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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Shannon-Erne Waterway 21st - 25th April

We sailed back across Lough Garadice, past Haughton's Shore Mooring and on down the Woodford River. Even here the markers keep us away from the shallows.

A wind farm on a nearby hill.
We decided that Ballyconnell was too towny for us for a night mooring, but we look forward to shopping here at a later date. At Ballyconnell lock a small cruiser came up the lock, then we went down with a locaboat from Ballimamore. This hire company have a fleet of penichettes.

Below Corraquil lock many large attractive stones have been used in the construction of the lock mooring. We had thought we might moor in the inlet below this lock, but it was too full.

We carried on and found a super mooring in a sheep field. On this side of the waterway, we are now in Northern Ireland, as the waterway forms the boundary.

"What are you doing in my field?"

Playmates for Catkin? Probably not!

Pleasant though it was at this mooring, there was nowhere for Catkin to walk. We were also being thrown about by passing boats, several of which were putting up a breaking wash and so helping to destroy the river banks. Some were hire boats, but certainly not all of them.

We moved on about half a mile to Aghalane, passing under The Senator George Mitchell Peace Bridge.

Aghalane is a recognised mooring, but is under repair and so officially out of use, while landscaping is going on.

We winded and moored just beyond the slipway, with good bow access into the field.

For those of you who think that life is just one long holiday on the boat, here is some essential maintenance going on! Andy has removed and sanded the front doors, and Sally is now varnishing them. This seemed a peaceful place to be without front doors overnight.

We later read that this area was the site of several murders, during the troubles. It is also very near to the Senator George Mitchell Peace Bridge, which commemorates the end of the troubles.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Shannon-Erne Waterway and Garadice Lough 17-20th April

Catkin feels better today.

We sailed on through Lough Marave, with a regular forest of markers to keep us in the correct channel! The view across to the hills is lovely.

After going down Lock 8, Castlefore Lock, the waterway narrows, with conifers close to us on both sides, leading us to Muckro's lough, and then St. John's Lough. We then meander past the entrance to Kiltybardan Lough and through Lock 7, Ballyduff lock.

We moored above the lock at Ballinamore.
In the morning, our breakfast was interrupted by the arrival of the grasscutters with a strimmer, heading for the grass beside the boat. We rapidly untied and set off down the lock, with memories of a previous strimmer putting a stone through our galley window!

As we were following another boat at lock 6, we did not need to use our smartcard to activate the lock. The waterway is very attractive in the stretch below Ardrum lock. It is narrow and winds in between the fields.

Below Aghoo lock we turned into Graham's Marina, hoping for diesel. We were made very welcome, tying to a smart Dutch Barge. There was no diesel available, but a fellow boater took Andy by van to Ballinamore to buy some, lending him containers to get 4 x 20 litres. Everyone was very friendly and helpful with information.
It is a tight turn out of the marina, so of course that is where we met a large hireboat, which had not responded to our horn!
We sailed on and reached Garadice Lough, which is quite wide and was a bit choppy. After we passed Church Island, the water was calmer as the island sheltered us. At the end of the lough, we turned into Haughton's Shore Mooring. We tied on to Mardle,a 70' widebeam narrowboat and were made very welcome by Chris and Rachel. There were also two large cruisers, a Dutch barge and a penichette in harbour, so it was quite full. We found a pleasant walk along the lakeside, only complicated by the cattle grids. Andy had to carry Catkin again!

Bella, from Mardle is checking us out! There is a stray springer spaniel here, looking for a home. She is a very sweet dog and is trying all the boats as a possibility.

G and J arrived and are fitting a new back canopy for Mardle. We look forward to seeing the finished product.

Shopping by bike today.

We went back on to Lough Garadice and headed for Church Island.

The old jetty on Church Island has been here for a long time.

It was quite tricky to get the boat in close, due to shallow water, but the plank at the stern was adequate. Catkin negotiated the plank very fast, and nearly shot off the other side of the boat on her return, as she was going at such a rate!

It is a beautiful secluded place.

We set off to explore and managed to walk right round the island. There is so much dead wood and fallen trees everywhere that it is quite tricky to find a way through.

Catkin really enjoyed the walk, and even retrieved sticks from the water.

The ruined church was built in the 12th century.

On our return to the boat we saw what we thought was an American Mink, but missed the ideal photo opportunity!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Shannon-Erne-Waterway 15-16 April

From Carrick we continued out of town. No chance of taking the wrong arch with these markers!

We nearly missed the turning to the right, a mile further on, which steered us away from Lough Key. You really do have to watch the chart to keep in the corrrect channel. We have decided to head north to Enniskillen as directly as we can, and will do all other parts of the waterways at another time.

After Hartley bridge the river becomes narrower, without any wide flashes. We passed some young cattle, wading through the river to escape to the next field.

We saw our first ducklings of the year. There were too many, moving too fast, to count them!

At the next right, signed this time, we joined the Shannon-Erne Waterway. This waterway was reopened in 1994 after being derelict for a century.

The bridges are wonderful. This is definitely a canal!

This new development was passed soon after we joined the canal.

There was a warden at lock 16, Leitrim lock, which is the first lock,and has a rise of a couple of feet. We found that as long as only one paddle is used, then ropes are not needed.

The locks are operated hydraulically, after you insert your smartcard, each lock costing one unit.

All the other 8 locks up to the summit were about 12' deep. This is lock 15.

At lock 10 the water over the bottom gates was quite impressive.

Going on through Lough Scur we moored at Keshcarrigan. We moored on the end of the jetty, as we fit best there.

Once again the walkway down on to the Jetty from the quay is ridged metal. This may be designed to be non slip but is certainly not designed for dogs feet! Catkin has to be carried over it, or else wear her boots, to protect her feet. She cannot decide which is worse!

Safely back on the boat. "Take them off please!"

On up the River Shannon to Carrick 13-14 April

It was too windy to sail this morning, with waves going upstream past the boat. We were only about 100 yards above the lock, so they had formed very quickly. After lunch we set off and under Tarmonbarry bridge, which has a lifting section for most boats, but we are low enough to go under it.

We sailed on upstream, through Lough Forbes, and on to Roosky Lock. Below the lock is a large development of new apartments with moorings on the river. However most of both the apartments and the moorings are empty. We had planned to go further today but found an attractive mooring soon after the lock. We had our own concrete platform with a wooden edge to protect the boat. There were steps up to the quiet road from the mooring and our own water tap too. Andy washed the cratch cover, after Sally had mended it, on our own piece of mown grass.

We walked to Roosky and found this attractive church, with cherry blossom, which is reminiscent of Japan.
Today there is no wind so we sailed on through Lough Bofin, Lough Boderg and Lough Tap. All of these are quite large lakes but are still part of the Shannon navigation. We met a working tug with three barges, the first two being welded together. At Lough Nanoge, which is merely a slight widening of the river, we go left into the Jamestown Canal. This short canal cuts through to Jamestown,via Albert lock, avoiding an unnavigable stretch of river.

Albert Lock is very attractive, with a flower bed on the approach, and red bollards all round the lock.

At the north end of Jamestown we found a wonderful mooring, just beyond the bridge. The wall was a little high so that Catkin had to be lifted up, but there were benches and mown grass, with bushes in flower beds. After lunch we played boules on the grass and planned to stay there.

However our peace was destroyed when twelve youths arrived with their fishing rods and their beer. As Sally came out to untie the bows, one of the fishermen started to chat.
Fisherman "Do you like Ireland?"
Sally "Yes, it's grand" (lengthening the a in grand as the Irish do)
Fisherman "Oh, you're from Dublin then"
Sally "No,we came from England a week ago"
Fisherman "Oh, whereabouts are you from?"
Sally "Norfolk"
At this the young man turned to his friend and expressed his displeasure in colourful language. Apparently he had thought that I said, "No f***" ! However his friend corrected him and he apologised to me.
His friend then took on the conversation.
Fisherman 2 "You are two lads on a boat then. Oh no, you are a lassie, are you not?"
I agreed that I was.
Fisherman 2 "Well it's beautiful that you are then, indeed you are!"

We sailed off and left them to their fishing.

We continued up the river Shannon to Carrick-on-Shannon, past a superb riverside development.

Carrick itself was not very exciting. This was our first short jetty mooring, but by using both middle ropes to separate mooring cleats, we felt secure.