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All Steamed Up

December 7, 2021 in Uncategorized


Most wooden boats are currently powered by internal combustion engines, otherwise known as the ICE. Increasingly electric power is being chosen as a source of power. There was a time when the external combustion engine, as in steam, was a frequent choice. The Segwun is perhaps the most well-known steamboat capable of full operation. At one time, the Wanda III was also on that list.

 There still are several privately operating steamboats in Muskoka and I have had the good fortune to have had a ride in several of them. Many years ago when Paul Dodington owned Constance, she made regular appearances on the south end of Lake Rosseau. Another private steamboat steamed out of Windermere and there are a few on Lake Joseph. Most of these private steamboats use wood for their source of heat.

Operating a steamboat requires a lot of commitment and a specialized understanding of how to run the engine. The commitment comes in the form of preparing enough suitable wood for trips. An hour-long trip can burn through a bushel basket or two of dried wood. But even before you can leave the dock, it takes a bit of time to build up the steam.  Depending on the wood, it may be half an hour to get up to suitable pressure. The safety valve will go off to let you know.

Boats like the Dispro and steamboats make it clear that the destination of any journey takes second place to the enjoyment of preparing for the trip and the journey itself. Life doesn’t have to be quite so fast.

By Tim Du Vernet

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