A Little Thanks

Oxnard Newest GondolaI wanted to take a moment and say thank you to the people that helped move Teresa up to the Channel Islands Harbor on the 11th of January.

First of, thanks Chris and Amber. You have done a wonderful job restoring Teresa. She was a beautiful boat from the beginning. Although, after over 20 years in storage she needed some love to get back into shape and you gave her the attention she needed. Everyone who sees her glide down the canals around Coral Island has given me compliments on how great she looks.

Bepi, Thank you for asking to come along. At times when I had a moment I looked your way and it made me smile. I could see you were enjoying the experience. In part because it was fun to watch. On the other hand because all you really had to do was watch and not worry about the boat, the trailer or any of the rest of it all. It was great to have you and everyone else along to see Teresa move to her new home.

Konnor, it was good to see you come along. I know things ran smoother with the move because you were there. You and Greg made a great team. I am still looking into your suggest shipping method for the new batela that is being built in Washington State. If it happens I will let everyone know it was your idea.

Gondola, teresa, Oxnard, Channel IslandsLast but not least, thank you Greg, I can’t say that enough. I need to move the gondola, I thought of who might be interested in helping out. I figured that you would want to see Teresa and I figured you would come up to see the location sometime. Your self diagnosis of gondola psychosis is well know. With this knowledge I figured I may as well roll it all into one trip… and have you bring Teresa with you. It was very good to hear when you said that you would be willing to move the boat with me. It was a smoother loading and hauling then anyone could hope for. Teresa got on the trailer smoothly and quickly. I found it funny that every time I tried to tie things down with a bungee cord you gave me just enough time to figure out it was not going to work and then walked up and put on a zip tie on 2 seconds. Your experience in moving gondolas showed.

I think it is a testament to everyone evolved how smoothly everything went. Everyone showed up not only to move the gondola, but also to get the chance to row her for a while. By the end of the day I leaned everyone was there for another reason, to help a friend.

So, to Greg, Konnor, Bepi, Chris and Amber, thank you for all of your help. Moving a gondola can be a stressful and frustrating day, but for
me it was not. You all helped to make Teresa’s move a quick, painless and successful experience.


A journey starts with a single step (or in this case stroke)

I was recently giving a new gondolier some advice for rowing in heavy wind, “Don’t think of getting to the end of the cruise, think of moving forward one foot. If you can move one foot, you can move another and eventually you will make it back to the dock.” I am now feeling that the same advice works for starting a gondola service. It is a long way to the beginning, you just have to take that first step to get there.

“You are who you are because of where you were when.” – Morris Massey

Sixteen and a half years ago I walked up to the office of Gondola Company of Newport answering a job ad at a local Jr. College. Gondolier? Sounded different, and not in an office, I was hooked. After weeks of practice I eventually passed the test and became a gondolier plying the canals of Newport Beach. I became a member of a select and rare breed, the American Gondolier.

People ask how long it takes to learn to be a gondolier. I tell them, “A few weeks to learn to row, 2 years to know what your doing, 5 to 7 years to get good at it.” After 16 and a half years I can still say that I am learning things. There is always an opportunity to see something new and different, whether it is with the customers, the business side of things or even with rowing the gondola itself. You always have to keep your mind open, looking for new and better ways of doing things.

Gondola’s are an amazing thing. Few people learn the true art of handling these special boats. I have been fortunate to have the time and ability to learn how to row such unique vessels. It is hard to describe the anxious excitement waiting for the first boat I am having built to be finished so I can hop on and feel her under my feet. More about her in a later post.

One of the exciting things about opening a gondola service is that you can do things how you wish, yet that is not completely true. While Gondola Paradiso is my gondola service, every place that I worked for in the past is a part of it. This photo is a great example.

Gondolas in Oxnard, Channel Islands

For anyone who as ridden or rowed a gondola cruise at Bepi’s gondola servizio in Sunset Beach they would recognize the lantern configuration on Teresa in the picture above. It is simple, elegant, and looks thoroughly Venetian yet, is a purely Californian design.

Every gondola company I have worked for has influenced who I am today. Every gondola company is a part of Gondola Paradiso. For this I have to say thanks to…

Gondola Company of Newport

My home away from home. 16 and a half years of rowing for Gondola Company of Newport as allowed me to hone my skills not only from a rowing perspective but, they gave me the foundations of how a gondola service is operated. The core of my knowledge and experience comes from here. The friendly atmosphere and treating everyone as a member of the family is a major part of what I will take away from Gondola Company of Newport.

Sunset Gondola

Bepi gave me my first opportunity to row an authentic, squero built (venetian boat yard), gondola. It took me 12 years to set foot on a true Venetian gondola. His “Gondola Get-Togethers” are an event not to be missed. It is the one place where as a gondolier that you can feel that same wonderful feeling your passengers feel every cruise. I would be remiss if I did not mention a big thank you for his hosting of the 2nd Annual U.S. Gondola Nationals. It was an incredible event enjoyed by all.

Gondola Getaway

Gondola Getaway provided an intriguing opportunity. No where in America is there a more divergent group of gondolas in one place. Most company’s have 1 type of gondola, with subtle variations. At Gondola Getaway they have a large range of boats. From the little sondolo to the racing pupparin all the way up to the huge 14 passenger Carolina. Every boat requires a different technique, in stance and how you handle the oar. Gondola Getaway showed me that there is no “one way” to row in the Venetian style.

I should also tip my hat to Mac, the manager of Gondola Getaway. He has done amazing work since taking over managing the business a year and a half ago.

Gondola Adventures

While I never rowed for Gondola Adventures, located across the bay from the Gondola Company of Newport in Newport Beach, I saw Gondola Greg and his gondoliers nearly every day for 16 years. It was only in half jest when I would tell my customers that I would knock the Gondola Adventures gondoliers off their boats with my oar like a jousting knight, if only they were not so fast that they could run away. It was all in good humor. I always liked to row past those gondoliers and have some funny little thing to say to see them laugh. “Look out for the hippo around the bend, she is grumpy today!”

I have more thanks to say to Greg, the owner of Gondola Adventures, but that is for a later post.

That is all for now, I can’t express the gratitude I feel for everyone who has helped me with my new endeavor. Best wishes and good luck. I migliori e buona fortuna!

Mark Schooling Owner and Gondolier
Gondola Paradiso

Splish, Splash, Teresa is Home

Moving Teresa was a big job but it went smoothly and Teresa is at home in the Channel Island Harbor.  Take a look at part 3 of GondolaGreg’s blog about getting Teresa in the harbor….

Monday, January 13, 2014

Teresa Moves to Oxnard – the Splashing

After all the loading, strapping, and driving, we arrived in Oxnard.  The various removable pieces were set in place and the Teresa was ready to grace the waters of Channel Islands Harbor.

Red velvet seats, lots of fresh black paint, she’s ready to splash!
I backed the trailer into the water while Konnor steadied himself,
ready to give that last push.  Tim stood on the dock snapping photos,
and Mark celebrated this important moment by filling the air with the sound
of his didgeridoo.  Yes, I know, you didn’t see that coming and neither did I,
but we do things a little differently here, and we like it that way – and besides, it sounded really great.
Before we knew it, there was another gondola in the water in Southern California.  We all took a moment to admire her once again.
Sure, we’d seen this boat plenty already, but while a gondola may look great out of the water, she was made to be admired afloat.
As you can see, the design of Teresa is unique – in several ways she is unlike any other gondola.

An eye-catching detail, added moments after the gondola splashed into the water, was this dramatic brass bowpiece – suitable for Alex Hai’s gondola in Venice, known as “Pegasus”.

A proper christenning was in order.  Chris stepped up with a bottle of bubbly and said a few meaningful words, 
Of course we don’t break bottles over our precious boats in the gondola world; spraying is the way to go for us.
Next, we all took turns taking her out for a spin – here’s Chris at the helm.

Tim rowed Teresa masterfully,

 Finally Mark stepped on the back and took over, here’s an over-the-shoulder shot.

If I do say so myself, he looks great on the back of that boat. 

Moving Day…by Gondola Greg

This continues our series in Teresa’s journey up to Oxnard. Gondola Greg document the entire move on his blog www.GondolaGreg.com. Please read part 2 of Teresa’s moving day.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Teresa Moves to Oxnard – the Loading

Oxnard Newest Gondola

About six weeks ago Mark Schooling asked me if I could provide him with  a trailer some time in January. Later we talked about some of his plans  for the boat that would travel on that trailer. The gondola, known as “Teresa”, holds a very special place in US gondola history – another story for another time.

Since our first conversation about the trailer we’ve talked a few times about the challenges and blessings of running your own gondola business.   Then, on Saturday, January 11th it was time: time to load the boat on the trailer and bring her to her new home.

This was a nice little gathering of gondola friends.   Tim Reinard of Sunset Gondola was there, a gondolier from Tim’s operation, Chris and his girlfriend, along with gondolier Konnor Boivin from my operation, and of course, Mark – who was experiencing all of the wonderful and stressful emotions associated with boat moving, boat launching, and business launching too.

Gondola moves

Photo by Amber Waddell

We met at the boat in the late morning, assessed the situation, and got busy loading her onto the trailer.  We had many options at our disposal, but the Rugby Team approach made the most sense in this situation.

The gondola was lined up with the trailer, and heavy duty lifting straps
gave us the ability to lift her with minimal rail-grabbing.

To aid in the forward movement, inflatable fenders served as rollers.

The saying “many hands make light work” certainly applies to gondola moving.

Gondola on trailer, no damage done, no fingers broken, and everybody smiling.

Once she was strapped down, we headed down the road, making our way to Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California.

Gondola moving to Oxnard

Photo by Konnor Boivin


Thank You Gondola Greg!

As Gondola Paradiso has been coming together behind the scenes.  After months of planning it’s just about to open.  This is an article GondolaGreg.com posted on his blog.  This blog posting shows the true camaraderie of the Gondola community.

Gondola Paradiso launch date

Posted on GondolaGreg.com on Saturday January 11, 2014….

Today I got to be part of one of the most significant events in the
gondola business: The launching of a new operation.

The players are all people I’ve known for many years, but the boat and the location are both new and exciting.

Today, Mark Schooling (one of the hardest working gondoliers I know) launched a gondola business of his own in Channel Islands Harbor – a popular waterway in Oxnard, California.

The spirit of camaraderie among gondoliers and company owners is one of my favorite things about operating in Southern California; a few of us were there to lift, move, drive, launch, toast and row. It was a truly great day.

There’s lots to talk about: The man, the boat, the location, and the friends who were there, but it’s been a long day and I’m exhausted.

So for now, I’ll just register my congratulations to Mark, and say thanks for letting me be part of such a big day.

Printed by GondolaGreg on January 11, 2014