At the end of their tenth year, the gondolas in Boston's Gondola di Venezia have come out of the water to hibernate for winter. In places further south we operate year-round, but in places like Boston, shifting seasons bring about big changes. Each year the gondolas are hauled out and prepped for the big sleep. Here are a few photos from the haulout of the first boat.
Gondolier Steve Bruno (a.k.a. "Stephano") brings a gondola to shore.
Notice the rowboat trailing behind? In Boston they store their boats on a float - it's a good way to keep them safe. If you want to mess with a gondola in Boston, you'll need to bring your own boat...or get wet!
Co-owners of Gondola di Venezia discussing something at the back of the boat regarding the journey on land that's about to happen. I'm not sure what Joe (left) is saying to Steve (right), but my guess is that it's something like: "Oh man! I stepped in the water back there and now my shoes and socks are wet! It's friggin' cold out here, now I've got wet socks? I'm gettin' too old for this!"
Of course no haulout is complete without extra help. Steve's sons Matthew and Michael, known as the "Bell Brothers" were on hand to do their part.
In this photo you can see the intricate carvings on the foredeck. This is Boston's only wedding gondola, and one of only three operating in the country.
Bringing the boats to storage invloves pulling them one at a time, by the roadway, with motorists whipping by at high speed. The confused looks they get from drivers are priceless. Joe told me he's seen a few accidents over the years too, as people have been driving too fast and took their eyes off the road at the wrong moment. Gondolas can be very distracting.
After the slow but nervous trip along the roadside, the first gondola arrives at a city-owned property, formerly a swimming facility, now mostly municipal maintenance and storage. In this shot you can get a better look at the rolling "skids" used to transport the gondolas.
The first gondola enters the tent.
Steve and his sons pose for one last photo with the boat.
Gondola di Venezia was launched in 2000 under the enthusiastic care of Joe and Cammille Gibbons. There are many gondola operations outside Venice, but this one remains one of my favorites. The two gondolas that operate on the Charles River have had thousands of great adventures, with a number of dedicated gondoliers and caretakers. For a while Gondola di Venezia was owned and operated by Megan Sliger, who I had the priviledge of rowing with last year in Vogalonga. At the beginning of this year, after some soul searching, and an offer from Megan, Joe decided to take over the operation once again; this time with Steve as a partner. Steve has served as a gondolier in Boston since the beginning. Both he and Joe have a passion for the gondola business, and the knowlendge and experience to do it right.
This Sunday they'll head back to the Esplanade to haul out the other gondola and do the whole thing again.