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.