Monday, August 13, 2018

Exsqueeze Me!

photo by Mark Schooling

Mark at Gondola Paradiso sent me this the other day.
I'd love to take credit for the title "Exsqueeze Me!",

but those were his words
(probably at the very moment this photo was taken).

Sometimes you've got the whole harbor to yourself,
and then there are those times when, well,
you feel like a sardine - about to get pushed into the can!

Gotta keep your cool.

Gotta handle the situation,
and later on...gotta have words with that captain!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Fire in the Sky

It's not a good thing - that hills and houses are burning here in California.
We are all a bit on edge, even if it's not hitting our neighborhoods.
The smoke darkens the sky, making almost apocalyptic displays at times.
And of course, the sunsets are a lot more vivid as well.
Here are a few snaps from the back of my boat this evening.

 Evan crosses in front on the canopy-topped Lucia.

Jonah heads out towards the canals.

Monday, August 6, 2018

From Floatplane to Gondola

photos by Trish Synco, video and editing by Chance Busey

In what may just be a first,
recently someone stepped off a floatplane and into a Venetian gondola.

It happened yesterday, August 5th, 2018, in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Seattle residents Oliver and Olivia flew 
in on a Kenmore Air single-prop floatplane from South Lake Union.

Oliver had arranged for John Synco and his gondola 
to meet them on the water once they arrived in Gig Harbor.  

They stepped from the float, to the boat, 
and their gondolier rowed them to the iconic lighthouse 
at the entrance to the harbor. 

As it turns out, Olivia's father - Steve Sparks - was the architect 
who designed that lighthouse, so while floatplane to gondola might have seemed out of the ordinary, visiting the lighthouse made sense.

And then Oliver revealed his true reason for such a trip:
a marriage proposal, right there at the base of the lighthouse.
Watch the video - it's a wonderful moment, captured so well with a drone.

After she said "yes", they climbed back into Gig Harbor's favorite gondola 
and enjoyed a celebratory cruise with champagne.
Then they were delivered to Tides Tavern.

Where they went from there is anyone's guess,
but I hope it's a continued "happily-ever-after".

Congrats to Oliver and Olivia, 
and to Gig Harbor Gondola and Kenmore Air 
for what may be the first-ever transfer of it's kind.

The gondola approaches the floatplane.

Point of actual contact.

Happy couple on board. At this point she has no idea what's in store.

And here's the video:

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tonight's Views

 Kyle heads off to chase the setting sun.

Just another boring/beautiful night in Newport,
with boats coming and going,
birthdays, anniversaries,
and of course - proposals.

A view from the back of the boat.

Steve comes in...

 with a newly-engaged couple...

 ...and their group of thirty-plus friends and relatives 
to celebrate that engagement!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Visit to Coronado

Eddie and Jessica took some time away from their normal digs, 
and headed south to San Diego.
While there, they dropped in on Sean and his servizio in Coronado.
Eddie sent me these great photos, 
but I'm pretty sure Jessica should get the photo credit here.

 I'm seriously considering stealing this sign.

 Rowing off-duty means you can wear whatever you want.
But you've still gotta smile and wave.

 Awesome 3-D portela.

 Profile of the gondola.

 She's got the whole boat to herself.

There is just nothing like the curvaceous shape of a Venice-built gondola.

 The portela of an American-built gondola.

A red and white striped remo dips into the smooth waters of Coronado.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Last night a bunch of gondoliers and I had the good fortune 
of rowing a seven boat flotilla here in Newport Beach.

We had six passengers on each boat,

rowed as a group,
took turns singing songs,
and came away from it, looking forward to the next time 
we get to row such an event.

Three gondolas waiting for all boats to convene 
before pushing forward into the canals

The westward movement begins

Happy passengers

Jonah rowing Phoenix

The procession continues

Braydon and a full boat

Running lights on as natural light fades.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Kerschbaum on Contessa

photo by Isabella Mohr

Valentine's Day, 2018.
John Kerschbaum from Minnesota rows a happy couple 
on the pupparin known as "Contessa", 
as the lady reads the message-in-a-bottle 
that she just retrieved from the water.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Comings and Goings on a Sunday Evening in July

Standing on a friend's boat this evening in Newport, I watched some of our gondolas come and go, and was able to snap a few photos.


photo by Cassandra Mohr

Friday, July 20, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Venus in the Sky

Tonight was a perfect example of what I dream of - when I dream of rowing my gondola in Newport.
Really, it was darn near perfect.

The sun set, the winds were easy, and coming off the ocean, 
and we were blessed with both stars and planets to view overhead.  
The most prominent was Venus.
She was so bright, so early, that I had to make sure I wasn't looking at a slow-moving aircraft.
To make the evening even better, once it was dark, 
we saw large numbers of glow-worms on the surface of the water.

If I ever wish for "just one more night on the water" in Newport,
I will wish for a night like tonight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jonah and the Lean

photo by Kalev Pallares

Some photos from a cruise crossed my desk recently, 
and this one caught my attention.

I would appear that Jonah has some extra control over gravitational forces.
Either that or he likes to lean out - pretending to be on a sailing catamaran.
Either way, I'm gonna have him teach me that trick soon.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Three Shots from This Evening

 Beautiful sky from the back of the boat.

 Eddie cruises by, all dressed in red.

Just another perfect moment.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wrecks at Forte Marghera

video by Nereo Zane

One of the cool things about rowing out of the GSVVM rowing club is that Forte Marghera is just around the corner.
To truly appreciate it, you must look at it from above.
Otherwise it's just a sort of labrinth of water and land.
Forte Marghera has been many things over the centuries, 
with some structures dating back to Napoleonic occupation.
Now, it's a great place to go if you're looking for derelict boats - as evidenced by Nereo Zane's recent video.
He published the Italian language version a while back, 
then asked me to re-voice it in English, which is what you see linked above.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Burger Selfie!

My friend Ruben J was gracious to invite my daughter and me to take part in his burger tasting.
We had a lot of fun, a lot of food, and now here's the video.


In case the video here doesn't work (or if you'd like to watch it full screen),
Here's the link:

Big thanks to Ruben J at

Oh, and here's the actual "Burger Selfie"

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Curious Texas takes a cruise

I always say:
"Gondola operations in the US are the best-kept secrets in our cities, because we operate silent black boats after dark".

Someone in Dallas asked if there were really gondola rides in Irving, Texas?
Brendan Meyer of Dallas News decided to investigate.

Here's the report:
Are there really gondola rides in Irving? 

Curious Texas takes a cruise

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Three Striped Remi

Here are three of the remi that have recently emerged from the Gondola Adventures workshop (also known as my messy garage).

The two in the back are what we call "color on clear" remi.
The oar is varnished, then masked off for striping.

The one in front was so beat up, with discolored bare wood, 
that we sanded it down to bare wood and added a dark, rich chocolate stain, and then sealed that in with varnish before applying the unusual silver chevron striping.

All three remi are Saverio Pastor creations.

After the painted stripes have cured and stabilized, 

everything will be sealed in with a few more coats of varnish.

Sometimes the difference is in the details.

Special thanks to Evan Kliewer for doing so much diligent work to make these remi look so good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Arrivederci Jim!

Yesterday, after a long battle with illness, my friend Jim Mahoney left us.
Five years ago his doctor gave him two years to live.

He grew up on the waters of Long Island Sound in Connecticut, got his first boat when he was only ten, and stepped on board a Gondola Romance boat in Newport in 1990.

For the past 25 years I've had the honor of sharing the water with him.

Our encounters were always fun, often boisterously greeting each other from one gondola to another, and I never saw him in a negative mood.
He loved the water, and the feeling must have been mutual, because his times on the boats were like nutrition for his soul (something I think a lot of gondoliers can identify with).

His presence will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.
He was a true fixture in the American gondola world.

Arrivederci Jim!
Thanks for all of your boisterous greetings.

James Mahoney
1942 - 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday Night Traffic in Newport

A snap from tonight in the canals of Newport.
Gondoliers Michael Angelo Ruffino and Kyle Wolting 
just off the bow of my gondola.
Somewhere behind me, 

Eddie was probably planning on passing all three of us.
Traffic on the road is miserable.

But traffic on the water is actually fun when you're in gondolas.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Gondolier Job in Napa

A while back you saw a gorgeous gondola in my post "It's All About the Wood". Angelino of Gondola Servizio in Oakland had it custom-built for an operation in Napa, California.  

This is a dream that Angelino has been developing for years.
Due to other obligations, the only thing missing from the equation is...
someone to row the boat!

That's right, the hunt is still on for a gondolier. 
This position will require rowing ability, and the ability to work independently.
A full-time staff will handle booking the tours for people who call in.
Additional business can be arranged in-person on the dock.

If you're interested, or have further questions, 
send a text to April at: