Sasha falls in. We’ve had the houseboat for two-hours, started getting acquainted with the picturesque contours of the Gananoque coast and random private islands scattered throughout the St. Lawrence River in the 1000 Island region, and Sasha, the two-year-old chocolate lab, falls overboard. Fortunately, we’re at the docks of the Gananoque Inn and Spa attempting (for the first time) to dock the boat and head in for dinner.
Sasha is a 80-pound elk-like dog who’s formitable in appearance and a complete coward by nature – she spooks at the sight of the bumpers dangling beside the boat. Her back legs slip off the edge, and she scrambles to hang on with her front feet. I’m at the front of the boat trying to throw Mario the rope.
“Grab the dog,” he yells. Really? Of course, it’s too late – and impossible. Sasha splashes in, swimming frantically between the boat and the dock. She can’t climb onto the dock and it takes two of us to hoist each end of her back onto the boat.
Thus starts our houseboat adventure with the dogs. From Houseboat Holidays we rented a houseboat, which is like a floating RV complete with kitchenette, sink, fold out beds, fresh water tank and a small bathroom and shower that runs on pumped in river water.
Our goal: spend four days boating, hiking and exploring the National Parks of the 1000 Islands run by Parks Canada. We plan to stop at MacDonald, Camelot and Georgina Islands along with a visit to the American Heart Island home of Boldt Castle, an incredible story (but not dog-friendly).
The first day, after driving here, unloading the car and stocking the boat, we get a short boating orientation from Houseboat Holidays. (You don’t need a boating license, though boating experience helps – a lot). Armed with a map, a lousy sense of direction, and an adventurous spirit, we make our way around unmarked islands to the Gananoque Inn and Spa for dinner before snagging the last boat slip on nearby MacDonald Island.
MacDonald is a small Island with a few campsites including glamping cabin/tents Parks Canada calls oTENTiks meeting other boat and dog owners and bedding down for the night.
So far so good. We all somehow stay on board for the night. No unintended swimming.
We’ll see what day two brings.
Missed Pre-Day one of this adventure? Check it out here and start from the beginning.
If you are curious about some of the cottages in the 1000 Islands, check out this coffee table book that lets you inside: Retreats of the 1000 Islands.