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.

Friday, 31 May 2013

28th - 30th May. On to Fisherstown and Athy on the Barrow Line. The River Barrow to Leighlin Bridge.

The reflections are good today. We have been very lucky with the weather during Debbie's visit.

Shannon is learning that bridge holes are useful pickup points, after a morning walk along the towpath from last night's mooring.

Debbie helps Dad at the tiller.

The road lift bridge at Monasterevin is always the place to annoy passsing cars! The aqueduct over the River Barrow immediately after this bridge shows a quiet river below us this year.

We spent a lot of time at Fisherstown last year, waiting for the floods on the River Barrow to abate.

Once again, Tuesday night is music night at the Fisherstown Thatched Inn. With nine musicians there, it was really good.

Apart from Lowtown at the Grand Canal junction, then  Monasterevin, Vicarstown is only the third place to see many moored boats on the Barrow Line.

At Athy, we lock down on to the River Barrow.

Our first night on the river was above Maganey Lock. This was a lovely quiet spot.

Shannon went exploring across the top lock gates on her own.

She spends a lot of time reclining on the roof of The Puzzler, enjoying the scenery along the river.
When approaching Carlow, some moorings can be seen to the right of this island. However, do take care here. The navigation channel runs to the left of the island. There is a long sandbank which lies upstream of the island, running out in front of it, where we went too close and ran aground last year!

After passing to the left of the island, and going through the left arch of Carlow Bridge, it is then a sharp right across the top of the weir to reach Carlow lock safely. Visitors may find this a little scary!

However the water is gentle enough today for the heron to stand on the weir for a spot of fishing.

It is an attractive view, looking across the river to the Mill at Milford. Carlow was the first town to have electricity in Ireland, which was generated here, and Milford Mill is still in use, generating electricity.

The first cygnets of the year are now hatching. We saw this family soon after Milford Lock.

Shannon loves sitting on Debbie's knee.
The bridge at Leighlin Bridge is the oldest on the river, being built in 1320 by Maurice Jakis, a canon of Kildare Cathedral, to facilitate movement within his diocese. It is a very pleasant mooring. We are able to moor on this bank as The Puzzler does not draw too much water.

Shannon was not allowed to chew Toad when he was visiting, much to her disgust. She did not realise that this is the famous Toad Rawnsley, who cycled to South Africa and also has his own page on Facebook!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

24th - 27th May. Up the Grand Canal to Lowtown. Down the Barrow Line past Ratangan.

We made an early start at 7am on Friday, with Michael on Peacock, his narrowboat. His willing helpers were Eric and Mark, which made for an easy run up the locks on the Circular line to Lock 1, where we met the lockkeepers. There were 5 cruisers ahead of us, one large and four smaller ones, which could lock up together, so it was four lockfuls between us.

Debbie flew into Dublin, then came by bus and tram to join us on the locks. Fortunately we were waiting in lock 2 as her tram arrived at the stop there, so she was able to find us easily.

As we catch up to the cruisers ahead, they send water down over the bottom gates to help us along.

This extra water is just waiting in the next lock to wash the bows of The Puzzler! We are nearly full length for these locks so this promises to be a wet one.

We had an easy run up to beyond the twelfth lock and moored by the ruin at Stacumney, about half a mile before Hazelhatch. There is always plenty of depth to moor close to the bank here.

We carried on up the Grand Canal on our own the next day. The staircase at lock 13 is always an interesting lock, with the upper chamber being larger than the bottom one.

Between locks 14 and 15 the Grand Canal runs alongside a golf course, so we devised a scoop and collected a couple of golfballs from the canal.

Turning left at Lowtown on to the Barrow Line, we moored for the night at Ballyteague, a quiet spot.

Shannon felt thirsty while out for our evening walk, and misjudged the edge of the canal!

Ballyteague bridge is always photogenic.

Our garden is progressing. Shannon likes to take a leaf in passing, as she travels on the roof.

Ratangan village is a good place to refuel The Puzzler, as the garage is very near here.

Soon after Ratangan, the Barge 34B was tethered in the middle of the canal, but we managed to push past. We were glad we had a steel boat for this.

This mare and foal are enjoying the spring grass, near to the canal. We moored for the night out in the country a little further south.

Friday, 24 May 2013

20th - 23rd May. Little Museum of Dublin. National Maritime Museum of Ireland. End of the Dublin Rally 2013.

We walked to the beach at Sandymount, which is part of Dublin Bay, and Shannon did enjoy herself! She ran through pools of sea water, then dried herself on the dry sand, which did not really work.

One bath and blow dry later.

The Harp Bridge in Dublin is impressive, whether seen from close to, or at a distance.
The Little Museum of Dublin gives the social history of the city throughout the Twentieth Century. When the President of the USA, JF Kennedy, visited Dublin in June 1964, he used this lectern when speaking in the Irish Parliament.

Wherever you go in the Georgian part of Dublin, the distinctive coloured Irish Doors can be seen.

On Wednesday the barges started to make their way out of Ringsend Basin, under the low railway bridge. The level of the water had to be lowered for barge 4E to negotiate this hazard.

Our last trip, organised for those at the Dublin Rally 2013, was to Dun Laoghaire, for a private visit to the National Maritime Museum of Ireland. The museum is located inside this church, which was traditionally the sailors' church. We were not given any tots of rum at our drinks party here, but the wine was very palatable! 

The anchor is just outside the entrance.

Currently there is a display of flags from all over the world included in the museum, seen here from the balcony.
This Bailey Optic came from the Bailey Lightship. The whole top assembly floats on a bed of mercury, and needs very little energy to keep it moving. The original mechanism which drove this motor was clockwork, but it now uses a small electric motor.

On Thursday it was the turn of The Puzzler to leave Ringsend Basin, where we had no trouble with height.

When we reached lock C4, on the Circular Line, the lunchtime food market was nearly finished, which was quite a good thing, as their main electric cable was draped over the bottom lock gates.

We moored outside Ida at Mespill Road, with all the other boats which will be going up the Grand Canal either tomorrow or, if you are a barge, on Saturday.

Once again it was a barbeque with friends to end the Dublin Rally 2013.

Muffin is a friend of Shannon, and he felt that the previous picture did not do him justice!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

18th - 20th May. Dublin Rally 2013. A trip on the River Liffey.

Sally managed to talk her way up to a 5th floor café balcony belonging to the Willis group to take an aerial view of the 71 boats in Ringsend Basin, during the Dublin Rally, 2013.
On Saturday, any interested boats could go out on to the tidal River Liffey for a couple of hours. We decided not to go out with The Puzzler, but walked down to the sea lock to watch them go. Liam, and the other four Dubs on a Tub, kindly invited us to join them on their boat, Sea Wolf. This is their cruiser on the right in the lock.

Time for a photo opportunity before setting off.
We sailed past LE Aisling, which is part of the Irish Naval Service. The main function of the Irish Naval Service is prevention of illegal fishing in Irish Territorial waters, but other important work includes rescue, and prevention of other illegal activities such as drug and gun running.

Our cruiser was at the head of the convoy, which was following us under the Harp Millennium Bridge.
We sailed to upstream of the Halfpenny Bridge, with two other boats overtaking us on the way. They were running out of water ahead of us, so we turned round. On the way back downstream, Andy was given the wheel of Sea Wolf, so that the Five Dubs could sit on the bows for a photo opportunity. He last steered a cruiser 31 years ago, but had not forgotten how to do so!

This was followed by a coffee break at a handy street stall nearby!

After this we had expected to be returning to the sea lock, but we carried on downstream and the toll bridge was raised ahead of us, so we sailed on through, feeling very important.

We met the Brazilian Tall Ship, Cisne Branco, soon after going through the bridge. Perhaps it was raised for them, rather than for us!
Our next stop was the Port Control Centre, where we tied up and were allowed to see work in progress here. This was a real privilege. While we were there a pilot was needed by the container ship, Elbfeeder, which was about to leave Dublin Port. One was promised soon.

Once back on Sea Wolf, we carried on past the sea wall, and past the lighthouse into Dublin Bay, so were definitely out at sea.
This is the container ship, Elbfeeder, from St. Johns, which put up quite a wash as she passed us. Here the pilot launch has just collected the pilot from her. We returned to the lock to rise up into Ringsend Basin again.
What a trip!
On Saturday evening there was a gathering of all the men featured on the River Rats Calendar, and a cheque for 10,490 euros and 12 cents was handed over to the Irish Cancer Society. This was much more than had originally been forecast.

The evening was rounded off by one of Mick’s famous barbeques, and a good time was had by all, despite the rain!

On Sunday, summer arrived, and many friendly people came along the jetties to look at the festive boats.

Maurice and Janet came to lunch, before going on to the Bord Gais Theatre to enjoy The Lion King. Having seen it last week, we could certainly recommend it.