These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016 and 2017, returning to Roanne each winter.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Off to Ireland. 5th -6th April

We moved up to Jalsea boatyard last night, having spent Sunday evening in Northwich, where Coalboat Brian found us, by van, to fill up our diesel tank, ready for the trip.

When the boat was lifted right out of the water, we were pleased that it had been recently blacked! The crane was old and traditional, but did the job.

The Puzzler was lifted on to the lorry on Tuesday morning with the lorry stretched to fit the boat.

We reached Holyhead soon before 1pm and loaded soon after that.

As our boat was designated an "abnormal load", we were put up near the bows, on the freight deck, ready for an early exit from the ferry.
Andy had to buy a ticket for the ferry, while Sally was the designated Driver's mate! As such she got a free meal and also a cabin. The cabin was ensuite with twin beds, so she let Andy share it! Despite the force 8 gale, we both managed to stand up in the shower, separately! The Ulysses, our ferry, had 11 decks and stabilisers too, so did not roll about much.
We stopped half way across Ireland for a comfort stop for Catkin. She had to be lowered from the boat to the ground in her harness, suspended by a rope. She was unimpressed, as you can imagine!

We stayed on the lorry overnight at the boatyard. In the morning Catkin took one look out at the front then went back to bed! She knew we weren't going to be up there for ever.

The next thing was that the marina owner came to say that we were too long for his boat hoist. He was finding another one, to be sure! We seem to be fated with our cranes! He and Simon, our driver, went to check that the corners were negotiable by our "abnormal" load. Fortunately they were, so we set off again down some real country lanes to Quigleys Marina, a bit further up the lake. As their boat hoist did not have a strut to impede the lorry, Simon could drive right under it and the boat was lifted off and into the water safely.

Quigleys' Marina is run by Peter and Brian Quigley, who were both extremely helpful. Peter used the harbour dinghy to help us out of the hoist area and we then moved round on to the outside of the marina.

All the boats here are cruisers, apart from us.
Do you get the impression that these cruisers are looking down on us?

We stayed there overnight, as the water was still too rough for us to be on the main lake, Lough Ree.( The marina was in a large inlet called Killinure Lough. )

Three other boaters arrived to look at The Puzzler, and also for a good chat! In Ireland this is called craic. Craic of this sort is very important in Ireland, we are finding! These new friends were full of advice and information about the waterways.

One of them, seeing our wood neatly stacked in the cratch, suggested we varnish it and keep it as a feature! Doesn't he realise that, in winter, wood is "canal gold"?

We set off and sailed down the lake, which is called Lough Ree, and then the River Shannon, to get to Athlone, setting up the dongle to work in Ireland. Here we are moored on the quay in Athlone, very near to the town centre.

This is the railway bridge in Athlone. It is a fine structure.

Later that afternoon we returned up the River Shannon to Lough Ree, which is enormous,by comparison to all English waterways. It is about 10 miles long and 4 miles wide at its widest point. we went a mere two and a half miles today!

The Lough is very wide here but we are keeping a straight course. Do Zoom in to see our wake. (click on the picture - for those new to blogging)

We have found an idyllic mooring near to a big hotel and a golf course in Hodson Bay. It is a proper harbour, with a harbour wall to protect us from the swell on Lough Ree. Another steel boat, Celtic Duke, arrived to keep us company. She is nine feet wide and is very roomy inside.

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