Monday, March 31, 2014

The Wind is a Thief

Yesterday I faced some refreshingly challenging winds here in Newport.
Tonight was a repeat performance, but a little easier.
I'm not sure if it was easier because the wind had mellowed a bit,
or because I had the muscle-memory to draw from.
No, tonight I had few problems keeping the gondola pointed in the right direction. Tonight the wind had other intentions: stealing body heat.

Since living in Alaska, I've said that "The wind is a thief" - stealing away your warmth.  See my post "Defining the Wind" for more details.

While it may have been a bit cooler than I'd expected,
that same wind did a marvelous job of clearing things up - creating spectacular views from the back of the gondola tonight.  

Looking down the main canal on the left, we see Mike O. from the Gondola Company of Newport, enjoying a tremendous tailwind - one which,
after taking this photo, I enjoyed as well.

I spun around a few times for my passengers
to appreciate the vista of the setting sun.

Later on the colors got richer as the sky grew darker.

All in all, it was beautiful on the water this evening.
The wind did a good job of stealing away my body heat,
but I just kept rowing, determined not to let it win.

An hour later I was enjoying a glass of chianti in a hot jacuzzi - problem solved!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Today was a noticeably windy day here in Newport. 
Cruises were a bit more "athletic" than usual.

It was one of those days when you leave the lagoon, and before you can even start to turn the boat towards the canals, you've been blown a half-mile down the harbor. The kind of day when a gondolier really earns his pay.

Some time ago, I coined the term "windfight".  Sure, someone else probably invented the term well before I was born, and I'm sure the Venetians have dialectic terms for all twelve different kinds of struggles against air blowing in a challenging direction.  Whatever the case, today my fellow gondoliers and I had plenty of "windfights" to work through.

It was a great day - the kind of day when you feel alive, and when the wind tries to dominate you, you discover your inner caveman and hit back with your biggest club.

Yep, "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger"

Monday, March 24, 2014

Five Shots

Here are five shots from the back of my gondola this evening in Newport.
Spring weather is showing up a little more each day.
Another gondola is spotted beyond the Newport Blvd. bridge. 
 My passengers exchange greetings with people on shore.
Moments before a warm exchange of "buona seras"
between passengers and gondoliers. 
Another perfect evening doing the job I love.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just the Photo - Placid Afternoon

Photo taken today in Newport Harbor.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Night Views on St. Paddy's

It was a beautiful evening on the waters of Newport tonight. 
I wore my green stripes in honor of St. Patrick.
A noticeable breeze blew in from the Pacific, providing small challenges that were more than forgiven with each breath of fresh ocean air that it brought in.

I switched my Nikon to a non-flash mode just for kicks and managed to capture a few postworthy images (a few among the many disastrous ones).

My passengers were a couple in town from Texas. 
I love Texans, they have such a great spirit.
These two had scheduled their cruise time around the moonrise - which was awesome, but completely unphotographable using the setting I'd chosen.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Alex Hai

I'm posting this just because I'm a big fan of Alex Hai, and because I kind of
live out my dream of being a gondolier in Venice vicariously through her.
Here's a nice recent article on the bold and capable
                             "first woman gondolier in Venice, Italy"
The foreign woman riding Venice's waterways

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fresh Paint in Providence

A still-life by Matthew Haynes, known to the gondola world as...Marcello.
This image was recently taken in the workshop of La Gondola in Providence, RI.  Looks like preparations are under way to welcome the season.
Here's proof that Allesandro and Marcello have been busy with the black paint.
The first reservation is on the books for the first week of April and the gondoliers are probably laying out their stripes and gearing up to row right now.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

400 in Miami

Last week I was in Miami for a few days.
My daughter's band was out there to film a music video,
which means I was out there to carry gear, drive people around,
and serve as bodyguard in case any overly amorous young men decided to express their love for her or the other female members of the band.

It really was exciting - especially to see my daughter in the camera monitor.
And yes, you will most certainly hear about it when the video is released.

While we were out there, my wife and I got to meet Martha Lenoir-Beachem, who runs the gondola there in Ft. Lauderdale.
We needed a ride from one airport to another, and Martha was saintly in her willingness to give us a ride.  It was great to finally meet her and swap stories.
Her big truck with SCUBA stickers, and her Georgia accent brought smiles to our faces.  Gondoliers are interesting and Martha is no exception 
(she captains a SCUBA vessel as well).
Her authentic Giuliana Longo hat was a welcome sight.

We weren't able to spend time on the gondola this time,
but I've seen the boat before.
The gondola is very unique, a Diesel powered vessel that we've looked at here before.
I first laid eyes on the boat when she was in New Jersey (see "Diesel Gondola") and then again a few years ago when she was being piloted by Pierre Meunier.
Up to that point the boat was doing a decent amount of cruises,
then Martha took over, and it's been quite active since.

While driving with Martha, she told me that she was just a few cruises away from 400 since she'd stepped aboard about a year ago. 
A couple days later she told me she'd blown past the milestone,
and also that her numbers did not include the other two gondoliers she had covering cruises for her when she wasn't available.

Martha's name might be familiar, after all she's the one who showed us the "Gator in the Bay".

So now Martha has crossed the 400 cruise milestone and is probably well on her way towards 450.  She loves the job and her passengers love her.
Congrats to Martha, and thanks for the hospitality and the ride.

To learn more about the gondola operation in Ft. Lauderdale,
go to

Saturday, March 1, 2014 Minnesota...

photos by John Kerschbaum

Like so many years before, my buddy John Kerschbaum hauled out his gondolas in Minnesota and went on a winter road trip.  

He usually goes to remote places in the South-West, getting back to nature and enjoying the warmth.  For many years he's included Newport Beach in his travels and has rowed with us for Valentine's Day. 

This year, after enjoying the sunshine in southern California, 
John went skiing with a friend who works in Utah, then headed home to his little corner of paradise in the north, and returned to this:

Yes, that's his truck - the one he had parked in front of my house two weeks ago, the one next to it has been there for a while (as is evidenced by the snow).

And those are the famous Minnesota gondolas, 
wrapped up and hibernating until spring.

Minnesotans impress me.  
They work around very noticeable season changes, 
and very rarely complain.  

John wrote:
This is what I came home to...a high of -4. A low of -15. 
Gotta love it! 

Welcome home John.  I'm sure you're looking forward to unwrapping those beautiful boats and getting them ready to launch.  
As always, it was great rowing with you.