Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just the Photo - Approaching the Bridge

photo by Cassandra Mohr
  Right now we're getting some much needed precipitation and clear skies are a memory of last week (when this shot was taken).  I'm ok with that.  We need the rain, and I like a certain amount of gray skies.
I'm also good with it because we had clear conditions for the Christmas Boat parade.

    Here's hoping that we'll have a dry week surrounding Valentine's Day.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Twilight on the 25th

The phone rang,
the cruise was booked,
I changed into my stripes,
and was out the door.
It didn't matter that it was December 25th.
When you own the business and someone wants to book a cruise,
you take the cruise if nobody else can.
Really, there are worse ways to spend time.
It was a brilliant evening on the water in Newport.

Lots of lights on homes and boats,
and gorgeous color changes on the horizon.
My passengers and I definitely had a merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas from the Gondola Blog

(photo shamelessly stolen from The Gondola Company in Coronado, CA)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Buon Natale!

photo by Nereo Zane

On this serene Christmas Eve, I wish you
and those closest to you - the very best. 

A warm Buon Natale to you from the Gondola Blog.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tiny but Mighty...and BITEY!

Watching the Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade,
you begin to notice the variety of different boats that pass by.

Some are bigger than others.
Some are louder than others.
Some are brighter than others.

Quite often, the most impressive entries are all three:
bigger, louder, and brighter,
but there are a few exceptions.

One of my favorites each year is what we call the "Shark Boat".
This one's tiny, but mighty.

It's a small Zodiac-style inflatable with an outboard motor.
The pilot generally flanks a larger well-decorated yacht.
Pound-for pound, this boat may have more lights per square foot
than any other boat in the procession.

Ah, but it's the design that I'm a fan of:
it's a shark, wearing a Santa hat, and the lower jaw of the mouth
has a chomping motion as the boat bounces by.

Here's a video clip from tonight:

I've never actually seen the "Shark Boat" affect a bite on another boat.
I'm not even sure if it can bite, but then I'm not about to get close enough to find out.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Boat Parade on a Saturday Night

Out on the water again tonight, I had a family from out of town to see the Christmas Boat parade, and as usual, it did not disappoint anyone.
We saw some great lighting displays on homes as well.

Sometimes the parade seems to actually light up the sky above.
 The parade is a wonder of light, water, sound
and motion - especially for kids.

 And yes, some parade entries are brighter than others.
The Christmas Boat Parade happens for five nights - this year it's the 17th through the 21st of December.  Saturday night is often one of the biggest nights. We'll see if tomorrow can trump tonight.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sea Dragon

videos by Elisa Mohr

Here in Newport Beach, the Christmas Boat Parade is upon us once again. 
At the last minute we had some friends in the area who hadn't seen the
parade from a gondola and we felt the need to remedy that, so off we went
in two gondolas.  Simon jumped aboard to row the second boat, and ended
up filling the foreground of some pretty decent photos and video clips.

Here's the first parade boat passing by:
Spend enough time on a gondola, and you will
be serenaded with a bad version of this song:

After watching the whole parade spin through the turning basin
in front of our docks, we ducked under the Lido bridge to catch it again. 
It's a neat trick: go under a bridge, and get a second helping of parade. 

During our second viewing, we got a closer look at the
boat that wowed us earlier: the "Sea Dragon".
Each year someone comes up with a clever way to incorporate a hot-air-
balloon burner into their design.  Here's the Sea Dragon in action:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boston Beauties

After the US Gondola Nationals in 2014, my wife and I drove up to Boston
and visited with Joe Gibbons. 
He showed us around, pointed out all the interesting places,
brought us in to see his boats, and made us feel welcome and at-home.

For having just been hauled out after a busy summer,
the Boston gondolas were in great shape.
A few days later the gondolas were moved into an enclosure for winter.

At the end of our visit, we stopped in the Little Italy neighborhood,
had some phenomenal pizza, enjoyed a pitcher of Narragansett,
and shared lots of stories and memories.

The gondoliers in Boston have an enviable location and an exemplary operation. The fleet is well-kept and of manageable size.

Many thanks to Joe for his hospitality,
and for showing his beautiful boats to us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Red Flag!

photo by John Kerschbaum
Eric Bender (a.k.a. "The Snapper") beginning his solo sprint run
on October 26th, 2014 in Providence, Rhode Island.
With all races, the timekeeper started the clock as soon as the ferro of the gondola emerged from under the Crawford Street bridge.  A spotter on the bridge gave the signal to start the clock by raising a red blanket. 
Yes, a flag might be more official, but the blanket was bigger.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Lights and Shooting Stars

Out on the water tonight, my passengers and I enjoyed a well-lit shoreline,
with so many homes decorated.  Alas, I didn't think to snap any photos of them, so you'll have to settle for this shot of the new Winery restaurant.

We'd expected to see lots of lights on the homes, as well as on passing yachts. We hoped we'd see some stars overhead as well, but we were not expecting to see some of those stars go shooting by.

As it turned out there was a meteor shower this evening.
I saw at least a dozen in an hour, just out of the corner of my eye.
My passengers were on their honeymoon, so lots of wishes were made as the stars went shooting by.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kerschbaum Kicks Off

John Kerschbaum, the man from Minnesota - kicks off his solo sprint run
on the final day of the US Gondola Nationals in 2014. 
With a good running start, he passes under Crawford Street Bridge,
making a mad dash towards the finish line, which is a little ways down-river.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Blue Light Special

For most folks, "deck the halls with boughs of holly" is the norm,
but for some of us gondoliers, it's:
"deck the bows with battery-powered Christmas lights".
Oh sure, it may not have the same poetic ring to it, but it sure looks good.

I just got finished carefully wrapping the perimeter of one of my motorized gondolas in a radiant blue.
Throughout the years I've settled for whatever I could find at the store.
That's code for:
I procrastinated until the last minute and went with the only options left.
This year the Newport fleet will all be decked out in special blue lights.
I had my wife order a case of them
(when she's involved, things tend to be more organized).
Of course, in Newport Harbor, there are an estimated 10,000 boats.
Most of them are painted white, and have all manner of decorative lights
draped from stem to stern.

Next week everyone who can, will be out on a boat in Newport to see the famous Christmas Boat Parade.

What that means to me as a gondolier is that there will be thousands of people driving boats, who won't be looking for me.  They'll be too busy watching the parade and on a black boat in the dark, they'll have a tough time even seeing me.  So these fancy blue lights aren't just for decoration...they're a survival tool.

So this year we're decking our bows (and the rest of the hulls too)
with these special blue lights, both to be seen, and to be stylish.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lit Boats in Venice

photos by Nereo Zane
      My good friend Nereo Zane sent these images from the other night
      in the lagoon. Nereo wrote:
Last Saturday we finally launched the new caorlina "Gianni"
in memory of a historical member who died last year while working on the new carriages of Mestrina.

Mestrina, of course, is the GSVVM's 14-oar quattordesona, which was expertly designed and built by Agostino Amadi - a famous boat builder in Burano.

      The Mestrina is so big, that she is transported to and from the hoist
      on rolling cradles that some club members call "carriages".

Nereo also said:
This late afternoon we will be in two processions on Canal Grande with boats enlightened with led chains.

The boats look great, and very well-lit.
In fact it looks like they would do well in a Christmas parade
in Newport or Huntington Harbour.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Good Guys Wear Black

As the days get shorter and the mercury drops lower,
clothing choices follow suit.

Some gondoliers pull their boats out of the water,
while others reach for the "winter uniform".
photo by Isabella Mohr

         The pants are black, as is the sailor-collared overshirt
         (known as a "marinera").

         Some gondoliers keep with the navy and white stripes,
         but instead of a T-shirt - it's a thick knitted sweater.

Amadeo of La Gondola in Providence rows in his striped sweater
with an accordionist on board.
At the top of it all, the hat is the same, but the ribbon is black.

In Southern California, I spend most of the year in a summer uniform.
For a few months though, I swap out my red-ribboned capello,
for this beauty - one of the many masterpieces that have come out
of the shop of Giuliana Longo.

               Look through photos of the various gondoliers in the US
               and you'll see a lot of Giuliana's hats.

Hats off! (and on the wall) at the awards dinner
of the US Gondola Nationals in Providence, RI.
Rafaello and Alberto enjoy food and conversation.

As the sun shines less on the top half of the planet,
thin, light clothing makes less sense to us gondoliers.

Temperatures urge us to wear clothes that are warmer.
Tradition inspires us to wear black.

Black, because good guys wear black - just ask Chuck Norris.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Setting Up Camp

After the slalom event in Providence was over,
we all climbed into the gondolas and rowed downriver to a fondamente
that was perfect for both staging races, and watching those races.

The first order of business in setting up camp:
unload the provisions - including the coffee and Dunkin Donuts.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014