These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight 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, returning to Roanne for a second winter.


Monday, 31 October 2011

28th - 30th October. From Aghalane, through Upper Lough Erne, to Ardhowen in the floods.

We stayed at Aghalane for a week, watching the water level rising in the river. However, by Sunday the river did not look so angry, and the level was down by a few inches. It was a lovely sunny morning too, so we decided to set off, along the last stretch of the Woodford River. Following the line of the river was quite tricky, as it was over its banks in several places.


The occasional marker was very useful, showing us the line of the river course.



Once we reached Upper Lough Erne, the markers were closer together. These markers are usually high out of the water.

Further on, our route took us to the right, round the island near to Knockninny, then a left-hand turn to follow the next line of markers. This was quite tricky, as some were only just visible!


Cloonatrig Jetty was completely under water as we cruised past.
The mooring at Tullyinishmore, on the other side of the River Erne, was also underwater. The end of the finger mooring can be seen, located below the ladder rungs on the left of this photograph.


We were relieved to reach the mooring at the Ardhowen Theatre safely.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

20th - 27th October. Shannon - Erne Waterway to Aghalane

From Haughton's Shore we carried on down the Woodford River. At places the river is quite wide, and it is difficult to see where the river bank is. There is very little visible flow however.

At Skelan Lock (lock 3) Sally had to get on to The Puzzler in the lock, as the lower lock mooring was under water.
Further on we were very glad to see markers ahead of us, to show where the safe navigation channel was. Click on this picture to see this meander in the river more clearly.

We stopped overnight in Ballyconnel and the manager from Supervalu delivered 40 'bales' of compressed peat to the boat for us. Each bale has 22 or 24 small bricks, so this should last us for a while.
At Corraquil lock (lock 1) we stopped on the upper lock mooring and stayed there for a couple of days, in the vain hope that the rain would stop.
We were rather taken with this stretch limo! The house was quite near to us, on the other side of the lock, and on Friday night we could hear the heavy beat of music from 9 until 10.30 pm. A civilized time to stop, we thought. However, that was only the rehearsal! On Saturday night  the beat started at 7.30 pm and went on until after 6 am. It was obviously a good party!



This cow and her cute calf were just over the fence from us at the lock. They, and the rest of the herd, were very interested in Catkin, galloping alongside whenever they saw her. She was unimpressed.

We moved on on Sunday, as the water above and below the lock were getting nearer and nearer in level. There was only about a one foot drop in the lock when we went down.







Normally the walkway down to the jetty is quite steep here, but it was practically level. Two days after this the lock was closed as the water level was higher than the lock gates.


We reached the floating pontoon at Aghalane safely. There is now electric hookup, which is new on this mooring since we were here last. A great deal of work has been done here this summer and it going to look wonderful when it is finished.
On the opposite side of the river a new lake has appeared temporarily, as the water rises over the banks. 


We rise higher by the day, and the water level has gone up 18" in two days. It is about four feet higher than it was when we were here in May.




Here we are looking across the slipway from our pontoon. It really is down there somewhere!



We went for a walk down the river bank, but had to turn back. It looked rather damp ahead of us!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

18th - 19th October. Garadice Lough and Haughton's Shore harbour.



After staying overnight in Riversdale Marina, we continued on to cross Garadice Lough.


When we arrived at Haughton's Shore, three of the mooring bollards were under water, so we tied up in the corner. We were moored across the slipway, but it seemed very unlikely that anyone would want to use it.
The water level continued to rise during the day, and by late afternoon we decided that The Puzzler would be safer against the work platform, at the other end of the harbour. We did not want to wake up to find ourselves stranded on top of the wall!


Looking to the right of the harbour, the wall mooring was completely underwater.



This is a photo taken at the end of May, to show the water level as it was then.

At the far end of the harbour, the slip way can just be seen, in the centre to the left of the wall.The lifebelt is hanging behind the wall mooring on the left. Last night, just before dusk, a Carrick hireboat arrived in harbour and pulled in just beyond the lifebelt, not realising that there was a wall there! They stuck on top of it! However, by using our long pole to push them, they were eventually afloat again. They spent the night safely tied on to The Puzzler, and left early the next morning.

Access to land was across this floating bridge, created by the workboat. When Catkin came out here first, in the evening, it was dark, and she did not realise that we were now tied to another boat. She checked all round the edges then, as the water was quite calm and the harbour lights were reflected in the water, she jumped off at this end of the boat, thinking that it was her best option! By the time that Sally reached her, she had nearly swum to the harbour wall, and was soon clinging on to it, waiting to be pulled out. What a wet dog!

Monday, 17 October 2011

15th - 17th October. Keshcarrigan and Shannon -Erne Waterway to Riversdale Marina


Having come up eight locks, we are now on the summit level of the Shannon - Erne Waterway. We moored on the end of Keshcarrigan jetty, behind a cruiser. With a penichette hire-boat beside us, we feel very small!




The dinghy from the boat in front took a liking to The Puzzler!
From Keshcarrigan we moved on to moor above Ballyduff lock. There is always room to moor above these locks, still leaving space for any boat which may be using the lock.
Monday was very wet but we were due at Riversdale Marina so had to carry on in the rain. After going through Ballinamore we entered Ardrum Lock, where the rain became torrential. Having exited the lock, we tied up on the lower lock mooring for an hour, until the rain stopped. During that hour the water level rose by about a foot!

The weir at Aghoo lock, the next one down, is immediately above the lock, making it difficult to get to the lock mooring, because of the pull of the stream. The east side of the Shannon - Erne is definitely a waterway, as opposed to a canal!


We decided to turn The Puzzler round and go down the lock backwards. It was wonderful to be in the lock, and away from the power of the river water.


Once out of the lock, we continued backwards down the river, so that it was then easy to turn against the stream into Riversdale Marina. Andy is nearly level with the entrance, to his right, here.


It did not take Graham's man long to remove the damaged taff rail.

Great care was taken to make the new port taff rail match the starboard one, while protecting our paintwork. We were very impressed with the work done, and would recommend Graham's Marina at Riversdale to anyone.

Friday, 14 October 2011

11th - 14th October. Carrick, Leitrim and the Shannon - Erne Waterway



We spent the night at the end of the Jamestown Canal, always one of our favourite moorings.



Catkin does not really mind where we moor, so long as she can have her daily roll on the mown grass. Waterways Ireland certainly look after their moorings well.
From Jamestown we sailed up the River Shannon to Carrick, stopping on the end of the finger pontoon mooring. There was a barge moored just upstream of us, which protected us from the flow on the river, and it was a quiet place to be. There were no passersby, but it was over 200 yards to dry land, and grass, along the jetty, so Catkin was unimpressed!
We took the bikes to shop at Tesco, as it is about a mile from the mooring. After that Andy set off with the trolley and empty gas to a garage he had found, which was even further than Tesco! We use propane, while most boats in Southern Ireland use butane, which is not compatible with our gas regulator. The fitting on the propane cylinders is different in the South too, so we have one of each, which works fine, so long as we can find a supplier who sells propane! They have been few and far between.


Sailing on from Carrick, it is really noticeable how much more water there is in the River Shannon. It is starting to come out of its banks into the surrounding fields.
At Leitrim we leave the River Shannon to join the Shannon - Erne Waterway. The floating pontoon is at least a foot higher than it was earlier in the year, with the connecting bridge being nearly level. We are quite glad to be on quieter waters now.


We met Angela, who told us how, two years ago, the water level at Leitrim rose so much that an extra section had to be welded on to the pillars which hold the pontoon in place. Look closely at the black section to see the join!


Plenty of water can still be found, coming from the side weir below Tiermactiernan Lock to push The Puzzler sideways.

The local stone has been used to great effect in creating this boat, beside the towpath, part way up the Kilclare Locks.

Andy sails on to Kilclare Upper Lock. The green light behind indicates that Kilclare Middle lock is ready for a boat to come down.



By the time we reached the top of these eight locks to the summit level, it was a glorious sunny afternoon.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

2nd - 10th October. Kilglass and Grange. Back up the River Shannon to Drumsna, then Jamestown.

A lot of rain fell during the night and by morning there was about an inch of water in Mini Puzzle. There was noticeably more current too, which made it quite exciting on our way back down Mountain River. The extra flow was very noticeable as the river has many sharp corners. We needed power to turn, but could not go too fast, for safety! The bow thruster was extremely useful.


Once back in Kilglass Lough, the reflections were stunning.


We carried on to Kilglass jetty, which has finger moorings, at the far end of the lough. It is a really isolated place.


Mini Puzzle is still full of water, so is not riding very well behind us, on our return up Kilglass Lough.
Grange mooring lies at the next head of navigation, to the north of Kilglass Lough. We had hoped to explore the river here by dinghy, but it is too shallow, so Mini Puzzler will be deflated now for the winter.
The mooring at Grange is much more informal than most, with the pub very handily placed close by.


The clouds over Lough Boderg were as impressive as ever, as we sailed on, later on Wednesday, once the wind had died down.

Instead of continuing on to the Jamestown Canal, we followed the Shannon River to Drumsna. This is a pleasant wall mooring, with plenty of well manicured grass and picnic tables too.


Catkin spends any spare time asleep! It is quite a squash here by the table leg.


This lifelike statue was poised at the far end of the mooring at Drumsna, ready to dive into the river.
After a few wet and windy days at Drumsna, it is back to the Jamestown canal, and through Albert Lock. Jamestown Canal was built in the 1770s  to bypass the great loop in the Shannon here, and the shallows in it between Jamestown and Drumsna.
At the far end of the Jamestown Canal, we turn right for the short stretch up to Jamestown itself. It is quite a small town, but it has a great history. These graves are within the ruins of an abbey in the churchyard.

As you walk round town these Heritage Trail Plaques are there to identify each point of interest. This one is for Jamestown Weir, even though this is as near as you can go!
Jamestown was once a fortified town. James 1 granted it a royal charter and it was surrounded with a wall 6 metres high and 1.8 metres thick. Jamestown Arch is the remains of the original gateway to the town, the top of which had to be removed to allow for large modern lorries.


O'Beirne's Tower stands at the corner of the original O'Beirne estate.