Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to Identify a Hard Working Gondolier - Part 3

A hard-working gondolier tends to wear many hats.
He's not just a boat rower.
We've looked at some of the qualities of a hard-working gondolier in two earlier posts.  Lets take a look at things from a "work" perspective, and add some more attributes.

He maintains his boat
He's not afraid to flip his boat over now and then and reach for tools and supplies.
From the post "Getting to the Bottom of Things"

He's not afraid to take a full boat
Of course "full boat" can have many different meanings depending on the place or the situation. In some places there are regulations limiting the number of passengers in a boat, but a hundred years ago there were no such laws in Venice, California.  A photograph-based postcard from Abott Kinney's "Venice of the West" shows us just how many passengers you can jam into a gondola.  No doubt the added weight must have made for a much harder row for the hard-working guy on the back.
(from the post
POSTCARD HISTORY LESSON - The "Twelve Passenger Gondola" )


He cleans his own boat and knows his way around a chamois
Sponges, sessolas, and of course, the traditional chamois.
These are some of the tools of the trade.
Rags, cleaning products, waxes, and a collection of other items also are a regular part of his day.
A hard-working gondolier also doesn't hesitate to jump aboard and clean the heck out of his boat to take out a last-minute cruise.
The above photo is from my post "Servizio Gondola Ferrovia".

He's not averse to haggling with potential clients
Not all gondoliers have the additional task of interfacing directly with potential clients, and trying to convince them to take a cruise.
I believe this is one of the biggest differences between Venetian gondoliers and their American conterparts.
They are not only boat captains, they are also sales staff.
Of course there are a few dedicated rowers outside of Venice who do mix it up and haggle with walk-up clients, in front of restaurants, along boardwalks, and at the home dock - whenever someone strolls by looking for a cruise.
The photo above may look familiar; it comes from "The Negotiation".

He absolutely loves his boat
There are very few gondoliers out there who love money so much that they'll go the extra mile on an unfailing basis.  And sure, lots of gondoliers who are worth their salt, have a real love for the rowing part.
Many of us look forward to the interaction with our passengers.
When it comes down to it though, one thing hard-working gondoliers all share is a love for the boat.
You can't always tell right away,
but watch them for a while and you'll see it.

This is not just another type of boat. Schooners, runabouts, offshore racers, Chinese junks - they are all unique types of boats. 
But a gondola is so much more than just a boat.
Going in to detail would send me off on another triple-post endeavor,
so I'll save it for another time.
The photo above, of Franco Bognolo in Denmark says it all.
That man loves his boat.
And by the look of his clothes, he's been working hard to keep her in top shape.
(from the post "Pre-Launch in Denmark" )

Some of you have chimed in with some of your own ideas of what makes a hard-working gondolier.  Be careful - if you keep it up, I might just throw together another post using reader comments.

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