I'm getting excited about doing some proper boating. Winter Solstice is still in Scarriff Harbour, but the plan is to take her to Mountshannon after I finish teaching flute on Wednesday evening. The Mountshannon Festival is on and we want to be there this weekend, but it's a bank holiday, the harbour will be very busy and we need to get our berth early. After the weekend we're going upriver.
Our first time ever in Mountshannon Harbour was at the end of October 2000. We had had our new (and first) boat, a 23 ft Freeman, for a month and were feeling very brave. We had recently joined the Derg branch of the Inland Waterways Association, and it was having an end of season Cruise in Company.
Our little boat was in a harbour down the lake near Killaloe, a safe haven from which we had ventured a little further every day, tentative as a small child edging towards independence. Like the child, though, we needed to know that security was close by. We pottered about the south of the lake, content with small adventures. One afternoon we decided it would be a splendid thing to explore Tinerana Bay.
‘Let’s try in there,’ said Joe, who is more intrepid (or foolhardy) than I.
‘I don’t think we should.’
‘You never want to do things I suggest.’
A short while later we were balanced on what we took to be a rock. My husband has a tendency to assume the worst in such situations, so for the first few minutes we panicked, expecting the boat to sink.
‘We’ll have to phone Angus,’ said Joe. ‘He’ll come and rescue us.’
Angus Leavie was well used to agitated beginners in boats.
‘Is there any water coming in?’ he said.
‘Can’t see any.’
‘You’re probably on a sandbank. Try rocking her and pushing off with the boat hook. You do have a boat hook?’
‘I think so.’ We did. We calmed ourselves and pushed and rocked and suddenly we were afloat. A sheepish phone call told Angus the good news.
It was shortly after this incident that we went all the way to Mountshannon. We travelled there early, just like we're planning to do this weekend, but in 2000 it was because storms were forecast. Only a couple of boats made it to the harbour - the rest of the company came by car. We were invited onto the boat next door.
‘Do you have three-foot-longer syndrome yet?’ asked Jim.
‘Everyone always wants a boat that’s three foot longer.’
‘But we’ve only just bought this one,’ we protested.