Sunday, June 14, 2009


The Sàndolo was the most popular form of transportation in the Venetian lagoon for centuries. It was typically privately owned, however it was also used as a water taxi or fishing boat.
This vessel is still very common today, although many now use a motor as a means of propulsion rather than rowing in the traditional sense, and are used as romantic tourist attractions.

The Sàndolo can commonly be seen in the regatta of Venice and the appointments of these Sàndolo often reflect the personality of the owner.

These lagoon boats measure between five and nine meters and have an angled, straight stem and a straight transom. There are many variants of the Sàndolo adapted to a wide range of uses, from fishing (sàndolo a la ciosòta, sàndolo buranèlo, sàndolo sampieròto, sàndolo da fagia), to use as a pleasure craft and for regattas (mascaréta, puparìn), or hunting (s’ciopon), and transporting people (sandolo da barcariol).

Is this a dory? Doryman thinks so.

This boat predates the craft used in the fisheries of the Atlantic, which eventually influenced the recreational dories of today. John Gardner, in The Dory Book, suggests that the boats of Venice, specifically the gondola might be a precursor to the dories of the British Isles.

Doryman suggests that the Sàndolo is a more specific Venetian predecessor to the dory design.

It is generally understood that Marco Polo, who brought back descriptions of boats from Suzhou, ostensibly introduced the Sàndolo to Venice in 1295.

Again, according to Gardner, the earliest known representation of a dory flat in Europe is in Albrecht Durer's Little House on a Fish Pond, circa 1497, and by the sixteenth century, French fishermen were building similar dory flats for fishing in Newfoundland.

There is a probable cultural thread in the migration of this design for a simple, yet effectively seaworthy craft, from ancient China to Europe and on to the New World.

I submit, for your perusal some pictures of the Sàndolo of Venice. The dory design is timeless and its true origins are lost in unwritten history. We can look to extant examples for inspiration, one of which is the lively vessel portrayed here.

Is the Sàndolo an ancestor to the dory?

My friend Giacomo, who was generous enough to send these photos, says the Sàndolo is “a flying boat, which can be sailed of course”.

Note the crossed oar rowing position. It seems everyone in Venice rows standing up!

No PFD's either.

We will, no doubt, hear more about this boat in the future....

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Shut up and take my money. Where the heck do I buy one? No, like I'm being serious