A powerboat is thrilling. Thrilling, risky, and nervewracking if you’re a person prone to wracked nerves. Any number of things can go wrong – the boat can fall off the trailer, the car can back too deep into the water at the marina, the battery can go dead, the rotors get chewed up by unseen rocks, the engine stall in the middle of the lake or river or you can get swamped by a wave, or, if your boating companion is in love with speed fast enough to make the boat’s bow slap, slap, slap while jetting across two foot swells, you could simply keel over from a stroke from the dreaded fear of flipping.
I loved the idea of a powerboat and we had a little beauty – a 1989 Bowrider, white with mauve accents, with the original teak trim. I loved it so much — but it scared the crap out of me. I’m brave about things with big engines only in the abstract. Riding on the back of my first husband’s Harley Sportster, even with a sissy bar, and zooming up the on-ramp to the freeway remains the single most physically scary thing I have ever done.
So I was sad when my husband decided two years ago, after spending yet another boatload of money on fixing the old boat’s undependable engine, that it was time to donate the boat to charity and give up the powerboating life. I was bummed because cruising the Milwaukee River at about 5 miles an hour, drinking wine and eating pretzels was about the loveliest thing ever but he was bored by that. He wanted a boat to go across Lake Michigan, one we could use on Lake Superior. To me, Lake Superior is for freighters. Although….look what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald, for heaven’s sake.
While our powerboat was cute and fast and stroke-inducing, our canoe is sublime in all ways. It also is cute and fast, an Old Town canoe that is wide and sturdy with wood/wicker seats. We use wood paddles that came from another canoe a long time ago. My paddle is dinged and worn down but is light and perfect for me. I sit in the front of the canoe and I see and I paddle. My husband sits in the back and steers. He has this honor because he was Color Wars General at Pine Forest Camp when he was 14. Even without this credential, he is an exceptional canoer. He is calm, steady, and can thread the needle with our wide little canoe. I never have to scream, “Look out, look out! We’re going to hit the dock!” I just mellow out up there in front. Minding my business, looking ahead. Just being so very, very, very chill, as they say.
I know that in a lot of circles canoeing isn’t all that hip. Very old school. Not like kayaking with all the great gear and the sleek look. I wear my old sneakers, roll up my jeans and put on a baseball cap when we canoe. That’s as fancy as it gets. Plain. I really like that.
Plus it’s one thing to see the water from the land but it’s another thing altogether to see the land from the water. And to be going slow enough to really see it. That, I really love.