Rain and windy conditions were setting us up to savor the good weather when and if it came. In keeping with Dad’s why-start-early program, we made it three-for-three on afternoon starts. We had another pair of locks at Beauharnois. Like the Eisenhower Locks, this is another austere setting with towers and high voltage wires adding to the forbidding atmosphere. It took us more than three hours to get back on our way after waiting for a tanker to come through in the opposite direction. We shared the second lock with a lightly loaded ship named Christine. It was like having a pointed four-story, floating college dormitory behind us. When we left the lock the ship passed us like they were the ...view middle of the document...
The shopping district is adjacent to the north side of the canal. Dad and Deb went ashore and into what Dad described as a “cute French town” with stone and brick buildings huddled close together. Bright-colored awnings added character to the setting. The mission of this trip was to purchase charts for the Ottawa River and to restock provisions for eating on board.
I recall staying with Mom and soon both Topper and I became restless. I consulted Mom saying something like, “Topper needs a walk and I do too. Would you like to join us for a stroll?”
“I’ll wait here and read some of my book. I’m getting more than enough fresh air just being on this boat.”
Mom was in her mid-fifties, but she lacked vitality. Her inclination to drink to excess once cocktail hour rolled around at five o’clock had negatively affected her health with the passage of time. Mom had been a good athlete and proficient tennis player into her mid-forties, but drinking became an issue she never fully resolved.
We began our trek up the Ottawa River with the knowledge that the boating held a new danger on this leg of the journey. “Deadheads” or short sections of trees that were left behind during various logging operations sank below the surface over time. Without warning some of these logs bob up from the bottom perpendicular to the surface. They were very hard to see and often the first notice of their presence was a thud informing us that this unwelcome visitor had taken a whack at the bottom of the boat. We had several such intrusions before we exited the Ottawa River and luckily none of them connected with our props or we could have been in for a lengthy delay waiting for repairs. When it started to get dark, we headed to port immediately since the deadhead danger multiplied exponentially with no way to see them in advance.
At the end of day four Deb and I devised a plan to jumpstart the boating day. I remember her saying something like, “We’ve got to get going...