Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bizarro Wind Night

Here in Southern California, we have some fairly predictable winds, and for the most part, we like it that way. We know what to expect, and prepare accordingly.

But once in a while we experience a shift. Normally the winds blow from the ocean, but when they start coming in from inland directions, everything changes.
Sailors call them "Santanas", most other folks know them as "Santa Ana winds".
Usually occurring in Fall or Winter, these winds bring warm, dry air, often fortified with dust, pollen, and everything else found in California's deserts.

I should have known they were coming when I awoke this morning and heard our windchimes getting beaten to death by the wind.
It doesn't usually get breezy until afternoon around here.

I should have known they were coming yesterday when my eyes were itchy and I couldn't stop sneezing.

I was pretty sure we had Santa Anas when I shoved off for my first cruise tonight and things just didn't seem right. When I saw a jet coming in to land at John Wayne Airport from the wrong direction, I knew.

I've said for years, that "when the planes are landing in the wrong direction, everything else is weird and backwards".

So tonight was one of those nights. I met up with my friendly competitor on the water tonight and we both said "did you order these winds?", then we both laughed.

When you're a gondolier in Newport Harbor, and you operate long enough, you get every single square foot of the harbor memorized. Most of our routing is based on winds, so when they shift in the opposite direction, it can really confuse things.

I've seen these winds for sixteen years, tonight was among the more extreme. It may not have been so in other parts of Southern California, but in Newport it was a "Bizarro Wind Night".

By "Bizarro" I'm referring to the term made popular by DC Comics where something is either twisted or opposite.
Tonight's winds were both.

Lance Armstrong once wrote:
"Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever"
and while you can't just quit when you're pushing a 36 foot gondola up a veritable wind-tunnel with a single oar, the frustration, muscle fatigue, and other negatives may make you want to quit.
No can do.
Gotta row - harder than ever.

I made it through the evening's cruises, got good tips, and became a better rower because of it.

Another quote I recently heard comes from Woody Harrelson in the movie "Zombieland"
And while it isn't nearly as eloquent as Lance Armstrong's, it was fitting tonight.
"Time to nut-up or shut-up!"

7 comments:

Giulio said...

I am a Venetian now living in Stockton, CA. Plenty of canals, channels, etc. in the Delta and I was thinking how wonderful it would be to row them alla veneziana. I think some dories could be adapted, but the oars and forcole are a different thing. Any suggestions on finding a small sandolo, mascareta, etc. to row around here? A gondola is too big and hard to transport around.

Gondola Greg said...

Ciao Giulio!
First of all, you ought to get in touch with Angelino and April at Gondola Servizio (http://www.gondolaservizio.com/). They run a great operation in Oakland and have a real love for all things Venetian.
As for smaller Venetian boats, there aren't many of them in the US. I've often thought the same thing about dories as I've examined their lines. The perfect balance between boat and forcola is almost magical. If you've got a specific dory in mind, you could take a photo and send dimensions to a remer, asking him to carve something special for you.
When I was in Austin, Texas I ran into Paul Parma who was rowing a small aluminum John Boat in the Venetian style using a traditional ring-shaped oarlock and a mascareta remo. I was amazed.
It can be done.
Are you looking for something to trailer around or keep in the water?

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

Why not adapt a dory and mail-order a forcola and some remi for it? This website theorizes the dory is actually a derivative of the sandolo, which itself came from China via Marco Polo's visit.

(Otherwise there are many Ferraris and other italian specialties in California, so I guess anything is available if money isn't an issue. This is a photo of a pupparin in Anaheim Bay.)

Giulio said...

Wow! A pupparin in Anaheim Bay! That's something you don't see every day. I saw a dory for sale in SF that looked a lot like a sanpierotta, and my mom owned one of those for many years (rowed, sail, motor). I will check the Oakland guys. I gues one of the issues would be: if you order oars and forcle from venice, how much would they cost? I go every year and I could take the forcole with me, but the oars are a bit different. One sanpierotta we had came with very basic oars (it was made by Schiavon, Portosecco, S. Piero in Volta), with the blades nailed to the shaft and with a couple of metal bands to reinforce that. They worked great....

Gondola Greg said...

The Pupparin is actually Tim's at Sunset Gondola. You can see her in many posts here on the blog. I'm not sure about the "Anaheim Bay" designation, most folks call that area Huntington Harbour now.

Sean said...

Could mean Alamitos Bay?

Bepi Venexiano said...

The whole area is known as Anaheim bay and was once known as Anaheim landing, an early port. Huntington Harbour was built on a section of the lagoon. I took that very puparine out in the wind yesterday. 10 minutes to go a mile with a tail wind, 25 minutes to get back. Whooyaaa!