Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Video provided by Black Swan Gondola

My friend Drew put this up last month, and I've been meaning to post it here.

More and more these days, businesses are finding that drone video footage is a great way for promoting their products or services.
That's definitely the case with gondolas.
Drew got into drones early, and we've had some fun conversations about them.

The thing about this video that surprised me was that Drew did the drone piloting WHILE also rowing his gondola.
Now THAT'S multitasking!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


photo by Amrin Anastasi

I hear that it’s gonna rain soon. 
But it was glorious on the water tonight!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Utterly Brilliant!

The other night I was rowing a cruise and noticed that the sky was morphing into an amazing display of color.  

I was rounding the back side of Harbor Island and quickly stepped up my pace in order to bring the sunset sky into view.

As my passengers and I emerged into the main channel, we saw this!

It was the full package.
The complete spectrum of colors, including my favorite detail:
Purple water.

It doesn't often happen, but when everything comes together in just the right amounts, we get purple water.

I slowed my row and gave my passengers as much time as possible with this radiantly colorful view.

Life is filled with unremarkable things that we might remember vaguely, 
but it's punctuated by perfect moments that we remember for the rest of our lives. Many of those moments have some kind of significance.
And then there are the ones like this:
a seemingly unimportant moment like this one, 

that surprises us and sticks with us forever.

Utterly brilliant!

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Blue-Light Special

photos by Chris Wilson

One of our gondolas in Texas just came out of the workshop after a full restoration, and the blue LED rail lighting is a hit with both clients and gondoliers.

Here are some shots taken by our expert staff photographer out there, 
with Woody rowing the cruise.

Heading down one of the canals.

 Smiling for the camera.

 The boat takes a turn towards Glatter Falls - one of 
several waterfalls on Lake Carolyn.

 There are several other waterways above the lake 
and they feed these great water features...

 ...which are the perfect place to drop a message-in-a-bottle.

A remarkable illusion occurred when the boat turned right in front of the waterfall, as the blue light creates the appearance of the waterfall continuing.

Light reflecting on water is one of my favorite things.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Mestrina on the Water

photos and video from Nereo Zane

At the GSVVM rowing club, it's not that difficult to take a boat out.
Assuming you're a member, you just sign it out, get your remi & forcole, wheel it over to the hoist, and plop it in the water.
You've gotta make sure the hoist operator is there 

(or BE a hoist operator yourself), but that's about it.

Wanna take a caorlina? You'll need a few more rowers - unless you've got a thing for rowing a big fat boat solo (and I know some guys who do).
So, as I was saying, it doesn't take much doing, 
but there is one big exception:

And she is a big exception - she's more than fifty feet long, 
and is meant to be rowed by 14 rowers - a "quattordesona".
Oh, and she's the pride of the club - don't breathe on her wrong.

So when it's time to take Mestrina out on the water, it's a bit of an event.

Here are a couple snaps and a video from our dear friend Nereo Zane from last weekend.  It was Mestrina's first row of the new year.

Nereo wrote:
The Mestrina was in the water for the annual "Prima Vogada dell'anno" (first row of the year), a visit to the old people's home St. Lorenzo in Venice.

 Freshly launched with crew ready.

 A rare sight: a quattordesona in a tight canal.

Gliding down a tight canal, some of the team members paused to get comfortable.
Usually the uniform includes a white beret with orange pom-pom, 

but because it's winter, the team are all sporting dark blue berets with orange border and pom-poms
If you listen, you can hear the captain shout "Pope!" - which is how gondoliers often signal to each other that they are either coming around a corner or coming into view.  Imagine the surprised look on the face of a gondolier coming around a corner to see this big desona!

Many thanks to Nereo for these views of one of my very favorite boats.

Monday, January 14, 2019

One Month Away from "V-Day"

We are now one month away from the 14th of February - Valentine's Day.
If you're a gondolier, and your boat is in the water, 
it's likely the busiest day of the year - regardless of the weather.

I spent part of my day pumping rain water out of my boats.
In the days ahead, every detail will be tended to so we're ready for the busiest day of the year, which is surrounded by the busiest week of the year for us.

Am I ready?
Ask me again as we get closer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Solo Sandolo Valesana Sprint - USGN 2018

photos by Greg Mohr

The art of rowing with two oars, crossed, and operated almost scissor-like.
The rowing style of valesana has been used in many instances, but is best known lately for it’s use on a smaller member of the sandolo family known as the “s’ciopon” - a duck hunting boat.
These days you can usually spot this unique rowing style employed by older men in the lagoon of Venezia, or in regatas. You won’t see a valesana race in Regata Storica, but it’s a common sighting in regatas matched between rowing clubs.

To read more about the actual methods used to row valesana, see my post:
"Left Side, Right Side, Ay-yay-yay!"

The crossed-oar event has been an official event at Nationals three times now.
The first time was in 2015 when Tim “Bepi” Reinard brought his small sandolo to Newport for the annual races.
The next time was two years later in 2016 when Tim hosted Nationals in 2017 in his home port of Huntington Harbour.
Later that year, the boat was sold, and transported to Providence, Rhode Island.
It seems that where the boat goes, the valesana goes.

As such, we had our third valesana timetrial in Providence.

Nobody was surprised when Bepi finished first -
he’s always been the best in this event.

I was happy to see my friends Marcello and John Kerschbaum pull in the silver and bronze medals, with Michael from Minnesota pulling a solid fourth place.

Here are the top four finishers:

1. Tim "Bepi" Reinard                   Huntington Beach, CA    53:38
2. Matthew "Marcello" Haynes       Providence, RI              59:86
3. John "Giovanni" Kerschbaum     Stillwater, MN             1:08.7
4. Michael "Remo" Arnold              Stillwater, MN            1:18.9

As I said in my post:
"Left Side, Right Side, Ay-yay-yay!"
"If the oar off the right operated by my left hand...but the left side of the body is supposed to be controlled by the right hemisphere of my brain...AAAHHH!!! It makes both sides of my brain hurt!"