Family That Boats Together Floats Together

IMG_3747_copyBack in the good old days when my grandparents ran Ney-A-Ti Boys Camp in the 50s and early 60s, the only way a boat would propel forward was by our own manpower. The camp was sold, but luckily they had the foresight to build a cabin on the property for generations to enjoy. We kept camp hand me downs -a rowboat and an Old Town wooden canoe – tied to the dock. But over the decades the McKinzie family grew and each new member added another boat to the mix.

In his first visit to America, ze Frenchman fell in love with water skiing and twenty years later purchased our first used motorboat, so he could to share his passion with his kids, nieces and nephew. The boat that never started on the first try became the bane of our existence.Image 14_copy

Born and raised by the sea in Normandy, Gerald also loved sailing. His little Butterfly was traded in for bigger 445 sailboat and finally the Hobby 16 catamaran. No one other than Nathalie, and my brother-in-law Cliff, a veteran of the US Coast Guard, has a clue how to maneuver it so it only sails 3 weeks a year. But oh boy, ze Frenchman is the talk of the town when locals see his tail hanging in the wind, his sail soaring like a giant yellow bird.

My brother-in-law, Dick, an avid outdoors man, living in the fitness capital of the country, bought a kayak and got us into that sport. Then Cliff added a couple mini kayaks for his grand kids to tool around in.

In 2014, a pedal boat was a parting retirement gift from my sister’s Yorkville High School teacher friends. Darn it all if we didn’t throw our backs out carrying it down the hill to the water for its first launch.

Poor Grandpa used to love to putz around the garage when the cabin was invaded with noisy grand kids. But he lost his garage. It turned into a dry dock boat storage: 4 kayaks, 2 canoes, (no one can part with the Old Town, which hangs from the rafters) a pedal boat, a rowboat and the new used Glastron GT185 motorboat.

But what goes round comes round back to “man”powered watercraft. Rumors have it that Dick bought a used stand up paddle board, the latest sport.

lakes pics-2The inflated tractor tire was the all time favorite floating device. The finest activity of summer was standing on the inner tube while balancing by holding arms and seeing who would be the first to teeter off into the icy water.

One thing led to another, as our family grew, so did our state of the art dock. We kept adding sections to accommodate our toys. At this rate, our dock will soon be called the McKinzie Bridge linking one side of the lake to the other.

From our earliest memories of rowing the boat with Grandma, to taking children for a maiden voyage in the tippy canoe, to balancing a kayak with Kizzie (family dog) aboard, to watching kids learn to ski, our memories of floating and boating on beautiful Summit Lake bind us together.


Every summer we travel thousands of miles just to float together.

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  1. Ahhh … what a delightful family tradition. There’s something so peaceful about being out on the water, and sharing it with the ones you love makes it even better. Enjoy your summer, Pat!

  2. OH Pat, how I miss our family cottage at the lake. Your story and photos capture so much and connect me to my own special summer memories of bonding at the lake. How wonderful that you have been able to count on this beautiful tradition. Enjoy!

    • I bet you really miss your cottage. There is no better place for family bonding and we each count on our lake time together to feel restored and rejuvenated.

  3. There is nothing like family togetherness at the lake! But as far as boats are concerned where is the Pontoon boat, the windsurfing boards, or the kite surfing boards? And haven’t you graduated from black inner tubes to the single, double, triple, etc ski tubes? Or skiing on a canoe paddle? Do enjoy the summer with all the McKinzies!

    • Kathy, you are too funny. I am working on skiing on that canoe paddle while standing backwards with my eyes closed. I will let you know when I have mastered that trick. Greetings to you and yours from all the McKinzies.

  4. Such GOOD memories, Pat!! Lots of folks in my town are “lake people.” Every summer, they bake in the sun, fish, canoe, waterski, whatever. Our family didn’t belong to that camp. We were landlubbers, I guess, preferring to spend summers on the tennis courts and golf course. To each his/her own. I think the main thing is the family bonding, don’t you?!

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