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.

Monday, 30 April 2012

21st - 30th April. Leaving Enniskillen for the summer. Sailing through Upper Lough Erne, and on to the Shannon-Erne Waterway.

We had our interview last week with Lily Dane, from The Impartial Reporter, followed by a photo session with John McVitty. The article made its way to the paper this week, just after we had left Enniskillen for the summer's cruising, so autographs will have to wait until we return in September!

We took the route to the East of Inishmore Island past Carrybridge to reach Upper Lough Erne. These cruisers are all at home today on their island mooring, just past Carrybridge.
Our plan was to follow the Northeast side of the lough for about 5 kilometres, then cut across to the sheltered mooring at Tirraroe for the night. We had never stayed there overnight and were quite looking forward to it. It was nice to be out on the open waters of the lough again, with interesting clouds today too.
However, as we followed the line of markers between the islands across the lough, it seemed to be a long way. We then realised that all the markers near to us were 30C1 or 30C2 etc. A careful check of our chart showed markers 30B, 30D, 30E, 30F, 30G and 30H, together with various numbers, but no 30C markers at all! We did know that we were still on Upper Lough Erne though, so we carried on, eventually finding ourselves at the South end of the lough. We spent the night at Derryadd, which was a pleasant mooring with a lovely outlook over the lough. We discovered later that the 30C channel was newly dredged only last year, and is not yet on any charts of Upper Lough Erne!

Walking up the road from the jetty we met this fine pair of donkeys.

Next morning a mink swam across from Inish Rath, the island opposite to our mooring. Perhaps he had been across for some spiritual guidance from the Hari Krishna temple there. He came up the slipway and then set off for some beachcombing along the shoreline.

From Derryadd we continued southwards and went to Derryvore jetty in Trial Bay. The sheep had come across the cattlegrid to see what they could find to eat, but found thin pickings on the jetty.
Sailing on to leave Upper Lough Erne, we continued along the Shannon - Erne Waterway to Aghalane, where we spent a week last October. We were waiting for the water level to go down to a safe level as, at that time, it was over the bottom step at the far end of the walkway. We measured it to have been nearly six feet higher than it is now!

Corraquil is the first of 16 locks on this waterway. It was closed last October, soon after we had been through it, as the water level was higher than the top of the lock gates!

We needed water at Ballyconnell, so had to breast up to two hire boats, so as to reach the only available tap with a hose. The second one was rather surprised to find us there when he returned with his shopping.

This cute calf was surprised to see us gliding past him.

Log ahead! There was a tree happily floating down the river, ready to catch out all unwary boaters.

We eventually reached Haughton's Shore, and were able to move across to our favourite spot the next morning, after all the fishing boats had gone out of the harbour.

Andy has been shaping some hardwood for the front end of the roof. Hopefully this will stop any more unwanted drips. Not that we have had much rain at all in Ireland so far this year, as the weather has been lovely.

The fishing boats came back later. They were not too pleased to find us where they had been earlier, but managed to fit in behind us.

The sunset from our mooring, looking out towards Lough Garadice, was stunning.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

20th April 2012. A trip to Sligo and the Atlantic Coast.

We were lucky enough to be taken out again by our friends, Gerry and Violet. We drove over towards the coast at Sligo and stopped to look at the stunning views over the valley of Glencar.

Glencar waterfall was very impressive. There has not been much rain recently in Northern Ireland, though we hear that England is quite wet too!

Glencar valley was lovely.
We visited WB Yeats' grave at St Columba's Church, where an ancestor of his was once the rector. Yeats wrote his own epitaph, for his tombstone, which reads:-

Cast a cold eye
On life, On death
Horseman pass by! 

St Colomba's Church near Drumcliffe is quite impressive. It lies just to the north of Sligo.

Benbulben Mountain dominates the skyline, as we head north along the Atlantic Coast to Bundoran.

The sky was so blue, with cotton wool clouds, above the Atlantic rollers. 

We walked round the headland to look across to Bundoran, which is a major holiday resort, on the other side of the bay. These brave (or foolhardy?) boys were jumping into the sea from the rocky outcrop in front of us.

Later on the waves kept on rolling in from the Atlantic, but the sky told us that it was time to go home to The Puzzler! We had really enjoyed the day.

Friday, 20 April 2012

17th - 19th April. Enniskillen and Derry. (Also known as Londonderry)

The cherry blossom has been lovely to see all over Fermanagh. This tree is in the park at the Round "O" mooring.

Looking across the River Erne, this is a different view of the Round "O" mooring.

The Puzzler can just be seen on the far side of the river  at Riverview mooring, in front of the Library. We have made full use of the library throughout the winter.

We went to Derry to visit a friend in hospital there. The Peace Bridge was opened last year and is a footbridge which curves across the River Foyle.

Shipquay Gate was one of the four original 17th century gates to the city. It used to have a watch tower, battlements, and a portcullis. We walked right round the old city walls.

Customs House is under renovation, but is spectacular to see from the city walls, guarded (or perhaps threatened!) by one of many cannons.

Derry stretches away up the hillside from the walled  city.

Bogside can be seen just below the old city walls, with the distinctive murals on the ends of the houses.

These murals attract quite a lot of attention.

The cherry blossom is out in Derry too!

St Columbs Cathedral is a splendid edifice which was built during 1628 - 33. It dominates the skyline of the walled city.

The streets of Derry can be seen from the old walls of the town.

Monday, 16 April 2012

2nd - 16th April 2012 Easter in Enniskillen

We had a very successful week at both St. Michael's Bridge Club in Enniskillen, and at Devenish Bridge Club at Irvinestown. They certainly do not stint on their prizes! Sally also won a raffle prize at The Cathedral Hall Bowls Club.
Portora School has a wonderful view over the River Erne. Their concert at the Ardhowen Theatre was extremely good, with excellent singers and musicians of all ages. We were impressed by Ashley Elliott, who plays the xylophone. He was on Britain's Got Talent just last Saturday, qualifying for the live shows, so we will all have to look out for him in weeks to come!

On Easter Monday we went to Ballybay in County Monaghan with our friends, Janet and Maurice, for a charity bowling afternoon on the all-weather bowling green there.

A good time was had by all of us, as we played on in the rain. Janet can be seen in the middle of this group.

Mrs. Duck brought her new babies to see us, but they are still too young to appreciate bread.

On Friday we cleaned and polished The Puzzler, ready for the press! We were duly interviewed and photographed for a proposed article in The Impartial Reporter, one of Enniskillen's local papers.

Back at the Ardhowen mooring for the weekend, we found that boaters are getting younger this year. This young man is well prepared for anything!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

27th March -2nd April. Around Enniskillen and Lower Lough Erne with Debbie and Matt

Our younger daughter, Debbie, her partner, Matt, and Toad came to stay. They have recently returned fron South Africa, having cycled there from the UK.  ( See their blog On the Road with Toad)
Debbie enjoyed feeding the birds at the Round "O".

The next morning it was off to The Cathedral Hall for short mat bowling. The stick, which lies halfway up the mat, can cause problems for the unwary bowler!

Sally was in good form today.

Matt did very well, having previously had some experience in Norfolk, although it was about 20 years ago. Obviously he has not forgotten how to bowl!

It was Debbie's first time on the bowling mat, and she did extremely well.

We sailed up the River Erne to the Ardhowen Theatre mooring, where the hyacinths were in full flower.

We walked in the grounds of Castle Coole. One day we must come to visit the house, when it is open.

Then it was on to moor at Culky, which was very peaceful.

Matt sits here in contemplative mood.

Early the next morning, looking back up the river towards Enniskillen, the water was like a mirror.

Coles Monument is set in attractive gardens, overlooking Enniskillen. Sadly the Monument was closed when we were there, so we could not see the views over the town.

It is quite a steep climb up to the gardens so we all had a well deserved rest by the Monument.
On Friday Andy and Sally had a full day of training and assessment for the Royal Yachting Association International Certificate of Competence (ICC). We also completed the Cevni written test, which is about European Waterways signage and buoyage. As well as manoevring The Puzzler and coming in to moorings safely, we practised retrieving a man overboard, for which a buoy weighted with a chain did service. Health and Safety prevented us from using one of our visitors for the job! We learned how to deploy the anchor too, finding a sheltered bay behind Devenish Island for this purpose. Paul McGee, our assessor, travelled to Enniskillen from Kinnego Marina on Lough Neagh. He said afterwards that he was very impressed by our boathandling skills, which was pleasing. We are both now fully qualified to take The Puzzler to the Continent. Here he spends time ensuring that we know the ropes.

Having finished earlier than expected, we had time to sail out to moor at Devenish East mooring. As the level of Lower Lough Erne is low, the jetty is lying very high beside The Puzzler.

The ruins on Devenish Island are as impressive as ever.

In the morning, we all walked across the island to Devenish West mooring. The ruins gradually rise again into view, as we return to the boat.
Carrying on beyond Devenish, we approached the mooring at the Golf Course. Despite having excelled in the test yesterday, the wind got the better of Sally, but a strategically placed marker prevented us from ending up on the rocks. You can see the relief on Matt's face here, as we eventually reach the mooring safely, Andy having come to the rescue at the helm!

Matt then showed us all how to skim stones out to the marker in the bay, after we moored at Carrickreagh.

In the morning, we awakened to thick mist, and found early fishermen on our jetty.

The viewpoint is still hiding in the mist. It lies directly above the lifebuoy on the jetty.

Once the mist cleared, we made our way up through the woods to the lookout point. Matt's good sense of balance helped here with the photographs.

The trees seem to have grown since our last visit here, but it is still a wonderful view over the islands of Lower Lough Erne.

Another photo opportunity!

Debbie and Matt took our dinghy, Mini Puzzle, out to do some exploring around the islands.

Toad decided to stay on The Puzzler. He is watching out for them, but hasn't noticed that they are now far behind him! They can just be seen in the top right corner of this photo.

The woods above Carrickreagh mooring are more impressive when seen from the dinghy.

Moving on to moor at Camagh Bay, we could walk across the sunken barge which acts as a causeway to the island of Inishmacsaint.

Here we all are by the ruins of the church on Inishmacsaint.
Debbie helped with the steering on the way back to Enniskillen, encouraged by Matt.
Next morning it rained for the first time this week, as they caught the bus to return to England. It has been a good week and we really enjoyed having them with us after so long.