Sunday, February 28, 2010
Walking the property of the Hyatt resort at Gainey Ranch, John found the boats and the dock they operate out of, but it was early in the day and they weren't open yet.
He was impressed with the clean look of the facility and with how well the boats were buttoned up, but secretly hoping that someone would be there so he could finagle his way onto a boat. Wouldn't you?
Thanks for the photos John.
I've got to get out there and see those sandoli.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
the forcola, remo, and dock-lines from a gondola - all wrapped together.
It's a great way to keep them together, and while a forcola and remo in Southern California are quite unique, in a squero like San Trovaso, I can see the need to keep them together.
Each gondolier has his own rowing gear.
Imagine how easily a forcola could get lost in a place like San Trovaso or one of the other squeri.
Rowing clubs often do similar things to keep the rowing gear for each boat together.
If you have a sharp eye, you might be able to spot the lucky horseshoe in the shot.
I stood on the upper parking deck of our building just to be safe. Two floors down I could see our boats, all secured to the docks.
I stood there, waiting for the inevitable,
and then, as if nothing could prevent it,
as if nothing could change the ensuing event that fate had brought to us...
So I got some coffee, went back home, and did some laundry.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Coming in to Venice by rail, I shot this at the station.
Anybody see the sign in the background for the rowing club in Cannaregio?
And appropriately enough, I shot this photo while stuck in traffic on the 405 freeway - an unavoidable experience if you live in the LA area.
Unfortunately there are no rowing clubs in Venice, California (at least not yet).
Thursday, February 25, 2010
She's bright red and white.
She is often rowed by a dozen or more.
I've heard some refer to her as "the aircraft carrier of the Vogalonga".
Anyone who's ever encountered her on the water will likely point out a most distinguishing feature - the eyes.
She is The Brentana.
The Brentana is a peata, an ancient cargo carrying vessel.
She is believed to be the last existing rowing peata.
She comes down to the lagoon for big events, making the long trip through an inland canal system which has served as a transportation corridor for centuries.
Back home in Brenta, the big red boat is the pride of the fleet at the Gruppo Sportivo Voga Riviera del Brenta rowing club.
While several clubs in the Veneto have long boats, nobody has anything like the Brentana. She is big and broad, with an army of rowers pushing her through just about any wind and sea conditions.
Even in a crowd of boats, she is easily identified at parades and regatas.
One of the best stories I've heard thus far involving the Brentana comes from a Southern California gondolier. Tyson Davis, who co-founded Sunset Gondola in Huntington Harbour tells a story of his surprise encounter with the big red boat.
Read "Tyson's 'Close Encounter' with a Big-Eyed-Boat"
to experience it vicariously.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
And when I could have been digging a ditch, or cleaning up after horses, I got stuck rowing a boat during sunset...again.
Life just sucks sometimes.
I took a few lousy pictures and posted them here.
I'm sure you'll hate them.
Just when things were looking like they might get better, this ugly hole opened up in the clouds, letting in more of that depressing blue sky.
This job sucks, anyone wanna trade me, I sure would love working in a drab gray cubicle somewhere, maybe under flourescent lights with processed air to breathe.
While this photo might look like it came from a place like Montana or Texas, it was actually taken at Squero San Trovaso.
Walking around the yard, stepping betwen gondolas and equipment, I spotted this lucky horseshoe tacked to the side of one of the buildings.
We think of horseshoes on walls and above doorways as a typical scene from the American Southwest, but they've been pinning them to walls and doorways in Europe for centuries.
Among the many superstitious beliefs associated with these crescent-shaped pieces of iron, is that "a witch cannot pass under it".
I don't know if it's true, but I didn't see any witches in the squero that day.
I guess I should count myself lucky.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
He's more than just a friend, to me he's "family".
Nereo has also provided countless images and information here on the Gondola Blog, while hosting his own as well.
Today is Nereo's birthday, so my friends, join me in wishing him a happy one.
Buon Compleanno Nereo!
Monday, February 22, 2010
The derelict craft which has been a fixture on the property for a very long time has become a landmark.
With a bright blue hull and the name "JOHNSON" on the bow, she has served as a huge planter box as well as a sort of makeshift bulletin board.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
And what better way to do so, to feel completely alive, than to get out on a gondola and fight the wind.
One of my passengers grabbed my camera and took a few shots.
Rowing in the wind is always a great way to get a workout, but it also inspires creative thinking. Gondoliers find themselves contemplating corners and canals in new ways. The direction of the wind forces them to take new approaches to waterways they've rowed hundreds of times. Such was my cruise today.
I loved it. Dug deep with each stroke and couldn't stop smiling.
I did many things today to celebrate, but taking the Ferraro family out in the wind was one of my favorites.
Friday, February 19, 2010
As it turned out, Nereo had taken a few photos during a rowing event in the Veneto that included the boat.
The boat is owned by a club known as Leobisso da Mojan. Nereo contacted them and reported back:
"This evening I got an answer from the Leobisso guys. The boat is called "batelota" or "batela buranella". She was built by Maestro Mario Busato in Mogliano Veneto near Treviso in 1987 (or so).
She's 12.50 meters long and can be rowed by up to ten oarsmen."
Bravo Nereo! Thanks for the info.
Next time I'm out there, we should see if we can grab two spots on that boat with the Leobisso guys.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
While touring the White House Visitor's Center, I saw lots of interesting items and photos, and I learned many new things about the home of our Presidents. Because we vote on who gets to sit in the "big chair" every four years, the White House has seen quite a lot of moving crews. Each First Family brings their own collection of belongings, and new items are routinely added to the collection of state belongings.
No, I didn't find a gondola in the White House, but I thought this "vessel" might be interesting and worth a post.
This captivating piece was added to the Presidential Collection in 1876 by Julia Grant - the First Lady of the United States from 1869 to 1877. She was the wife of course of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the US. He served two four-year terms in the White House after an extensive military carreer where he eventually reached the rank of General-In-Chief of the Union Army.
Grant was an icon of the Civil War, personal friend to Abraham Lincoln, and a strong proponent of civil rights.
Most folks know him best though as the guy on the front of the fifty-dollar bill.
The sculptural centerpiece is known as "Hiawatha's Boat" and it was crafted in 1871 by silversmiths at the Gorham Manufacturing Company in Providence, Rhode Island. First Lady Julia Grant selected it at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876.
According to the experts at the Visitor's Center, the piece:
"depicts Henry Wadsworth Longellow's character, legendary founder of the Iroquois league, steering his masted canoe on the water of a mirror-glass plateau."
Along the base of the piece, raised letters spell out:
"All alone went Hiawatha through the clear transparent water"
First Lady Grant wrote that she was "happy in securing a piece entirely American in history, ideal, skill, and material."
I'm not sure whether a real boat like this ever existed, but the people in Providence sure dreamed up an interesting image.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The legendary Bepi Suste was seen on February 14th in costume for the Regata di Carnevale.
Nereo caught up with him and some of his stundents from Voga e Para - the rowing club he founded on his island home of Burano.
The Voga e Para club is known for their impressive rowing program for kids, in fact I published a post back in October of 2008 about them entitled The Little Fish.
Here in the US we associate Valentine's Day with romance, but in Venice they also have a costumed regata. Nereo Zane has put up a series of great and humorous photos taken of regata participants this year.
Take a look at his post entitled Regata di Carnevale.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Siesta - it's a wonderful thing.
A break or nap in the afternoon.
I saw these guys "catchin' Z's" in their boats one day while walking past Bacino Orseolo.
Plenty of interesting boat features could be pointed out, but right now I'm dead-tired from the Valentine's Day prep, rush, rowing, and clean-up.
And I know I'm not the only one.
These guys crack me up.
They spend almost every day on display, with tourists watching and photographing them like zebras at the zoo, talking about them right there and within earshot. I'm guessing that sooner or later you learn to tune it out and do whatever you feel like...and on that day, at that time, they all felt like taking a proper siesta.
Here's a shot of John Kerschbaum rowing away on the Wedding Gondola for a late morning excursion.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The weather really couldn't have been better. it felt like August at times.
Here are some images of the day:
John Kerschbaum rows with a fun family on the Phoenix.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Here are a few photos I shot from the back of my beloved Wedding Gondola.
Squero San Trovaso is usually the only gondola yard mentioned in travel guides; most of them say that it's "not open to the public". Great photos can certainly be taken from the fondamenta across the Rio di San Trovaso, but a few intrepid tourists (and anybody with a working knowledge of both gondolas and Italian) can sometimes make their way onto the grounds. Whenever I've gone there, I've done my best to stay out of everyone's way, shoot as many photos as I could, and then scram. I'd bet the guys who work at the squero get tired of people asking them questions and wanting to hang out while they try to work.
While walking the grounds I noticed a spot which seemed to be waiting for a boat. On the shore by the water you can see some of the "rollers" used when the guys pull a boat out of the water. Once it's in place the small sawhorse, or "cavalletto" is propped under the bow.
Bob Easton took a great series of photos a while back and was gracious enough to send them over so I could post them. To see that post from August, 2008, check out Recent Activity in Squero San Trovaso.
Friday, February 12, 2010
John Kerschbaum and I were working on a few last-minute projects today in the garage when Tim Reinard stopped by to pick up a few remi.
I imported a big box full of new oars a while back, and three of them were for Tim's operation.
He enjoyed unwrapping them, and John and I took in the aroma of Franco Furlanetto's shop where they were made.
As you might expect with the owners of three gondola companies in one room - there were plenty of stories to share (and maybe just a little exaggeration). Tim and I took turns telling John about all the "fun" he missed fighting the elements during the most recent Vogalonga.