Thursday, July 18, 2019

On a Blue Theme

Walking around Venice last month, 
I paused on a bridge and saw this gondola go by.  
I could never get bored of watching these magnificent boats plying the waters of their city.

And no two are identical.
Each gondolier personalizes his boat.

In this case I noticed that not only had the gondolier chosen blue floorboards for his boat, but he did the scallops (those curved side accents) in a darker blue rather than the traditional black. 

Aahh, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.
First, let's start with a nice wide-angle of the gondola:

Yeah, that's nice.

And of course our gondolier does that put-the-foot-against-the-wall thing so subtly.
In this case he uses the opposite foot.
The couple takes it all in, and as they approach, we begin to see just how nice this gondola is.  Fully carved decks, an impressive scimier (the crest decoration that rests atop the seat back), and several other details you might hope to see in a gondola.
Preparing for a tight turn, the gondolier uses his left foot this time, 
and deftly pushes off the wall behind him.

I swear, everything on this gondola is carved.
Such a beauty!

As they emerged from the bridge I was standing on, 
I noticed that the gentleman had his phone out...

So I snapped a shot...wondering if I might just be able to zoom in on the photo later.
Not bad, but I could have gotten the focus a little better.

They passed under the bridge I was standing on, 
and the gondolier stepped forward to row sotomorso style.

It was at that point I noticed the blue scallops on his floorboards.
I also spent some time drooling over the portela, 

the carvings, and pretty much everything else.

And just as smoothly as they had arrived, our gondolier, his blue-themed boat, and happy passengers glided off to see more of La Serenissima.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The "Lazy Drop"

Here in Newport, as in many other US gondola locations, 
we offer a message-in-a-bottle option, where the client can propose, 
or deliver a birthday or anniversary message.

It's printed, rolled, and placed in a corked bottle before the cruise, 

and somewhere along the route, the gondolier places it in the water and doubles back to have the intended recipient retrieve it.

As you might image, we all have our preferred methods 
of placing the bottle in the water.

Here we see Hunter's "Lazy Drop" method.
It's stealthy, creates no splashing sound, 
and as you can see - it makes for a great photo.

Saturday, July 13, 2019


photos by Ruben J

On a recent trip to Mexico City, my friend Ruben visited Xochimilco once again.  I've posted about this remarkable place before 
(see "Ruben Goes to Xochimilco").

In these photos, we see actual punting.  While they don't row the boats like we do, Ruben tells me that every boat he saw there was pushed along by men with long poles - even the smaller food boats that were making the rounds.

By the size of some of those boats, 
I'd guess that a lot of those guys stay in pretty good shape.

Some day I hope to see and experience it myself.

Monday, July 8, 2019

New Paint (among other things)

 I woke up this morning, drank a bunch of coffee, 
and my friend Mike and I went over and got the gondola we call "Lucia" and hauled her on trailer over to my house.

At first she was just a freshly painted hull, 

but I managed to get all of her removable pieces back in place.  
When she was all together (see above photo) it was time to launch her.

Lucia has new paint (inside, outside, top and bottom), 

and her new floorboards look great.
I ended my day by launching her and rowing her back to the dock.
Tomorrow I expect the ferro will come back from the polisher and she'll be complete.

There are few things I enjoy more than seeing a gondola on launch day - whether she's a brand new gondola, or one that's received a makeover.

Just like rowing into the never gets old.

Sunday, July 7, 2019


“If there is magic on this planet, 
it is contained in water.” 
— Loren Eiseley

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Very Best Beach Towel

photo by Jonah Bonner

During a recent visit to Venice, I spent some time with my friend Alessandro Santini (the lucky guy who rows the boat in my post "Santini's Varo")

We spent some time on his beautiful boat, and I noticed this cool beach towel he had on the boat that had the flag of Venezia on board.

The next day he gave me one just like it - which I now use for cruises.

It's the perfect way to set the mood and keep dew off the seat back prior to boarding. 

Thanks Alessandro.  Maybe some day I might even take it to the beach!