The Many Boats of Venice

gig harbor gondola, motoscafi, venice, Venice Regatta October 2016 -

The Many Boats of Venice

Living in the maritime city, even when I travel I find myself heading toward boats and water. I just returned from the city on water, Venice. Of course Venice is filled with beautiful architecture and art, but there is another beauty to be seen everywhere cruising along the waterways. 

The first boating experience we had was the water taxi, or motoscafi. We arrived late in Venice via train late in the evening, and as we stepped out of the station were greeted by the pouring rain. I was planning to buying a 24 hour pass for a public water taxi, but we were intercepted by a man offering a private taxi service.

Eager to get us out of the pouring rain, my husband immediately accepted as we hurried past the crowded station for the public taxi. We were guided toward a small dock and whisked onto the most beautiful wooden boat. The captain opened the doors to the cabin and we found ourselves in a warm and toasty space with rich upholstery and varnished teak ceilings. Our water taxi was made locally on Murano Island by Serenella Cantiere Motonautico. Though I have never seen this type of boat stateside, apparently there are a few US dealers who import a small number of them each year.

 

Inscription of Water taxi 

We visited the Santa Maria della Salute (a beautiful octagonal church) by public water taxi, and when we were headed back to the hotel noticed a number of large racing sailboats headed toward us. They quickly got up all of their sails and what appeared to be a race unfolded right in front of us. What a treat it was to see 60+ foot racing sailboats 'maxi-yachts' racing with the city of Venice as a backdrop! 

When it was all over I scoured the internet to find out what we had just witnessed, and it turns out it was called 'The Venice Hospitality Challenge'. Seven luxury hotels each sponsored one of the maxi-yachts, and one of the boats, Chica Magnum, featured a women-only crew.

 Venice Hospitality Challenge

And then to top it off, a couple of fire boats began spraying a watery show near by.

Since we have our very own gondola in Gig Harbor, we thought we should see where they make the gondolas. Unfortunately the boatyard was not open on Saturdays, but we were able to see a great deal from the other side of the canal. One thing that struck me the most was the wall of retired gondolier hats.

Next we got in line to go for a ride on the boat most quintessentially 'Venice' - the gondola.

 

Then, as the sun was setting, we spotted a gorgeous tall ship, the Sea Cloud. I was curious to learn about cruising aboard the sailing vessel Sea Cloud, and discovered that in addition to being a sailing cruise ship, she has a wonderfully rich past.

Sea Cloud

She was built in Germany for American Marjorie Merriweather Post and launched in 1931. Later on, during World War II, Post offered the vessel to the Navy, and thought at first they declined, later reconsidered and brought her into service as a 'weather observation station vessel'. Sea Cloud was repainted battleship gray and her masts were removed. She served at numerous weather station locations during her tenure, and was eventually awarded the American Campaign Medal and the World War Two Victory Medal. She also at one point was home to the first integrated crew under Lieutenant Carlton Skinner.

 


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