Thursday, June 21, 2012

To Killaloe on the flood

Winter Solstice in Scarriff Harbour

There's a photo in my last blog entry of Winter Solstice wearing her new mini-canopy. It was taken in Scarriff before the rains. This is taken the day after. Before the floods we were stepping onto an aft deck that was more or less level with the harbour wall. After, we almost needed steps to get on board. Our intention had been to take the boat to Mountshannon for dinner in the Snug with friends, but the Scarriff River was in spate. There would be no controlling the boat going downstream so we had to leave her in the harbour. It was Saturday evening before we headed off to Killaloe, and even then it was quite exciting in the narrow section of the river between Scarriff and Tuamgraney.

Killaloe Canal
Going under the bridge at Killaloe was also exciting. There was a terrific flow, with eddies that grabbed the hull as we passed underneath. Throttle full on and we popped out the other side. We might have worried about getting back, but we planned to go through the new lock gates on the canal and avoid it. We hammered in our stakes opposite St Flannan's Cathedral and tied to the quiet bank.

When we first turned up the canal I was thinking how much lighter it was than previously. The answer was in the line of stumps along the bank. All the old trees had been cut down. Oh what a shame!

I was muttering about health and safety gone mad, but we talked to a resident of one of the houses overlooking the canal and he explained. The trees were diseased and would die anyway, so in the hope of preventing the spread of infection they'd been cut. The stumps are going to be removed and 20 ft oak trees will be planed in August. So said the man.

The locked gate
All this tree felling and work is presumably the reason for this sign preventing walkers going to the turn from the Shannon onto the canal.

Next day the sun shone - mostly - and we set off for a bike ride.

Joe and I do know how to read the OS Discovery series of maps. We know what close-together contours mean. So why did we pick that particular route for our cycle? I suppose the views from the top provides the answer.

Fields below Tountinna Mountain
In the distance the flooded area below Killaloe

Waiting for the lock gates to o

So time to go home. No need to turn round in the canal. Straight ahead, smart card at the ready. The control box that takes the card that opens the lock gates is very close to the gates. We had to tie the bow line onto the railings - no cleat.

The lock gates

The control box talks to you as well as giving a rolling print version of what to do next. Because of the flow on the river, and therefore the canal, it told me the gates would open in two stages. They duly opened half way and waited for the water above and below to level out. And waited. And waited. The whole of Lough Derg was trying to get through those gates.

Then the control box told me to press the button to open the gates fully. The poor gates tried but couldn't manage it. Eventually I phoned the number given, the intercom not giving me any joy, and got through to Portumna Bridge. They tried to open the gates from there, but all we got then was the poor things stuck in a loop going backwards and forwards, never fully closing, never fully opening.

After several phone calls, an hour or so and a bit of an audience a mechanic came down and fiddled about in the small building next to the lock. Slowly slowly the gates opened.

The control box on the other side

We'd already decided we wouldn't be stopping the other side to put the smart card into the control box there. Five units is taken off your card to open the gates and you only get it back if you insert your card on the other side once the gates are closed. But with that flow, and the lack of cleats, and the closeness of the box to the lock we weren't going to stop. We motored on and called at the WI Scarriff offices the next day for a new card.

No comments:

Post a Comment