Friday, August 31, 2018

Just Another Boring Sunset

Just another boring sunset on the water.
Just another peaceful evening, with ocean breezes, clear skies, 
smooth waters and downright perfect moments.
I can't believe I actually get to do this as a job.

Gondola Rides Return to Napa River

Our friends at Gondola Servizio are back on the water and cruising 
once again on the Napa River.

They've been on Oakland's Lake Merritt since 1999, 

and they operated for a time in Napa, 
but in 2006 the docks were removed from that part of the river.

There's a beautiful new dock facility now, 
and what may be the most beautiful gondola in the parked there 
(when she's not taking passengers, that is).

Here's a nice piece in the Napa Valley Register:
Gondola rides return to Napa River

Congratulations to April and Angelino on a successful re-launch.
I hope to get up there and see it all for myself some time.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The New Guy

One of our new "gondoliers in training" has begun taking cruises this week.
After a few months of dedicated learning, practice 
(and more learning and practice), Nic was more than ready.

here are some photos of one of his cruises this evening in Newport.

 Popping and pouring

 Leaving the lagoon

 Ferro silhouette on shimmering water

 Entering the harbor

 Putting on the power

 Returning an hour later with happy passengers

Each time Nic comes back to dock he's got the newfound enthusiasm that so many of us have had when we were in his shoes.  
It's so great to see, and it seems to be contagious because his passengers have all been thrilled after their cruises.

I'm looking forward to rowing more with this new guy, 
and hope he sticks around for a long time.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Deck Details

Venice-built passenger gondolas all have roughly the same dimensions.
And by law they are all painted black.
But there are varying levels of finish.
Some boats have higher trim levels.
The more carvings the better.

If a gondola has fully-carved decks, 
that boat is known as a "wedding gondola".
There are currently only five of them in North America: 
one in Boston, Massachussettes,
one in Providence, Rhode Island,
one on dry display in Las Vegas,
and two in Newport Beach, California.

Interestingly, the two here in Newport were built one year apart - 
in 1960 and 1961.  
And while they were built in two different yards,
their deck carvings are nearly identical.

The reason: 
the same man carved the decks of both gondolas.

The man was mostly known by his nickname "Il Santo" (The Saint),
and he became famous because of his allegorical carvings.
I've heard that his mythological depictions inspired other carvers to offer similar creations for their clients, and that style of carving continues today.

In the case of the two Newport boats, those carvings feature Neptune riding a seahorse, with two mermaids ahead of him, and a trumpeting angel in front.
That's on the starboard side.  On the port side, the deck carvings depict the wife of Neptune on an aquatic horse, with two mermen ahead of her, and another trumpeting angel in the lead.

Il Santo was what Venetians call an "intagliador", and while many vocations might require some sort of workshop, an intagliador travels with his toolbag from squero to squero.  Sure, he probably did have a workspace for removable boat parts, but Il Santo would have had to perform the deck carvings where the boats were being built.

I can't help but wonder if Il Santo had any idea that his carvings would one day impress people in Southern California.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Bit of a Lean to Port

Here's a nice shot of the gondola we call "Stella", 
with a couple ready for their cruise to begin.

"Guy on the right vs. guy on the left".
Each gondolier has their own preference. 
It depends on how heavy the gondolier is,
and how much of a weight difference there is 
between the two passengers. 

In this case the gondolier chose to seat the gentleman 
on the right/starboard side.
Because the gondola is built asymmetric, this gives the boat a bit of a lean.

Like all gondolas, Stella has quite a history.
To learn more about her, and those interesting stickers,
check out my blogposts:
"Stella and Her Stickers"
and "Just the Photo - Stickers and Stripes"

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.