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.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

22nd - 27th August. On up Lough Key to Boyle Harbour. Circular trip to Derryvunny, Droman's Island and back to Boyle.

The weather has been getting into the pigeon loft so Andy has been catching up with the varnishing. We have moved back to Lough Key to take Palo Alto's place, and more importantly, electric point!

Sally has been rubbing the boat with baby oil, to renovate the paintwork. One boater, who shall remain nameless, suggested that he could be next!
On Thursday we sailed, in fine weather, on up Lough Key to Boyle Harbour. Both the washing machine and tumble drier in the service block were very useful today, as the weather worsened during the afternoon. Friday was a bike trip to Boyle for shopping. While at the Lough Key moorings we have been overwhelmed by the kindness of other boaters, who either took us shopping, or else bought us anything when we were short of essential food. We are so grateful to them all.

70M arrived at Boyle. She is another lovely barge, professionally fitted out by the skipper.
Our friends, James and Teresa, arrived on Saturday. We received a bad weather warning, by phone, from another thoughtful boater, so delayed our trip for a while. It was then a case of sailing slowly, close to the North shore of Lough Key, with a sharp lookout for rocks which might be lurking below the surface. We reached the new mooring of Derryvunny jetty safely, to join two cruisers from Knockninny there. One of them kindly moved across to tie to his friend's boat, leaving us the other side of the jetty. This is a very sheltered spot, with a lovely outlook across Lough Key.

The pirate ship turned near our mooring to sail back across Lough Key. She is a wonderful sight when in sail, only needing the jib today.
From Derryvunny we can see boats at the Lough Key Forest Park mooring, in the distance, behind the trip boat, on the right. The pirate ship is still sailing, to the left of Castle Island.


Next morning it was nice to see Teresa  keeping a close eye on things!
After a sail down to Clarendon Lock to watch boats using the lock, we returned to Druman's Island to pull in behind De Eems. A walk past the bridge to Druman's Island was good exercise for the day.

Further on we saw some unusual fungus quite high on a tree trunk.

Having completed our circuit of the island, it was back to The Puzzler.

Looking back as we sail up Lough Key to Boyle again.The weather has been kind to us today.

Back at Boyle Harbour, with 68M behind us.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

18th - 21st August. At Droman's Island on Lough Key.

Feeling that we had been at the Lough Key Forest Park mooring for long enough, we moved over to Droman's Island, with Mini Puzzle in tow.

Sally cycled back round the bay to visit our friends Maria, Phelim, Laura and Emma on 59M, who are due to leave today, and also enjoyed a second breakfast there.

Next it was on to the barge DeEems, for a cup of tea with Robert and Karen.

Robert has been working on their tiller, but the term "messing about in boats" comes to mind!

We saw 59M leaving later on, but hope to see our friends again before we leave Ireland.

In the afternoon we went across to the Lough Key mooring by dinghy. There is quite a bit of visiting carried on in this way. On the way back it seemed that The Puzzler had grown a mast!

However it was an optical illusion, as the pirate ship is behind us now.

A glorious sunset can be seen over the trees of Droman Island.

Andy has made a new friend in Shadow.

Our neighbours have been rigging out their new laser, and it is sailing well.

Shadow is happy to doze beside The Puzzler.
It was fascinating to see a mast, which weighs a ton, being lowered so easily.

In the evenings there are often lovely cloud formations beyond the trees at this secluded corner of Lough Key.

Higher up the mares tails are feeling the wind.

On Tuesday, Aquilegia was the first barge to make her way across the lough.

Float # 1 came soon after. Will John catch Aquilegia before the lock?

Michael followed a couple of hours later. Do let us know if any of you would like copies of these photos, in a wider picture.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

6th - 17th August. From Jamestown up the River Shannon past Carrick. Up the River Boyle to Lough Key.

We left Jamestown first thing on Monday, as we were moored on the outside of a line of boats. All boats are to leave Jamestown by lunchtime.
We sailed up the River Shannon past Carrick-on-Shannon and on to the River Boyle. In Lough Eidin we passed the trip boat, Moonriver, out for a cruise. She is based at Carrick and does very good business.

It was lovely to see the castle again on its island as we approached the moorings by Lough Key Forest Park.

We were lucky enough to be able to fit The Puzzler in on the front of the mooring, so we can look out over the lough.
This mooring was built for 40 boats, and is a great facility to have. Previously there was only room for four cruisers to moor here. There was a pull-out article in Waterways World about the Irish Waterways a year or so ago. This mooring was described as "somewhere to get away from it all". Not any more it isn't, but it is still a great place to be!
Another barge is approaching and the skipper can be seen, out with his binoculars, to see where there might be room for his boat. It is often difficult to see spaces, until you are quite close in.

Boats keep on coming! They say that friends are strangers that you haven't met yet!

The breakwater here is another great facility for the general public, as well as for boaters. It is very popular for swimming.

The mooring is now filling up, and Donna's cruiser is alongside The Puzzler.

Sunset behind The Puzzler.

On Friday we took Mini Puzzle out. Going behind the Castle island, we carried on to Sally Island, further out in the lough.

Sally Island is covered with deciduous woodland.

It is possible to walk right round Sally Island. The trees seem to grow very tall at the other side of the island.

Apart from one family in a rowing boat from Lough Key Forest Park, we had the island to ourselves.

Sally took the opportunity for a quick dip. The weather has been fantastic all week.

Sally steered the dinghy back to The Puzzler safely.
Other boats are out sailing today, including the pirate ship, although their Jolly Roger is not up at the moment! Wait a minute though, there it is on the tiller. Click on the picture to see it more clearly. 

Sno Cat, Victor's catamaran, is also in full sail.

Another barge is approaching the harbour
at speed. Look at that bow wave!

The barges are now moored five out from the jetty.

We were lucky enough to be invited to a special birthday party on the jetty. A good time was had by all!

By Saturday evening there were 53 boats in the harbour.

Papillon sets off out of harbour, with Mick and Diana on board. Papillon is a Tjalk, which is a smart type of Dutch Barge.

The castle beyond the breakwater makes a good backdrop for the resident family of swans.

Although the weather has been kind to us this week, there have been moments when people were caught out. At least they came prepared with umbrellas!