I just spent a week on a houseboat. Houseboats are to boating what uHaul truck rentals are to driving, so it wouldn’t be fair to judge boating based on driving one, but it did offer some insights into boating culture.
Boating (like motorcycling) makes you aware of just how much driving a car turns people into assholes (it must have something to do with being enclosed). There are still jerks in boats (they tend to be in smaller boats with giant outboards), but generally boating is a gentlemanly activity. It’s also remarkably classless. We went down and up the lock system on the Trent-Severn Waterway and found that everyone was happy to chat, from people on half million dollar cruisers to tiny fishing boats. That is certainly not the case for automobile drivers or that sizable group of bikers who are more interested in presenting an image rather than being human.
The more experienced boaters were also willing to assist and offer advice if it looked like we were in over our heads (which we occasionally were). The community nature of boaters (ignoring yahoos in speedboats) was exceptional, and enjoyable. I felt something similar at Indy with motorcycling. After the hyper-selfish world of the automobile driver (the most antisocial – almost psychotic – activity we saw was driving up to and back from our boat trip), it’s nice to see some modes of transport creating positive human contact.
We didn’t really have a plan when we started out, but we were told that the largest lift lock in the world (in Peterborough) was too far for our slow boat to manage, so we decided to go for it. We got there late on day two of our four day rental. The Parks Canada people were absolutely fantastic, staying late to get us docked at the top of the lock where we then got to spend the night.
The lock was built in 1904 using mainly horse, steam and human power to build it. It’s still run and owned by Canada. Twenty First Century Canada doesn’t build things and is more interested in selling off its natural resources to create fake-balanced budgets. I’m surprised that this historical monument to Canada’s past engineering mastery isn’t now owned by the Chinese. Maybe if more Canadians had some idea that this exists and spent a moment remembering what we are capable of, we’d see Canadian manufacturing spark back to life.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a Canadian two wheeled manufacturer at the Canadian Motorcycle Show at some point?