29-Jun-2002 -- This confluence is just about smack dab in the middle of Shuswap Lake, in the interior of British Columbia. The lake is roughly "H" shaped. The confluence is located at Cinnemousun Narrows, where the four arms meet, about 200m offshore.
Shuswap lake is renowned (at least in Western Canada) for its houseboating. All summer long, there are hundreds of floating rental houses putting up and down the four arms of the lake. The good boats are booked months in advance. My friend Sheri started planning a trip in February, on the "Rose-Marie", rented from Waterways Houseboating. The boat has 3 levels, 8 bedrooms, 2 satellite TVs, 2 stereos, full kitchen, 3 bathrooms, a hot tub, and a waterslide - the ultimate confluence hunting vehicle.
Most of the group was coming from around Calgary, Alberta. I was the lone Vancouver member of the crew. My wife will no longer give me her truck for confluence trips, so I was reduced to riding the Greyhound bus for 8 hours to Sicamous. We rendezvoued at the Waterways docks and got a very short lesson on what to do and how to run the boat, which everyone promptly forgot. When everyone we were expecting was on board, we fired up the engine, and started pulling away. The dock hands yelled at us to come back, so we did. Apparently, only trained and qualified employees of the houseboat company are supposed to pilot the $500,000, 62 foot boat in the congested dock area, along the flowing river and under the drawbridge. Nobody had mentioned that in the safety talk. A skilled helmsman steered us past danger, and left us on our own once we were in the open lake.
The crew got to know one another on the 4 hour trip up the lake to our stopping point for the night. The drinks came out pretty quick (the skipper was always sober, though), and the houseboat was explored thoroughly. When we got close to Cinnemousun narrows, I brought out the GPS and explained the project and my goal for the trip to a few of my fellow crew members. Some seemed pretty interested in the concept, while many still are not aware that we even did the confluence visit. We were short on time on Friday night, as we had to make it to Nielsen Beach (the big party beach) to get a spot. We came within 1.5km of the point, and noticed it was fairly close to some floating stores at the narrows.
The sight at Nielsen beach was most impressive. As we cruised along looking for a parking space, we counted no less than 65 houseboats, with an average of 15 people on each. Almost all of them were between 18 and 30, and a great number of them were wearing bikinis.
We docked at the north end of the line of boats. We weren't really on the beach proper, but there weren't really any beaches to speak of on the lakes at all. This has been a very high water year in many parts of the province, and Shuswap lake is no exception. We ran our boat into the shore and tied it off, and went off, drinks in hand, to make new friends.
When I finally decided to call it a night, I headed to my "room", which consisted of a 3' high crawlspace underneath someone else's bed. It served the purpose, though.
I rose reasonably early the next morning to cook breakfast. Once a significant percentage of the crew had risen, we pushed off and drifted around the lake enjoying the scenery for a while. Some of our crew had missed the boat the previous night, and Dean went to get them with his powerboat that he had brought along (thanks, Dean). Once all of our crew was aboard, I took the helm and headed full steam for the confluence point. The only challenge getting there was avoiding the odd log and steering clear of bouys and other houseboats. We achieved the point with ease, and once there, let the boat drift with the wind while the crew soaked up some rays and caught up on sleep.
We headed back to Nielsen beach for more debauchery in the evening - this time we got a better parking spot. The hot tub and slide were put to good use.
On sunday morning, a few of us were awake and decided to cast off the boat and go for a spin. We failed to take the wind into account, and as soon as we released the mooring ropes, the boat swung sideways, parallel to shore, but still grounded on one pontoon. We couldn't push off with the motor, as the prop was in shallow water and could get damaged. A few hardy souls braved the chilly water and pushed the boat back perpendicular to the shore and we managed to get going with no damage to the boat, and only minor damage to our egos.
We cruised to Marble Point Beach that day, and I headed back to Sicamous and onto the bus for an overnight trip back to Vancouver for a birthday party.
This is the most relaxed confluence trip I have ever done, and I wish there were more confluences accessible by houseboat.