Gateway: Living

A touch of Venice on the peninsula

John Synco and his family moved from California after they discovered the beauty of the city of Gig Harbor. Sync started his business, Gig Harbor Gondola, to take advantage of his love of the Italian boats and the calm waters of the Sound to entertain customers looking for something different to do on an outing around town.
John Synco and his family moved from California after they discovered the beauty of the city of Gig Harbor. Sync started his business, Gig Harbor Gondola, to take advantage of his love of the Italian boats and the calm waters of the Sound to entertain customers looking for something different to do on an outing around town. Staff photographer

John Synco silently glides through the water on Gig Harbor bay on a sunny but cold September morning when a passerby in a yacht calls out to him.

“I love the boat,” shouts the captain of the yacht.

It’s an easy boat to love because Synco pilots a handmade Venitian gondola, the only one of its kind in Gig Harbor’s docks. Built in Venice, Synco acquired the boat in 2008 from a friend who owns a gondola business in California. Its name is Nelly.

Synco set up shop as Gig Harbor Gondola in early September, but the unique style of rowing is something he’s done for years.

“It’s not easy to learn,” he said of gondola rowing. “A lot of it is technique.”

Synco, 38, began work as a gondolier in 2002 in Southern California. He fell in love with it and continued rowing. Some friends of his set up a business in 2006, and that’s when he began to think about doing the same.

In Gig Harbor, Synco is just starting out with his business, but he has a wealth of gondoliering experience. It’s clear he enjoys the job. The ride for both Synco and those aboard is unlike any other type of boat trip.

Often riders are celebrating something and in years past; Synco has paddled around visitors in town on business as they talk deals over the ride.

But the best rides are the ones that allow Synco to get to know who he is rowing.

“The ride is us just talking about life and travel and Venice and what they want to do with their lives,” he said.

Gondola rides are $85 for two people for one hour with additional riders an added $20. Capacity is six riders. Hour-and-a-half rates start at $115.

To book, visit gigharborgondola.com or contact Synco by email or phone: gigharborgondola@gmail.com or (253) 432-0052.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155

karen.miller@gateline.com

@gateway_karen

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