TWO BOATS, A FEW ISLANDS AND A THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY!
In the very early 1900’s, Naples Islands were developed as a Venetian inspired island community replete with canals, bridges, Italian street names and of course Gondolas! Our neighborhood boasted a Venetian experience right here in Southern California as early as about 1905 or so. They are certainly unique boats for these parts, but the Gondola put us on the map over 115 years ago! Then in 1982, the Gondola Getaway continued the presence of Gondolas in our local waters to keep the history alive and well. Naples Islands now boast the first and largest fleet of Venetian craft outside of Venezia. The Gondola is a 1,000 year- old design and still gracing our waterways of Naples Islands and Alamitos bay.
If you go to the Gondola Getaway website, www.gondo.net, and check out the section of “History/Vogalonga,” you will find more info on The Gondola Getaway history and our fleet.
The Naples Sabot
The Naples Sabot was designed and built in a garage on Naples Islands during World War 2 around 1942 by Roy McCullough and R.A. Violette. The boat was designed specifically for Alamitos bay. It was fixed with a Leeboard instead of a dagger board, so it could sail in the mudflat areas and pull up on the beach with the “leeboard” able to kick up when it detected bottom. Surely this was a genius idea at the time and has held on now for more than 70 years. The Naples Sabot went on to become So Cal’s most prolific Junior sailing program boat and the Sabot nationals are held each year in Southern California. Our own Alamitos bay hosts the regatta about every 3rd year. The emblem on the sail is a Sabot (Dutch wooden shoe) with the letter N on it signifying Naples! The boat has a similar shape to the famous Dutch Wooden Shoe, hence the name. Pretty much every world class sailor from California cut his/her teeth on the Naples Sabot. A new junior sailing pram is slowly taking over the scene called the Optimist. It doesn’t hold a candle to our Locally world famous design. It was designed to be much more forgiving to juniors. The Naples Sabot was designed with performance in mind which is why it has produced so many National and Olympic sailors. The word in the sailing community has always been, “if you can sail a Naples Sabot well, you can sail anything.”
It is amazing that our Island name has had an effect on so many watermen/women. Most kids probably don’t even know where the name came from. Well, you all at least do now. I even designed and built the first and only “Double Sabot” as sort of a homage to the past! I just sailed it back from Catalina Island to the Sabots hollowed grounds of Naples Islands.
I was talking with the City recently and floated out the idea of displaying our locally historic boats on the middle medians on 2nd street here on the Island. They said they had no idea of our Island history regarding these two famous boats and would fully support such an historical project. We should be proud of this unique piece of history and maybe show it off to others.
Enjoy the Island and our History,