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.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

23rd - 28th April. On down The River Shannon, across Lough Ree and into the Inner Lakes.

From Leitrim we joined the River Shannon. It is quite narrow at first but soon widens out into a seriously wide river. Going through Carrick-on-Shannon there are very few hire boats out, and there are not many private boats on the finger jetties there either. it is still early in the boating season. We go on as far as the end of the Jamestown canal, where we join Inis Cealtra, a Waterways Ireland workboat. He has been working on marker replacement.

The sloping bank above the mooring is a good place for exercise.
All the black markers on this part of the Shannon have been replaced with green ones, which are much easier to see. On the approach to Dromod there is a wide curve of green markers to follow, which keep boats out of the shallow water. However we heard of two private boats which were seen to go far inside these markers with impunity. With a depth sounder, much more of the loughs, beyond the markers, would be safe for us to explore.

When we arrived at Dromod, it was quite busy, but several hire boats left before dark, presumably being on a tight schedule.

As we sailed down the Camlin River, the weather to our left was lovely, and we were glad to be going in that direction.
Eyes right and it was a different story! We did manage to reach Clondra before the rain arrived! The weather generally is lovely sunshine then really heavy spring showers.

Shannon enjoys helping in the galley.
Coming along the cutting towards Clondra lock, we can see the hills beyond the lock. This lock at Clondra is operated by the Tarmonbarry lockkeeper, so he cycles down to find us, as soon as he is free to do so. He was disappointed not to find a Carrick cruiser there too.

At Lanesborough there was a fine collection of barges. Three of us will be making our way down Lough Ree, as soon as the wind is favourable. We had a great evening on Talitha II, with lots of good craic.

We left the harbour at Lanesborough at 6am, and enjoyed looking back to see the sun rising over the turf fuelled power station.
Waterways Ireland are making a new floating jetty off Warren Point, near to Rindoon, which can be seen on the land behind the workboat. This was the site of of a very early Norman town, dating from the early thirteenth century. The remains of a massive stone castle include the ruined tower, curtain walls and a gatehouse surrounded by a moat. It will be interesting to come here later in the year, and use our dinghy to go and visit the ruins.

The wind followed us down Lough Ree, so we had quite a comfortable crossing. The waves looked worse out of the window than they felt!

Going diagonally across the lough from marker 3, we reached the Inner Lakes within four hours, and found the narrow entrance to Lough Coosan, among the reeds. This entrance only becomes visible, once the boat is level with it, and you begin to wonder if it is still there!

We took this wild mooring, looking out on to Lough Coosan. What an idyllic place!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

19th - 22nd April. Plenty of water on the Shannon Erne Waterway.

As soon as we were through Corraquil Lock, on the Shannon Erne Waterway, the higher water levels became evident. There was quite a flow on the Woodford River, needing more power from the engine to make way against the stream.

There is a lovely way through the woods from Ballyconnell, and under the trees, at this time of year, is a carpet of celandine and wood anenomes.

Carrying on beyond Ballyconnell, the tree reflections remind me of pictures seen in an art gallery!

As we head towards Skelan lock, foam from the weir is swirling in front of The Puzzler.

Luckily lock 3 was ready for us, and it was possible to get off the boat, once inside the lock. The water level is so high that even the bollards on the jetty below the lock are under water. The jetty lies between the life belt and the wall. It could have been a paddle to the shore!

On the far side of Skelan lock, the natural mossy look has been left.

There is certainly plenty of water going over the weir, beyond the lock, to create the foam.

The sky over Ballymagauran Lough shows promise of good weather to come.

At Haughton's Shore we are floating high against the wall.

However, our favourite mooring on the far side, is completely under water.
At Ballinamore there is a mooring below the river bridge, off the main waterway. This is handy both for shopping, and for getting diesel from the local agricultural suppliers. We were out of luck this time though as their diesel tank was empty! We will be able to fill up at Leitrim though, at the west end of the Shannon Erne Waterway.

Shannon found this boat, which is more her size, near to Kilclare Upper Lock.

The byflow below lock 15 is just waiting to catch The Puzzler unawares!

What a wet dog! Shannon is learning the hard way that she needs to jump, not step, on to the boat. Luckily she had her lifejacket on when she fell in at Leitrim. Tigerdog would have laughed!

An hour later, after a good towelling and brushing, she is as good as new.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

15th - 18th April. From Enniskillen through Upper Lough Erne to Aghalane on the Shannon Erne Waterway

We are leaving Enniskillen for the summer. Enniskillen Castle can be seen behind Andy.

At Culky, Shannon decided to go exploring on her own. This is the first time that she has been allowed outside The Puzzler since she had her injections. She is fascinated by everything.

We spent the first night out of Enniskillen at Tullyinishmore. Shannon had to be on a lead here, as the sheep and lambs from the field next door had taken over the mooring. The resident kingfisher came to look at us too, but was rather camera-shy!

Is there anyone watching me?

Well, this does taste rather good!

On our way across Upper Lough Erne the wind got up and the waves were quite lively.

There is a note in our Navigational Guide which states: "Tirraroe provides good shelter if windy" so we decided to pull in there for a calm night. The end of the jetty is quite a long way out from the shore.
However, when the note in the Guide was written, it was referring to a northly or westerly wind. Today there is a south wind, which is unusual. Having pulled in to the mooring, we were pinned to the jetty by the wind and there was no escape! It was quite a rough night too! These waves are outside the galley window.

When the jetty is this colour, it is difficult to see Shannon. Her camouflage is effective.

By the time we reached Geaglum the next day, in calmer weather, Shannon was feeling confident enough to go exploring on her own.

For those of you who watched Blandings on TV recently, this is the Cot by the boathouse at Castle Crom which was used in the film.

The old castle at Crom is always an impressive sight from the lough.

From Upper Lough Erne we sailed on to the Shannon Erne Waterway. Shannon enjoys playing with a ball, but these new ones at Aghalane mooring are a bit too big for comfort!
Walking along from Aghalane, this sheep had crossed the ditch for greener pastures on the other side, and seemed to be quite stuck. However, at the offer of a helpful pull from Sally, she decided to slip back into the water, and go back where she had come from! She was very wet, but otherwise fine.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

1st - 14th April. Still in Enniskillen. Shannon, and St Michael's Flower festival.

As Shannon has not yet had her second injection, she has been exercising along the roof of The Puzzler. She is already in training for agility!

Shannon is quite happy to wear her new lifejacket while she watches life on the river.

She enjoys going out for a walk, even if it is in the rucksack.

We went to visit Margo, who is 97 years older than Shannon! They both enjoyed meeting each other.
There was a Flower Festival at St. Michael's this week. This is the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Enniskillen and is a very impressive building.

We enjoyed seeing all the lovely flower arrangements. They had been placed in every nook and cranny, causing concern to one lady. This conversation took place as a result of this.
Lady: Where can confession be heard today?
Priest: Oh, there is no confession today.
Lady: What about tomorrow then?
Priest: No, there is no confession here at all this week.
Lady: But I must go to confession as soon as possible!
Priest: Why? What have you done? Have you committed a murder?
There was no answer to this!
Every day there is police activity on the river as all the visiting police are trained in readiness for the G8 conference, which will be five miles from Enniskillen, just downstream at the Loch Erne centre. There do not seem to be any Health and Safety issues about how many people can be crammed into one of these dinghies!

As Shannon cannot go for regular walks until next week, from above she looks rather like a doorstop in shape!

She has a new bed so is trying it out for size.

All her toys can fit in it too!