Friday, April 27, 2018

1925 - Part 7 - Across the Continent by Motor Boat (with Evinrude Big Twins)

Just in time for good weather when reading on your device is not high priority here in the Northern Hemisphere - here is the last installment.  
Don't forget to join AOMCI if you are interested in the early outboards.  We have many people who can help you get started exploring this exciting period of outboard technology.

The wind was sweeping up the entire 120 miles of Lake Champlain's length, and in the great canyon between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York, Champlain was a cauldron of heaving and trembling fury.  Coming out of the Richelieu above the last Canadian bridge where the draw keeper  nearly blew all the steam out of his boiler saluting us with his whistle, we hugged the Vermont side of the lake.  Coming up in the lee of the Rutland railroad trestle, which partially broke the force of the waves, we slid under the drawbridge and took the whole force of the lake quartering on our port bow while we ran for Rouses Point.  The quiet water back of the breakwater and in front of Marnes' Inn looked mighty good to us, even though Champlain was piling completely over the breakwater.   Leaving Wilton with the boat, and Spy hunting rats along the breakwater, I went ashore and reported to the American immigration officers.  I then went to the Customs House, declared all goods purchased in Canada, and returned to the boat with the inspector.  The officer, a good-natured gentleman by the Teutonic name of Cavanaugh, inspected our boat and cargo by looking at it from the shore.

Good grief!  I found a period postcard of Marne's Inn at Rouses Point!  The internet is a wonderful place...
Weather conditions kept us at Rouses Point until the morning of September twenty-sixth.  It poured down rain, and the wind blew a near tornado without ever a lull.  On the morning of the twenty-fifth, when we hoped to get under way down the lake a 50-foot Government rum chaser put out from Rouses Point.  They went right out, turned around, and came right back again.  The skipper declared the lake too rough for them. If it was too rough for their boat, it was certainly too rough for us.  There was nothing for us to do but keep company with Dr. Marnes at his hotel, and hope for better weather.

On the morning of the twenty-sixth, the hoped-for better weather came in the form of a fair day and moderate wind.  The lake was still rough, but after what I'd seen of it I was for getting down Lake Champlain - and out of it, as fast as we could possibly make the 120 mile run.  So, we got an early seat, hugged the New York shore down around Cumberland Head, missed Plattsburg by six miles, and headed for Valcour Island. 

 From the south end of Valcour Island we drove diagonally across the lake to Burlington, picked up some mail and telegrams, and cruised down and across the lake to Essex, New York.  At Essex we found two hotels boarded up for the winter, but succeeded in finding a woman who operated a sort of boarding house.  She took pity on us and provided us with food and beds.

As may well be imagine, in cruising from Oregon to Vermont, a distance of nearly 5,000 miles over the inland waterways; we had successfully voided every peril to which an 18-foot boat could be exposed in making such a journey.  Over that entire route one of Wilton's worst fears had been we might have a collision with some other boat when we got into eastern waters where boats are numerous.  But, he'd  been crossing a bridge that never existed, because when we got into the waters where such a mishap might be dreaded, all the boats had been pulled for the winter.  We had the water pretty much to ourselves.

It was thus somewhat of a surprise when we cruised down the Vermont side of Lake Champlain near mid-day on September twenty-seventh, and sighted a motor boat.  The boat, a cabin cruiser, appeared through my glasses to be in trouble.  It was dangerously near a rocky shore, drifting apparently without power, and on a sea that was far from placid.  We cruised on, and when we got near the other craft it was evident that she and her crew were in trouble.  Gazing through the glasses I saw two men struggling desperately to get securely anchored.  The main anchor was down, but the boat was rapidly swinging around toward the rocks. 

 Running alongside the cruiser, I called out to a man who was fumbling with a coil of rope: "Throw us a line, and we'll tow you off."  The line sang through the air, I caught it, and in less time than it takes to tell it, we had the larger craft in tow and we were heading for open water.    The boat would have made about ten of ours', and with the thing tied on astern of us, in a strong headwind and a rough sea, it seemed we were trying to pull down the State of Vermont.  For a minute or more Transcontinental thrashed the water and never moved but up and down on the waves.  But gradually the bow of the cruiser swung around, and we began to move.  After we had overcome inertia, the wind, and the pounding sea, we had about a half knot of speed ahead left which could be converted into a towing service. 

Having acquired somewhat of a white elephant, I began studying our charts in an effort to see where our burden could be safely disposed of.  The most likely place seemed to be Basin Harbor, Vermont, about three miles south of the pint where we took the boat in tow.  Eventually we got to this beautiful land-locked little cove, with a mud bottom and just the right depth for anchoring; dragged the cruiser in, and cast her off.  When the men aboard the cruiser got their anchor down we went alongside and boarded the craft. 

A man came across the deck, and extending his hand, said: "Tripp is may name.  Which of you gentlemen is Mr. Hoag?"   The matter of getting acquainted was quickly disposed of.  The two men were Leon L. Tripp, and George Hisgen, the President and Treasurer respectively of the Albany Boat Corporation at Watervleit, New York.  Getting acquainted with these gentlemen under such circumstances was one of the greatest pleasures of our cruise in eastern waters.  
A few minutes after we'd gone aboard their boat, Mr. Tripp stared at me as if in dumfounded amazement.  I was actually beginning to feel somewhat annoyed under his gaze when he spoke, saying: "We've been reading about you boys all summer.  What stroke of fate or Providence was it that brought you all the way from the Pacific Ocean to take us in tow just at the moment we needed it - and this, when we are probably the only two boats on this enormous lake?"  It was a coincidence if there ever was such a thing, but we felt the pleasures of it were ours.
The boat which Mr. Tripp and Mr. Hisgen were operating was Tramp II, the property of Mr. Hisgen.  It had been sunk in Lake Champlain, the men had raised it, and were taking it back to Albany for repairs.  Being in bad condition, ignition troubles had put their motor out of commission a few minutes before we took them in tow.  To get under way again required a hot battery and certain parts which could be obtained in Vergennes, Vermont, the nearest town of any consequence.  Mr. Tripp and I went ashore, and eventually found a farmer with a rank down-east dialect who agreed to drive us to Vergennes with a flivver.  It was late in the evening before we got back with the supplies.  No hotel accommodations being available at Basin Harbor, Wilton and I remained aboard the cruiser.  While the other men busied themselves at cobbling up the motor, I went to work and prepared a meal in the galley. 

 Tramp II in her crippled condition had about the same speed as Transcontinental, so on the following day the two boats cruised on down Lake Champlain together.  We were soon down in that portion of the lake  where the shores narrow to form sort of a motionless river.  Both boats got an uninterrupted day of cruising, and tied up at Whitehall, New York at the southern end of Lake Champlain. Beautiful as Lake Champlain was, we were glad to get out of its troubled waters.  The best part of it was that we had before us only the run through the Champlain Canal to the Hudson, and down the Hudson to New York City to complete the run of 5,280 miles across North America.  We had been on the cruise so long that it seemed like a dream to think we were actually nearing the end of it.  Prior to leaving Los Angeles on the ocean to ocean motor boat cruise I had some correspondence with the superintendent of Public Works at Albany in regard to taking the boat through the New York State Canals.  

I had received some descriptive literature, and a letter from the Superintendent stating that the only condition necessary for transiting the canals was the issuance of a permit, which would be granted upon application.  It was further stated that the permit would be issued upon application to the office in Albany, or by the canal officer in charge at the point of entry.  So, upon our arrival at Whitehall, I called at the canal office to request a permit.  "What sort of boat have you got", asked the officer as he withdrew a pad of blanks to enter the routine data. 

"It's an eighteen foot gasoline boat," I replied. 

"What's your power plant?"  

"Two four horse power Evinrude motors.", I replied.

 "Are those outboard motors?

"Yes, Sir."

"Then we can't give you a permit.  No outboard motors are allowed in the canals."

No here was a facer for fair!  After the correspondence regarding getting through the New York State Canals, being told that the canals were state property, and that they were available for my use upon request - I'd traveled some 5,000 miles to get to the Champlain Canal, and was hung up on the gate posts!  I endeavored to explain the situation, but the canal officer was obdurate - wooden headed. 
 "I've got orders to issue no no permits to boats powered by outboard motors.  Orders are orders.  I can't give you a permit, and you can't travel on the canal without one.  That settles it!" 

"You may think it settles it," I replied, "but it doesn't.  I'm either going through this canal with my boat, or I'm going to smoke out your whole damned canal administration; if I have to start with Governor Smith and work down!" 

 The canal officer laughed derisively - "How do you think you are going to do that?", he chuckled.

"By the power of the press!", I retorted.  "Every newspaper in the United states is interested in my trip.  The editors are keeping the wires hot to obtain every word of news about the first boat that ever crossed North America.  The people of the State of new York built this canal, and the administration denies me the right to use it for the sole reason that my boat is driven by a type of power that you see fit to discriminate against.  If I tell that story to the Associated Press Press, every newspaper in the United States will have it on the front page tomorrow.  Somebody in Albany will have a hard time explaining to the people of the State of New York.  I've told my story, and if there is anything more to be told I'll tell it to the whole nation in tomorrow's newspapers!"

The canal officer dug his scalp with his fingernails, and gazed at me as if he didn't exactly know what to do or say.  I turned on my heel to leave, and was almost out the door when he called - "Hold on, just a minute, Mister.  I'm going to call Albany on the phone."
In a few minutes he had Mr. Fuller on the phone, the Superintendent, and the man with whom I had exchanged correspondence.  The two talked for several minutes.  The, the canal officer handed me the phone, saying, "Mr. Fuller wished to speak with you."
I took the phone, and got a long-winded ear-full explaining outboard motors had been ruled out of the New York State Canals because several accidents had occurred by reason of small boats being squeezed by heavier craft when passing through the locks.  

I told the Superintendent that I was perfectly willing to travel the canal at my own risk, but he didn't see how any exception could be made from the ruling in force.Seeing that I could catch no flies with sweetened water, I told the Superintendent precisely what I intended to do if I was denied the use of the canal.  
At this he was evidently annoyed, and said: "Very well, if you believe you can threaten me and intimidate me into making an exception in your case, I may as well hang up the phone."  
"Hang up if you care to," I replied, "but if you do, you'll regret it tomorrow."
For the next half minute there was dead silence in the telephone receiver, but no sound of the receiver having gone back on the hook at the Albany end of the wire.  Then came the voice again - "Let me speak with the Whitehall officer."
I handed the telephone to the canal officer, and there was an almost whispered conversation between Whitehall and Albany for several minutes.  Finally the Whitehall officer hung up the phone, took his pad, and began to write.  
"Well, what's the verdict?" I asked.  "I'm writing your permit." he replied.

After the extraordinary courtesy we had received in the Canadian Canals this introduction to the administration of the the New York State Canals seemed anything but favorable or friendly.  I cannot blame the people of the state for illogical reasoning on the part of a handful of bumptious state officials.  But I haven't begun my fight on those officials yet.  That's coming later.  I was almost sorry that the Superintendent had decided to give me the permit.  We might have been delayed a few days at Whitehall, but I'd have turned loose a hornet's nest of national public sentiment against public officials who administer state institutions to suit themselves.

The New York State canals, however, represent one of the most constructive pieces of work that has been done in the field of waterway transportation in the United States.   The locks and other canal structures are built to last indefinitely.  The locks are electrically operated, and the last word in the speedy and efficient handling of water commerce over artificial waterways.

Leaving Lake Champlain at Whitehall, New York, the Champlain Canal continues to attain higher water levels through a series of locks before it begins to drop down to the level of the Hudson River at Fort Edward.  Getting an early start out of Whitehall, we cruised on with Mr. Tripp and Mr. Hisgen with their boat on September twenty-ninth.  

The numerous locks, and stops for taking photographs delayed us so that we failed to reach the Hudson that night.  When nightfall overtook us, both boats tied up to the bank of the canal.  Wilton and I went aboard the Tramp II, where I did the cooking, and our cameraman kept our friends laughing with tales of filming the wild animals in Africa and wild parties in Hollywood.  Getting under way again on the thirtieth, the two boats paced each other on through the canal and down the Hudson to Albany.  After coming down the last lock at Troy, we were in the tidewater of the Atlantic Ocean, and upon our arrival in Albany had only 140 miles left  of the seemingly interminable distance from ocean to ocean.

Landing at the Albany Yacht Club, the saluting cannon boomed and a battery of cameras clicked.  The Yacht Club was thrown open to us, and as soon as we could pacify the newspaper reporters we were whisked off by motor car to the Fort Orange Club.  

We had many pleasant experiences during the few hours we had in Albany.  Paramount among these pleasures was our meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hilton, of Chicago, who landed at the Yacht Club with their cruiser Yvonne just about an hour before we came in.  Mr. Hilton, who is an artist, in addition to his wife was accompanied by Lonsdale Green, a Chicago sportsman.  They had followed us with their boat up Lake Michigan, through Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, and the Trent waterways.  

They were always about a day behind us, as they learned along the route where both boats touched.  At Trenton, Ontario, they lost track of us because we had gone down the St. Lawrence and came down through the New York State Barge Canal by way of the Oswego branch.  The yacht was on its way to Florida.  It is interesting to note that although we had taken the St. Lawrence route just a day ahead of the Yvonne in the Trent Waterways, and had cruised several hundred miles further, we pulled into Albany only an hour behind the other party.  It was apparent that the current in the St. Lawrence had offset the greater mileage cruised by Transcontinental.

Mr. Hilton desired to get under way down the Hudson at noon the following day, and it was decided the to boats would cruise together since our cruising speeds were about the same.  

The artist-yachtsman assisted us materially by stowing several hundred pounds of our gear aboard Yvonne, enabling us to cruise light.  It was a good thing for us that the two boats cruised together because it saved us from disappointing hundreds of people by failure to keep our schedule into New York City. 

We had notified New York that we would terminate the ocean to ocean cruise at the Columbia Yacht Club at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon, October fourth.  The club had planned a reception and a banquet for us.  The newspaper men, notion picture men, and others who were interested in the cruise, would be at the club to meet us.  It was therefore highly important that our schedule be maintained.

Leaving Albany a little ahead of Yvonne, we had cruised only a few miles down the river 
when Transcontinental developed a leaky gasoline tank.  A soldering job and serious delay appeared inevitable until Yvonne came along.  Out predicament was explained to Mr. Hilton, who suggested we tie on astern, while I came aboard to make repairs to the leaky fuel tank.  In that way the repair was made without any cruising time being lost.  As nightfall overtook us, both boats which had pushed against the incoming tide most of the afternoon cruised into the Catskill River, and tied up at Catskill for the night.

While a small boat was the only thing with which we could have crossed North America, there are some advantages to a larger craft in commercially navigable waters.  An illustration of this was furnished about noon on October second as Transcontinental and Yvonne cruised down the Hudson about half way between Catskill and Poughkeepsie.  Transcontinental had no galley without touching shore, and around mealtime her crew always seemed to be hungry.  So, when Mrs. Hilton beckoned to us, and called out: "Come aboard, boys, and get  your lunch.", no further invitation was needed.

Prior tho cruising down the Hudson with Transcontinental I had made the trip from Albany to New York several times on the passenger steamers.  
(This ad is from 1924.)

It is without doubt one of the most beautiful rivers in America, but has been shamefully - shamelessly polluted.  The river is a dumping ground for sewage, industrial plant refuse, and about every other manner of waste product that the densely populated shore's areas desire to get rid of.  The water is filthy, and the filth, the tremendous quantities of drift, simply parades upstream and down on the ebb and flow of the tides.

(This part is so depressing I am linking to the story of how 40 years later the folksinger Pete Seeger helped save this beautiful river with the sloop Clearwater.)

It is only the enormous volume of the river that prevents it from becoming a river of horrors such as the Illinois River.  I marvel at the skill of the speedboat pilots who have conducted numerous fast runs on the Hudson without coming to grief against the masses of lumber, box wood, and other forms of drift.

We would have enjoyed seeing the 140 miles of the Hudson between Albany and New York City under favorable weather conditions, but in this we were doomed to disappointment.  We had cloudy, drizzly weather from Albany to Catskill; showers off and on the following day from Catskill to Poughkeepsie, and scarcely saw the sun again until the day after we arrived in New York.  On October third we cruised down the river through intermittent showers all the way from Poughkeepsie to Yonkers.  We could easily have gone into New York that day, but stopped at Yonkers as a means of being absolutely sure of our schedule to the Columbia Yacht Club for the afternoon of October fourth.  After considering the tide, and the time that it would take us to run the distance, we shoved off from Yonkers with the tide.  In spite of the deluge of rain, we kept our schedule almost to the dot - tying up at the Columbia Yacht Club just 8 minutes after 3 o'clock.
Want to know who Steve Brodie is?  I did...GO HERE.
"we all shivered terribly"
Rain had not dampened the enthusiasm of the crowd that had  gathered at the yacht club to meet us.  The newspapermen landed upon us en masse, and the cameras clicked from under dripping umbrellas.  Next day the newspapers were ablaze with headlines, pictures, and praises of the boat, the men, and the dog, who had successfully followed the inland waterways across North America for the first time.  Even so conservative a paper as The New York Times devoted a full column to the story - one of the best written and most accurate reports of the journey appearing in any newspaper.    (I'll post it when I find it.)

Tired, hungry, wet and bedraggled, short of sleep for months; but hardened physically by labor and outdoor living, we were taken in tow by Oluf Mikkelsen, manager of the Evinrude Motor Company's New York branch, who hurried us off for rest and refreshments.  After all we'd been through during 137 days of zig-zagging over the map of America the realization that we were actually in New York City seemed like  hazy and unreal dream.  We had gained in weight, strength, and health, but I had been our little boat so long that it was many days before I could stand n land without unconsciously getting my heels about a yard apart.

At the Columbia Yacht Club several evenings after our arrival at the end of a long transcontinental water trail, we were guests at a banquet which included many dignitaries of motor boating and yachting circles.  After the dinner, speeches were requested.  During this performance Spy-Wapato, dog among dogs - the only dog that ever crossed North America in a powerboat sat with bored Scotch dignity upon the speaker's table so the audience could get a good look at him.  While his master had the floor telling a few of the highlights of the longest motor boat cruise ever made in fresh water the dog convulsed the whole house by taking a drink from the oratorial water pitcher.

Thus ends the story of the cruise of Transcontinental.  But, there are still a few details worth mentioning.  The boat, in making the first journey across North America from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic traveled 5680 miles, and of this distance 5280 miles was on the water.  The journey is thus the longest ever made by any craft traveling in fresh water, and the longest cruise ever made by any boat in constant contact with the land.  The same pair of Evinrude motors that drove it up the flooded Columbia from the Pacific drove Transcontinental for more than a thousand hours through sixteen American Sates and two Canadian Provinces.  In spite of the fact that the motors had been run day after day, and week after week, on an average of from 8 to 16 hours per day - often without ever being shut down, they were still going strong at the finish.

The trip itself was not designed to be dangerous.  We were out with a definite purpose to accomplish, and sought by every possible means to avoid adventures which are alltoo often defeaters of purposes.  On a cruise of such length, through every conceivable water condition, and in constant contact with the land for a distance equivalent to one-fifth the way around the earth at the equator, we had a million opportunities for getting into trouble.  We could have lost the boat, our entire outfit, and possibly our lives, no less than a thousand times had we not used every possible care and forethought to avoid mishaps.  The fact that we got through with only a few minor mishaps that might be termed adventures is the highest tribute that can be paid to the expedition.  

To illustrate the foregoing point, I quote my friend and fellow member of the Adventurers' Club of Los Angeles, Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who says: "Adventures are sign of incompetence.  When one is out with a definite purpose to accomplish, they may easily be the defeaters of the purpose.  Thus, they show faulty judgment, or that one has not with the proper care and forethought anticipated the conditions they encountered."

The end
Well, that was a weak ending!  Maybe he was tired.  


And, this was written by John Edwin Hogg, not Hoag as has been printed in the magazine.
(Pronounced Hoag though.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

1925 - Part 6 - Across the Continent by Motor Boat (with Evinrude Big Twins)

The boys make it to the St. Lawrence and head through the Thousand Islands area at night. The fact that this installment has more exclamation points than any other, might have something to do with their experience!

Leaving Campbellford on the morning of September eighth most of the forenoon was consumed getting down the series of locks between there and Trenton at the Lake Ontario end of the Trent Waterways on the Bay of Quinte.  Arriving at Trenton we cruised right on down the river and into the bay in spite of the wild waving of a major portion of the populace of the town who beckoned us to come ashore.  As the bow pf the Transcontinental slid out into the waters of Lake Ontario, a sullen sky that had threatened rain all morning opened up -  and down came the rain - literally by the bucket full!   (Note: I think this is only the third exclamation mark used in the whole series...)
Source: TrentSevern Waterway

We drove on through the rain and a miserable, choppy little sea that lashed the surface of the Bay of Quinte.  By two o'clock in the afternoon the fog and rain became so thick that it was impossible to make out the buoys and other aids to navigation.  

The bay was also full of floating drift, mainly pulp logs.  Attempting to go on under such circumstances was far from pleasant, and so inviting of disaster so near to the end of our long cruise that I decided to put in at Belleville.  I don't think we ever could have found that place but for the identification of location furnished us by the great bridge that spans the Bay of Quinte from near Belleville to the Prince Edward Peninsula.

The lowering of the water level of Lake Ontario has virtually ruined the small commercial harbor that Belleville once had.  But, we found our way into the shallow basin through a mile of sedge grass, and eventually tied up at the yacht club anchorage.  

We had scarcely landed at the Queens Hotel before the newspaper reporters found us, and forthwith spread the news to His Worship, Mayor E. C. Mickle.  The Mayor had a quantity of mail for us, and virtually turned the town over to us.  He seemed greatly disappointed at our inability to remain "at least two or three days in Belleville".

While the numerous courtesies and hospitalities that we encountered along the inland waterways from ocean to ocean were all thoroughly appreciated, it was often difficult to convince these kind hearted friends that we were confronted with the necessity of pushing on in the direction of Hoboken.  The plea was always -"just a day", but those days had already dragged out into weeks and we were hurrying to get down the Hudson ahead of the ice.  

The morning of September ninth dawned fair but windy.  We shoved off from Belleville, and got hammered unmercifully all the way down the Bay of Quinte to Deseronto and Picton.  In spite of the choppy seas that fought each other and pounded us from all points of the compass, we had covered 30 miles during the forenoon when we decided to go into Picton for lunch.  While we had become so used to rough water that we no longer dreaded it, the experience had taught us that no matter how strong one may be physically, getting ashore for a brief rest is desirable after a few hours of pounding in a small boat.

As we lunched in a Chinese restaurant in Picton it was about a toss-up as to whether we should shorten the cruise into New York by cutting across Lake Ontario to the New York State Barge Canal, or go down the St. Lawrence.  We preferred the St. Lawrence route for interest and experience, but time was a factor to be considered.  Moreover, with the weather conditions we had encountered during the past few days, we were somewhat skeptical as to the advisability of tackling the run across Lake Ontario from the Canadian side to Oswego, New York.  We finally agreed to let the question of routes decide itself when we got down to the two inlets between the end of Prince Edward Peninsula and the entrance to the St. Lawrence.  

Leaving Picton we got so roughly handled that we thought for a time we'd have to put in at Pinyer's Cove near the tip of Prince Edward Peninsula.  But when we arrived at the end of Adolphus Reach, the dreaded Upper Inlet from the main body of Lake Ontario was not as bad as we'd anticipated.  The waves were higher, but less choppy than the Bay of Quinte which we were leaving behind.  Forthwith, we shoved on across the inlet, slid behind Amherst Island, and hauled down the shore until we were abeam of Bath.  We had decided to run into the quiet little harbor of Bath for the night.  But, Bath for the night meant a bath in the boat.  We got soaked to the skin running the three miles of open water between Amherst Island and the Canadian mainland where Bath's breakwater cove of a harbor is situated.

I didn't know what a "reach" was.  "An extended portion or stretch of land or water; a straight portion of a stream or river, as from one turn to another; ... an arm of the sea extending up into the land."
On the morning of September tenth we were still trying to decide whether we should cross Lake Ontario or go down the St. Lawrence.  But, the weather decided the question for us, just as it had previously chased us off the Canadian Soo from Detour, Michigan.  The weather was clear, with a strong west wind.  We'd have been a pair of dumbbells to have attempted crossing Lake Ontario that day.  So, we shoved out of Bath, heading for Kingston, and down the St. Lawrence.  We pulled into Kingston at noon, and long before we got there we were glad we'd decided on that route.  The five mile crossing of the lower inlet between Amherst Island and Wolfe Island was a cauldron of fury, and with that much of an introduction, we had no desire to get acquainted with the main body of Lake Ontario that day.  Lunching at Kingston, I sent a few telegrams, and at one o'clock that afternoon we were off down the St. Lawrence - delighted to think that the last of the Great Lakes were now behind us, and Transcontinental was still heading for Hoboken.

This has nothing to do with our boys in the story but was too interesting not to look into! Click here

Upon the advice of rivermen with whom I'd talked in Kingston, we held the Canadian mainland shore down the uppermost miles of the St. Lawrence, going north of Howe Island, Spectacle Shoals, and Red Horse Rock.  We were sliding along beautifully around four o'clock in the afternoon through the famous Thousand Island Region when clouds that had been gathering all day closed in around us in the form of a low fog. Before I could start chart and compass navigation I became aware we were off our course.  There were islands everywhere, and islands off in the distance hidden or partially hidden in the fog.  To save my soul I couldn't get our position logged on the chart.  Then an American flag flying from the top of a castle on a small island caught my attention.  I looked for the Canadian flag, too, but it wasn't there.  Mirabile dictu!  I looked at the chart again, and figured we were on the backside of Grindstone Island, and in the State of New York.  We had no more business being in the state of New York than a bootlegger would have in a Mohammedan Temple!  Getting lost in the st. Lawrence wasn't so bad after we'd found out where we were, but before we could get back to Canada where we belonged it began to get dark, rain began puring down, and with it came the tunder and lightening.

Our run down the St. Lawrence after darkness that evening was one of the worst nightmares of the whole ocean to ocean journey.  Below Gananoque, Ontario, the current of the river became quite noticeable.  For about two hours we ran with it, dodging through the Thousand Islans on the current, and by what Wilton called lightening navigation.  In spite of repeatedly having sworn off night traveling, getting lost behind Grindstone Island delayed us in getting to  Rockport, Ontario, where we'd intended to stop for the night.  Fog, rain, total darkness, runnig down a current, and through unlighted rocks, and uncountable islands, would have been bad enough - but, added to that, was lightening and thunder that fairly rent the air.  We'd cruise a little ways - going it blind, and then when a flash of lightenning enabled us to see, we'd slide around a pile of rocks - squeak between a couple islands where we didn't know whether we'd hang up or go through, and go it blind again.  Every flash of lightenig would leave us staring owl-eyed, with the rain beating our faces,  into the night so black that it seemed we should have been able to put pieces of it in our pockets for souvenirs.  Then would come the thunder - earsplitting and terrifying, but harmless.

After we'd scraped past disaster no less than a hundred times, I crawled forward and spoke to Wilton saying: "Frank, let's head in for the first thing that looks like a port."  "Show me something that looks like a port and I'm steering for it." he replied.  

Just then a flash of lightening illuminated the whole river. We were going through two piles of rocks so close that I could have jumped to either one.  A deafening peal of thunder, and I stared into the rain and blackness again until it seemed that I could wiggle my eyes on the end of a pole - like a lobster does.  Then, off  in the distance I spied a tiny cluster of lights, lights that were unquestionably on land.  

As I pointed them out to Wilton, another flash of lightening lighted up the river.  There was no visible obstruction between us and the tiny sparks of light on shore.  We headed for them, and after an eternity of suspense during which we didn't hit anything, we spot-lighted our way in between a couple of docks.

Stepping ashore, both of us felt like we wanted to kiss the ground under our feet.   I hailed a man prowling around with a lantern, asking what port we were in.  His reply came back in French saying -"I'm sorry, Sir, but I do not speak English." Repeating my question in French, we discovered we were in Rockport.  By lightening navigation, the grace of God, and good luck, we were on shore at the point where we'd originally planned to end that day's cruising.

Our run to Rockport that evening was thelast night cruising done on the ocean to ocean trip.  That experience was the water cure.  We swore off on night navigation again - and kept the vow!  We swore off on night navigation again - and kept the vow!  A hotel and dry bed, shabby old spider trap that it was, looked like a castle to us that night.  The rain pattered down all night long, and it was still raining when we turned out in the morning.    Off through the rain once more, we cruised on down the river to Brockville, seeking the shelter of an abandoned boathouse when the downpour decreased visibility until we couldn't see where we were going.  

 Leaving Spy to guard the boat, we went up on the docks and found the watchman - a peculiar sort of watchman.  He was a war veteran who did his watching by tapping along the waterfront with a cane as substitute for sightless eyes.  When I told him who we were, he said: "Oh! Yes. I've read about you two gentlemen.  I've got the newspaper cutting in my pocket."  

After fishing through his coat he handed me the cutting, but I could not read it.  It was in English but printed in the raised print system which blind people read with their fingers.  After leaving a package of American cigarettes with the bling watchman he assured us he'd watch our boat for us. 

 I warned him to avoid the dog.   Then, Wilton and I paddled uptown to get a bite of lunch.

About three o'clock in the afternoon the rain slacked up so we could see the river, and we shoved off again, hoping to at least get down to Prescott before nightfall.  At this point on the St. Lawrence, Prescott is on one side of the river, and Ogdensburg, New York.  By this time we had been in Canada so long that we were getting pretty much saturated with tea. We longed for a good cup of American coffee, utterly unobtainable in Canada, and decided to run the gauntlet of the American customs officers in order to get into Ogdensburg for a cup of coffee.  Sliding up to the dock in Ogdensburg an inspector greeted us.  Forthwith he inspected our boat from the shore, without getting out from under his umbrella, and told us to run along and get our coffee.

But we got more than a cup of coffee in Ogdensburg.  We remained there until Monday morning, September fourteenth, while the heavens let down everythingthey had, high winds, fire and water, and peals of thunder like the noises of a naval battle.

All along the St. Lawrence people warned us not to attempt going down any of the rapids of that river.  Although we had been through a few rapids in the Columbia and on the upper Missouri, everybody assured us it was suicaide for us to attempt going down any of the rapids of the St. Lawrence.  We merely listened to these warnings, thanked the speakers for their kindly advice - and reserved judgement until we could see the rapids ourselves.  Just a few miles below Ogdensburg the first of the rapids are encountered - the Galop Rapids.  If we didn't like the looks of the rapids, we could go down the locks and canals.  In any event, we  were so near the end of a seemingly interminable journey that we felt reluctant about taking any chances when literally on the treshold of success.

For interesting info on the history of the canals that avoid the rapids...GO HERE :-)

Arriving at the head of the Galop Rapids on the morning of September fourteenth, we pulled into the Galop Canal, and tied up.  I was somewhat chagrined to find about a dozen ships waiting their turn to get into the canal.  If we had to wait until the canal was cleared it appeared we were doomed to spend the day there.  I decided to have a look at the rapids, so took my glasses and walked along the shore.  Presently I met a Frenchman and struck up a conversation with him.  But, the Frenchman was an optimist, the first one I had met between the Columbia and the t. Lawrence.  When I asked him about the rapids he said: "There'snothing to it, Monsieur! Just a few big swells, up and down - and voila!  You're down."  Then in English that must have been worse than my French, he said - "You make heem ee-sée.  Joos look out for rock.  Beeg swell no hurt you.  I go down many times en leetle bateau!"  He pointed out his boat to me.  It was a home-made affair that looked as cranky as an old maid with hives.  If the Frenchman could go down Galop Rapids with that thing, I was certain we had nothing to fear.  I went back tothe boat, took another look at the waiting line of ships in front of the canal, and asked the cameraman what he thought of it.  He was game.  So, we shoved off.  The next five minutes was more fun than we had had since we bucked the Cascades of the Columbia.  Down we went in a long series of dips and plunges. We didn't seem to be going fast until we looked at the shore.  It was running at a terrific clip.  In about six minutes we were down, and about a day ahead of schedule we'd have set had we taken the canal.

When we came to the next rapids we never even stopped to ask advice.  We merely took the deepest water indicated on our charts, and slid down the watery slopes, ignoring the canals.  Arriving at the top of Long Sault Rapids, howerver, we didn't feel so venturesome.
Long Sault Rapids 1840s engraving by Bartlett

Lewis R. Freeman had warned me to stay out of it.  I took a look at them with my glasses, and decided to go down the canal around the rapids.  We locked down through the Cornwall Canal with Transcontinental tied up in the bow curve of a freighter that by dint of much squeezing was just able to get into the lock.  In the second lock a freighter had gone aground when the water was let out of the lock.  We were delayed until part of the cargo of grain could be removed to float the freighter out of the lock.  The result of the delay was that it was dark by the time we got to the last lock at the town of Cornwall.  I was for getting down for getting down the last lock that evening to be ready for an early start the next morning, but decided to remain in the canal on advice of the lockkeeper.  This portion of the St. Lawrence, he informed me, is infested with rum-runnners and hijackers.  "If you leave your boat down below," he said, "it will be in the liquor business tomorrow.  Better tie up in the canal alongside the hotel.  You'll be perfectly safe there."

Next morning, while running down the river we got an introduction to the booze runners to whom the Cornwall lockkeeper had referred.  We were just about over the boundary line into the Province of Quebec when a speed boat came out and looked us over.  The boat was about a fifty footer, and looked as if it could do about 40 miles per hour.  After circling around us a couple times, I noticed that each of the four men on board had a big hip-cannon strpped around himself amidships.  "Must be Federal men of the border patrol," I mused.
Presently, the speed boat came alongside of us, and throttled down to our speed. The two boats were within twenty feet of each other and cruising abreast when one of the men called out through a megaphone -"Are you the boys who are making that ocean to ocean cruise?"
"Good work!", he replied, when I answered in the affirmative, "We're for you." "Are you the Government men?" I called back through our megaphone.  "Hell, no!" responded the man who'd done the talking. "We're hijackers!  What kind of cigarettes do you smoke?  When I said "Lucky Strikes" the man motioned for us to come closer to their boat.  Desperate looking characters that they were, we had no fear of them.  We cruised up until the two boats were within six feet of each other.  Two packages sailed through the air, and I caught them both. 

Then the speed boat roared away, and was out of sight down the river in no time at all.  I opened the two packages.  One contained a carton of lucky Stike cigarettes.  The other contained a quart of bonded Canadian whiskey.  I learned later that the booze runners along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence do a two-way traffic.  They carry liquor into the United States, and haul tobacco products back into Canada.  Tobacco in Canada is very high priced, being subject to a heavy tax and import duty.  Inferior grades retail at from twice to three times American retail prices.  So, the border smugglers who respect no law of God or man, do a profitable business running tobacco into Canada after they have unloaded a cargo of booze in the United States.  I have no figures to indicate which branch of their trade is most profitable.

The 18th Amendment, which prohibited the production, distribution and sale of alcohol, easily ranks as the least popular amendment in U.S. history — and the only constitutional amendment ever to be repealed. When the 21st Amendment was ratified on this day, Dec. 5, in 1933, it ended Prohibition

A few miles below the Cornwall Canal the St. Lawrence widens out into Lake St. Francis, and while running the 25 mile length of that great expanse of water we suffered the worst beating the Transcontinental had received since we cruised up the east side of Lake Michigan from Manistee to Frankfort.  The wind had risen to a furious gale that was sweeping straight up the length of the lake whipping the surface into a series of furrows that seemed to be about fifteen feet deep and ten feet apart.  It was the most peculiar sort of sea I ever looked at - and a villainous thing to be pounding into with a small boat. The tremendous furrows that went sweeping up the lake were as uniform as if they had been cut out with a steam shovel in a field on land.  But, the way we dived down into the hollows, labored up the slopes, and porpoised through the curling crests of solid water and spray was anything but a tonic for shaky nerves.  We were soon drenched to the skin, bailing water, and wondering just how long we'd be able to stay afloat.  There were many places along the lake where we could have run in if necessary, but we preferred to keep going as long as our motor power didn't drown.

 The greater part of the forenoon was consumed hammering through the irate waters of Lake St. Francis to Coteau Landing, and the entrance of the Soulanges Canal.  Hungry, wet, cold, and feeling somewhat worse for wear, we locked into the canal and ate in our lunch in the boat.  Meanwhile the canal attendants who had recognized us, plied us with questions, and wanted to know all about our cruise.  The conversation, however, was somewhat hampered due to the fact that it compelled the French-Canadians to tolerate my French.

After changing to dry clothes cruising down the canal became a pleasure.  It was a tremendous relief from bucking through the mountainous waves of Lake St. Francis.  By this time the wind was blowing so violently that even the canal was full of choppy little waves, and occasionally we encountered such terrific puffs that it was actually difficult to stand erect in our boat.  We were glad to be in the canal, even though the wind that was dead against us slowed our speed so the rest of the afternoon was consumed in making the run of 21 miles to Cascades Point where the canal again joins the St. Lawrence.  Half an hour before we reached the last lock, and well toward sundown, rain began pouring down again.  We were then wearing the last of our dry clothing, and with no desire to get soaked again, and the prospect of Lake St. Louis just ahead, Jules Perron's Hotel de Pointe Cascades looked thoroughly inviting.

Monsieur Perron couldn't speak a word of English, nor could we find anyone else in Cascades Point who did.  But, he did have a dandy little hotel, well furnished, and spotlessly clean.  Observing us shivering in front of the stove in the lobby the hotel keeper asked me if I'd ever drunk any "whiskey blanc".  I told him all I knew of whiskey blanc is what I read of it in William Henry Drummond's poems.  "Ah!, replied the Frenchman.  "You must get acquainted with the national drink of Ke-beck!"  Forth with he broke out a demijohn of colorless liquid, and poured out two generous drinks for us.  It wasn't half bad, and it WAS hot.  It set our blood to moving after having apparently ceased to circulate hours before back in Lake Francis.  After that, a bath apiece from the tub tap marked "CHAUD", and we began to come to life again.  The water faucet marked "FROID" didn't interest us a bit. 

That evening I attempted to get a phone call through to friends in Montreal, but only to be informed the lines were out of commision.   A few minutes later a wild-eyed Frenchman came into the hotel lobby sputtering French like a rocket does fire.  He brought the news that Montreal had been swept by a torpedo at the hour when Wilton and I had been in the middle of Lake St. Francis. 

(Is this a typo?  Should it be "tornado"?  I can find no news of tornados or torpedos hitting Montreal in September 1924. Very annoying!  Anyone know anything about this?)
One man had been killed, a number were injured, and the property damage was enormous.  
Interpreting the message to Wilton, his only comment was - "I can't believe it."

High wind, and a deluge of rain, tore at Cascades Point Hotel all that night, and all the following day.  We were anxious to push on to Montreal, but Monsieur Perron assured us it was suicaide for us to attempt to cross Lake St. Louis in such weather.  After our experience in Lake St. Francis, we could believe it - so, like Enoch Arden, when he was marooned, our message was - WAIT.  The lakes that comprise much of the mileage of the St. Lawrence River are all alike.  The famous poem,

"On wan dark night on Lac St. Pierre, 
De win' she blow, blow, blow,  
An' de crew of de wood scow "Julie Plante" 
 Got scar't an' run below— 
For de win' she blow lak hurricane,  
Bimeby she blow some more,  
An' de scow bus' up on Lac St. Pierre  
Wan arpent from de shore." 
is as typical of any St. Lawrence Lake as of Lake Saint Peter. The poem is too long, and too well known for me to quote it all, but we could see the logic in the poet's advice when he wrote the last verse.
"Now all good wood scow sailor man 
Tak' warning by dat storm 
An' go an' marry some nice French girl 
An' leev on wan beeg farm.  
De win' can blow lak hurricane 
An' s'pose she blow some more,  
You can't get drown on Lac St. Pierre 
So long you stay on shore."   
The above from: The Wreck Of The "Julie Plante": A Legend Of Lac St. Pierre - by William Henry Drummond

The morning of September seventeenth dawned gray, sullen, and misty, but practically windless.We had ceased to be particular about our traveling weather, so we got an earlu start, went down the last lock in the Soulanges Canal, and headed out into the broad expanse of Lake St. Louis.  Although there was virtually n wind, the lake was quite choppy, apparently writing from the lashing it had received for the the past 48 hours.  Pushing on through the lake throughout the forenoon, we picked our wasy from buoy to buoy, crossed the wide inlet that forms the mouth of the Ottawa River, and at noon landed at La Chine.  The buoys took us straight into the upper end of the Chine Canal.  We would have enjoyed going down the La Chine Rapids, but upon advice of experienced rivermen decided not to take the chance, although we might reasonably expect to run the rapids without mishap and at a saving of several hours" time getting into Montreal. 

 At Montreal we would have the record for crossing North America by water virtually in our pockets, because at that point we would have completed the run from a Pacific seaport to an Atlantic seaport.  If we smashed up between Montreal and New York City we could still claim success in having crossed the continent by water - the first time the job had ever been done.  It was this consideration more than any other that caused me to be chillyfooted at attempting the La Chine Rapids.  I could see no sense in taking the risk when virtually on the threshold of success.  Had the La Chine Rapids been in the Columbia River it would have been altogether different.

At La Chine I succeeded in getting a telephone call through to my friend, J. M. Gibbon, Publicity Manager for the Canadian Pacific Railways, and thus made arrangements to land in Montreal at the Canadian Pacific Steamship Docks.

Picture to the right 
is of Montreal Harbor,
 so the docks are there 

After lunching in La Chine, we shoved off down the canal, and spent most of the day locking down with lake freighters into the city.  At four-thirty we passed out of the last lock onto a direct water level to the Atlantic Ocean, put-putted down the river, and into the Canadian Pacific Docks.  There we tied up next to the trans-Atlantic liner Montcalm, which was pulling out for Liverpool the following morning.  Scaling the rope ladder up the sixty foot dock from the landing that had been prepared for us, we found a group of newspaper reporters, photographers, and friends from the Canadian Pacific organization, waiting for us.

 The group included one reporter from La Presse who spoke perfectly good English.  Then, a taxi-cab whisked us off to the Mount Royal Hotel, where hot baths, food, and beds seemed the greatest luxury that the biggest city in Canada could provide for us. 

Next morning Wilton came bursting into my room with a newspaper in his hand, and begging me to translate what the newspaper reporters had written about us.  The story was all over the front page of La Presse, with pictures of ourselves and boat.  A three column head-line in 48-point type read: "TRAVERSE EN YACHT DU CONTINENT, DE L'OCEAN PACIFIQUE A MONTREAL." 
 The story which followed was one of the most carefully written and accurate reports of the cruise that I clipped out of thousands of newspapers of the journey that eventually went into my scrap book.

On down the St. Lawrence from Montreal on the afternoon of September nineteenth, we were boosted along by the swift current and made fast time.  The weather was cloudy and rain threatening, but at the rate of speed at which we were traveling downstream, we hoped to get to Sorel at the mouth of the Richelieu River before nightfall.  Navigating this part of the St. Lawrence was easy indeed, forin a roomy stream freed from all obstructions, deep enough to float ocean vessels, and marked out with a fence of buoys - there was nothing to do but keep going and enjoy the scenery along the shores.

Part of Quebec - Ke-beck, the French-Canadians pronounce it - is as picturesque and foreign to an American as any piece of the old world would be if set down upon this continent.  It is marvelous to me how these people have defied even the automobile running over their country like a plague of jackrabbits, to strip them of their native customs and their language.  If there is any one thing that travelers along the waterways cannot overlook it is the cathedrals.  No matter what the financial status of the community may be, every town and village has a magnificent cathedral towering above everything else on the landscape.  Cruising along the rivers the cathedral spires always loom into view long before anything else is visible to indicate a town.  Moreover, if there is a cathedral on one side of the river, there is invariably a similar structure on the opposite shore.  Multiplicity of cathedrals seems to be preferred above such mundane utilities as bridges or ferry boats.

Darkness caught us some miles above Sorel, and a deluge relieved us of our desire to reach the mouth of the Richlelieu River that day.  We were sworn off night navigation anyway.  So, when some cathedral towers indicated a town on the north shore of the river, we headed for it and landed.  The town was Lanoraie.  I boasted a fine concrete dock back of which we found a safe mooring for Transcontinental.  The omnipresent small boy, who kept up an incessant jabber in French, directed us to L'Hotel de L'Universe, and begged to carry my handbag - for 25 "centimes".  He collected the money.

Arriving at the hotel we shook the water off ourselves like a couple of wet dogs, extricated Spy from a dog fight - probably precipitated by his inability to understand the language of the French-Canadian dogs - and made the customary dicker with the landlady.  In a few minutes we were in clean dry clothes, enjoying one of the best meals we ever got in the French portion of Canada.  That night was "wan dark night on Lak St. Pierre, an' de win' she blow, blow, blow."  It poured down rain all night, and next morning it was raining and blowing.   It was too cold, wet, and windy to attempt traveling, so we loitered about the little hotel until noon.  About that time a fine looking Frenchman came in and jabbered with the landlady.  I gathered enough of the conversation to understand that he was inquiring about stages to Berthier and ferry boat connections to Sorel.  When I heard that it was impossible to get to Sorel by that method until until late evening, I spoke to the man and informed him we were going to Sorel with our boat if we got a little favorable weather, and we'd be glad to take him there if he cared to join us.  After wracking my vocabulary, and all but wrenching my tongue to express this complicated idea in French, the man said in perfect English: "I'd be delighted.  Seymour is my name - Jacques Seymour.  Sorel is my home."  We shook hands and adjourned to the dining room.

Getting acquainted with Monsieur Seymour was one of the most pleasant of our experiences in Quebec.  He's a well educated fellow, owner of a fleet of commercial boats on the St. Lawrence, and a natural comedian.  We lunched with him and about midafternoon the weather broke sufficiently to let us get away to Sorel.  The run down the river required only an hour, but we were no sooner under way before the rain began coming down again.  Pulling in at Sorel, Monsieur Seymour as a member of the Club Nautique de Sorel, steered us into the yacht basin below the mouth of the Richelieu, and opened a vacant slip in his boathouse for us to leave Transcontinental.  

Sorel is a beautiful little town, and has a splendid hotel.  We spent a pleasant evening with our new found friend at the club, got acquainted with about half the town, and ceased to worry about the howling wind and driving rain.

The morning of September twenty-first dawned clear and cold, 
but with a gale of wind blowing almost enough to carry one off his feet.  But, wind or no wind, we had to travel, and didn't imagine it would trouble us much in a small river like the Richelieu.  We loaded ten gallons of gasoline, and shoved out of the yacht basin.  There the St. Lawrence took its last cruel slap at us.  Outside the yacht basin the river looked just like I imagine Lak St. Pierre did the night the Julie Plante busted up.

There is a slight current in the Richelieu, but it is probably not more than two miles an hour in the swiftest parts of the navigable channels.  Except for the weather which was getting uncomfortably cold, our journey up that stream from the St. Lawrence to Lake Champlain was pleasant indeed.  It was also through one of the most picturesque sections of Quebec, where we scarcely heard a word of English until we crossed over the international boundary near Rouses Point, N. Y.  The current in the river, high winds, and frequent showers of rain delayed  us some, as did also the locks at St. Ours, and in the Chambly Canal.  

At St. Jean, we were compelled to invest in heavy woolen underclothing and other warm garments to protect ourselves from the rapid encroachment of winter weather.  Even then our semi-tropical constitutions suffered from the cold.  There was heavy frost every night on the Richelieu, and on two mornigs there were little dagger blades of ice around Transcontinental's hull as we prepared to shove off.  

After stops overnight at San Antoine, Beloeil, and St. Jean, we pulled out on the morning of September twent-fourth on the last lap up the Richelieu, a run of 25 miles into Lake Champlain to Rouses Point.  It was a windy day, as most days seem to be in this region at that time of year, and we began to catch our punishment about the time the international boundary slid under our keel.

(To be continued)

Below are some extra postcard I found that I like enough to share with you.  

The first is from the town of Sorel, from the year Hoag and Wilton stopped there.