December 2016: Gondola's hibernation

Men assembling frame

At the end of every sailing season Gondola comes off the water for her winter hibernation.

It’s a fairly easy process these days. We just shrink her down to a manageable size, put her into a glass case for protection and pop her on to the back of a pickup truck to be taken away for winter storage.

A miniature Gondola is moving home
Model of Gondola on pickup truck
A miniature Gondola is moving home

Ok, that's not true, life’s a bit more complicated than that.

Firstly, we have to haul Gondola out of the water and up the slipway. Using our usual manual winching method this can take four hours. However, things did turn out to be a bit easier this year. We had a tractor available to do the heavy work so Gondola was up the slipway and in position in under an hour. 

Heavy work completed, Gondola sits at the top of the slipway
Gondola at the top of the slipway
Heavy work completed, Gondola sits at the top of the slipway

The next task involves a man-sized Meccano kit which we lay out on the ground and put in the right order. At this stage it looks a little like something out of the Natural History Museum.

Gondola's frame ready for assembly
Frame on ground
Gondola's frame ready for assembly

The frame supports the cover that goes over Gondola to give her, and us, some protection from the elements whilst we carry out winter maintenance.

The frame is place on Gondola
Crewman holding frame on Gondola
The frame is place on Gondola

Once the frame is in place the cover goes on.

Gondola's winter coat is put on
Cover going on Gondola
Gondola's winter coat is put on

And as soon the cover is secured in place the real work starts – the thousand and one tasks that have to be tackled over the winter months to make sure Gondola looks as good as new when the next sailing season starts in April 2017.