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.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

7th - 10th April. Leaving Ireland and on to The Netherlands.

This rainbow was over Riversdale boatyard on our last evening in Ireland, after a busy final day. We had several visitors today, and Shannon had good craic with her friends too, especially Blue! Andy scraped the last of the zebra mussels, and a lot of rust, off the base plate of The Puzzler. Not a clean job at the best of times!

Our lorry from Hainsworths arrived last night, complete with a trombone trailer, which has been adjusted to fit the length of The Puzzler. Sleepers have been placed to hold the stern of the boat at the same height as the bows, which will rest on the raised platform, just behind the cab. When Gary first told us that the stern would rest on a pile of sleepers, we had visions of it being rather precarious! However it was quite stable. The crane arrived at 8am, but took until 8.45 to be ready for the lift. Graham has been extremely helpful throughout our time in his yard.
All the Polish workforce are here, ready for action. As The Puzzler is lying flat on the tractor trailer, there is some preliminary lifting and blocking at the stern, to make enough space for the webbing straps, which will be slotted underneath the boat. Once this has been done at the bows too, the first strap can be moved back along under the boat.
Ready for the second strap, which has to be slotted underneath The Puzzler before the boat can safely be lifted off the trailer. At the first try, the boat was bow-heavy, so it was lowered back on to the trailer to adjust the balance.

It is perfectly balanced this time, so the trailer has been driven away, leaving the boat in mid air.
Once the lorry in in position, the crane carefully lowers The Puzzler on to it, although it takes three men to keep the boat straight. She wants to sit crooked!
The crane has packed up and gone back to Enniskillen, while The Puzzler has been securely strapped on to the lorry, ready for the long journey ahead. Riversdale has been a good place to take a 58' boat out of the water, and he can take wide boats out here too.

Gary is taking the three of us to Dublin, and it is reassuring to be able to see The Puzzler behind us.

Gary dropped us off at Dublin ferry port and this is our last view of our home, disappearing on to the Irish freight ferry!
Gerry and Ann collected us at the port, and entertained us very well indeed, as we stayed overnight with them. Many thanks to them for this. Shannon loved their garden, and was spoiled too!

Once on board SS Ulysses, Shannon was confined to her kennel, below decks. She was the only dog in the kennels.
This ship has a powerful bowthruster, to be able to turn in her own length on the Liffey, out from the port in Dublin. It is sad to have our last view of Dublin. We have had a wonderful time during the past three years here in Ireland. The scenery has been fantastic, while the hospitality is second to none. We hope to keep in touch with our many Irish friends, and will certainly come back to visit at some time in the future.
We caught our first train from Holyhead on Anglesey, to Chester, crossing the Menai Straits on to the English mainland. From Chester it was a fast Virgin train to Euston station in London, doing 180 miles in two hours! We passed many canals on this journey, seeing hundreds of narrowboats, while chatting to a fellow traveller, who just happened to own a 70' narrowboat. From Euston we crossed North London by tube to Liverpool Street station, where it was another train to Harwich, via Manningtree. We enjoyed a pleasant meal out at The Mayflower, then saw Gary and The Puzzler heading for the SS Hollandica, so followed him on board.
Shannon was allowed to walk on board herself this time, instead of being in her carry-box, and she found a friend in the next kennel. She was given her own duvet and drinking bowl, and could have her choice of dog food too. This is our view of Shannon in her kennel, as we watched channel 6 on TV! This is so that we do not need to go down and disturb her during the journey. What luxury! She has an exercise deck outside, near to the kennels too.

This time the walkway was brought to the ferry, very near to Shannon's exercise deck, so we were the first people to leave the ship.
Two trains and one taxi ride later, we arrived at Juffermans boatyard, to find The Puzzler  unstrapped from the lorry, ready for her next lift. We have used 15 different forms of transport on this journey so are glad to be here. Gary backed the lorry towards the crane, which is a boat lift on wheels.
The crane is moved forward over the lorry, running on wheels, to lift The Puzzler, then back out over the water. We were slightly concerned at the angle of the boat, but it went safely into the water!
Moving round the corner, we pulled into Juffermans marina, where we unpacked boxes, and cleaned up the boat after her long journey. We would definitely recommend Hainsworths of Bingley as a good company to move your boat. Jachthaven Juffermans  of Warmond is a good place to launch it in Holland and, as it is a boat lift, rather than a crane, it can cope with wider boats too.

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