Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Winter Solstice to Winter Berth

Grey grey grey weather in Galway at the weekend. We were parked at the docks in the camper van and the cranes were going, shifting a mountain of scrap metal into a waiting ship. They started up again in the middle of the night. It was still dark anyways. Can't have been later than 6 am. Ear plugs job.

That morning we headed to the boat after buying newspapers. In the town everyone was talking about the heat wave going on in England. The radio reported how shops were stocking barbecue stuff, and seaside hotels were booked out. People in swimming togs on beaches. Ice creams. And here we were in waterproofs, umbrellas up, wondering what we were going to do with the wet covers once we'd taken them off Winter Solstice. In the end we didn't do anything. We checked she was okay and drove north alongside Lough Allen to Enniskillen with thoughts of dinner at our favourite curry house. It did stop raining that night, but 29 degrees it was not.

We'd arranged to meet friends in Carrick-on-Shannon, so next day drove back to the boat. We'd woken to rain but it was almost dry when we got to Leitrim.

Off with the boat covers and onto the river. Ah. That was more like it. Good to be on the river again. Thoughts that this might be the last proper trip of the year. There were a lot of boats out - all thinking the same thing perhaps. Anything could happen with the weather from now on - a week of torrential rain and the Shannon will become a challenge.

Nearly got caught with winter lock times. After a night dancing in Carrick (yes! Dancing! Great blues band in the Oarsman) we were heading to our winter quarters at Albert Lock. Nearly everyone we meet around the north Shannon seems to berth at Albert Lock. It's a long, narrow marina in a slice of land between the Jamestown Canal and the railway.

We came through the lock at around 3.30, were allocated our berth and given a key fob to open the automatic gate. Owner Micheál also gave Joe a lift to Leitrim to pick up the van - great service. That's when Joe found out winter lock times had started on September 26. Not too bad on weekdays - locks close at 7.30 - but on Sunday it's 4pm.

Boats were still going through Albert Lock at 4.30pm - fair play to Micheál - but our friends were caught out. James was bringing Puffin to Boyle Harbour, but reached Clarendon Lock at 4.30. Oops. No kind lock keeper still at work there (probably far fewer boats than at Albert). Had to leave Puffin in Knockvicar.

Back at Albert we put the full covers on Winter Solstice. Nice and toasty she is in her new berth. Should keep the rest of the lashing rain off.

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