Travel Adventures

Stormy Waters

I love a good storm. When there is a snow storm or a hurricane in the forecast, I get comfy, put on a fire, grab a cozy blanket, and watch the coverage on CNN. It’s the lazy man’s approach to storm chasing. It is also the safe way to watch a storm. This story is about the unsafe way to watch a storm.
It was the 3rd weekend in September, the year was 1989. Bruce and I had been married for 4 months, and our friends Hal and Suzie had been married for just over a month. The four of us decided to rent a houseboat for the weekend. It was going to be great.
Hal and Suzie were fun to hang out with. They loved to talk, and would often talk at the same time. Sometimes while one was talking, the other were hold up their hand, like you would in a classroom, to signal that they had something to say next. We enjoyed their company immensely, as they were lively and funny, and much more adventurous than we were.
We found out about a place called Houseboat Holidays, which was operated out of Gananoque, Ontario. This is part of an area known as The Thousand Islands, located on the St. Lawerence Seaway.
We had made our plans to rent a houseboat well in advance of the weekend, and the four of us were looking forward to our adventure on the St. Lawrence. However, as the weekend approached, Hurricane Hugo also was making headlines. It was a huge storm, and it was headed our way.
We talked about changing plans, rescheduling our trip. However, Hal and Suzie were experienced boaters, and we trusted their judgement of the situation. Besides, how bad could it be? We decided to stick with our plans, and we ventured off to Gananoque.
The owner of Houseboat Holidays was an old friend of my husband. He discussed the pending storm with us, and we assured him that we would be fine. We explained to him that Hal and Suzie had their own sailboat, and they knew what they were doing. Reluctantly he handed over the keys, and gave Hal some instructions about where to dock the boat safety overnight, he pointed us to an inlet that would be somewhat sheltered, and away we went.
The Friday night was a blast on the boat. It was a beautiful night. The water was calm, the air was warm, it was perfect. We had a BBQ, downed some beers, and enjoyed a beautiful evening. What fun! Hugo Schmugo!
Suzie and I hit the hay long before the men. Not wanting the party to end, the guys stayed up and drank more beer.
Sometime in the middle of the night, Hugo appeared. The sound of the wind and rain woke me up. I will never ever forget the feeling of utter fear that I felt as I peered out of that tiny window. The wind was so powerful that the trees which lined the waterway of the inlet were bent down, nearly touching the water. The docks, which were mostly empty, thrashed about. I am sure I saw them flip up out of the water and crash back down again. They would surely have been swept away with the force of the wind, rain and waves had they not been so well secured. The water was so rough that the waves crashed against the boat, and some water made its way into the boat. I feared for my life that night.
It turns out that Suzie was awake at the other end of the boat, fearing for her life as well. The men, however, were busy snoring away, completely unaware of the deadly storm.
The next day the storm had passed, but the sky was now grey, the air was much colder, and the water was rough. The guys were feeling rough also, especially Bruce. He was feeling quite green after sleeping on the rocky boat, plus the after effects of the beer was hitting him.
Hal was not feeling quite as bad, and was determined to get our boat moving. I felt so bad for Bruce, that I insisted that we get to shore for a while so that we could determine if the houseboat holiday was going to come to an abrupt end.
We made our way back to Gananoque, and we found a chip wagon. Greasy french fries, the secret cure to the hangover. We all ate some fries, and got our land legs back, and decided that since the worst of the storm was passed us, we would continue our adventure.
It was rough, the water was choppy, and we really should have just packed it in. However, out of some ridiculous need to see it through, we decided to travel around The Thousand Islands on our now soggy and damp boat. We also decided to stay another night. Night number two was much less fun. We were essentially tolerating the houseboat, and could not wait to get off of the rough water for good.
The four of us made it home safe and sound. Somewhat worse for the wear, and somewhat wiser. No storm lasts forever.
On a sad note, our dear friend Suzie passed away a few of years ago. She had contracted Hepatitis on a holiday in Mexico or somewhere, and never recovered.


1 thought on “Stormy Waters”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s