Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just the Photo - Pastor's Handywork

photo by Garrett Budwine
Anyone wanna guess what type of forcola this one is?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Jousting" in Paris

jousting images by Cassandra Mohr

During my visit to Paris last year, my family and I spent some time in Sevres visiting Vogaveneta Paris. We received a warm welcome and great hospitality from Richard Winckler, who showed us around and explained many of the unique details of the rowing club.

Richard took the time to show off all the different vessels there and tell some interesting stories about the origins of each boat.

A sailing component is part of the operation there; Richard introduced us to the concept of "jousting" - small sailboat style.

Talking about jousting in front of the "Vogalonga wall"

I must confess that I'm not much of a sailor and have yet to try this type of "jousting", but as I understand it, you get your boats out on the water and take runs at each other with one guy on the bow of each boat holding a pole with a boxing glove on the end of it.
Really, how could that not be fun?

Boxing gloved jousting poles.

The guy with the joust also gets to carry a shield of sorts.  It's not quite like the one Sir Lancelot might have brandished, but it'll do alright against a boxing glove.

Richard breaks out a shield.

After hearing a few tales of on-the-water jousting, I had to at least pick one up and swing it around the boat house.

Grabbing one "by the glove".

Richard demonstrated the best jousting posture and then he and I squared off.
it was a lot of fun and I can see how much more exciting it can be with sailboats.

Squaring off.

Laughing afterward.

Many thanks to Richard Winckler and Vogaveneta Paris.
To read more about the Paris club mentioned here, check out my post from July entitled "Bastille Day".

I can't help but wonder about jousting on the water with mascaretas.
Anyone up for that?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Resting Traghetto

photo by Tamás Fehér
 Tamás shot these two images of a traghetto boat at the San Marcuola servizio.  These boats have been ferrying passengers across the Grand Canal for centuries.  Some gondola service locations don't have one of these boats - the ones who do are often referred to as traghetti.  A gondola da traghetto, or simply "traghetto" could be described as a heavy-duty, robustly built gondola.  When compared to a standard gondola, a traghetto is built like a tank, and understandably so - they take loads of passengers and endure punishing foot traffic. 
This one seems to be "off for siesta".
I guess even traghetto boats need rest now and then.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

FDNY in Venice

photo by Nereo Zane
Vincent Tummino and some of his FDNY brothers were in Venice again, rowing, eating, and doing everything else you'd want to do in la Serenissima.
The above photo shows them on a caorlina with none other than Bepi Suste rowing a poppa.
More photos are available for viewing on Nere's blog.
To catch up on who Vincent is, take a look at my post entitled "Images of the Expedition - Vinny and Vittorio After the Parade".
This is not his first trip to Venice with firefighters - you can read about an earlier visit on my post "Rowing Monks and Firemen".

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rio Nuovo

photos by Tamás Fehér
Venice is comprised of many islands with canals running in between them.  Most of the city has no automobile access, with the bulk of car traffic coming and going through Piazzale Roma. Just East of that honking, bus and taxi-ridden exception is a canal known as the "Rio Nuovo".

A few bridges span this waterway, which is a thoroughfare for all sorts of boat types.
In the photos posted here, we see the white "Ponte del Prefetto", and behind it (bordering the Grand Canal) is a green iron bridge known as the "Ponte Santa Chiara".  Both bridges connect the Fondamenta Cossetti on the Piazzale Roma side, with the Fondamenta Papadopoli which flanks the Giardini Papadopoli.

Like all the canals in Venice, there are gondolas traversing the Rio Nuovo, but it also sees a heavy flow of water taxi and cargo vessel traffic.
Gondola tails on the left, trees of the giardini to the right.
A moto-topo and a crowd of water taxis navigate in the shadow of the classic Venetian bridge Ponte del Prefetto with it's columns and winged lion carving.

Boat traffic moves toward the Ponte Santa Chiara - which borders the Grand Canal.
The New and controversial Ponte della Costituzione can be seen in the upper left hand corner of the shot.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Day of Fall

Changing colors, cooler temps, looking forward to autumn holidays and breaking out the warm clothes.  Yes, my friends, fall is here.
Today marked the first official day of the season that bridges summer and winter.  I know some parts of the country are seeing signs of the changing season, but here in Southern California, I'm happy right now to settle for stepping on the few crunchy leaves while enjoying the changing colors of the ones still hanging onto their branches.  In cities further north, my colleagues are preparing for winter haulouts - thinking about the work that needs to be done on their boats, and wondering how they'll maintain their sanity without a boat to row until spring.  No doubt, some gondola operations are finishing off their year with "fall color tours" - with passengers enjoying the cool air and orange leaves almost as much as their gondoliers.

Welcome to fall my friends.
Send me your best fall color gondola photos - I'd love to post them here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon

Tonight was the night of the "Harvest Moon", and while I wasn't harvesting this evening, it sure was nice to be on the back of my gondola to watch that giant luminous sphere rise as the sun was touching down. It turns out that tonight's is a "super" harvest moon.

According to Jack Noyes at NBC Los Angeles:
"A “super” harvest moon, won’t happen again until 2029.

Farmers named the harvest moon —a full moon near the time of fall equinox — in the days before electric lights. Farmers used the harvest moon to spend more time gathering crops.

Typically the harvest moon comes within days or weeks of the equinox. But this year the moon hits its maximum brightness six hours after the equinox, which is at 8:10 p.m., said Griffith Observatory Curator Laura Danly.

The full moon is at its brightest at 2:17 a.m."

I must admit that I wasn't aware of this phenomenon until I was out on the water and a friend called and left a voice mail on my phone.

If you're reading this now having not seen the moon, you may have already missed it, but if you were out on a gondola tonight too, then you saw it and know what I'm talking about.

To read more about the phenomenon, take a look at things from NASA's perspective - it's worth a read.

And as is often the case, the transition from day to night yeilded a brilliantly colored sky.
I love the view from the back of a gondola.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Boot in Lights

A photo taken from orbit, of the lower half of Italia at night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Look at the Fold-Down Lama

photo by Tamás Fehér
Some gondoliers in Venice rarely need to worry about bridge clearance, while others operate regularly in canals where it's a daily concern.

Tamás snapped this shot while visiting Venice for the most recent Regata Storica.

I've seen a few different versions of this piece of hardware.
I posted some photos of one some time ago entitled "The Fold-Down Lama", which features another one with clasps to hold it in place.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunset Get-Together in September - the Postable Group Shot

Each time we gather at Sunset Gondola for an evening of fun and camaraderie, we take a photo of everybody together at the rail. The "group shot" as we call it, tends to bring out some interesting personality traits from some people. For instance, just about every one we've taken features John Synco holding his cup the same way - it's his trademark.

A group shot is also a great way to keep track of who was there. In fact I'm told that some people have been known to print out my group shots and post them on their walls - I'm honored to know someone would give my photos a place of honor like that.

So here's a special collector's edition of the group shot.
I had everyone line up semi-Madness style so it's easier to tell who was there.
From left to right, here are the "usual suspects" along with some new faces. First names only this time to protect anyone there who might possibly have been innocent.
Greg, Ian, Nick, Mark, Tim, Dawn, Trish, John, Andrew, Peter, Jennifer, Catherine, Rachel and Erin.

As you can see, different people reveal their various personalities when the camera shutter snaps. Peter Dever deserves special mention here for his inventive style of pants-wearing. Yes, I can think of a few walls that this photo would look great on.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Snoopy on Board

Robert Dula in New Orleans sent me this photo today and I knew it had to get posted here.

Roberto writes:
Snoopy went for a ride on Bella Mae, and later in the day, I won a brand new bicycle, as part of a Met Life and Bicycling Magazines bike give away!
I'll be pumping much less gas into my Fit... Yay!!

Thanks Robert, Snoopy was always my favorite.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sunset Get-Together in September - One More Song from Andrew

Just before everyone piled into the gondolas and rowed off into the night, I caught up with Andrew and his guitar one more time as he was about to play something interesting.

If you enjoyed this clip, I highly recommend listening to Andrew sing the "Gondolier's Song" from the previous event back in June of 2010.

Like this clip, the recording was spontaneous and free-flowing, but the results were awesome.

Regata Storica 2010 - More Great Photos from Nereo

photo by Nereo Zane
Nereo has just posted some more dynamic photos from Regata Storica.
The one above is among my favorites.
This year saw much drama on the water, including some great side-by-side race action.
Check out the new photos on the September 17th page.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunset Get-Together in September - As Night Falls

Last night's gathering at Sunset Gondola was unique, just as they all are, with some of the "usual suspects" mixed with a few new faces. With gondola people,
a boring conversation is almost impossible.

As the big hand of the clock swung around, more friends arrived. The sun gave it's last rays and and the Earth spun us into night.

Trish catches up with Peter, Jennifer smiles, Andrew thinks about switching from ukelele to guitar.

Here's a quick sweep with my video camera, taken as the evening developed:

John uncorks a nice bottle of red.

Dawn smiles while "Basso" checks for bugs in his prosecco.

Another video sweep:

Nico showed up a while later and picked up his guitar to play.

As gondoliers in Southern California, we love the job.
Rowing a boat out into a protected waterway on a beautiful evening is great. Seeing couples out to celebrate or get engaged is awesome.
Almost all gondoliers enjoy such things.
But the benefit to being in this corner of the world,
is that we get to hang out from time to time.
And with nine companies in this half of the state,
there are a lot of guys out there to hang out with.

Andrew finally picked up that guitar and plucked out this little gem as we were gathering for the group photo.

Regata Storica 2010 - Gondolino Images on Emilia's Blog

Take a look at Emilia's blog for some great monochrome snaps of the big day, then scroll down for the Fausto Maroder Photos of the gondolino race.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunset Get-Together in September - Small Beginnings

Over the years, Sunset Gondola has become the place for gondoliers to come together and enjoy a special camaraderie. Tim and his guys do a bang-up job for their clients (I honestly think they are unmatched in many ways), but from a gondolier's standpoint, this Huntington Harbour operation is also a favorite place for get-togethers among peers.
As is often the case, Tim began by laying out food and libation, and fired up the camp-stove to cook the pasta. When I arrived he was in the process of cooking.
Tim's natural environment finds him either on the back of a gondola, or in his office, but he sure looked like he was "in his element" gripping a wooden spoon with steam rising into the air.

As the last traces of color disappeared along the horizon, giving way to ever darkening blues, the boats and gondolas of Sunset Gondola waited patiently for tonight's festivities.

Boats and gondolas await.

New Zealander Andrew McHardy brought his niece Catherine Foster along to watch this odd group of gondoliers carry on about this and that. Beneather her jean jacket, she wore a Lakers shirt, which gained her a warm reception among many of us.

Catherine Talking about her "Uncle Andrew".

Each time we do this, there are new faces.
I love making new friends at Sunset's get-togethers.
Tonight I saw a familiar face in mark Schooling - a guy I pass almost nightly on the canals in Newport. Mark rows for another company so we hardly ever exchange more than a friendly but fleeting "buona sera". Tonight we enjoyed a little more time to swap stories and compare lies.

Gondolier mark Schooling.

We had a nice showing tonight. It wasn't the largest attendance to date, but well worth showing up for. Initially there were only a few of us, and this post is dedicated to that first remnant who showed up early (well, actually we came after the start time, but before everyone else).

From left to right: Greg Mohr, Tim Reinard, Mark Schooling, Andrew McHardy, and Catherine Foster.

It seems that Catherine was the only one who bothered to smile for the shot, but she looked good enough to make up for the rest of us.

of course a get-together at Sunset Gondola wouldn't be complete without music. Andrew showed up carrying a tiny black instrument case, which ended up concealing a small but impressive little ukelele. Most of what Andrew does musically involves a guitar, but this little song was a rare treat for those of us who were there to see and hear it.

Of course there's more to come in future posts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Orange Cover

I won't pretend to know everything about this boat cover.
The truth is that I was just walking by it one day on my way from the GSVVM to the hoist, and took the shot.

It looks like this may be a long-term cover for out of water storage, maybe even a winter cover.
The orange tarp material appears to be waterproof. It also seems to have been customized a bit to guarantee fit - not a bad idea considering the one-two-punch of wind and rain which do such a great job of keeping us on our toes during storm season.

I especially appreciate the bright orange color.
It's easy to keep track of and hard to miss.

Monday, September 13, 2010

SUP Eclipse

Out on the water tonight, I noticed a stand-up-paddler (SUP) coming under the Newport Blvd. bridge. I snapped off a few shots and caught one with him in just the right spot.
I call this shot the "SUP Eclipse".
I especially like how you can see the guy's shadow on the water.

Then we presed on towards the canals and enjoyed having the whole place to ourselves.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Corner of Saverio's Shop

photos by Garrett Budwine

Here are a pair of photos taken in the shop of remer Saverio Pastor.
We see the "wall of remi" on one side, with dozens of oars - each with it's own unique story to tell. To the right we see one of the most important modern tools in the trade: a bandsaw. Notice the duct-hoses attached to it in order to keep dust to a minimum. The back wall displays a multitude of patterns, which are used in the crafting of forcole of all different types.
Working at one of the vises is one of Saverio's staff, no doubt obsessing over every little detail of the hand-carved piece he has before him. Tools, materials, and even a model or two occupy this corner of the shop.
What Garrett's camera could not capture, was the smell. It's a nearly indescribable combination of freshly cut woods (of which there are many types), and the oils and products used to prepare and preserve both forcole and remi.
No other place smells quite like a remer's shop - it is intoxicating.
to visit Saverio's website, go to

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Memory

photo by Nereo Zane

As an American I have great reverence for those who "gave all" on September 11th. Three years ago, when I had the honor of joining some of the best in the world to row in tribute, and met and spoke with so many who could literally see the events of 9-11 from their homes - it became all-the-more real to me.

I think we all died a little that day.
Let us never forget.

"Nolite Oblivisci"

Tonight in Newport

Some images from the back of my gondola on a September evening in Newport.

Ducks coming by to ask for free bread.

Sebastian and his passengers on the Cassandra Anne.

Steve rows the Phoenix after dropping off his passengers at the Villa Nova.

Giuseppe cruises by on his Crystal Swan.

Colors on the horizon are always the richest after sunset.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Regata Storica 2010 - Nereo's Photos

photo by Nereo Zane
As I expected, Nereo Zane's photos are starting to show up on his blog.
Here's one I snagged to use as a teaser.

To see more, go to his blog.
Images from the "maciarele" regata offer a unique view into the future of Venetian rowing.

These are the "little fish" (rough translation of maciarele), in english we might call them the "small fry". Click here to connect to the maciarele post.

Before anyone does any racing, there is the processsion, or the parade portion of the day.
Click here to see some snaps of that spectacle.

Thanks Nereo, for some great views.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Regata Storica 2010 - Videos from Remiera Casteo

The Regata Storica is quite popular, and there are a lot of video clips out there on the net. The folks at Remiera Casteo (located way out at the "tail of the fish") have assembled some videos worth a look on their blog. Some of the conversations and commentary are funny and/or questionable, but the vantage point on many of these is very good - giving you the feeling of being right there along the Grand Canal as the boats go by.

Regata Storica 2010 - Emilia's Blog

For some good photos from this year's Regata Storica, take a look at Emilia's blog.
I expect that we will see some more views from Nereo Zane soon too.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Coronado Video

For a well crafted piece of video, and a nice look at things at The Gondola Company in Coronado, California (near San Diego), check out this clip on YouTube.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bandiera Blu

As usual, many interesting and exciting things happened in this year's Regata Storica. I wasn't able to be there this year, but Nereo Zane had the good fortune of seeing and photographing much of the action from a caorlina on the water. In the days to come, I expect he'll be posting up some of his best images on his blog.
There is one piece of news I'd like to share here though:
Luigina Davanzo and Vally Zanella (members of the GSVVM) rowed in a violet boat in the mascareta race, winning the bandiera blu (blue flag) and making all of us GSVVM members proud with a strong fourth place finish.

Be sure to check out Nere's blog and leave him some great comments.

Men in Orange

Riding at the front of a vaporetto near Piazzale Roma,
I saw something familiar: men in orange. Four members of the GSVVM were plying their way through salty lagoon water at the head of the Grand Canal. These were friends of mine; some I'd had the pleasure of rowing with.
The club has more than one orange sandolo, so I could be wrong here, but I think I may have rowed that same boat in my Vogalonga adventure of 2009.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Regata Storica 2010

In case you haven't been keeping track of the date, today in Venezia, the annual Regata Storica takes place.

If you get a satellite feed of RAI TV, you might be able to catch it, various webcams in Venice offer glimpses of it - try for instance, the one at Locanda Sturion.

The image above is from the post "Regata Storica - Webcam Images and RAI". And while most webcams only provide periodic snaps - it's still neat to see things unfold on one of the biggest days of the year in La Serenissima.

Then again, if you are one of the lucky souls who get to experience it first-hand, please send photos or video.

For a good idea of the visuals on the big day, search "Regata Storica" here on the Gondola Blog - Nereo Zane has provided some amazing photos of both the parade and the races in years past.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Long-Term Cover

Covers. Unless you operate your gondola non-stop, or tag-team with other gondoliers, sooner or later you'll find the need to moor and cover the boat.
In some places it's imperative; either to keep moisture out or protect the decks from the sun's destructive UV rays.
Even if you operate in the most ideal place, you may still find some kind of cover necessary.
Covers can keep dust and debris from blowing into the boat.
Spiders are less likely to crawl in and set up shop.
If a boat is covered it may discourage passersby from nosing around - knowing they'll have to go to more trouble to do so.
A good cover also helps keep birds from pooping on, and cats from peeing in the gondola.

I've seen some pretty impressive variations on the gondola cover theme, and this one ranks high on the list.
Most gondola covers are meant for quick and easy removal (even though they are often just tied to one side), but the owner of this gondola appears to have long-term storage in mind.
For daily use, this would not be my first choice, but it would be great if I had to leave my boat unattended for long periods.

The canvas attaches at the rail, stretching over a series of bowed battens (which kind of remind me of an old covered wagon), and looks like it's no small task to put on.
I'm guessing the guy who created this masterpiece is quite proud of it.
I'm also guessing that it wasn't cheap - but then really, that's a small price to pay to keep cats from peeing in your gondola.