Thursday, June 24, 2010

Launching the "Lucia"

photos by Steve Elkins and Greg Mohr

Launch day is always exciting.
For those involved with a gondola,
about to be hoisted high in the air above asphalt,
coffee really isn't necessary.

There are many things you can try again if you didn't get them right the first time - hoisting a gondola isn't one of them.

Everything must be checked and double-checked,
Looked at from all angles,
touched and even listened to.

Sometimes you've got to imagine all the most destructively terrifying worst-case-scenarios, picture them in your head, and try to maintain a calm demeanor.

A healthy sense of paranoia may be the only thing that allows you to notice that one little loose end before it can bring about disaster.

The gondola rests on her storage cradle while the hoisting straps are put in place.

Every time I oversee any kind of boat lifting, I put a hand on the boat. No view or collection of data can rival the tactile connection with a boat.

The initial lift this morning was good, but once the gondola was free of her cradle, she tried to swing - having a hand on the boat allowed me to prevent that swing from causing any damage.

There's no substitute for having a hand on the boat.

Once free of the cradle, the gondola was carried through the air, over asphalt and concrete, and towards the blue water of Newport Harbor.

Today's hoist was carried out by a remarkably over-qualified piece of equipment. The operators deserve praise not only for doing the job well, but for putting up with my many requests - which included shutting the equipment down at one point to listen to the boat.

The "Lucia" mid-hoist.

Once over the water, all of us who were emotionally attached to the gondola breathed a little easier.

On a day like today, few things can compare to the sight of the gondola kissing the water for the first time in almost a decade.
The moment of contact.
One final thing to check off the list:
making sure there are no leaks.
This gondola was fiberglassed a long time ago.
Everyone expected to see positive bouyancy - we just didn't know how positive, and if there might be a few leaks.

The report came up with a shout.

"The bilge is dry!"

Great news on a great day.

Stepping aboard was electric.
It was the final step in a long process,
and the first step in a new endeavor.

The Curci Gondola rowed nicely.
Every gondola has her own personality and feel.
The "Lucia" tracked well and moved forward with little resistance.

Even in reverse.

At the beginning of a launch day, you hope that all your planning will yield success.
You hope there won't be any accidents or damage.
You hope many things.

If you've done your job and luck is on your side, you end up with a boat on top of the water and no unpleasant surprises.

I'm happy to report that today was such a day.

For more on hoisting, read my post from August, 2008 entitled "Not Dropping the Boat".


Bob Easton said...

Bravo! Molto bene!

Thanks for the pictures. Can't wait to see her fully fitted out and in service.

Tamás said...

Greg, will you have new upholstery made for the business? Maybe the original is worth preserving if the Lucia ever reaches a museum.

I notice the Poland oar. Is there a story to that?
(I thought they have chevrons or are chequered, so this is something new!)

> This gondola was fiberglassed a long time ago

There is the answer to the gravity question. The grey underside area below the red waterline is the applique fiberglass?

> Today's hoist was carried out by a remarkably over-qualified piece of equipment

Well, that imperial walker could probably haul a whole motoscafo out of the lagoon (although such cranes usually run on railway wheels, not tires, where noise is a non-issue).

Sean Jamieson said...

Fiberglass?! That's not a gondola! (said with lots of sarcasm)

Are you sure it's not a racing gondola. What's up with the red stripe?

staff said...

Great posts for a beautiful gondola. Many thakns and congrats.