Monday, August 24, 2009

The Mother Ship

A weekend visit to my sister and bro in law's cabin in Wisconsin's lake country would not be complete without a sunset cocktail cruise on the early '60 vintage homemade houseboat, the Windsor Castle. It was not named for the British royal family but rather the light Canadian whiskey that was named for the British royal family. Its an appropriate name given that the signature drink on the vessel for most people except me, is an Island Laker, a concoction involving Windsor, Coke, and a splash of cherry juice.

The Windsor Castle was built on the lake and has not left the lake since it was launched. UncleRick,my bro in law, bought it from its original owner and builder, Pete, a few years back. One of the reasons it hasn't left the lake is that its weight, according to a displacement test done by a qualified engineering graduate of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI, is just under 10,000#'s. Five tons of fun. It is an extremely versatile and useful craft. In addition to a fine patio section on the bow for cocktailing, it has a refrigerator, sleeping quarters, and a ladder to the roof for additional seating and/or jumping off into the lake. I know that jumping off high places into a body of water is an activity frowned upon my certain elements of the NPS in a river unit near me, but if done safely it is indeed a cheap thrill. At any time you might see attractive women on the roof, the Queen of Island Lake on her throne, a subservient dock boy offering Her Majesty toilet facilities, or even Captain Dick manning the helm. What we had not seen up until this weekend was the Windsor Castle used as a kayaking mother ship.

After a long bike ride, the decision was made to cool off externally and internally with some swimming and either Bells Oberon or Surly Bitter Brewer. I really wanted to paddle a bit more but the lure of jumping off the roof of the Castle after a couple of beers was just too inviting. Then the light bulb came on in UncleRicks head and he suggested that we just set the Q boat on the Windsor Castle and launch out in the lake. Dilemma solved! A beer or two, soaking up essential Vitamin D from their sun, some rolling practice, and a visit by the neighbors in the pontoon boat made for a perfect northern Wisconsin afternoon. I explained the mother ship concept to UncleRick, where they charge big bucks in British Columbia and Alaska to take kayakers out, but he felt that Glacier Bay might be a bit more inviting and command a slightly higher price than the Island Lake chain. I had to agree but it was still an exceptional summer afternoon.

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