Dad loved to collect old things. When I was growing up, we had two Locomobiles, a Chalmers and a 1936 Packard touring car that was our family car. The Chalmers consisted of a wheelbase and an assortment of fenders and other parts scattered around the garage. One of the Locomobiles had been turned into a quasi pickup truck with the back cut out to make space for hauling who knows what. The Packard had no windows and it was necessary to attach side curtains in the case of rainy weather. These cars were relics in the 1950s but Dad loved each one and would only part company if he could add another vehicle of similar age or of more interest to him. He carried on with this tradition after we returned to Comfort Island in the form of his attraction to older boats.
Indeed, we never had a new boat, but Dad bought a small armada of boats that needed engine work and refurbishing but often got neither. As we recognized a need for more boats, he would visit the various marinas and check out what used boats were for sale. A funny old cruiser that he named Sabot was added in1964. The name translated means “wooden shoe.” There were various theories about the origin of this 32-foot craft and the accepted story is that the boat had spent some years in the New York City area where it had served as a rumrunner among other things. It was apparently built in 1908, which was a fine vintage in Dad’s opinion since he was born the same year. The Sabot lacked the size and amenities for comfortable overnight cruising, but Mom and Dad nonetheless took it for short one or two-night ventures up the nearby Rideau Canal System.
At the end of the 1967 summer my mom got into the boat-buying act when she purchased a 48-foot, twin-engine Elco cruiser that she and my dad named Consuelo meaning “comfort” in Spanish. The new vessel passed muster with my dad since it was built in 1936 and needed work on the engines and the hull. This was a bonafide cruiser with three staterooms, a head and a shower, a galley and a large salon that included the operations center for running the boat. The hull was painted dark blue and the decks were turquoise. The trim and parts of the interior were varnished wood. In short this boat was a stunner in looks and for cruising comfort. My mom bought the boat on credit, and I remember her counting down the payments each month, “Just ten more payments and she’ll be ours.”
Now that we had a real cruiser, it was time to go cruising. We decided to make the circular trip from Comfort Island down the St Lawrence Seaway to Montreal, up the Ottawa River to Ottawa, down the Rideau Canal to Kingston and back to Comfort Island by way of the St Lawrence River.
Deb kept an informal log of our journey detailing departure and arrival times, and Dad made notations in his diary. The combination of these two resources has provided me with a surprisingly good record of the trip, and it helps me to recall many entertaining events we shared together on our adventure.