Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Strike a Pose

photo by Mitchell Lucky

Gondolier Evan Kliewer strikes a pose while rowing a cruise in Newport Beach.

Monday, October 15, 2018


photo by Kalev Pallares

Gondolier Hunter Mitchell is a funny guy.
He's an excellent rower, and an even better singer.
But he's also got a talent for humor on the back of a gondola.

Previously I posted "Photo-Bomb Win!"
Here's another winner.
I'm calling it "Facepalm!"
In this case the passengers were cropped out, 
but this was taken during a cruise.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Beginning a Memory

As I mentioned in a previous post,
We are in the business of creating "Perfect Moments".
Those moments become treasured memories,
and they all start when the gondola leaves the dock.
Tonight I took this photo of Kyle as he headed out with happy passengers, as their memory-making was just beginning.

Friday, October 12, 2018


I first caught a whiff of it as I was crossing from one side of the Newport Boulevard bridge to the other. 
Somewhere between dodging cars and trying not to trip over the median, 
I smelled it: the aroma that emerges as soon as raindrops hit dry ground.

It's called "petrichor" - a combination of two Greek words.
Petra means "stone", 

ichor is the fluid that flows through the veins of the gods.

I know this simply because I love the smell so much that I had to look it up.
Of course I was thrilled to discover that it had a cool name like "petrichor".
Turns out that while it may be rooted in Greek language and mythology, 
it was actually coined in 1964 by two Australians.

The Australians have given us many great things:
Hugh Jackman, the Bee Gees, Kylie Minogue, 
the Mad Max films, Vegemite (ok, maybe not Vegemite), 
but I'm throwing petrichor on the list now.
You read it here first.

So, where was I?
Oh yes, I was dodging traffic on the bridge.

Why was I up there?
To take some snaps of gondolas here in Newport on an evening where the clouds were beginning to look increasingly, shall we say...unfriendly.

A few raindrops had come down - enough for the above mentioned aroma to present itself - but it didn't really rain for another thirty minutes.

From up on the bridge I watched Mike Olsen heading home 
and Evan Kliewer rowing in my direction. 

 Mike heads home.

Evan begins his cruise.

gondolier greeting on the water.

After scampering across six lanes of traffic, I was rewarded with a nice down-shot of Evan's gondola as he emerged from under the bridge.
 Mmmm. Looks like a dinner-cruise.

 There are so many great angles to appreciate a gondola from.
This is one of my personal favorites.

Rowing off into the canals in the west end of Newport,
under increasingly darkened skies.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Simon, Jonah, and I had the pleasure of rowing a three-boat-flotilla this evening with a great group of passengers.

 Look at us.
We could sell ice cream in those outfits!

 Out on the water, I snapped a shot as Kyle cruised through our group.

 Here's a close-up of Simon and Jonah alongside each other.

We rowed as a group for a half-hour and then turned around to head home.
With the breeze at our back, we brought the gondolas rail-to-rail.
Each of us rowed with one foot on another boat, 
and we glided along - rafted together.

After an hour of rowing in tight formation, 
we dropped our passengers off at a restaurant and headed into dock.

 Simon's silhouette.

Jonah bringing it home.

I love rowing flotillas.
We get to entertain a group of people, 
take turns singing,
and it's so fun to raft-up with all the neighbors looking and waving.
Can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Torch is Passed in Ft. Lauderdale

Several years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Martha Beachem in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
She's been running cruises there at Las Olas Gondola for some time now.
The other day she shared the news with me that she has now taken over as owner of the boat and the whole servizio.
Here's a press release:

The torch has been passed at Las Olas Gondola in Fort Lauderdale to longtime Florida Operations Manager Martha Beachem. In July 2018 the contract was finalized and signed for Gondolier Martha to take over as owner/operator of the business after the purchase from Mike Novack. She will maintain the excellent quality of your gondola experience as always and looks forward to continued success on the One and Only Venetian Gondola in the "Venice of America"!

There's no place anywhere quite like the waterway there in Las Olas,
and not surprisingly - there's no other gondola quite like 
the one they operate there. 
She's uniquely suited to face the challenges there, and do it in style.

Big congrats to you, Martha.
I couldn't think of a better gondolier to pilot that boat and carry the torch!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Brass Lady with a Beautiful Flag

photo by Isabella Mohr

There's more to a gondola than just the hull.
There are so many details.
One of my favorites is the "canon" - a brass ornament on the bow.
This one resembles an angel carrying a flag.
It was created by my friends at Fonditore Valese in Venice.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sunset Musings

I sometimes wonder: 
if we lived on a planet where the sky was always in sunset mode...
would we even care? 
Would those colors bore us?

I suppose if every bird looked like a peacock, 
they'd all just be "birds", right?
If rainbows were on every horizon, would they be as unremarkable too?

But these things, and so many more, ARE remarkable.
Whether or not it has to do with their rarity is a question to muse over.

I like to contemplate such things...
from the back of my gondola...
while watching a sunset like this one.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sunset Dripping from Steel

The stainless steel ferro blade of a gondola eclipses the setting sun, 
with the solar reflections appearing to drip down from the iconic bow-piece.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Tossing Aft

photo by Cassandra Mohr

Here's another installment in my series 
of message-in-a-bottle placement photos.

A lot of guys set the bottle gently in the water.
But I'm a short-attention-span guy.
I got tired of that and started tossing it,
...and our photographers did their best 
to try and capture the right moment.

Here's one with he bottle on a low trajectory 
towards the water behind the gondola.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Monday, October 1, 2018

Fresh October Sky

Kalev and I set out on a pupparin with two oars this evening - ready for a tandem workout row as the sun set on the first night of October.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the conditions were brilliant,
and there were plenty of couples out on gondolas there to enjoy it all.

Jonah rows in the foreground, Alex heads for the bridge off in the distance.

This time of year, we see rich colors 
on the opposite side of the horizon as the sun sets.  
Tonight was a perfect example.
photo by Kalev Pallares

Smooth waters make for great rowing.

"Voga forte!"

Eddie chases the sun.

photo by Kalev Pallares

 It was idyllic on the water tonight: 
light breezes, smooth water, 
a setting sun and a fresh October sky.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Perfect Moments

photo by Cassandra Mohr

I often tell my staff:
We are in the business of creating perfect moments.

Some companies sell you things 
(like clothing, electronics, fuel for your car), 
but what we sell is something intangible.

It's not something you can put in your pocket,
not something that can get lost or stolen,
not even something that rusts or gets broken and thrown away.

What we provide - if the job is done right - is a perfect moment...
that our clients will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Oh sure, there are those who are just out for a nice time on the water.
Some of our passengers are just taking a "date night" excursion,
but many of the people who step aboard our gondolas 
are there to celebrate something.
And of course we are entrusted with quite a lot of marriage proposals.
These are the cruises where "good enough" just isn't.

Author Vicki Corona said it best:
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away"

Perfect moments are what we provide.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

No Place I'd Rather Be

photo by Cassandra Mohr

I love being a gondolier.

Happy passengers,
fresh ocean air,
smooth waters,
gorgeous sunsets,
and great memories being made on my boat.

There is absolutely no place I would rather be 
than on the back of a gondola.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Golden Light on the Phoenix Ferro

I snapped this from the water tonight 
as a couple of us rowed alongside each other.

At just the right moment golden light reflected 
off the stainless steel ferro of the gondola we call The Phoenix 
and I was fortunate enough to take a few photos.
This one was my favorite.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A "Fisheye View"

If I were a fish, and I could still row a gondola, 
this is what I think things would look like from the back of my boat.

Although I suppose if that were true,

then the couple would be staring back at me, saying:
"How in the heck is a FISH rowing our gondola???"

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Overhead Sotomorso Stretch

photo by Mitchell Luckey

In my previous post "Sometimes" we see Yours truly 
caught in the act of tossing a message-in-a-bottle into the water.

Then more recently "Jonah Stretches" featured a gondolier rowing with one hand while discreetly placing a bottle in the water off the port side.

Here now, Simon shows us the "Overhead Sotomorso Stretch" 
while placing the bottle on the starboard side.

For bonus points, he even smiles for the camera!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Overhead Foot Action

photos by Cassandra Mohr 

In my previous post "Low Bridge" I pointed out that 
"when the tide is high, you've gotta get low",
and often that's enough, but there are those times 
when the bridge is a few inches too low.

So you move your passengers all the way forward to lower the ferro,
and after that's cleared the bridge, move them back to their seat 
and drag yourself as far back as you can to bring the tail down.
The tail is often the highest point on the gondola, 
so that's where you've got to get creative.

Any gondolier who's ever faced this situation knows 
that you can push the boat down from the underside of the bridge.
Some guys stow the remo and do a double hand bench-press push.
In the case of this bridge, there's often a crosswind just beyond it,
so I usually keep one hand on the remo and push with the other.

Sometimes - when you're already 80% through - and then you realize 
pushing with your hand isn't gonna cut it,
well, you can always get one of your feet involved.

And that's what I did in this photo.
For the record, I did manage to keep the bridge from ever touching the tail of the boat.

There you go, folks:
Overhead Foot Action!

It may not be graceful, but it works.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Stripes in Action

photo by Kalev Pallares

There's nothing quite like a Venetian remo 
with the traditional chevron stripe pattern.

I painted this one orange and blue in honor of my rowing club 
back in the Veneto: The Gruppo Sportivo Voga Veneta in Mestre.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Shots From the Dock Tonight

Once again I found myself at that perfect time of day, 
with golden sunlight reflecting on blue water, 
and Venetian boats coming and going to and from our marina.

Such circumstances require photographs.
Here is visible evidence of the perfect evening we had in Newport this evening.

Ferro in waning sunlight.

Jonah departs on Stella.

 Twelve ladies, two gondoliers, and countless memories created on the water.

 Evan executes a powerful dar-zo poppa to turn his boat.

Alza remi!
(solo version)

 One set of cavalli in the sunset.

Another set of cavalli.

Plying the waters among gargantuan charter yachts.