Maid of the Monsoon

What a difference a day makes. With the early morning sun shining, and the crowds from the prior evening mostly dispersed, Niagara Falls returned to its natural magnificence. Its power evident from the plumes of mist rising far above the 170 foot falls and dropping on us like rain whenever the wind shifts in our direction. To really feel their might, though, we needed to get even closer.

Fortunately, we can do just that with a Maid of the Mist boat tour. Departing every 15 minutes, the 80 foot long vessels sail directly into the basin below Horseshoe Falls. Getting closer requires a barrel and suicidal tendencies. Having neither, we board the next available ship and don thin plastic rain ponchos as we stake a spot along the port-side railing.

Within minutes we’re pulling away from the dock and charting a course past the America Falls. It’s immediately clear this tour is a good choice. Everything is more impressive from the river. The falls appear higher, broader, louder and more spectacular in every way. We watch as glassy emerald water, brightly illuminated by the rising sun, rushes past the precipice and transforms into a frothy curtain of cloud.

As we sail past, daylight wanes. The wind picks up and the gentle mist turns to a steady rain. A storm, of sorts, is moving in and getting worse. Our thin rain ponchos flap wildly around us, offering scant protection from the gale. Soon, the entire world is reduced to varying shades of grey. This is no ordinary squall. Elsewhere the sun still beats strongly on the town of Niagara Falls. But here, in the basin of Horseshoe Falls, a hurricane rages.

Barely audible beneath the roar of falling water, 700 horses of engine power labor against the currents. I shield my eyes from the driving rain and steal a glimpse of the cascade that now surrounds us on three sides. A stationary tidal-wave occupies my entire field of vision. The end of the world can’t be more dramatic.

The entire voyage lasts a mere thirty minutes, but it’s long enough to see, and experience, the falls up close. It’s also long enough to get completely drenched. This is one trip we wouldn’t want to take in the chilly off-season. It’s also one we wouldn’t want to miss.

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12 Comments on “Maid of the Monsoon”

  1. grant August 30, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    The first picture is great!

    Like

  2. Country Skipper (@countryskipper) September 12, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    How cool! I have a conference in Toronto in October and have been planning a little side trip to Niagara Falls including a little boat tour 🙂 Hope it works out! Great pics by the way!

    Like

    • Brian September 14, 2011 at 8:40 am #

      We really enjoyed it. There are a bunch of different tours you can pay for around the falls. This is the only one we did, and the only one we thought would be worthwhile. We weren’t disapointed.

      Like

  3. Debbie Young June 16, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    It’s fabulous, isn’t it? And so memorable – I did that trip 30 years ago and remember it so well. There’s something really primeval about the power that you witness on that trip. The relentless force of the water is hypnotic and you almost feel you want to jump in with it to experience it close up. I was astonished afterward to realise I understand how people have over the years wanted to do bizarre stunts like going over the Falls in a barrel. (We went to a grisly museum downstream that told of their exploits – including the unsuccessful ones.) But I stuck to the Maid of the Mist!

    Like

    • Brian June 16, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      It really is tough to appreciate the power of water, or nature in general, until you get up close to something like that. It felt like we were sailing into a hurricane. I can’t imagine wanting to go over that thing in a barrel.

      Like

  4. kagmi June 30, 2015 at 1:24 am #

    How wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

    Like

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