Yesterday JG and I took our younger daughter out for her first ride in our new fishing boat, a 19 footer with a fairly powerful four stroke engine, huge for a family that started out with a canoe, progressed to a skiff with two oars and thence to a 12' aluminum boat with a 12 hp motor. We've moved to the bigger boat so that we can handle the Rideau Canal system, most often the series of the three Rideau lakes which are big enough that a strong breeze puts up quite a chop, enough to have made us very nervous in the smaller craft.
Anyway, yesterday was sunny and hot and the YD had a day off so we launched ourselves off into lower Rideau with the plan of putting up to Westport for lunch, having a swim and getting YD back to the dock in time for her to make the city for a late dinner party. The YD and I were dressed in bathing suits, slathering each other in sunscreen, and her father was in long pants, sleeved shirt and one patch of zinc cream on his nose. It was gorgeous on the water -- one of the hazy summer days that memory insists entire summers were made of, long ago. But there was a good stiff breeze up and enough chop that we couldn't spot any loons.
The YD has only been upstream on the Rideau Lakes once, so she was bowled over by the opulence of the cottages and homes that line the shore pretty well everywhere except the Provincial Park at Murphy's Point. Some of the buildings are manicured mansions, with rock gardens, pots of flowers on the docks and two or three expensive power boats and Seadoos moored at massively hardened shoreline walls. Others are almost hidden in trees and look more like old fashioned summer places; the YD did a running evaluation of the ones she liked. Even the islands have cottages and those are the ones I covet. First point of difference with the YD who believes that the motor noises of passing boats would drive her demented. But there are a lot we would both love to have. Except for the fishermen, we had the lake pretty well to ourselves and could dawdle along looking everything over.
It always puzzles me that there are not more sail boats -- we see a fair number of them moored but on a perfect sailing day we only saw two out taking advantage of it. There were some power boats pulling inflatable rafts with squealing kiddies in them, however. This seems to be the latest fad and to have replaced the water skiers almost entirely. No jet boats, thanks be. When the YD and I both said that we could not see the fun in the wretched things, JG answered that it's a guy thing. Power! Speed! Noise! As for us, we ride in the motor boat because JG loves it and the best thing about this new one is that it has the quietest motor I have ever known.
When we got to the lock at the Narrows, we lucked into perfect timing as the downstream gate was just opening. The YD hopped out and volunteered to help the lockmaster wind the gate shut, then trotted up to help lift the sluices at the upper end. After that she read all the information boards and chatted to the lock staff, returning just in time to cast off and exit the lock. I am a talk-to-people person, but the YD is even more open. I used to call her 'little friend to all the world' as a small child. She meets everyone with the cheerful assumption that they will respond in kind to a friendly approach and they almost always do. Her blue eyes sparkle, she has an infectious smile and obviously really wants to know the answer to all the questions she eagerly asks. She also speaks her mind -- life has worn me into a more tactful approach, but I often will find myself agreeing with her. We exited to grins and waves and expressions of thanks.
JG was tasked to find us a swimming spot after lunch: deep and in a rocky bay was the YD's stipulation. He tried to locate a lee shore, but his pick ended up in pretty choppy water and the depth finder showed 180', too deep for our anchor rope. So I rolled off and the YD dived off and JG circled while we swam. It was wonderful to be in the water but it was a bit of a problem to swim in it. This was my first swim off this boat as I was not sure I could manage the step and platform re-entry and wanted a helper for my first try. We ended up chasing the boat a bit to get back to it, and I was pretty glad to get my hands on the platform. Getting up was a bit dicey, with my sadly unbendable arthritic knee, but I managed and the YD did a second dive (managing to soak her father in the process) and a second climb back in to assess the difficulty and coach me a bit more. Then we sat and dripped happily for a bit until JG decided that it was time for the YD to drive.
This was hilarious. There were a good number of big boats out by this time so there were a lot of wakes and, with the wind, there were cross waves and it was not the easiest steering job. Whenever we hit a higher than usual line of wash, the YD would wail as she tried to maneuver us through, the wail rising in pitch as we thumped down too hard. Each boat that appeared in front of us elicited a harried series of 'What do I do now's from the YD as she tried to judge her course to pass them. The shrieks and queries were accompanied by an increasingly big grin as her mastery of the task increased. I sat back and loved every minute of this, as the wails and worries expressed exactly how I feel when I have to drive, except that I would be thinking them and not saying them out loud quite as much.
'Dad, he's headed right AT us! What do I do now?'
'Just alter a little to the right, and he should do the same,' says Dad very calmly. 'He's still a long way away.'
'Eep', says daughter, knuckles white on the wheel.
Well worth the price of admission.
We got her back to the dock at exactly the time stipulated, but she waited to see JG drive the boat up onto the trailer, which he did in style with her watching, of course.
I think she had fun, but I know I did.