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Gondola charter to haul its hulls across the bay

Gondola charter to haul its hulls across the bay
Greg Mohr paddles with clients in Newport Harbor this summer. His company, Gondola Adventures, found a new home on the harbor after losing their longtime base to a major remodeling project. (File Photo)

The once-threatened gondolas of Newport Beach will soon glide through canals on the other side of the harbor.

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Gondola Adventures, which will leave its longtime home at 3101 W. Coast Highway next week because the owner is remodeling, has signed a lease at Bayside Village Marina, 200 Bayside Drive.

Owners Greg and Elisa Mohr will set up a temporary modular office, with their 14 boats docked in slips nearby. They’ll have ample parking and a variety of marine neighbors, including a kayak rental shop and the floating Pearson’s Port fish market.

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The Mohrs will truck their boats the mile and a half down Coast Highway Nov. 18, but the office building won’t be in place until around mid-December, so the team will work from a tent in the interim — “Christmas tree-lot style,” Greg Mohr said cheerfully.

But this is their low season, he added.

Gondola Adventures had been on Coast Highway for 25 years, starting out as a charter with a gondola among an eclectic fleet. Over time, the Mohrs fell more in love with the low-slung, cozy vessels that stand out even among the harbor’s sportfishers, paddleboards and dramatic sailboats and yachts. Customers often book cruises for romantic excursions, and their skippers wear the iconic striped shirts and straw hats of traditional Venetian gondoliers.

For a while, the Mohrs were nervous. Waterfront offices with dock space are limited, and Gondola Adventures — Newport’s last remaining gondola outfitter — had an ideal home base. Its route around Newport Island in the harbor’s northwest corner was both charming and practical, with easy freeway access, good wind patterns and safe bridge clearance during high tide.

The new route will have operators rowing under the PCH bridge, around the outer curves of the horseshoe-shaped Linda Isle and past Harbor and Collins islands. They should be in this nook of the harbor for a couple of years.

“I think it’s a really good fit,” Greg Mohr said from the back of one of his boats Wednesday, just before pushing off for a training row in preparation for this weekend’s U.S. Gondola Nationals competition in Providence, R.I. “They’re such beautiful homes.”

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