Beau Rivage Island in the 1000 Islands might be the most beautiful place I’ve ever woken up.
Distant cries of birds fill the silence while the sun slowly rises through the trees. Photos are easy as silhouettes of the tree line are backlit by orange sky, and the house built on a rock across from us reflects calm.
We’ve had this side of the island to ourselves since early evening yesterday after two groups of kids abandon the entire Parks Canada Island to us: me, Mario, and our two dogs, Sasha and Victor. It’s the last day of our Great Canadian 1000 Island Houseboat Adventure with two dogs (Sasha, a lab and Victor, a schnoodle) and we return the boat to Houseboat Holidays in a couple hours. Breakfast is everything left in the fridge (almost) grilled up on the BBQ. We could shoot a morning coffee commercial here.
One more quick adventure for the dogs on the island and we head back to the Gananoque marina easily, now skilled house boaters after four days on the river. Or so we think. Apparently, we’ve been riding on fumes and the Houseboat Holidays staff can’t believe we made it back.
They’re not concerned about the screen (guess that’s what the extended insurance is for), and don’t care the carpets are soaked from the storm two nights ago or there’s hints of dog barf on the floor (did I mention Sasha, the lab, threw up the first day?). As long as the propeller and engine are fine, we’re cleared.
I had full confidence in us the whole time (right?). And Victor never got his lifejacket wet.
If you want to experience your own Great Canadian Houseboat Adventure in the 1000 Islands, here’s some advice:
- Go dog-friendly. In the 1000 Islands region, Houseboat Holidays is the only one (I found) that allows dogs on the boats but they reserve the right to charge a $25 cleaning fee per dog, if needed.
- Take a cell phone charger that fits into a dashboard lighter with you. We went a short time without any working phones and that’s a bad idea. Also, bring binoculars.
- Use both the large map of the area and a more detailed book with photos to navigate.
- You’ll need some boating experience, particularly docking ability. Houseboats are hard to maneuver and are wind-blown easily. If you are docking near expensive boats, you will likely get a lot of help docking. (Others don’t want their boats hit. We found this helpful). Remember, houseboats are the RVs not Mercedes of the parking lot.
- Take enough dog food – mostly dry – and dehydrated food is light and easy to pack. Add water and you have wet food. We tried The Honest Kitchen’s Revel dehydrated whole grain food. Victor, the older small dog, didn’t eat it. Sasha, the young big dog, did.
- Put a lifejacket on the dogs even if they are good swimmers. It makes it easier to lift them in the boat if they go overboard. Victor is wearing a life jacket from Outback Jack which fits like a glove and is priced well.
- Watch for signs of overheating – dogs can’t sweat and excessive panting is a sign of overheating. Don’t put ice water on him, but it’s ok to wade him into cool water or put cool towels over his back.
- And yes, you are supposed to keep a leash on the dogs. (Imagine a leash-free National Park somewhere. That would be awesome.)