Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Putzing Around on a Passenger Pupparino
The boat is known as a "pupparin" - although here on the West Coast
we often put an "o" on the end.
I guess it's because we somehow expect the Venetian dialect
to conform more neatly to the rules of proper Italian language.
Ironic, isn't it, that we expect such a thing when we come from
one of the most chaotic and inconsistent languages on the planet.
Hmmm, perhaps I'm getting a little off-track.
So, as I was saying, she's called a "pupparin".
Sometimes described as a "little gondola",
she's actually an entirely different kind of boat.
As a member of what I call the "sandolo family",
her hull consists of three sheets and a stern piece.
That is to say that while many surfaces have a curve,
the boat is a lot more simple in her design:
three sheets (two sides and the bottom sheet)
and a stern piece - that flat portion of the hull that rises from the water at the tail, and in this case slants out as it rises.
What sets this boat apart from other members of the "sandolo family" is that she has a raised stern deck for the rower at the back.
Most of her sibling boats have the main rower standing down on the floor in the back, but a pupparin places them higher up.
This is significant because it allows that rower to experience things
a little more like they would if they were captaining a gondola.
Why's that important?
Because the pupparin is known as a training platform for young men
who are working toward becoming a gondolier.
One of the events in the Regata Storica is a tandem regata where guys under the age of 18 race each other on pupparini.
Adding a seat (and a guy who can keep his balance) and a pupparin is rather well-suited to passenger service (assuming you don't fill the boat with big and heavy people).
At this point there are only two of these unique boats west of the Atlantic Ocean, and they're both here in Southern California.
One is in Alamitos Bay in the Gondola Getaway fleet.
The other resides in Newport Beach in my operation.
The one in Newport was originally part of the rowing club fleet of the Gruppo Sportivo Voga Riviera del Brenta
(the folks who also have "That Big Boat from Brenta".
Angelino Sandri of Gondola Servizio in Oakland, California brought her to the US in or around 1999.
After several years on Lake Merritt in Oakland, the boat was bought by Tim Reinard and Tyson Davis when they launched Sunset Gondola in Huntington Harbour, California.
After several years of drooling and hinting, I finally convinced Tim to sell me the boat, and she's been here since that January day in 2013.
I love rowing this light, tippy boat.
It takes almost no effort to send her surging forward,
you have to maintain a serious sense of balance,
and because she's got such a low clearance - you can duck under just about anything rowing a pupparin.
The other night I was rowing with a fun young couple.
the tide was just the right height, and we managed to explore some areas we never could have gone into with a gondola.
In The Wind in the Willows, one of Kenneth Grahame's characters says that "there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
I feel like adding to that. by saying:
"When you row a gondola for a living, there's nothing more entertaining than putzing around on a passenger pupparin"