On a recent visit to our Irving, Texas location, my family and I stayed at a hotel on the lake. As my location manager, Matthew Schenk, approached the hotel, I shot a few photos with my long lens from a high vantage point.
Without question, this is an unusual gondola.
She is one of only five, built to serve as water taxis for the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada back in 1994. They are 36 feet long, can take up to twelve passengers, and are stoutly built from foam-core fiberglass.
While this design could be rowed, we find them to be most effective on windy waterways where internal propulsion is a must. Currently we have three of them in our Lake Las Vegas location (winds top 40 knots on a regular basis there) and two in Irving, Texas. It isn't always windy in Texas, but when it is...well, let's just say that we get some "Texas sized winds" out there.
In her current configuration, this gondola (known as "La Serenissima") has a stainless steel canopy frame with Sunbrella canvas. There is also an awning for the gondolier, and the passengers enter and disembark from the forward-most part of the salon area via steps. The gondolier is more of a captain in the case of these boats, as he or she sits and steers the boat with a traditional helm (steering wheel).
We do have rowing gondolas at our Irving, Texas location, but there are days when the winds are brisk, and Murphy's Law is in full effect. That means that the guy has an engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket and he's got to get out on that boat, come hell or high water (or ridiculously strong winds), it's gonna happen.
And of course, she wouldn't be a Texas boat without a proper Lone Star flag flying from the stern.