Thursday, July 23, 2015

Going North to the Erne

This was taken at Ballyconnell before the rains started in earnest. That's real clover on the top. The cockpit is green too, but I don't think it's real grass. A dotey little boat.

And then things started to look like this:

I was outside for the next lock. I got absolutely drenched. It was too windy for an umbrella and I hadn't taken the precaution of the Drizabone ankle-length coat and Tilley hat.

We made it to Houghton's Shore on Garadice Lough in windy weather, quite late. It was full. Ended up tying against a Freeman that had nobody on board. Wind and rain all night, but in the morning it was better. We became lurkers, waiting for someone to leave so we could take their space. In the end they all went at once so we had a choice. Here we are against the wall.

The Waterways Ireland vessel Inishendra was busy at work. It came and parked on the slip while they had a cup of tea (I assume), then out to plant a new marker.

And finally to Belturbet, getting there mid-afternoon. It lashed for the rest of the day and most of the night. We played tunes, read, took the dog out struggling with umbrellas (she wasn't impressed) and finally went to bed. It was still raining.

But in the morning it stopped and things began to look up. There were fisherman floating around outside the boat in blow-up armchairs.

Then Crom Castle in sunshine, and Tirraroe, a name I always remember as Tiramasu. This is where we met the harbour dog again - a very matted but sweet sheepdog that divides its time between Knockninny and Tirraroe.

The reason we stopped here was because we needed to cycle to Derrylin for emergency butter. Hillier than we thought.

And Enniskillen and the ducks on the jetty. This one was trying to get in the boat.

At the moment we're at the Lough Erne Yacht Club (WiFi!). We'd planned a trip out to Lusty Beg on the Broad Loch, but it's too windy, and the small dog is very wobbly on her legs these days. She'd probably be in bits if we tried for it.

The RNLI went out as I was walking Aoife this morning. Someone had gone onto rocks near Lusty Beg. They were off again, but the RIB went out anyway to check they were OK. Not clear if it was wind or a wrong turn that put them on the rocks.

Anyway, we'll head back to Enniskillen where the Happy Days Beckett festival has just started. Beckett was a pupil at Portora Schoool between 1920 and 1923 (boaters know Portora for the sluice and lock on the way from Enniskillen to Lower Lough Erne). We've had a bit of sunshine this morning. Maybe it'll warm up a bit too.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What you can catch with a banana

Back to Leitrim Village the other day to the boat on the wall. Sunshine! A glorious evening. Better weather here than in Clare I think.

Pointing in the right direction and ready to go.

It's a few years since we were last on the Shannon-Erne Waterway. It was good to be back. There were swallows nesting behind the lock gates in the first lock (Lock 16). They must spend a good bit of the day worried and frustrated at these pesky boats destroying their peace and changing their landscape as the lock gates closed.

Lovely calm waters as I wait for Joe to empty the lock - set against us. Locks 16 and 15 were open and in I sailed with Winter Solstice (metaphorically of course). How come that is? Where did the boat come from that did that?

Suddenly the waters weren't calm. Rather wished I'd tied up. The boat suddenly wanted to be in the bank on the other side.

But in we went at last. Lock doors closing.

Joe took this one as I came into the lock at Kilclare, just before he cycled back to Leitrim.

I cycled along the tow path (trackway?) for several locks - they're all close together here, then Joe pedalled back to Leitrim for the car and I carried on to Keshcarrigan. We weren't going to stop there - it's always seemed a bit bleak - but in the sunshine it was more promising. We tied up the quay wall (good for the barbecue we were going to have) and made a cup of tea. A Swiss family on a hire boat were trying to catch the evening dinner with string, a hook and a banana as bait. They had a bite! Something down below was coming up! A plastic chair. Yummy.

Later, we cycled into the village - I hadn't realised how pretty it is. A very well cared for place, even though the village shop and the pizza place have closed.

This morning we moved again to the jetty that still had some electricity available - only being tidy using it up. Time to hoover up the dog hairs and charge the devices. Rain.

Here's Winter Solstice in hoovering position. The chair / fish hooked out yesterday takes pride of place in the foreground.

Time to go. The rain has stopped, the boat is hoovered (thank you Joe). Ballinamore next.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Boat uncovered, ready to go (at last)

Long time no blog. It's been a bit of a tumultuous year so far, and boating didn't come into it. My father was sick, then died, we sold our old house and had to move out, and the new house was only partly ready. Thank heavens for the camper van.

But we finally got back up to Winter Solstice for a proper trip away last week. We'd unwrapped her from her winter covers a couple of weeks before, so we were ready to leave Albert Marina and hit the river.

We didn't get far on the first night - Drumsna just round the corner - but the second night we went all the way to Dromod, ooh, about an hour away. It was getting breezy as we headed south, but of course this is nothing like traversing Lough Derg or Lough Ree. OK the Shannon widened into Lough Bofin and Lough Boderg, but they're sweet little lakes with only a small chop on them.

Dromod Harbour was packed and getting packed-er. There was a small marquee / large gazebo set up on the grass beside the harbour wall which was the clue. The Boyle River branch of the IWAI were having a barbecue.

We took our chance and turned sharply into the old harbour while there was still space, tucking in neatly down at the end.

The big boats were still coming in, rafting up against each other, then smaller ones tying to the entrance wall, then a couple more fitting in at the entrance to the old harbour. Dromod's always busy but I've never seen it this busy.

And still the wind rose, rocking Winter Solstice gently, like being in a cradle. Then the foam started to form. It's that thing that happens in peaty water - the small river at our old house foamed up like a bubble bath after heavy rain, and the wind was doing the same job here.

Then escape to the tranquility of Lough Key Forest Park via Clarendon Lough.

With its beautiful weir.

The Forest Park is very different these days of course, with its new building, activities for all the family and new jetties with electricity and so on. We pulled in there first, just to see, but tranquility there wasn't. There's a small ship on the river, a liveaboard, and they were sharing their music with the rest of the marina. Mm, lovely. We bought ice creams and hot boated it over to Drumman's Island. Phew.

I don't think we've ever stopped at this end of the jetty before - it's always been taken, and now I know why.

The island is not as populated as it used to be before the new jetties. There were three of us on it the first night, two the second.

But can you beat an evening of looking at this.

Finally to Leitrim Village where we had dinner at the Marina Hotel. This was a first, the hotel having been at various stages closed or suffering a poor reputation. It wasn't half bad, the evening being helped by meeting old friends from Enniskillen and sharing a table.

We left the boat against the wall in Leitrim, ready for the next stage. Back again next week and up the Shannon-Erne Waterway to the north.