Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Ain't Afraid of No Boats...

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy…or so the song goes.  It’s the time of year when people are deciding how to spend their coveted couple of weeks with their families.  The lake?  A trip cross-country?  Or perhaps a trip a bit closer to home.  Or maybe a “staycation” and take in a few nearby attractions with the family.  Whatever you decide, leave your problems and take in the sights and sounds with your loved ones.   

It was many years ago, that my immediate AND extended family decided to try our first vacation together. Everything fell into place perfectly.   Looking back, it was one of the most enjoyable times we had as a family.  And that trip is still talked about today.

A houseboat trip on the Trent-Severn Waterway near Toronto, Canada, proved to be the most exciting misadventure on which our family has ever embarked.  The Trent-Severn Waterway is one of Canada’s most beautiful and varied inland water routes. 240 miles of protected cruising through 20 lakes, rivers, and canals offering incredible variety.

My family consisted of not only my then-spouse and two young children, but my parents, and 7 of my siblings and their families.  With a total of 36 anxious (mostly non-swimmers) sea-going amateurs ranging from infancy to age 74, it was with some slight trepidation that we ventured out to test our sea-legs.

After piling onto the Egan Marine Houseboats dock, cramming a week's worth of bedding, clothing, and food into our 6 rented floating homes, and a 15 minute lesson on house-boating and water safety from the young tanned instructor, we slowly drifted away from dry land and into open water. 

The first night most of us were rocked to sleep by waves generated from a passing storm, while the other hardy, coffee-drinking sailor-types kept watch 'till dawn.

In the span of 7 days and nights, my entire family had become "professional" boat people.  As in Follow-The-Leader, linked only by our CB radios (there were no cell phones then), our 6 houseboats cruised the waterway on route to our destination - Peterborough, Canada. 

We drifted past historic homes, and maneuvered through scenic parks where eagles were spotted perched high atop the trees.  But the ultimate experience was our approach and entry into the gates of the locks which raised or lowered our boat to the next level so that our trip could continue on the waterway.  It was in the bowels of one particularly deep lock where an enormous water-balloon war erupted.  But we abruptly surrendered when the lockmaster outwitted us and joined in the fracas as he dumped down buckets of water on our heads from his post high above our crafts.

Leisure days were spent tying the vessels together in the middle of the lake and anchoring for swimming, wind surfing, and sunning.  Other days we docked on dry land for a game of volleyball, a camp fire, or to take a break from the on-board barbecues to enjoy the quaint restaurants and shops dotting the landscape.

It was an adventure I highly recommend for family togetherness, and one that will not be forgotten by members of my family - old and young alike.

Plan your family time together.  You won't regret it.