Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That Moment

It only lasts for a short while,
and it doesn't happen every night,
but for that brief period of time after the sun has set, the colors are amazing.
I shot this last night during a five minute window when the colors were at their best.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The New Sandolo in Town

photos by Andrew McHardy

There's a rumor that's been flying around for a while among gondoliers in Southern California.  Ever since the Vogalonga, guys have been talking about new boats coming into town - Long Beach, to be exact. 
It seems that when the guys from Gondola Getaway went out to Venice, they came back with more than memories and t-shirts.  They came back with a shipping receipt, and out of that big metal container came this beautiful sandolo that any gondola operator should be envious of.

The name "sandolo" is a bit of a catch-all term, kind of like "sedan" or "airplane".  There are many different members of the sandolo family,
but the term most folks use when referring to a passenger version is
"sandolo Buranello", and judging from the pictures, this is a nice one.

Really, when you think about it, Eric Sjoberg is the perfect guy to have on the boat for photos like this - he looks like he's having just as much fun as his passengers are.

Andrew got a chance to row the boat tonight and he tells me that she handles quite nicely on the waters of Alamitos Bay.
Lucky guy.

My compliments to Mike at Gondola Getaway - she's a nice looking boat.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lucia at the Starting Line

photos by Tamás Fehér
The Vogalonga attracts human-powered boats of all shapes and sizes. Among the fleet of varying vessels, there always seems to be at least one "Lucia".

These boats come from the lake region in northern Italy, and are similar in some ways to some of the boats native to the Venetian lagoon.

Tamás caught a couple good photos of one of these boats before the start of the 2012 Vogalonga. 
It looks like this may have doubled as a family outing.

To read more about the "Lucia" style boat, check out my post:
 "Three Hoops from Lake Como"

Friday, July 27, 2012

Another Rail-Walker

video by Peter Dever
Here's a quick little capture of a gondolier walking the rail between boats with passengers aboard near the Accademia bridge.  What caught my eye with this one, was how he did it right on the edge; the pusiol (that arm-piece which the brass cavallo rests atop) is in place - giving the gondolier maybe an inch or two to step. 
I'm sure this guy does that rail-walk on a daily basis.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Venetian Wakeboarding" in Coronado

Really, they just have way too much fun with their caorlina down there in Coronado.

Today, after seeing my post "Walking the Rail", Sean at The Gondola Company sent me these.

First, the photo.
This is gondolier "Gregorio" (or as he puts it - "the Real Gondola Greg"), riding the wild caorlina.
He even gave it a perfect name:
"Venetian Wakeboarding".

Looking good, Greg.
You represent the name well.

Now, a little video clip.
Sean writes:
We are towing the Caorlina to the yard for bottom paint with a motorboat. Giovanni testing out his skills.

Impressive. But I'd expect nothing less from one of Sean's guys.
I'll bet Giovanni is a pretty good surfer too.

To learn more about this "gigantic wakeboard", check out my post "American Caorlina - Done Right!", or go to their website.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Learning to Fly

photos by Cassandra Mohr

I know it has nothing to do with Gondolas or Venice, but I did this today and it was amazing - the most fun I've had in a long time.

It's called "Jetlev" and it's essentially a water-powered jetpack.
Here are a few shots from today's flight.

Come on, admit it, ever since you saw someone on TV or in a movie flying a jetpack...you've wanted to try it.
I sure have, and today I got my chance.
For my birthday, my wife got me a gift certificate for this adventure and it was just about the best gift ever.

The concept is clever and imaginative:
rig a wave-runner to pump water through a 33 foot long hose,
which is connected to a pack that allows a "pilot" to direct the flow downward and achieve flight.
Some principles are intuitive while others require a little learning,
but it took me about five minutes to figure out how to hover, turn,
and go wherever I wanted to.

With an instructor talking to me through an intercom in my helmet,
and operating the throttle remotely, it was easy to figure out how the system worked.
Next thing I knew there was a staff member on a wave runner out there with a video camera, and the instructor told me over the intercom to catch her.

I'm pretty sure we got some good video, and if so,
I will be duty-bound to share it here.

The company is called Jetlev Southwest.
The technology was developed locally, and it's pure genius.
check out their website at www.jetlevsouthwest.com/

If you're in the area, or can find one of their partners, try it,
it's the most fun you can have without a gondola.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Carved Boat in Canada

This is a beautiful boat.
Really, she is a shining example of the heights that Venetian boat builders can ascend to in both quality and aesthetics.
A while back I came in contact with the owner of this sandolo and I can't wait to make a trek up to his neck of the woods so I can see this floating gem first-hand.

The boat, of course, is a sandolo, but not just any old sandolo.
This vessel is fully carved (like a wedding gondola), her decks are adorned with details that only a true Venetian intagiadór can produce.  She is believed to be one of only two fully carved sandoli afloat - anywhere.
 Her parecio (removable parts) are all of great quality, and it's clear that little, if any expense was spared in putting this sandolo together.
Oh, and there is one other thing worthy of mentioning:
this is the first sandolo built in a Tramontin squero in over fifty years.

I'm sure that anything Roberto Tramontin builds is remarkable,
but the first sandolo in fifty years?
That had to be more of an obsession than a project.

The lucky owner of this boat is Lorne Fernhout, and his company is called "Honeymoon Gondola".

Operating on the canal waters of "Lagoon City" in Ontario, Canada, Lorne has twelve kilometers of canals to entertain his passengers in while rowing this sandolo - which he has named "Vischio".
I understand that he also has the unique situation of rowing-to-work - with about a seven minute commute.
Rough life, I tell you.

Lorne's boat was finished at the end of March, and of course they had a proper "varo" to get her blessed and floating.
Lorne writes:
I think I saw your friend on the kayak, René cruise by.
I'd never seen so many gondolas in the canal at the squero as the day of the varo.

He continues:
The boat was put in the container the next day.
I got the sandolo the last week of May customs had it sit in the warehouse for 10 days. I paid.  Then they released electronically with out looking at the boat.

And of course, who doesn't love the customs and import process.
In this case, however, I think it was worth the hassle - the boat is incredible.
I'm certain that we will see more of her here in future posts.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The March of the Mussels

The concern over two invasive species of mussels continues in different parts of the US.Here's a story that came out last week :

And in case you think that "a few little mussels aren't worth the fuss", take a look at some of the images in this link:

For some backstory on this, see my posts: "Zebra Mussels in California"
and a detailed account of my experience hauling a boat from Nevada into California:"Zebra and Quagga Mussels".

Friday, July 20, 2012

Walking the Rail

photos by Tamás Fehér
In a perfect world, our beautiful black boats wouldn't show so many
water spots and collect so much dust.
In a perfect world we could park our boats in full-length slips,
giving a gondolier the ability to walk alongside his boat on both sides.
And in this perfect world such a docking arrangement wouldn't cost
an arm and a leg.
But we don't live in a perfect world.
Our boats get dirty, we have to clean them, and it's not easy
to reach every inch of the gondola when she's afloat.
Sometimes you've just gotta get creative to reach those difficult areas - gotta get on the rail and do a little balancing act.

Ah, but if ever there were a boat worthy of such attention, she surely would be 36 feet long, glossy black, and designed to take passengers on the most memorable and sometimes romantic cruises they could ever take.

Yeah, these boats are worth it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Into the Sun

I snapped this one during a cruise tonight in Newport.
It was clear and beautiful - one of those moments where you realize that every day is a gift.

What Happened Here?

photos by Tamás Fehér

What the heck happened here?
Who did this? And more importantly,
will they be back to clean it up? (whatever it is)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Last Gondolier of New York City

Thanks to Tamás Fehér for sending me a link to this piece.

Here's a fun video from the BBC - which gives us a rare view of things from and about the gondola on the lake in Central Park.

Whether it's talking on the phone, in person, or watching him on camera, I always get a kick out of Andres.  In so many ways, he embodies New York - the city he lives and rows in.

Take a few minutes and enjoy.

"The Last Gondolier of New York City"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Festa del Redentore Video

It seems like there are a lot of fireworks going off these days.

My daughter was in Vancouver on Canada Day and enjoyed their fireworks display, then she came home in time to watch our Independence Day aerial display on the fourth.
Not long after, I started hearing about an annual event in Venice that I hope to one day attend - the Festa del Redentore, which,
as you might have guessed...has fireworks.

I've seen images of this night in years past (and they are typically amazing), but this year Nereo has provided us with a high quality video of it.

The footage begins with some singing and carrying on by GSVVM club members on their boats.  If I turn off all the lights in the room, put on my headphones, sip some red wine and get close enough to the computer screen - I feel like I'm right there in the bacino with the rest of the club members.

Thanks Nereo, I enjoyed every minute.

Here's a link to the video on Vogaveneta.it

...and if that doesn't work, Nereo has also placed the video on YouTube.

Six Years of Sunset

Happy birthday to Sunset Gondola.
Six years ago a couple guys had the guts and follow-through to plan and launch a servizio in Huntington Harbour, and Sunset Gondola was born.

Since then boats have been added to the fleet, and a fantastic tradition of getting together has been enjoyed by many gondoliers, from operations all over Southern California.

Thanks for all the fun and friendship.
When is the next get-together?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Sign

During a recent visit to London, my family and I spent a fair amount of time riding the subway train network known as the "Tube". 
Spend any time around the British rail system and you'll hear a particular phrase repeated over and over through the P.A. system:
"Mind the gap".

"Mind the gap" is British-speak, of course, for:
"watch your step going on and off the train",
"look before you leap",
"don't be stupid",
and in every other way "watch your step" - because there can be quite a gap between train and platform at times.

On gondolas we also have a "gap" to "mind", and gondoliers spend ample time pointing it out. 
In Venice, the gondoliers now have a fun and effective sign displayed at many boarding locations which points out "the gap" and other hazards.

These signs went up several years ago, and they came into existence because of one creative, legally-minded gondolier named Giovanni Giudice.

There's a fun interview article in The Guardian that was published back in 2009, which gives a quick profile on Giovanni.
He's got a law degree, but chooses to be a gondolier instead
(yes, yes, insert a variation of your favorite lawyer joke here),
and we also learn a bit about how these "safety signs" came about.

I was lucky enough to meet up with Giovanni when I was in Venice in 2005; he is a spirited and funny guy - just the kind who represents well, and just the kind who would remind us all to "mind the gap".

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Raising a Toast

photo by Tim Reinard
Photo taken during Tim's trip out to Providence for the GondOlympics.
I must say that there is nothing quite like enjoying refreshment while surrounded by the few people who really "get" you.

Friday, July 13, 2012


photos by Tamás Fehér
Here are a few nice shots taken recently in Venezia, of a gondola we'll call "Sylvia" because of a name engraved on one of her brass plates.
I must say that there is nothing quite like a gondola that is carefully maintained by a proud gondolier who knows what he's doing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

V-Day Ambush - Bob with Four

photo by S.E. Atkins

Passing under the 38th Street bridge, Bob looks as at-ease as always - rowing with one arm and a smile.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tucked in til Morning

photos by Tamás Fehér

I understand that the way gondoliers tuck their boats in for the night is probably about 95% practical, but when you see them all lined up in a row, it seems to become artistic.

In this photo we see a few different versions of the fodra (that board which mounts vertically to the inside of the passenger area).

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gondola Wedding (on a Wedding Gondola)

This evening in Newport, as the rest of the world was busying themselves with seemingly important things, a handful of people created a golden memory that will be cherished for generations.

A bride and groom, accompanied by their children, crossed the harbor, touched ground in the shallows near the Lido bridge, and were greeted by their "nearest and dearest".

Steve Elkins served not only as gondolier, but also as minister, and in the early evening breeze, with sun beams illuminating them, the bride and groom exchanged vows with their kids cheering and throwing rose petals.

it was, in a word:

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Bridge and Tunnel"

photo by Tamás Fehér

Some are made of stone,
some made of iron,
and some are built with bricks.

We walk over them,
but seldom think of what they might look like from underneath.

We cross them and hope they won't collapse beneath us.
Others pass under them and pray for the same - but for other reasons.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just the Photo - On the Water in Boston

Joe Gibbons sent me this image of one of Boston's beloved gondolas.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July

The Fourth has arrived.
I'll say the same thing I said last year at about this time.
To all my American friends: Happy Independence Day!
To all my other friends: sorry for all the noise made by us crazy Americans. We just love the 4th.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vogalonga 2012 - Before the Start - Part 3

photos by Tamás Fehér

This is the third and final set of "before the start" photos taken by Tamás prior to the kickoff of the 2012 Vogalonga.

 A green caorlina as seen from the Rialto.

 One of the many dragon boats in the event,
this one flew the American flag.

Um, not sure if that guy should be in that canal on that boat.

Kayakers - hurrying to get there.

 Activity builds in the basin.

 Venetians line up to board a traghetto, wondering how much the event might delay them.

 A gondolier begins his day.

 A red caorlina joins the crowd,

...followed by another red caorlina.

Some sort of signal-flare appears in the basin.

And finally, with a basin full of human-powered boats of just about every type, the cannon fires, and the "long row" begins.