Lots of activity on the water.
As gondola operators, we spend a lot of time and attention making sure things look good and function well above the waterline. But anyone who's ever taken care of a boat knows that if you don't keep the "underwater part" in shape...soon the whole boat will become the "underwater part."
The trick, sometimes, is getting access to that part of the boat. First, you must remove the boat from the water - that's a given. For discussion sake, I'm going to focus our attention today on rolling the boat over on her side. Sure, it's possible to raise the boat up on stands or blocks to get to the bottom, but the Venetians typically choose the lateral roll, so that's what lots of gondola owners in other places do too.
In my recent post "Hoisting with Passengers", Bepi of Sunset Gondola left a great coment; part of it was "when it comes to how the Venetians prop up very large vessels for repair, with a few sticks and wood blocks, I stay far away."
Indeed, anyone who's spent any time around a Venetian squero or rowing club knows what Bepi is talking about.
Photos of one such display can be viewed in June 14th, 2008's post "The Red Racing Gondola".
And actually, the club members who propped that boat up used a lot more support than most Venetian boat-proppings I've seen.
John Kerschbaum in Minnesota has a fairly routine ritual of boat prep that he and his staff go through each year as launch time approaches.
Here we see that attention is paid to both the outside and the inside of that part of the boat which sits in the water.
establishing a support system that can be trusted is important not only for the safety of your boat, but for you and anyone else who might be sitting, crouching or assuming any other positions near the boat that might prevent you from leaping away from a falling boat. planks or poles to prop-up, as well as straps or ropes to tether-down, are both useful and can make a big difference in the time and energy put into a job (knowing that your gondola is less likely to "decide she wants to go somewhere" on her own).
Of course it's important to show your underwear while performing such an operation too.
Now let's take a look at how they do things in Venezia.
this photo sequence by Bob Easton
Here are two images from a series of photos Bob shot from across the canal known as the Rio di San Trovaso as some squerarioli tipped up a gondola at Squero San Trovaso. The full series was posted in mid-August of 2008 and is entitled "Recent Activity in Squero San Trovaso"
If you were there, then you know what it was like to be on the water that day. In the hours that followed, Vogalonga 2009 went from an "I wonder what kind of day we'll have" day, to what some have called a "legendary disaster" with swamped and broken-up boats on the front page of the local paper.
Plenty was written here on the blog about it - search Vogalonga and you're sure to find something that will amuse or amaze you.