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Just a few miles shy of the town of Trenton, in Lake Ontario, Louise was pushing forward bucking bronco style head into wind chopped waves. With the mast on the deck, I was completely focused on holding it in place with my eye balls. I swore with some kind of hocus-pocus my concentration would prevent the mast from flying off the deck. Pretty sure it was working. But with my focus on the mast, and no where else, Katie was driving and she pointed out that suddenly… we weren’t moving forward any more. We had been holding a steady 3.5 knots throughout these final nasty miles. I looked down at our speed and surely, we were at a standstill. We had become a rocking horse sitting outside of Walmart, someone was feeding us pennies and we weren’t going anywhere.

We couldn’t put the sails up, because obviously, we were not a sailboat at the time. I could see our destination in the distance, but it sure as hell wasn’t getting any closer. The engine sounded fine.  Nothing else sounded weird. Nothing felt weird. I had flash backs to the time we lost our transmission in the Bahamas. I was swearing a lot in my head. Those words don’t need to be relayed to express my concern. We turned around surfed the waves instead of fighting them, as we messed with the throttle and shifter to figure things out. Some masts were hiding behind trees not far from us, we pointed Louise in that direction hoping to get somewhere protected. It is not easy to dissect an issue when you are violently bobbling around. Louise only moved at 1 knot. Luckily, we were able to throw our lines to a nice young man at the Trenton Yacht Club. I got in the water to look at the propeller. Where was the propeller? I only saw weeds. I began hacking away. A bundle of weeds was so tautly wrapped around the the shaft and prop I was actually impressed nothing snapped in two. Poor little Louise just had her panties in a twist. Problem solved.

The next morning Katie woke up sick. She referred to her sickness as “razor throat” explaining in detail what it felt like to swallow razors. I was not envious of Razor Throat, and did my best to stay on “my side” of the boat that day. However, when one of us is sick, its like both of us are sick, so it didn’t matter. Because she felt like crap, I did too. The day was young, and we had plenty of time to turn our frowns upside down. We fired up the engine and pulled some enthusiasm out of our behinds to enter the Trent-Severn waterway.  The Trent-Severn waterway is made up of 210 miles, and 44 locks, of intertwining lakes and rivers. This protected, shallow, and narrow waterway zig zags you from the town of Trenton, on Lake Ontario, up to Port Severn in the Georgian Bay.

The engine puttered out just as we were about to release the dock lines. Damnit. I crawled into the basement, and bled air our of the lines as Razor Throat cranked it over. With more air bubbles in the system than normal, we didn’t have enough battery to start the boat after bleeding it. The docks did not have 30 amp electric, so we could not plug into shore power to start the boat. We did not have an adapter. We found the nice young lad who worked at the yacht club to see if he had an adapter. He didn’t, but instead he removed the battery from his own boat and delivered it to Louise as if were as light as a bird. When he passed it to me, I pretended that I too, thought it was light as a bird. In reality, the battery pulled me into the basement head first. We jumped Louise and had smiles on our faces once again. Why thank you for your battery young lad.

Not even a mile into the Trent- Severn, I was playing “chicken” with a small fishing skiff. There was a fork in the river. One way leading to our first lock, and the other leading towards a rushing damn. The skiff was in the center of the fork, slowing reeling in lines as they saw us approach. When I got closer and saw their lines were not reeled in completely, I chose to loop around the right side (the side leading to the rushing damn) in hopes to leave them with more time to reel in their lines that were drifting in the path I was supposed to take (the side leading to the lock.) CRRRRRUUUUUNNNNCH. I had run Louise up a mountain and parked on the highest rock. I swear I could hear fiberglass crushing beneath us. It was an awful sound that I wish upon no boater. I looked in the bilge, we weren’t sinking. It took several attempts to get off the mountain until we had to ask the two men in the skiff for help. We had an audience of fisherman on nearby banks.

Outwardly I was smiling, and even laughing (laughing?!?!) with the two fisherman who were about to pull us off the mountain. At the time, making light of the situation was the only way I could handle it. When actually, I felt like a complete asshole who clearly chose the wrong side of the path, who could have potentially sunk our house, and who wanted to crawl into the v-berth and not come out until next spring. The men on the skiff cleated off a line, and pulled us down from the mountain as we listened Louise rearrange the rocks under her keel. Razor Throat was on the bow the entire time, silent, her eyes piercing through me with. Not frustrated that I had hit rocks, but that I hit rocks and was pretending that it was totally fine.

Adrift at last, we were thankful for the fisherman who ruined and saved our lives in a matter of minutes… I continued towards the correct spoke of the fork.  But it wasn’t over yet. We throttled up, and just like the day before we weren’t going anywhere. Weeds. Damnit. Voluntarily I stripped down, threw on my goggles, and got in the water to remove the weeds from the prop. I was the one who got us into the situation in the first place. I felt it was my job to have to plunge into the icy waters at 10 am. With our Canadian riverbank audience watching the whole thing, I was slightly embarrassed of our American flag.

Like our moods, the sky remained gray. I spent the remainder of the day wondering If there was a hole in the boat. After a few locks, the sky had reached it’s saturation and overflowed with sheets of rain. Which was exactly what we needed, pouring rain to raise the morale. We parked at the next lock, safely connected to the wall that time, not the ground.  I went below and pulled out a moldy tortilla, and cut in half a brown avocado and ate it in my wet clothes. It was not our day. We called it quits at 2 o clock, and agreed to try again tomorrow. Hoping that Razor Throat would feel better, and that I could make a come back after my horrendous grounding.

That night, we became friends with a girl named Sari, a lock operator who was so enthusiastic about our trip and wanted to know more. We invited Sari aboard that evening. After whining and bitching to her about our day, we were all laughing. Comparing the problems Razor Throat and I face every day, to the ones of your typical 25 year old female, is in fact a laughing matter. She distracted us with great conversation and in a matter of hours, she kind of felt like a sister. Sari probably had no idea she had turned our frustrating day into one worth having. Yet again, a reminder that we are always rewarded with good people in the end. Always. An unexpected constant that keeps us going. We put the day to bed, and started over the next morning.

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Coolest water elevator EVER. We were lifted 65 feet in 90 seconds.

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At the top of Peterborough lock, we met a man who gifted us this wooden instrument handcrafted by his grandfather. It’s used as a reminder to indicate which side the bouys to go on. One of my favorite gifts to this day.

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In lovesick lock we met an amazing and entertaining family… we let the girls go wild with sharpies on our ceiling. I told them to write their favorite quotes. We could have hung out with these 13 year old girls for days. They were smart, and asked us questions most boaters don’t even think to ask.

“Everyone has a place to fit in, you just have to find out where it is” – Breann

“The wind can you anywhere, you just have to guide it.” – Tay-dog

The next morning, they left us this note… Thanks girls : )

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10 thoughts on “Razor Throat

  1. Life is just a party, and the party never really has to really end. Your posts are just getting better and better. Slightly salty word smithing mixed with a fresh mint female perspective and an ever increasing touch of yachting girl class. Very cool. Great pics, & great word pics too.

  2. The beautiful woman of tenacity and sweetness are almost home. Congratulations girls, to reuse a commonly over used term to describe you both – you are amazing. What an accomplishment. The 13 year old girls who wrote on your ceiling pretty much nailed it – you ARE role models; almost heroes. You have spurred the dreams of and encouraged so, so many people, that you will never be able to grasp the enormity of your inspiring wake through your determination, your love of the water and the outdoors, your love of people, your dedication to each other, and your unfailing kindness and humbleness toward everyone who crossed your path. I only wish I could be there to be one of the ones to welcome you home, to raise a glass to you both, and say a few complimentary words.

    Fine job girls, you’re an exceptionally cool pair!

    I drove up north (PA, NJ, NYC, DE) for two months to be with family and friends right about the time you were passing through those areas. We came so close to crossing paths again, but my Daughter had some extra free time so I was able to spend even more time with her, and as much as I wanted to, didn’t have time to find you. My Daughter and I made the yearly 3 day concert I had reccomended to you (Beck, Ingrid Michelson, Dawes, Lucius, Ryan Adams, The Hold Steady, Old 97s, Nicole Atkins, and so much more). We had an absolute blast. We met 89 yr old Blues legend James Cotton after his gig and he signed my hat! To put it in perspective, it’s like meeting the Paul McCartney of Blues – he was SUCH a wonderfully kind, unassuming, and gentle old gentleman. Such an icon!
    I just got back to Stock Island Marina a couple of days ago, battling a major bug infestation onboard and awaiting the stepping of my second mast (long story : ( Result of an unbelievably bad rigging contractor) and look forward to finally sea trialling SV Caroline Jesse mid September – possibly with my Daughter on board!!!!!

    Again, welcome back north, enjoy your family and celebrations. I will miss your writings and terrific photos – like so many others who’s lives you’ve crossed paths with or those who have followed along through your blog.
    I have to admit, I’ll be a little blue when you reach home and stop your essay. But, I look forward to your next adventure : )

    In my book – you girls are not only incredible role models, you ARE heroes. Keep inspiring others… forever.

    Godspeed Katie and Jessie,

    Chris Cramer
    (A Dock Chris)
    SIMV Key West

  3. What they all said (Bows to the ladies with their priorities in order). “Razor throat” I’m going to use that, with your permission of course. Thanks for the smiles.

  4. Jesse’s 8/31 post aptly describes your entertaining storytelling style. Randy was right – This last blog is your best yet! And did you really have to post the pic on your home page?!!!

  5. Yum..moldy tortillas and black avocado! All that’s missing was a fresh can of vienna sausage. It’s like spinach.

    Hope Katie is feeling better. Only the best thoughts out to ya both on a successful last leg of the journey. Suppose it’s not a real adventure until you’re left stranded on a rock at some point along the way!

    Ryan & Vlady
    s/v Muirgen

    p.s. good to see the new-found cosmetology skills are being kept up onboard!

  6. Congratulations on crossing your wake( saw on another blog it should be tomorrow, and I see the gold burgee in the pic). Your blog has been great reading. Your writing & photography are fantastic, I hope you continue your website. I plan to start the loop next fall, have been planning it for 20 years.
    Good luck to both of you where ever life leads.

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