridge there is the main factor. Its one of the places where you often see gondolieri crouch to get under.

The same goes for Rio dei Fuseri, at times totally overcrowded and at times abandoned.

Gondola Greg said...

Hi René.
It's great to see you here again on the Gondola Blog.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your on-the-spot perspective on things in the Venetian canals.
It must be a lot of fun to explore La Serenissima by kayak.
I'm jealous of anyone who gets to hang out in Venice like you do.

Good question about the "folding ferro".
I'm sure some readers here scoffed at the idea, but I've seen one in use in Florida. Sure, it was spray-painted plywood, but it did allow the gondolier to put the front of his gondola under low bridges. The real problem is the tail: it's much higher than the prova. The collabsible tail-pieces we've seen in Bacino Orseolo only knock down the height of the poppa by 8 - 10 inches. Fitting under anything lower would require major structural modification. The folding ferro is quite possible, but the highest part of the boat is still the tail - unless the gondola had a large amount of ballast placed in the poppa.:o)

Nereo said...

Hi René, you're right about the gondola tours directions. The current and the tide's height are the main issues. Expecially the current because the gondolieri are quite lazy and prefere to rowing always "a seconda".