Off the shelf

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not true that every Venetian owns a boat, much as many of them would like to.

Just use your imagination a bit and think how many two and three storey buildings you will probably have seen around Venice. Then calculate that every storey probably has at least one, but more often two, three or four apartments per floor… and then think of the nearest water to the building. Is there a canal near by? And how much horizontal space is there in that canal, relative to the building you had in mind?
You needn’t pull out the calculator to do the sums really. It just doesn’t all add up to one mooring per Venetian household does it?

When we moved into our current home, we were delighted to find that there was a canal outside the window, and even taking into consideration that those on the ground floor of our building had their own boat space assured, it still looked — by our calculations — as if there was a little space to cram our small boat into. I say ‘our small boat’, but we didn’t even have one, but having made application to the local authorities sending them a photo of a boat, and our details etc., we rushed out and bought a little second hand ‘patanella’, a typical lagoon boat, and began to enjoy the great pleasure of having the boat close to hand. You may have noticed that I said that we sent them a photo of ‘a’ boat, and not of ‘our’ boat — mainly because, however irrational, we are supposed to have a boat to take a picture of even before we have anywhere to keep the darn thing!

The next four years saw us going to do our shopping — going out to far-flung pizzerias for an evening out and all those usual things that most people would do with a car.

So perhaps you can imagine our stunned horror when finally the reply came back after four long years, that our request for the mooring had been refused!!! Our pockets and lounge just aren’t big enough to keep a 5 meter boat inside!

But to cut a very long story short, all I really wanted to do with this post was to give you an idea of the kind of alternatives which are available — to those who, like us, are unable to get a canal mooring. As you can see in the picture, we have a couple of places where the very fortunate, when all else fails, manage to get a shelf space in this great big boat ‘warehouse’ or depository. These spaces are only for smallish pleasure boats up to about 5 or 6 meters in length. They are raised up by a kind of fork-lift truck thing which moves around on rails. For the larger boats there are some spaces out on the yard or in the waters of the marina. If my memory serves me well, this size boat would pay about €1650 per annum and that cost includes one lift in and out of water per day, but there are limits on the times of day the owners can use this service. That changes slightly with the various periods of the year.

Anyone interested in taking a look, this yard can be found on the island of Giudecca. I do not know of any others quite like this around town, though I could be wrong. This area makes quite an interesting visit even for non-boaters as there are a number of boat builders and boat related traders in the Consortium, including a gondola builder who will occasionally let you get a peek in through his doors.

Cantiere Navale
Consorzio Cantieristica Minore
212/C Giudecca
Venice, Italy

ps – The Consortium is on the lagoon side of the island of Giudecca, situated half way between the Palanca and Redentore public transport boat stops. Almost at the level of the ‘Ponte Longo’ coming from Redentore, you will see a large open gateway leading towards the lagoon. Walk through until you come to the open area on the lagoon side of all the warehouses. Just check with one of the ‘keepers’ or artisans before going inside any of the buildings though as there are certain risks involved such as paint spray or falling boats!