Monday, February 7, 2011

Today - A Week Before V-Day


Breaking down my week into one-word descriptions tends to look like this as we approach Valentines Day.
In fact I did almost all of the above just today.
Let's take a more detailed view at each item.

In the gondola business, we paint almost everything. 
Some things get one or two coats every few years,
others need multiple coats of paint every few months.
Paint doesn't just make things look good, it seals things against water and protects from the destructive effects of ultraviolet light.

Today I painted the hull of a gondola with one of my daughters - with shiny black paint.
It was Cassandra's first time painting a hull.
Then my other daughter and I did some bottom-paint work - covering areas that had supported the boat during the first coat of anti-fouling paint. 
We also painted the waterline. 
When you bring a ten-year-old into a project like this,
expect to laugh,
expect to have a bit more clean-up,
and don't expect your waterine to be perfectly straight. 
But then, a black boat, with black bottom-paint,
doesn't always need a straight line along the boot stripe area. 
It will bring a smile to my face every time I see it.

Hard surfaces that don't need paint, sometimes get varnished.
Varnish is essentially a clear, or "pigmentless paint". 
It protects the wood while showing it off.
Venice-built gondolas don't have a lot of varnish, but some of my U.S.-built ones have varnished decks, tables, interiors, and lots of other areas.

After a long day of painting, I retired to my garage for some varnishing.
Tonight Cassandra walked through the garage and begged me to learn how.
At thirteen, she did an exceptional job.

Tomorrow I'll probably turn over one of the tables she varnished and have her sign her name to it.

Later on I brushed some more varnish on my favorite remo - which I will spend the next week rowing with.
I've been varnishing that oar for last five days.

Things break.
It's the nature of our business.
We do our best to keep it to a minimum, but unless they're made of diamond or titanium, things that get used regularly, break.
Gondola operators repair things as they go, but with a busy time like "V-Day" coming up, my staff and I go through and fix all those things that have been left for a better time to fix. 

Funny thing - this is never a better time for such fixing.

As I write this, there's a forcola on the carpet in front of my TV, waiting for my attention.
It's a spare forcola, which was broken when I got it, but it's the kind of thing to have on hand when you can't just pull one off another boat.

I'm upgrading the navigation lights on some of my boats.
Modern LED red and green bow lights are being integrated into the fleet.
Boat by boat, I'm replacing the old running lights with these brighter ones.

Thus far I've gotten two sets installed this week,
another two will go on tomorrow and the next day.

Just as we have things stored away until Christmas, gondola operators have equipment which only comes out for one week - the week that surrounds Valentine's Day.

Our docks, our office, and all eight of our gondolas in Newport, run at a different level during this week.
Extra tables, ice chests, towels and blankets are just a few of the things we unpack right about now.

Tonight it was carpets,
tomorrow it will be decorative pillows,
yesterday it was cups for candles.
As they say, "You've got to spend money to make money", and in this business we have plenty of supplies and equipment to spend money on.

Lists, lists, lists.
I'm always making lists.
It keeps me productive, efficient, and sane.
The list at the top of this post is a good example.
What you didn't see, were all the items that didn't get done today.
They are on another list for tomorrow.

Boats, blankets, glassware, striped shirts.
I washed all of those today.
I also spent considerable time washing and scrubbing a large piece of canopy canvas.

Test everything.
Every moving part,
every battery charger and the bank it charges,
every powerplant, every forcola, test everything.
I tested some things today,  I'll test more tomorrow,
and the next day, and so on.

in the midst of all this preparation, you've got to prepare your body as well.
I make sure to do some rowing in the days that lead up to our busy time.
it's easy to put this off until the last minute and get caught unprepared physically.

As the owner of a gondola operation, it's important to me that my gondoliers all get generous portions of the pie, but I must also be ready to cover anything my guys can't.

We will all rest afterwards - that's a given.
But coming into the game rested is of vital importance.
it's not always easy, but you've got to get your sleep.

Pretty soon I'll get some sleep of my own,
right after I check the weather forecast...
for the eighteenth time.


Gondola Sean said...

This post is pure procrastination. GET TO WORK!

Tamás said...

> This post is pure procrastination.

I don't think so and I am an expert at procrastination (to such an extent that it really hurts my life).

Half of the things Greg mentioned, he accomplished them already and he says he will do the rest shortly.

Otherwise Americans are an industrious bunch, so I wouldn't worry about that.