When you ride the vaporetti watch the marinaio (the man or woman who ties the boat to the dock, opens and closes the gate, and sells tickets.) With a flick of the wrist, they wrap the thick rope against the stanctions on the dock. The vaporetto pulls forward and the rope groans. Will it hold? It does and pulls the vaporetto back to the dock.
I’ve always wondered about the lifespan of those ropes. So during my recent trip to Venice, when I was doing a late-night trip on the #1 (one of the best times for sightseeing), I asked the (cute) marinaio about the ropes and their lifespan. “They last two weeks, if the weather’s good,” he said, “Three or four days if it’s raining–much less if the pilot is bad....”
The ropes, he said, are made of manila and have a nylon core. Pure nylon is not good because when a nylon rope breaks, it snaps back and hits people on the vaporetto. The blended ropes just fall into the water.
The marinaio came back with one last tidbit. A vaporetto’s propeller is on the right side of the boat, so docking on the right side is easier.
Sorry, but I don’t have any photos of the ropes–I promise to take some on my next trip.