Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tucking In for Winter

As I sit here with a mug of something hot and a few things to nibble on,
I reflect on the year and am reminded of my friends who have their gondolas out of the water until spring.
Here are a few moments captured, of gondolas getting tucked in for winter.
One of John Kerschbaum's boats rests on her trailer, with the beginnings of what's become known as The "Kerschbaum Trailer-Tent" Method.
And John knows a thing or two about winter.
By now the boats of Gondola Romantica are well on their way to looking like they did in 2013 (see Fresh Blanket in Minnesota). 
Uwe Kunze's beautiful gondola - just prior to being rolled into her warm,
dry winter home.  In this case the mode of transport involves train-type rails.
to see Uwe's site, go to
And then there's Providence, Rhode Island.
I got a nice collection of photos and video clips
from our friends at La Gondola.
Backing her up on the trailer.

With clever placement of double-doors, the folks in Providence are able to back the tail of a gondola right into the building, and then roll her in using logs and other implements.

Proper spacing of the logs helps.

Sometimes you have to throw your weight into the project.
Then there's the actual rolling.

And of course, you've gotta know when to say "That's it."
With Christmas behind us, Hanukkah in full swing,
and the new year fast approaching,
I send my warmest wishes to my gondolier friends in "wintery places".
Three gondolas rest for winter in Providence, with smiling faces all around.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

photo by Dawn Reinard

Merry Christmas to you all, dear friends, from the Gondola Blog.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain!

It's Christmas Eve, and for the last week or so, we've had off-and-on rain.
It's not the deluge that you might find during an Indonesian monsoon,
but all the same, I've spent some quality time monitoring bilge pumps and slinging a shop-vac.

Of course we DO need the rain,
quite desperately after so many years of draught conditions.
And I do like the fact that everything gets a solid wash-down.

My friends in northern regions may get a white Christmas.
This year it looks like we may be in for a "wet Christmas".
I'll count it as a blessing...and hope for a dry Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Utterly Brilliant

photos by Isabella Mohr
Tonight, on the last day of fall, and the first day of winter,
It was utterly brilliant on the waters of Newport harbor.
Looking back, we had nights of unrelenting rain,
and truly wicked winds.
But tonight was the kind of night we hope for and dream of.
I headed out with my first cruise, marveling at the sky,
and amazed at the wind (or lack of it).

The next time I need to "Find my happy place",
it will probably be this place and this time.
Really, it was that great.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It's Beautiful in Venezia

photos by Nereo Zane

Nereo sent these today from on the water in Venice.
It may have been foggy or rainy there lately, but on this day, it was brilliant.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

First Night of Boat Parade

The 2016 Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade kicked off tonight.
Here are some of the views from the back of my gondola.

Gondolas gearing up to go.
Looking from one gondola to another.
And here comes the parade!
Parker and his passengers take it all in.
One of the most popular boats in the parade has "burners".
These are usually employed on hot-air balloons,
but they seem to have other uses.
It was a great night out on the water.
After taking it all in, Hunter's gondola
was the venue for a marriage proposal.
This job truly does not suck.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Momentary Masterpiece

The day drew to a close.
As the sun bid farewell for the night,
it painted the sky with broad strokes and brilliant colors.

For a fleeting moment I took in the splendor
of a masterpiece that would soon fade,
replaced by the electric glimmer of thousands of Christmas lights,
adorning homes, yachts, and yes - even gondolas.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Michael in Action

Michael Serge rows hard on the day before the races in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Friday, December 9, 2016

More than Once

My wife forwarded this to me today.
It came out a couple months ago, and I watched it over and over.
Then it showed up in my inbox today,
and once again, I watched it over and over.
If you haven't already seen it, or even if you have,
I'll bet you can't help but watch it more than once.
If you're like me, you'll find yourself pausing and clicking
to bring it back a few seconds to see certain people and places.
My hat's off to Oliver Astrologo and the folks who helped create this video.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Casino Capanile

I snapped this photo this afternoon at a certain Venice-themed 
establishment in Las Vegas.
I don't know off the top of my head whether the dimensions of this bell tower are the same as those of the one in Piazza San Marco.
Maybe next time I'll bring a tape measure.


Nearing the end of their gold medal run in the Tandem Distance race, 
Mike Ruffino and Parker Harrison power their way home for a win.

The idea, of course, is to go fast.
Faster than anyone else.
And Parker and Mike sure did that this year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nutrition and Conversation

Gondoliers are athletes, among other things.
At the US Gondola Nationals, we were burning through a lot of calories.
As you might imagine, lunch is not just a nice perk.
It's a necessity, and when a guy shows up wit a stack of pizzas, 
everyone is happy to see him.

Here are some fun shots of the nutrition and conversation that took place on Saturday in Minnesota.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Backwards Means Business

photo by Richard Sonnen

Before he shoves off to row in competition,
Parker Harrison spins his hat around backwards - like a baseball catcher.
It must work. 
He and Mike Ruffino took the gold medal in the race that followed this hat adjustment.  After turning his Associazione Gondolieri cap, 
they took the win in the Tandem Distance event.
With Parker, backwards means business.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Experience Counts

photos by Richard Sonnen
The Sprint events this year at the US Gondola Nationals
were among the most popular races on the docket. 
In fact more two-man teams entered the Tandem Sprint
than any other two-man event.
If you wanted to place, you had to row fast.
And because it was a short course, the top four or five finishers
in both Solo and Tandem, were all within a second or two of each other.
Most of the teams were pairings of guys from the same servizio,
But the duo that pulled in the bronze medal time was two guys from
different states, who had little to no time to train together,
and who seemed to just step on the gondola for the fun of it that day.
They rowed out to the starting line,
and went about the business of kicking ass.
John Kerschbaum of Gondola Romantica
and Tim "Bepi" Reinard of Sunset Gondola
are certainly not new to the sport.
Tim hosted Nationals three years ago,
John hosted the event this year.
Both guys have rowed in Venice.
Both guys own gondola operations,
and have been in the business a long time.
They are among the oldest regular competitors,
in fact they are old enough to be the fathers of
some of the younger entrants at the USGN
(something I can fully identify with)
And yet with age comes experience - something that can
really make a difference in a sport that's more than just brute force.
Technique and timing are of great importance in Venetian rowing.

Quickness off the line is important.
Rowing in perfect synchronization is key.
Next thing you know, that gondola is really moving.
The surface rushes by rapidly.
Everything becomes a blur.
 In the Sprint events it's full throttle all the way.
There's no holding back at all.

You turn at the buoy, and head back at breakneck speed.

The guy on the back has to keep the boat going in the right direction,
and keep up with the guy in the front...
...who is blasting away as fast as he can.

All that speed, all that power,
all that technique, timing, and experience
brought Tim and John across the line fast enough to capture medals.

Bravo, boys!

I told this same story last month with different photos,
in my post "Tim and John Take Off",
but when I saw Richard Sonnen's collection,
and got his permission to use them, I had to post these as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Feral Scream"

After a fast run to the buoy downriver,
and a vicious fight against wind and current to get back up,
Michael Angelo Ruffino turned at the upriver buoy
and hammered it home to the finish line.

The vocalizations ranged from angry grunts to a full-on scream,
a "feral scream" as he calls it.

For another angle on it, see my post "The Rhythm of Rage".

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Alza Remi!

A trademark salute of Venetian rowers is a raising of the oars.

You'll see it at Regata Storica as parade boats pass the judges stand,
and also after a race - from the first few boats who finish.

Here we see John Kerschbaum of Gondola Romantica
and Tim "Bepi" Reinard of Sunset Gondola in the "Alza Remi" salute
just before their run in the Tandem Sprint event at the 2016 US Gondola Nationals.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Posing - PVD Style

photos by Richard Sonnen
The gondoliers from Providence are fantastic rowers.
But they're also a lot of fun.
If I lived there, I'd totally apply for a job there.
(not sure if I'd get the job, but I'd definitely apply)
Here's a fun collection of the guys from Providence (a.k.a. PVD) 
posing for a group shot at the US Gondola Nationals. 
I've taken the liberty of adding my own quote captions for the sequence.
First you've got to get everyone together.
Marcello: "Wait, where the heck is Ivano?"
Alessandro: "Don't ask me, I'm getting in the zone here."

Ivano: "Here I am."
Marcello: "Excellent. Everybody smile."

Mariano: "Um, what do we do with our hands?"
Marcello: "try this."
Ivano: "I'm not doin' that"
Parker on the boat in the background: "Go Eddie!"

Alessandro: "Man, I should've shaved for this."

Ivano: "Check this out...classic gunfighter pose."
Marcello: "I'm gonna keep doing this hands out thing."
Eddie on the boat in the background: "Are those guys taking pictures?"

Mariano: "I'm just gonna smile, guys."
Alessandro: "I'm gonna punch an eagle!"
Ivano: "Gunfighter, man. Tellin' you - it works."