Friday, December 18, 2015

Not quite as bad as 2009, but very close. Floods.

Mountshannon Harbour disappearing.

Waders only if you want to get to your boat. Waterways Ireland arrived soon after with a barrier and keep out notice to stop you going onto the harbour wall.

There used to be a path to the right of this tree.

And there used to be a harbour wall this boat was (still is) tied to. And a harbour wall beyond in the distance.

The car park filling up.

Walkway become swimway.

Scarriff Harbour at the weekend. The floods here come from the Scarriff River (the other side of the embankment to the left) and not the Shannon.

Here's the harbour with the levels down a little, but the jetties are still under water.

Mountshannon Harbour is still flooded, but you can get to your boat with wellies not waders.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Storm Desmond

Yesterday in Mountshannon Harbour in the middle of Storm Desmond. The lake is waterfalling into the harbour.


Sunday and the water is rising. 

Pathways disappearing

Harbour wall going under

Slipway submerged

The wall of the small harbour has gone - you can just see the bollards on the left

And Winter Solstice finally has her full winter covers on. We took the opportunity before the next lot of high wind hits. Meanwhile other boat owners were moving off the wall and onto the floating jetties.

The calm before the next storm

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Storm Barney

This is Joe fixing the temporary forehatch cover on Winter Solstice. The blue sky is deceptive - the wind was still howling. Ten minutes earlier the sky was black and a squall rocked the harbour. When we came to the boat yesterday we weren't the only ones there. Two or three boats had people in them, sitting it out in case of further damage. Winter Solstice was fine, but the cover we had over the forecabin to keep the rain out was hanging off, the boarding plank off the coach house roof was gone, along with the inflatable kayak (cheapo from Aldi), and - the only really regrettable loss - the forehatch cover had blown off.

Another boat owner had the story - things had been going on before we got there. The plank had been salvaged from the water and was lying on the harbour wall and the kayak was in the back of Sean Glennan's boat having been hooked from the water. But there was no sign of the forehatch cover. We made a temporary job of it in the dark and wind. Joe went down first thing this morning to take measurements (the joy of living so close to the boat) and made a temporary cover from plywood. We wrapped it in polythene and he screwed it in place. Taking no chances here.

Another benign looking photo of the harbour, but you can see the trees are bending. Nothing like yesterday. That was an extraordinary wind.

There's a boat leaning at an odd angle on the far jetty in this one, and windows were out on other vessels.


Joe just had a phone call from Dick Cleary, the man who'd picked out the kayak yesterday. He spends a lot of his spare time when not painting and decorating down at the harbour on his boat. He has the forehatch cover and its cover. They were floating at the back of his boat. Wonder where they'd been all night and day. They were nowhere to be seen when we were looking.

Joe's gone off to retrieve them. Lucky day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Water stealing and clearing the decks

We kept passing these bouys with yellow crosses on top on the way down Lough Derg from Portumna:

Hopeless quality, I know, but I didn't have a proper camera (phone only), we were rocking about a fair bit and I was supposed to be driving. What on earth are they? we said, puzzled. Some kind of hazard, obviously. A quick check of Waterways Ireland's Marine Notices informed me they were monitoring buoys, but gave nothing away about what they were monitoring. Had I been paying proper attention to the Summer edition of the Inland Waterways News Magazine I would have known all about it. A company acting for Irish Water put them there. What's being monitored is the status of Lough Derg in relation to water abstraction - Irish Water plan to filch water from the lake in order to help quench the very heavy thirst of Dubliners, but they can't just go ahead and do it - they have to put in a water abstraction application. 

The lake was as beautiful as ever as we motored south towards home.

Back in Mountshannon Harbour again and Joe was immediately busy blow torching the decks. A very tedious job, but less tedious than using just a paint scraper. There was a huge mass of algae in the corner of the harbour where we put Winter Solstice - you can see it in the photo.

You can also see what the weather was like - Joe was relying on the high pressure forecast to get the job finished.

So he kept going well into the evening:

If you look really closely you can see Winter Solstice on the right hand harbour wall. I'd gone down on the bike with cake.

Next day and this part of the job was nearly done.

As night began to fall ...

... he was onto the last bit. Here we go:

And so we reach the end of another beautiful day:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Banagher to Portumna

We were both on board with the small dog as far as Meelick Lock. It's an easy cycle back to Banagher for the boat, along quiet and narrow lanes. After that it was Joe on Winter Solstice and Aoife and me in the car. I decided to follow my nose to Portumna instead of going back through Banagher, turning right as I came onto the main(ish) road from Meelick Lock instead of left. I've been caught out like this before. Roads that seem to be going in the correct direction sneakily turn without you noticing until you're miles out of your way.

I thought that had happened to me here when I came out on a proper main road, not too far from Birr. But then I always forget how close we are to Birr on this part of the river. I pulled into a small road, took out my phone. A car came up behind me, then alongside, so I rolled down the window.

'Go that way, then turn right. About ten miles.' Excellent. I did as advised. Two minutes later I knew exactly where I was. I'd found a short cut. I was annoyed I'd stopped and had to ask. Much more satisfying to have come upon it as though I knew where I was going.

I waited for Joe at Connacht Harbour. Lots of sniff time for Aoife.

Here he is coming in:

Nearly home.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

South of Lough Ree again

When we got back to Lanesborough Joe went off to Roscommon with the car and bike and tried to find the station. Not an easy job, it seems. While I was waiting for him to cycle back I went for a bit of a spin myself (have to justify eating cake somehow). When I got back the harbour was full of Shannon One Designs and bustling people - it was the end of a Regatta, and they were all getting ready to go home after the final prize giving.

They've tizzed up the riverside below the bridge in Lanesborough, putting in a whole new walkway. It was being constructed when we were last in the town on our way north. All finished now:

I had to look at this twice when I was picking the photos for the blog. It was only the red marker that made me realise it was in Ireland and not some continental paradise, with a photo snuck into my phone by some alien trying to confuse me.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we set off across the lake heading for Athlone. Flat calm and bright. A good day for it. We tied up against the wall in Athlone and set off on the bikes to see where we would eat. Joe was keen to have a Lebanese meze, but I'm hopeless with those, full after only a couple of courses. We went for it anyway in the end, and had the bright idea of making up our own, smaller meze instead of going for the set menu. Obvious, really.

While Joe went back for the car on the bus I headed off downriver.  A couple of hours later me and Winter Solstice were tucked into Shannonbridge. While Joe used the glorified hair dryer he had on board to remove the deck paint (a new discovery. Happy Joe!) I went for a spin on the bike to Clonmacnoise. It's interesting coming to it along the other, non-water, great highway, the Esker Riada, a ridge from which you can see for miles.

And here's the castle at Clonmacnoise. That blurry thing on the right above the bushes.

It was just after I turned to go back that I had a giant nosebleed (look away now if you're fainthearted about blood). A whole box of tissues wouldn't have staunched it, so I stood dripping on the side of the road until it eased, pretending I was looking for something when cars went past, then cycled back with my head up, breathing through my mouth.

When I got back Joe was on someone else's boat full of chat. Seems they have a house near us in Clare. Quick check of the mirror and clean up the nose so they don't think I've been in a fight.

I was with my mother when we stopped at this gorgeous bridge:

It's a trick. It's not on the Shannon at all. It's the River Dee, dividing Wales from England, Holt on one side, Farndon on the other. I was on a few days visit to Cheshire, bringing my niece Sara back with me.

Who became skipper for a bit as we brought Winter Solstice closer to home. Not a bother with it.

This time it was to Banagher. The walls are so high here, you have to hitch yourself up and out onto your rear end. Not very dignified. We need higher water levels to bring us up a bit in a boat the size of Winter Solstice.

Back soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lock and bog

I dropped Joe in Drumsna to bring the boat a little ways down while I went to Cavan to do a poetry reading at a bi-monthly event called At The Edge. Back the next day to join Joe in Rooskey, where we just made the lock before it stopped for lunch. Two barges went in before us, so it was touch and go.

It was at Rooskey that we discovered the new lock gates at Tarmonbarry didn't fit. The engineering company had come and measured up using fancy laser devices, went away and made the gates. Too small! You can see the effect of it here:

The water was pouring in beneath them the whole time we were going down in the lock, trying to fill it up again. Fortunately water was pouring out the other side just as quickly, the net effect allowing us to descend. To be honest the total time it took to get through the lock didn't seem much different to usual - this one is always slow for reasons that are generally to do with the lock keeper rather than the lock gates.

There was embarrassment before we went into the lock. We weren't long up, I was still drinking my first cup of tea when we decided to go for the first lock of the day. Two other boats were already treading water waiting for a boat to come up. For some mad reason I decided to go out nose first (I blame it on lack of tea), forgetting the eddy that had made it difficult to get into this spot in the first place. Got trapped against the bow of the hire boat in front of us.  I was mortified.

We got on the bikes at Lanesborough to cycle back to Tarmonbarry and the car. The road we took crossed a Bord na Mona working bog. A strange and peaceful world.

Next time we'll cross Lough Ree and almost be back in our own territory.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Going South

We left Belturbet to the sound of a power washer on the jetties opposite, the ones that used to belong to Emerald Star and are now a private marina. A very loud power washer. So loud it made us leave before breakfast. We wound our way up the River Erne to the junction where right takes you to Crom Castle and beyond and left takes you back to the Shannon-Erne Waterway. We were tempted by Crom. The sun was shining, and we sort of had time, but we resisted and turned left.

I dropped Joe at Ballyconnell where a bus would take him back to Belturbet and the car, and met him again at the next lock - didn't fancy trying a lock on my own, though I suppose it's feasible as they have ladders. Then it was on to Garadice Lough and Haughton's Shore. Joe took the car again. Last time we'd stopped in Haughton's Shore in vile weather it was full and we had to tie off someone else. This time it was earlier in the week and earlier in the day.

Joe phoned to say there was one space left. The pressure was on. I fretted all the way along the Woodford River. As I approached the final bridge before the turn into the harbour a hire boat came towards me. Did this mean it was already full? Damn.

It didn't. My space was still there. In we slipped, Winter Solstice and I. Then it was car to Ballinamore for the next stage, bikes on the back for the return cycle. I was hoping I'd make it OK as I've had this wretched knee ligament injury.

I did. Joy! Only a bit of rain. No wind. And photo op as we neared home - Garadice in the evening.

Actually Joe had the photo idea first.

And here we are back at the boat.

Next morning we woke to thick fog, but you could see the sun was going to burn it off. We left as soon as we could see well enough and crossed the flat calm lake. And into the gorgeous Woodford River again.

A land of kingfisthers and high tree-lined banks.

This was at Lock 5 - Ardrum - a very deep lock. It was good to come up out of it and see daylight again.

A hot day. Unbelievable. This called for an anchor drop for lunch. There's a small lake called Kiltybarden just off St John's Lough south of Ballinamore. It takes a small leap of faith (well, tiny really) to find it - I called for back-up from the crew who wasn't impressed as he was scraping paint off the deck (a very long-term project) and couldn't see what the fuss was about. 'There's the markers' (you eejit was implied). 'Wrong markers though!' I could say in triumph. 'That's the way we came.'

We found it easily enough really, but turned and came back to a little spot between St John's and Kiltybarden where it was sunny and sheltered.

And I had my first swim! What bravery, swimming off the boat in weather that, although warm, was certainly not sweltering. Down the ladder into the black depths, kicking off into the freezing waters, barely surviving the temperature. Ahem. Get a grip here. And admit. I put on the wet suit. Yes I know that's pathetic, and I only did it because there was no-one around to see except the crew and the dog. But at least I got into the water.

Next stop Keshcarrigan. This time I got a photo of this lad:

Isn't he magnificent?

This tells you all you need to know:

We left the boat in Drumsna for a couple of days. Back tomorrow for the next stage back to Lough Derg.