Saturday, June 26, 2010

Getting to Know the Boat

Tonight I took some more cruises on the "Lucia".
Winds were gentler than I'd expected, but with the lunar phase, we had a rapidly moving tide. I passed under the Newport Blvd. bridge and checked the tide marker - our standard way of determining whether we'll fit under the smaller 38th Street bridge further along. The measurement was good.
But as we approached the smaller bridge I wasn't sure we'd make it under.

The "Lucia" has a canopy, but it's lower than the ferro by a few inches. For years I've rowed two Venice-built gondolas under that bridge - the Phoenix and the Wedding Gondola.
Yesterday I noticed that the ferro on this gondola seemed higher.
Gondolier Steve O made the same observation this afternoon on the dock.

Back at the 38th Street bridge, I inched closer, looking at it keenly.
At the last minute it became clear:
we weren't going to fit - even when leaning to starboard, the ferro was about an inch too high.
I spun the boat to the right, allowing me to catch the gondola parallel with the bridge.
It wasn't the most graceful thing I'd ever done, but collision and damage were avoided.
Getting to know a new boat is always an adventure.
You hope you'll learn most things without damage or injury.

Of course after I spun sideways a gondolier from another company cruised by, just in time to see me there looking like a doofus.
When I said that I was "just getting to know a new boat", he probably knew what I meant, but his passengers must have been convinced I was a loon.

Yes, my friends: remember me this way.

It wasn't the most impressive thing to look at, but it was an important moment; I learned vital information about the boat, and did so without "bad things happening".

I managed to avoid any scraping and informed my passengers that:
a. we wouldn't be making it under that bridge any time soon, and
b. tradition mandates that when the gondola won't fit under a bridge, couples must kiss twice! They loved it.


Elisa Mohr said...

My love, you always manage to do even the strangest things gracefully and with a significant amount of personality. Those of us who know you know this to be true 100% of the time. I'm confident your passengers were charmed, and that's what matters.

Tamás said...

Hello Greg, isn't it possible to ask 3-4 people loitering around that bridge to hop on while you navigate under the span? I think that much extra weight should change the waterline enough to pass.

Less realistic ideas:

- Rowing at 25 knots the hydrodynamic "squat effect" should suck the boat down enough to pass.

- Ask the municipalty to replace the particular bridge with something taller and more beautified. Could employ a lot of construction workers in time of economic hardship.

> I noticed that the ferro on this gondola seemed higher

Also, that ferro has a bit more sweep-back than usual? I mean this photo.

Anyhow, I thought the "bishop's staff" ornament in the rear is a gondolas tallest part, unless it has been modified to fold down?

Gondola Greg said...

The boat was stored in a special dry-storage cradle which has helped her keep the curvature she was "born" with.
I suspect she was originally built for a guy who favored a bit more curve.
I suppose having a bunch of random people would have given me the extra clearance needed, but my passengers would have frowned upon it.
A while back we saw some interesting photos from Rene (our favorite kayak guide) of gondolas tipping over to starboard in order to clear bridges of marginal height. I was prepared to do the same, but with a canopy, the minute you lean the boat over, the canopy knobs present a problem of their own.