Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Deeper Shade of Blue

Sometimes it's the little things
that make me happy.

Sure, big events and bucket-list
adventures are great, but little things
are worth appreciating as well.

This month I have been spouting off
with excitement to anyone and
everyone who will listen...about the
new floorboard color I've chosen
for my gondola - the Phoenix.

Yes, I know.
It takes a special kind of weirdo to
appreciate such a thing.

If you're actually thinking of reading on,
then perhaps you're as weird as I am.

This isn't the first time that we've changed the color there.
It's actually the third.

Classic Red
When she was first shipped to her original owner, Paul Parma
in Austin, Texas, she had the classic red that is a standard in Venice. 
Thom Price did a masterful job with the construction of the boat,
and gave her the timeless look of a classic gondola, including the red floor.

photo by Thom Price

The above photo, from the year 2000, is a copy of a copy.
There's probably a higher quality version out there,
but the main focus here is on color.
It was taken at the Squero Bonaldo, where Thom built the gondola,
I swiped it from Paul Parma's Facebook page (with permission, of course).

The gondola was later sold to a friend of mine in Houston,
who kept things standard. 
He loved the boat, but later received a captain's job in Florida
that was too good to pass up. When he moved to Florida,
he sold her to us and we added her to our fleet in Irving
(in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area).

Having seen some foot traffic, not to mention Texas weather,
the floorboards were due for some new paint.

Fred Craven, one of my gondoliers out there called me up and convinced
me that a color change was in order, and that the perfect hue would be
what he called "Texas Bluebonnet blue".

A Texas Bluebonnet floor on a Venetian gondola.

The state flower of Texas is, you guessed it, the Texas Bluebonnet.
A member of the Lupine family, the Bluebonnet grows wild, and during
certain times can flower in such a way that all you see is a field of blue.
Texans love Texas, and anything having to do with Texas.

Fred was right to suggest such a color for the boat.
Clients loved the color, and it made marketing the boat easy.

A few years later the Phoenix was moved here to Newport.
The Bluebonnet colored paint wasn't so easy to find,
so when it was time to repaint, we went with "Largo Blue" by Interlux.

"Largo Blue" from 2011 post "Photos from the Prodigy"
photo by Cassandra Mohr

I was happy with the new color, but three and a half years later,
the color had washed out and I had grown tired of Largo.

It was time for a new shade. 
A deeper shade of blue.

While painting stripes on some oars, I discovered "Sapphire Blue"
by Interlux and couldn't wait to use it on floorboards.

When we hauled the Phoenix out,
I bought a bunch of Sapphire Blue and got to work.

My wife tells me these floorboards are white with gold.

Blue was already my favorite color,
now I have a favorite shade.

In the direct sunlight they really glow.
Once in the boat, and in lower light,
the new color will show a much richer tone.

Some of the surfaces we step on can get slippery in the evening
or during rainy conditions.  Having nearly wiped out way too many times because of the evening dew, I decided to give the forward trastolini boards
a non-skid surface. 
Interlux makes a product called "Intergrip" that is, essentially, sand.
(yeah, yeah, yeah. Go ahead and enter your own version of the
"Gondola Greg actually paid money for a can of sand" wisecrack here)
Adding this non-skid compound to the paint allows you to make non-skid in any color you desire.

Non-skid - now available in my favorite color!
photo by Isabella Mohr

While I was at it, I did the same thing with the two trastolini at the back of the boat as well.  These are traditionally painted black, but I like having a contrast color there, so it's easier to know exactly where you're stepping in low light conditions.
My staff and I have done this with other gondolas in the fleet.
But with the Phoenix, we had one more sort of large piece to consider.
If you were on this boat during the four-man race at Nationals, you may have noticed the big floorboard piece at the back of the boat.

I decided to roll it in blue non-skid too.
Why not. I had lots of it, and it was fun to do.

Sapphire Blue non-skid with black scallops.

The gondola isn't ready for launch yet, and that's fine with me.
All this paint needs to cure completely before I let anyone step on it.
I'm actually not sure how I feel about people walking on these floorboards.

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.


Special thanks to Thom Price, Paul Parma, and Fred Craven
for helping me piece parts of this story together.

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