Thursday, June 4, 2015

5 x 5 = 25 Part Two

As I mentioned in yesterday's post
the Gondola Blog has passed 2,500 posts.
To commemorate this number, I'm posting twenty-five things
I've learned during my time on gondolas and in hosting this site.
The first five were covered in my last post.
Here are the next five.

As always, feel free to interject with thoughts, opinions,
questions and insults in the comment box.

Venice is Graceland
People regularly ask me if I've been to Venice, to which I reply:
"If you're an Elvis impersonator - sooner or later you've gotta go to Graceland".
All of us have either gone, or long to go to La Serenissima.
It's a business trip, it's a pilgrimage, it's a shopping trip,
and it's an opportunity to see how the real guys do the real thing.

You'll come away humble.
You'll come away enlightened.
You'll come away with a new sense of what you do on the water,
and a deeper love for gondolas and the city they come from.

We're not the only ones doing this
When I first got involved with gondolas, I was thrilled to discover
that there were people in other American cities who had them.
I made it my goal to meet them all (and row with them if possible).
As of this writing there are approximately thirty gondola operations
in the United States.
There are a lot of great gondola operations in other parts of the world too.
I continue to discover gondolas in surprising places.
I found half a dozen of them in Australia!
The Germans and the Brits love gondolas,
and have some other Venetian craft as well.
I was lucky enough to meet and row with a guy in Denmark a few years back.
The list goes on and on.
Just last week I made contact with a guy in Ukraine who built his own gondola.
This whole loving-Venice-and-rowing-gondolas thing is not exclusive to the US.

You can go just about anywhere with a gondola
In Newport there are places on the water you're only allowed to use if you're
a resident, and we have canals that are closed to through-traffic, period.

But a smiling gondolier in a striped shirt and cheerful passengers seem to have an all-access pass.

Anyone looking like they might call you out can be quickly swayed
with a tip of the hat and a hearty "Buon giorno!"

It's like walking around Italy with a beautiful baby.
Everybody is your new best friend.

Drunken Duffy drivers are turned away,
but as I approach the area I hear:
"Hey, look at the gondola!"
They wave, they swoon or give me their best (or worst) "O' Sole Mio",
and I just cruise right through.

Quick-fixes can save the day
Nothing shines more beautifully than a fresh coat of black paint - except the sunlight, bouncing off the water and reflecting off that fresh black paint. 
All that said - if you run gondolas in a business situation,
and you do it in the real world, your boat is gonna get bumped.  
Stuff happens.
Scuffs happen!

You can cover a multitude of sins with:
a black Sharpie marker - great for deep gouges,
black duct tape - covers bigger scrapes,
black wax (color corrective car wax in black) - hides scuffs and oxidation, 
black electrical tape - covers seams that have decided to open above the waterline.
All these can keep things presentable until that next coat of paint.

And in a pinch...

A bucket of water can save the day
You got stuck in traffic, or just lost track of time.
Heck, maybe you were just called in last minute to cover a cruise.
You get to the gondola just minutes before the cruise is scheduled to begin.
You set everything up:
blankets, beverages, glassware, chocolates, whatever the cruise calls for...
And then you realize that you've got a dirty boat.

Oh, the inside is fine, but the decks are filthy!

There's no time to get down on your hands and knees and give the boat the loving detail-cleaning that she deserves.
You can't even make time for a quick deck mopping.
You've got a minute, maybe.

So you grab a bucket, fill it with fresh water, and throw it on the deck!

Your passengers show up thirty seconds later,
take one look at that beautiful, shiny gondola, with the sun reflecting off the deck of the glossy bow,
and they are truly impressed.
They get in the boat, the cruise goes perfectly, the sun set is glorious,
and they don't notice the dirty bow deck as they leave in the dark.

Crisis averted.

As the old dandruff shampoo commercials used to say:
"You never get a second chance, to make a first impression".

And that brings us to the end of Part Two.
Stay tuned for more in my next post.

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