Positive buoyancy and good aesthetic appearance.
These are my two priorities with the new gondola as we draw closer
to Valentine's Day.
First - she must float.
Second - she must look good.
In the "Critical path" approach that I must take leading up to V-Day,
these are my top priorities, and we're working hard to accomplish them.
As I've pushed towards that fateful launch day, I've made a few discoveries:
Based on photos I'd received before going to New Jersey,
I estimated that the gondola was about 30 years old.
Due to some great investigative work by Nereo Zane in Venice,
I learned that she is approximately 40 years old. In some ways
she has aged well, but there are those few areas that have needed attention.
Another surprise was that the boat was fully glassed.
This really bothers some gondola owners, but I've gotten used to it.
Two of my other Venice-built gondolas came to me already glassed.
The fact that this boat was glassed made it easier to prepare for a watertight launch. We actually had to patch up the holes that had been drilled to keep the boat from filling up with rain water while she was in storage.
For the record, I did know about the holes prior to purchasing the boat.
I knew about her trip around Staten Island, and I'd personally rowed
with three of the four men who made that journey.
Nereo Zane knows them too and he made some phone calls and found out
that the boat was originally owned by a man named Dino Vianello,
who also went by the name "Cavicchi".
About ten years ago the gondola was sold to Stefano Tagliapietra -
a regular competitor in the Regata Storica, among other racing events
in the Veneto. Stefano is known by many as "Ciaceti". His grandfather
was the legendary "Ciaci" (Sergio Tagliapietra), a famous regatante in Venice.
Stefano Tagliapietra's rowing partner is "Sustin" son of Bepi Rossi "Suste" - accomplished regatta rower and the guy who rowed in the forward postion in both the 2007 Hudson River expedition and the 2009 Staten Island expedition.
When Nereo talked to Ciaceti he was told that the gondola was a Tramontin.
I was quite happy to hear this, as the Tramontin family builds great gondolas and previously I had not owned one of their boats.
Due to the age of the boat, and the obvious fact that at least one of her previous owners liked to stow the remo with the blade in the slot
beneath the caenelo, that piece of the boat had significant wear.
Today, in the yard, while taking a break from all the sanding,
and other get-the-boat-ready-for-launch tasks,
I crawled up inside the tail of the gondola.
Jammed up in the aft-most bilge of the gondola,
I was able to spot, beneath that worn caenelo, the signature collection of notches of a Tramontin gondola
- probably cut in there by Nedis himself.
She now sits in a yard in Santa Ana, stripped of her decals.
Decks and hull are sanded and prepped for paint.
As soon as those "slight chances" of rain go away, I'll go crazy with both roller and brush - I'll adorn her with at least two coats of fresh, shiny black paint.
I live by the task list on my clipboard.
Sleep is something I'll take care of later.
Most of all, I'm thankful for a staff of great guys who've stepped in
to handle all sorts of tasks required to make sure this boat.
b.) Looks good
Yeah, she'll do both before the big day.
Ok, maybe I'll sleep a little tonight.