Monday, July 16, 2018

The Brotherhood of the Boaters

In my last post, I wrote about how the best part of this trip is the people we've met.  Here are a couple more stories:

Bonjour, Tug Helmsman!

Where we stayed: Saint Anne de Bellevue
Last week we docked at St. Anne de Bellevue. The lock wall is a lively place, with families out for a fresh-air promenade in the parklike setting.

Cap was on the stern, fielding the usual questions: "Did you bring your boat here from England?" "Does it really run on solar power?" "How far can you go in a day?"

One passerby was a young man carrying a skateboard in one hand and a beer in the other. Tristan volunteered that he, too, was a fan of heavy steel boats--because he was a tugboat captain himself.

Really?  Really!  Come aboard, then!

We talked for more than an hour, about the minutae of tugboats and so much else. It was heartwarming to learn his story.  Tristan grew up boating on the river. He went to college for psychology . . . until a helpful professor made him aware of the jobs available on the river--good pay, and the schedule is two weeks on and two weeks off.  He switched his course of studies and never looked back.

Bonjour, Pecheurs!

This jet boat outside Montreal did a tight circle around us.
Thanks, guys.
All too often a big, powerful boat passes by, going fast, throwing up a big wake that rattles the china in the galley and sets our wooden doors to slamming.

"Is it our American flag?" I asked Cap. 

"No, probably just cluelessness about the boater 'Rules of the Road,' he said.

Our peaceful anchorage on the St. Lawrence River
Even so, when we left Montreal on the Saint Lawrence River, I was nervous about our first stop, an anchorage in a shallow bay. "Should we take in the flag?"

We left it out, and shortly before dusk, I could hear the whine of a motor:  a fishing boat, coming really close, kind of fast.

I peeked out the window, bracing for a contentious conversation.

It was a dad with his teenage daughter and her friend. They had come to tell us, in hesitant English, how much they liked our boat. 

A lively conversation followed, about boats, fishing, applying for college.  Our visitors left as the light faded, leaving behind a little warm glow of friendliness.

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