If there was only one thing I could impart to you about vacationing with Le Boat on the Rideau Canal in Canada, it would be this: you can do it. Yes, you. If I, a vertically challenged woman who has wilfully avoided parallel parking for 36 years, can Captain a 50 foot, five bedroom Le Boat houseboat through various locks and waterways on the Rideau Canal over five days, then you, my friend, can do it too.
I can already hear your objections from here. Place a checkmark beside each one I get right.
- But I don’t have a boat license.
- I’ve never even driven so much as a pedal boat.
- I’d be too scared to crash the boat.
- The locks look scary.
- What if something happens and I can’t figure it out?
I’m betting I nailed at least one of your fears, if only because I entertained each of the above and many more in the eight months between booking our Le Boat cruise on the Rideau Canal and actually setting sail in late June. A professional overthinker, I had a few sleepless nights playing out every possible disaster scenario in my head, from running the boat over rocks, to if “I only had room for one other person on a floating door which one of my friends would I save“? What? Like your irrational fears have logic?
I do feel you on one point, it is hard to believe that you don’t need a boating license to captain one of Le Boat’s custom built houseboats. Before every journey with Le Boat begins though, the designated Captain and Co-Captain receive instruction from one of Le Boat’s helpful staff. After they have walked you and your crew through the basics, you receive a temporary permit to operate the boat for the remainder of your holiday. Your Le Boat guide will then help you navigate through the first lock before hopping off and leaving you to enjoy the rest of your vacation.
Before our Le Boat holiday, the sum total of my experience boating consisted of white water rafting on the Ottawa River and commandeering the front row on It’s a Small World at Disneyworld. In other words, nothing. The basics, however, are easy and Le Boat has essentially “dummy-proofed” the boat by placing bumpers around the entire boat, and adding powerful thrusters on each houseboat that help tremendously when traveling through locks or docking.
I won’t lie and tell you that once we made it through the first lock all my fears evaporated. It was more of a gradual confidence that built as we made our way to our first stop and peaked when my co-captain and I successfully docked our boat between two boats at Beveridges Locks. As we were pulling in, men came running down the dock to “assist” and for a brief moment, I was overwhelmed by the cacophony of shouts, laughter, and engine sounds. Ian, our dockmaster for the evening, gave out a hearty, “QUIET!!”, and then proceeded to expertly guide us into our slot.
Ian may say this to all the ladies, but he did tell us that he’d seen men who had driven boats for years, not park as well as we did that night. Needless to say, popping the champagne that evening was extra sweet. Nothing can really prepare you for the sense of accomplishment you get when you successfully navigate the canal and then dock on your first night. Bottom line, a Le Boat holiday on the Rideau Canal is more than a vacation, it’s an empowerment cruise.
It’s worth mentioning here that despite the fact that no one in my friend group is a light packer, we had plenty of room on board our Le Boat houseboat. Le Boat has their fleet custom made, so gone is the traditional floating breadbox style replaced by a sleek yacht-style boat with every square inch maximized for storage. We had a full size fridge, stove, oven, barbecue, five bedrooms, and five bathrooms. Le Boats come in a variety of sizes though that work for couples to large crews. Plus, if you have more people then will fit in one boat, consider renting a few boats and hosting your own flotilla.
Along the Rideau Canal you’ll find a number of historic small towns to visit on your trip. Our trip took us to Westport where we enjoyed an afternoon shopping and an evening under the stars at Scheuermann Vineyard & Winery. The pizza here is phenomenal, the view spectacular, and the wine was perfection. The most important thing to keep in mind though is that a Le Boat holiday is slow travel. You set the pace, so if you find you’re getting more just floating on the water or relaxing at the dock, then by all means, slow your roll and enjoy it.
No matter where you escape on a girls’ trip the mental health boost is positive. It’s not very often though that you leave a getaway simultaneously feeling rested, inspired, and ready to conquer the world. A Le Boat trip can do that for you. Boats are generally impossible to navigate alone, which means they require crews. This is where you and your friend group enter the scene. A trip with Le Boat, pulls people closer together since it requires that every person on board participate. I wanted to be sure though that I understood the importance of a crew on a boat though, and decided to look it up. I found the following.
Not only does this define a crew, but damn ladies, this sounds exactly like what a solid friend group looks like. So if you’re planning a girls’ trip of your own, assemble your crew and get out on Le Boat on the Rideau Canal this summer.