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.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

20th - 24th August. On to Dromod, Kilglass, Drumsna, Jamestown and Carrick on Shannon.

John and Brigitte joined us at Richmond Harbour, and we walked up the Royal Canal to the first lock, number 45, which brought back memories of last year.
Next day it was on to Dromod, where once again Noel moved his boat up to make room for us. Your man will be after thinking that we are following him! We do like this sculpture of the herons at Dromod.
We called in at the very short mooring in the side bay between Lough Bofin and Lough Boderg. We are outside the markers here, so came in very carefully. We had to back off the slipway when we grounded on the stoney bottom!
There is a lovely walk through the woods here in the Derrycarne Estate. The house, which was built in the seventeenth century, was demolished in 1952, and the estate now belongs to the land commission.

Carrying on across Lough Boderg, we were treated to another big sky.
Sailing on into the Carnadoe waters, we anchored for lunch in the bay to the left, just before Carnadoe quay. Then it was on to Kilglass for a walk up the road to see the view across the lough.
While at Kilglass we met Terry, Angela, Bruce and Jill from South Africa. Terry asked Shannon if she had run into a bus! She was most affronted! He then tried to dognap her with false promises of steak!
This is the most successful family of cygnets we have seen this year. We are now at Drumsna, having been attracted by the promise of good music at the pub this evening. Our South African friends were there first, keeping seats for us, so Terry was forgiven for maligning Shannon's nose! The 10pm music did not begin until 11.30, and was not worth the wait, so we did not stay for long. Quite a few people left before we did, confirming our opinion.

This view at Drumsna looks downstream to the seven arch limestone road bridge, which was built in about 1840.

On leaving Drumsna, we went along the Jamestown cut to the Ardanaffrin mooring, which is a perfect place to play boules.

Then on to Jamestown village, dating from 1621, with this road bridge which was destroyed by a high truck in 1973.

At Carrick on Shannon the moorings were very busy, so The Puzzler was rafted up to a Riverview barge, near to the trip boat, Moon River. Unfortunately Brigitte hurt her ankle, while climbing over the other barge with Shannon. She bravely saved Shannon from hurting herself. As usual here, we are far out into the river on the finger moorings.

On Friday night Moon River was extremely busy with five separate trips, full of hen parties and stag nights. The girls' costumes were themed, with red dresses, little black dresses, bunny ears, pirates and tutus, to name a few!

Friday, 30 August 2013

14th - 19th August. Up Lough Ree to Lecarrow and Portrunny, then on to Ballyleague and Richmond Harbour.

From Athlone we set off towards Lough Ree, pausing for a break at Hodson Bay, as the weather was getting worse. However, it cleared up in the afternoon, and we had a calm journey on up the lough. Shannon enjoys resting on the roof, fitting well into this corner at the stern.

She moved inside later on though, as the sky became really threatening again, but there was no more rain.
Along the Lecarrow canal it is obvious from the banks how low the water level is at the moment. The weed has been cut recently and is no problem in the navigation channel. Shannon is inspecting it all carefully!
The harbour at Lecarrow was nearly full, but we managed to moor across the bows of a cruiser, with our bows against the wall. We could get off the roof of The Puzzler on to the harbour wall. In retrospect, we should have ignored the No Mooring sign on the pumpout. It would have made access to the bank a lot easier!
In Lecarrow we went to see Nellie's Rock. These are ancient Dolmen Stones, where a poor woman is reputed to have reared a child under the shelter of the rock. The Yew Tree restaurant in the village provided us with an excellent meal, and this was followed up by music at Coffey's pub. Most of the boaters from the harbour were there.
Moving on to Portrunny, we met up with Gerry and Ann again, and there was good craic all evening.The next day they left us, but new friends, Brian and Elaine arrived with Silver and Magic, two lovely retrievers.

Once again Shannon did her "roadkill" impression. It was the Heritage boaters in Athlone who likened her to this! We thought it was rather unkind!

We left Portrunny late on Sunday, once the wind had lessened, and the sun lit up Dog Island as we sailed past.

Clouds behind us gave a strange effect, but again we avoided any rain.

We moored at Ballyleague overnight, leaving  the barge 4E there when we left to continue up the River Shannon.

We left the River Shannon below Tarmonbarry, to go along the Clondra Canal and up the lock at Clondra. This lock mooring was under water when we came down Clondra lock in the spring.

Our summer lockkeeper wasted no time in bringing us up the lock!

Noel moved his boat up to make room for us, on the lower mooring below Richmond Harbour.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

9th - 13th August. Heritage Boat Rally at Athlone 2013. Day trip to Galway.

We moved on up to Athlone on Friday, and tied up outside 68M, below the town bridge. Sonas came in outside us, with a cruiser outside him. On Saturday we went out for an Indian meal with friends, and returned to find The Puzzler, plus those outside us, had moved in front of 68M, on to the wall! (I should say that we had been warned of the impending move before it happened) That night we were wakened at 1am by a young couple climbing over the roof of our boat. They were extremely embarrassed to be found out, as they had thought no-one was on board! We would like to recommend, based near to the bridge in Athlone, for any work on computers. He retrieved data from our crashed computer in very little time, and the cost was extremely reasonable.

On Sunday we cruised up beyond the motorway bridge to join the procession of Heritage boats down into Athlone.

The boats all moored below the town bridge on the wall, with the barges on the inside. The boats were all tied together to make a solid raft.

We were in the fourth line, and were the fourth boat out. It gets you fit, climbing over three boats, every time you want to leave the boat! There was great craic at every opportunity.

The water levels are down at the moment, and it is possible to walk across the weir. Irish boaters will recognise this couple!

Shannon had a day out on 57M, while we took the train to Galway. We passed the Fields of Athenry on the way.
We bought the new computer at Curry's, where the two assistants were full of craic, competing with each other as to who could be the best one. They were both excellent! Andy paused for a rest beside Oscar Wilde and his father.

Sally chose to relax beside the River Corrib.

It is a pleasant harbour in Galway.
On Monday evening we went to the official opening of the Heritage Boat Rally, where the Mayor of Athlone welcomed us all. Later that evening, after an interesting slideshow of photographs of the River Shannon in 1900, followed by music in the Castle car park, we returned to The Puzzler. It was time to switch on the lights on the boats. They made a lovely display. Next it was more craic till all hours!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

7th - 8th August. Back on to the River Shannon at Portumna, Meelick Quay, Banagher, then drama at Shannon Bridge.

We left Lough Derg on Wednesday, to head back up the River Shannon through Portumna Bridge. This bridge opens at set times throughout the day, no doubt annoying the traffic on the road!

Although we have enjoyed Lough Derg, it is quite nice to be on calm waters again, on the River Shannon.

I do not think we have ever seen the River Shannon so calm as it was at Meelick Quay.

Even the horse by the building is there in the reflections.

We called in at Banagher to collect our non-functioning computer. This man, just outside the harbour, has been carved from a tree, which used to stand here.
A favourite walk of ours is through the pitch and putt golf course on the other side of the river at Banagher. Here too is this dinghy marina, which makes them look like toys.
At Shannonbridge we had a major drama, as a man from a hire boat fell into the water, while rafting up to Daisy, in front of The Puzzler. He was not wearing a lifejacket. We were the third boat out, being tied outside the barges 57M and 68M. His two teenage daughters began screaming that he could not swim, while Sally, returning across the barges from the bank, called for Andy to come out and help. Michael arrived too, while a Frenchman from another hire boat dived in after him. As the man went down for the third time the Frenchman went down after him. They both disappeared from view, then our rescuer pulled the unfortunate man to the surface. Andy used our boat hook to get them in beside The Puzzler, and we got hold of his hands. He was a big man, and was weakening by the minute. The Frenchman was also in difficulties by then and had to be hauled out of the water, so that we did not lose him too. All potentially useful ropes were inside the locker, underneath us, as we held him out of the water. Michael organised the two girls to row their dinghy across to The Puzzler, and eventually pulled him into the dinghy, with adrenaline helping! Once the dinghy was taken across to the cruiser by the wall, your man managed to climb the ladder, with help. He was immediately wrapped in blankets, with hot water bottles, and an ambulance was called, which arrived within 15 minutes. He was taken to Ballinasloe Hospital but returned later that evening. Hopefully he will always wear his lifejacket in future, as he will not have a future if he does not do so! Andy and Michael are just off downstream to collect two lifebouys which were thrown in, but drifted past before they could be used in the rescue.

1st - 7th August. Up Lough Derg from Killaloe to Garrykennedy, Dromineer, Rossmore and the Woodford river, then Terryglass.

We left Killaloe before 7am, in fine weather, but within half an hour we could see this rain approaching from the west. Again it was an extremely wet journey up the lough.
However, it cleared before we reached Parker's Point, which is notorious in bad weather. This is where the M barge 45M sank. Once we were round Parker's Point we had a very smooth passage.
The inner harbour at Garrykennedy is a private marina, but there is plenty of room for visiting boats on the finger jetties further out. Again there is good walking in the woods here.

We tend to stick out on these finger jetties, but there is plenty of room behind us for passing boats.
All the black markers on Lough Derg are now green, which makes navigation much easier. It is important to go to the correct side of markers, as there are many rocks and reefs lurking close under the surface, just waiting to catch us! Again it was quite a rough passage.

Dromineer is a picturescue harbour.

It was a superb morning on 4th of August as we sailed across Lough Derg to Rossmore.

By the evening the clouds were threatening at Rossmore, but it stayed fine.

Next day Shannon and I swam out to a rock, near to the harbour. A local retriever decided to swim out to join us, but three is a crowd, so we left him to it!
We took The Puzzler up the Woodford River, wending our way through the reeds to find it. We did this two years ago in the dinghy, but this was much more exciting. We pulled in at the mooring, which was quite tricky, as a lake boat had been left there, chained to the jetty. There was only just room enough to turn The Puzzler, and we also met a cruiser, part way back to Lough Derg. Breathe in, everyone!

Carrying on up the lough to Terryglass, there were high clouds behind us.

At Terryglass there is a mini stone circle, but we suspect that it is not medieval!

The Harbour at Terryglass was very busy.