As a travel writer, I’ve had the privilege to explore far-flung places, encounter diverse cultures, and taste new adventures. But often times the most memorable escapades I’ve had are not in distant lands, but right in my backyard. In fact, I would say that some of my best travel memories have happened within an hour of my home. Case in point, my recent weekend on the Rideau Canal in the heart of Ottawa, with Le Boat.
After captaining a 50-foot from Le Boat on the Rideau Canal last summer with a crew of ten women, I had one resounding message for all prospective Le Boat vacationers: You can do it. Navigating those shimmering waters, whether you’re a seasoned boater or a novice like me, is an experience both feasible and liberating. This summer, I returned to experience the Rideau Canal with Le Boat, accompanied by my parents, my partner, and our dogs, Dolly Pawton and Kenny Pawgers.
We chose the Horizon 3 for our voyage, a comfortable vessel equipped with three bedrooms. Le Boat provides all bed linens and towels, making packing a breeze. Just imagine gearing up for a cottage weekend – a cooler filled with your favourite food and drinks, beach towels, a raincoat, and perhaps a few board games for those cozy nights onboard. To enhance the ease and fun, Le Boat features a full-sized fridge, an oven, a stove-top, and a BBQ, transforming it into a floating haven of comfort and convenience.
Le Boat’s starting point at Dow’s Lake, which is along the Rideau Canal in the heart of Ottawa, offers fantastic convenience. We savoured the fun vibe of the bustling marina on our first night, surrounded by fellow boaters, the city’s twinkling skyline as our backdrop. Moreover, the Le Boat staff provided an invaluable boating lesson here, ensuring we were well-equipped for the journey ahead.
We set our course south towards Hog’s Back, then docked for the night at Black Rapids Lock. As we glided through the water, we discovered the city from a perspective we had never seen before. It was an unfolding revelation, a chance to witness familiar landmarks wrapped in a different aura, painting a portrait of the city we thought we knew so well. Docking at Black Rapids was a unique blend of urban accessibility and the tranquility of nature. It felt like a serene retreat, yet we were nestled right in the middle of the city, a testament to the surprises a Le Boat trip can spring on you.
Bring Your Best Friends With You, Le Boat Loves Dogs
The journey was made even more memorable by the presence of our two cherished companions – Dolly and Kenny. Now that I’m experiencing the quiet of an empty nest, these delightful fur-babies have become my constant islands in the stream – oh c’mon, you must’ve seen that reference coming! As a devoted pet parent, the thought of leaving my four-legged angels behind is hard to bear, which is why the pet-friendly policy at Le Boat is such a blessing. Not only does this eliminate the stress of separation, but it also conveniently saves on kennel fees or the cost of a dog-sitter.
Embarking on their maiden voyage, Dolly and Kenny initially had me playing the concerned helicopter parent as they adjusted to their sea legs. However, it wasn’t long before they adapted to the rhythm of the water. Soon enough, they were joyfully bounding about, fully immersing themselves in the excitement of their aquatic adventure. This unforgettable experience just goes to show that a Le Boat vacation is indeed, a delight for all family members – two-legged or four!
Packing for a Le Boat Vacation with Your Dogs
- Dog Life Jackets: Even though dogs are natural swimmers, a life jacket is a must-have safety precaution. Choose one with a sturdy handle that will make it easy to lift your dog out of the water if needed.
- Food and Water: Pack enough dog food for the duration of the trip. There is plenty of fresh water on board but a portable dog bowl is helpful.
- Leashes and Collars: Bring a sturdy collar and leash for each dog. You’ll need them when you’re on land for walks or during docking. Miss Dolly is my runner so we ensured she was tied up as we went through the locks so she didn’t make a break for it on land.
- Poop Bags: Make sure to bring plenty of poop bags to clean up after your dogs. Trust me the Canadian Geese leave enough behind, the dogs don’t need to add to it.
- Comfortable Bedding: Pack a comfortable dog bed or blanket for your dog to rest on. This can help your dog feel more at home on the boat.
- Chew Toys: Don’t forget a couple of favorite toys to keep them entertained. Long-lasting chew toys or interactive toys can keep your dog busy during longer stretches of the trip.
- Cooling Mat: The boat deck can get hot under the sun, so a cooling mat can help keep your dog comfortable. For the most part when you’re on the water there is a breeze that cools you down but during the most recent heat wave, it was easy to overheat when we were docked.
- Identification Tags: Just in case, make sure your dog’s identification tags are up to date and securely fastened to their collar.
Remember, every dog is unique and may have specific needs or items that will make their trip more comfortable. If it’s your dog’s first boating trip, it could be a good idea to do a short trial run to see how they adjust.
Strengthening Bonds and Developing New Ones
One delightful surprise of this trip was watching a strong camaraderie develop between my Dad and my partner Phil, anchored around an unexpected interest – a cribbage board. What started as a single round of casual play evolved into a dynamic exchange of laughter and shared spirit, underscoring the power of new environments to kindle novel relationships. While we’ve been engaging in weekly Sunday dinners for a couple of years now, this particular bond had never surfaced before.
It’s these instances that highlight the value of stepping out of your usual surroundings – even if it’s just around your own city – for they present opportunities to deepen connections and foster shared moments in unexpected ways. As I look forward to our next family dinner, I wouldn’t be surprised to see my Dad welcoming Phil with the cribbage board at the ready.
Our Le Boat experience on the Rideau Canal was not simply a vacation but a holistic journey transcending the boundaries of a typical getaway. Embracing the joys of slow travel (seriously we did not go far), cherishing togetherness, and basking in the unfamiliar familiarity of our hometown defined this trip. From the delightful banter over a cribbage game to the tranquil companionship shared under a starlit sky, it was about celebrating life’s simple moments.
As we disembarked from our Horizon 3, we carried with us more than treasured memories. The journey instilled an empowering sense of accomplishment (yes I did navigate the boat again), a deepened appreciation for our loved ones, and a renewed love for our city. To all prospective travellers, here’s my heartfelt advice: seize the opportunity to rediscover your backyard with Le Boat. Trust me, you’ll see it through a whole new lens!
With an eye on Le Boat’s exciting expansion to the Trent Severn Waterway in 2024, the adventure on the Rideau Canal was not the final trip, but simply a part of the ongoing journey. For those of you looking to get out on water right away, Le Boat currently has a 35% Flash Sale until July 16th! Here’s to many more family explorations and delightful surprises that await us on Canada’s beautiful waterways. After all, you don’t have to travel far to find a treasure – sometimes, it’s right there in your backyard.
Your Essential Checklist for A Memorable Boat Adventure with Le Boat Rideau Canal
- Invest in Travel Insurance: Before you embark on your exciting voyage, ensure you’ve got travel insurance. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I have had to use travel insurance more times than I care to count.
- Submit Your Crew Info: Assemble your crew and fill out a Guest Information Form at least a week before departure. This isn’t just red tape – it’s a crucial step to customize your voyage and make the start of your journey seamless. And don’t forget to nominate your Captain and Second-in-command. A little ceremony with homemade captain’s hats could be fun!
- Map Out Your Journey: Get to know your starting base before you set sail. Gather all necessary details like opening times, directions, and facilities nearby to make your arrival as smooth as possible. For Dow’s Lake specifically, it’s helpful to unload the car at the round-about and leave one person in charge of watching the gear, while the other parks. Le Boat also has dock trolleys that are incredibly helpful for moving your things onboard.
- Add a Touch of Luxury: Who says boating can’t be luxurious? Add some optional extras to your journey to make it truly memorable. Whether it’s bike rentals for on-land exploration, or a paddleboard for the adventurous, there’s always room to make your voyage unique.
- Watch and Learn: To get a sneak peek of what’s to come, watch an Arrival and Area Briefing video specific to your cruising area. This isn’t just for fun, it’s a brilliant way to prepare yourself and your crew for the adventure ahead!
- Safety, Always: As the responsible captain of your vessel, ensure that everyone on board watches the safety video. It’s a non-negotiable but could also double as a pre-voyage movie night!
- Pack Smart: Last but not least, start packing! Remember to include the essentials like non-slip shoes, gardening gloves for managing ropes, a flashlight for twilight walks along the towpath, and mosquito repellent for those warm evenings on deck. Also, ditch the hard suitcases for soft bags that easily fold away – your cabin storage will thank you! Finally, go ahead and overpack, there is no one weighing your luggage upon arrival!
And there you have it! With this checklist at your side, you’re all set for a boat adventure that’s as seamless as it is unforgettable. Safe travels and happy sailing!