Monday, 26 June 2017

Do NOT repel boarder's

We set off from Meelick where we had a rest day! Lots of activity on the water as there was a sailing race going from Lough Ree to Lough Derg. Then on our own last night. Stopped at Bannagher for fuel  and delighted to find Colin, our mooring owner, visiting the office. So a bit of a catch up.

We had a good run up to Clonmacnoise arriving just as the drizzle started. We had just tied up when there was a flurry of activity on the jetty and we were accosted. Was there any possibility we would take a long distance swimmer the 600m up river to where he came out of the water on his last swim. Only one answer. Jump onboard!

The 600m was actually 3k but who cared. We were delighted to help. And, the QISMA size mooring was still empty when we got back. Next step was to keep an eye out for him coming past so we could send on some photographs.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

In deep water

Friday night was our last night on the Grand Canal. The Alan, as we are calling him, helped us down three locks towards Shannon Harbour and provided a newspaper!  

Through Shannon Harbour at lunchtime and back on to the River Shannon. Despite what we are calling the Barrow Line incident we will be back on the Grand. 7 boats moving in 12 days. The delights of  Tullamore and great service from all but one water patroller! 

We had hoped to moor at Banagher but just too busy so we went on to Meelick, which we love. With a bit of shuffling by the boats moored there we were on in a perfect QISMA sized space.

This is the reason Bannagher was so popular yesterday.... the race moored there last night with accompanying flotilla.

 And once they passed through, the kayaks took over!

Now 1450 on Sunday. Just us and one unaccompanied boat left on the mooring.  No doubt we will have company from Lough Derg later.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Boat ahoy!!

We have made good progress back down the Grand Canal on our way to the River Shannon. Helped into Tullamore yesterday by the cheerful and helpful Leo. We like Tullamore. A lot. Bustling town with great shopping. 

The weed cutters are out in force and it's making a big difference. We are veterans of the Middle Levels. If anyone reading is familiar with the weed there....this is hardly worth mentioning. Well OK, that IS a slight exaggeration but it really doesn't compare. 

Our only excitement of today has been our Dog Overboard drill. Only it wasn't a drill. We all very lucky. Alistair was just driving into a full lock. I was already ashore. The bank was suitably angled that LJ could stand up and I could help him out once he swam there. Not sure how it happened or if he realised it wasn't just an extra swimming opportunity. 

Oh..and we saw a boat! That makes 7 in our 12 day trip. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Is it Thursday?

Answer is no. It's finally happened. As we meander back along the Grand Canal I've finally forgotten what day of the week it is.

The weather has been glorious.  As we've come to expect, the forecast is set to change just as we arrive back on the River Shannon. Hey ho!

We continue to have the canal to ourselves. We know there is a boat ahead of us but no sighting since  Monday. So, except for a weed cutter, we cruised for 5 hours today and saw nothing on the water and hardly a driver or walker alongside. Peace perfect peace,

Just walking back to Lock 21 after taking some pics and there was Leo working the lock. Happy, smiling enjoying life. I wanted to hug him.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

You wait 30 years then...

We saw a boat today!  Not just a boat. A boat moored at lock 1 of 3 on our return trip. A boat thinking about going up! We quickly decided to help each other through. The lock not being wide enough for us both to get in. HOORAH!!

We got the better of the deal because we moored after the third lock 90 minutes ago and the cruiser is is either still fighting his way through the weeds or has given up.  Both locks are ready for them if they make it.

They were surprised, though not for long, to hear of our struggles yesterday. Then they tried winding.  Hard for the man. Impossible for the woman. Same as us. They hadn't expected it because yesterday they hadn't touched a lock because could be ahead of me here ...THE WATER PATROLLER HAD WORKED ALL THE LOCKS FOR THEM. The same water patroller who told us we could 't expect any help on this system or the Barrow. We hear that's not true either.

Also the same water patroller who said we were the first boat in 30 years that he'd heard had problems. wait 30 years to hear this and the very next day ....

I am just grateful they were there and our nightmare scenario didn't play out. Downhill for us now back to the Shannon so even if there is no water patroller to help and I can't manage the paddles, Alistair can set them and jump back on.

We are in no rush!

Rare early photo

Us, the swan and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit for company


Almost done.

2 hours 30 minutes later here he is! 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

3 locks ....and we admit defeat!

What a glorious morning. Awake at 0600 and we decided on an early start. Away by 0715 with Alan walked en route. Idyllic. 

Well it was, until three hours later when I rang the waterways patroller...not lock ask about passage down through lock 20-22. He was busy. Looking after 8 locks. Could be there in 90 mi Utes if we needed him. 

Not really a problem. We would just carry on. If only it was that easy,  The double locks and mechanism are so familiar. Thousands of them wound in our 17 years of boating. 43 on one day in 2014...  including the Hatton Flight!!  These defeated us. They mechanism has been painted, they are not greased. I could only shift two. Alistair struggled.

Going down he could and we managed. When we come back up it will be a nightmare as there are no lock ladders. We will have no option but to pull the boat in so Alistair can help wind. 

Yes I know I could be driving the boat in and leaving Alistair to struggle with the paddles but these huge double locks are beyond my capability. 

After we moored I rang the water patroller to ask for his advice. Our concern is how much of a struggle it will be coming back up the Barrow where, we would expect to have to work the locks twice.

To say he was negative is a contender for understatement of the year. He said the boat should be crewed to the requirement needed  to work the locks. Which we ARE, if only the locks were workable! He said in his 30 years of working these waterways no-one has EVER complained or commented on them. He offered no prospect of assistance for the return trip.  We had no option but to say we would turn round and go back.

This meant going down a staircase lock just ahead...turning at the bottom and coming back up, it was locked. He had no choice but to offer to come out. We arranged to meet an hour later. We started to work the lock. The bottom chamber had to be emptied. First of a dozen young men using it as a swimming pool, then of water. Of course, the boys immediately offered to wind the lock  for me.  My...what a struggle. Between them they managed to open only two of the four paddles. But not the ground paddle ...which, on artival, the waterways patroller told me wouldn't work because they always just wound the other side so those paddles never get used so are unworkable! When you are going up these paddles should be opened first to control the flow into the lock! Err ......

Back in the lock. Alistair asked his advice on which ropes to use to secure the boat. Mainly because other water patrollers have offered advice and as they know the workings of each lock it makes sense to listen. This time we got a flat not for me to say. That's for you to decide.

So...from what we have seen...the Barrow Line is pretty. But almost impossible to operate. Tourism on these waterways will not benefit from this.

It is such a shame that we felt we had no option but to turn round. But, we are not treating this trip as an endurance test. I have no doubt Pru and Tim would have been fine!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Message in a bottle

We moored at Dangean yesterday. There was water but, in our entire and substantial, connection collection, there wasn't one that would fit on the tap. Our large funnel has been utilised for fuel. Help was at hand. A,large plastic Coke bottle was trapped at the side of the boat. We fished it out, to find it was no ordinary Coke bottle. There was a message in it,

We have no idea how far it has travelled. I tried my best to contact Justin and Jammie Murphy and Peter Galvin whose bottle it was but I couldn't quite decipher the phone number. I texted a selection of likelies and even appealed to Today FM. No reply yet.

I hope word reaches the boys and they can see this post. The bottle converted into a funnel...which we shall continue to use.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Leo the the rescue!

The lockkeeper for the next few locks was on rest day so out came the winders. Hmmmm. I am a veteran of at least a couple of thousand locks but, without the assistance of the delightful  young man from the cottage, we would probably still be there. The mechanisms were so stiff I really struggled. Turns out there was a 'way of working'  on one that  he was familiar with and I stood no chance of happening across but we were both needed on the gates and all the paddless were a nightmare.,

I hit the phone. Leo, lockeeper for the stretch near Tullamore came to the rescue and took us into Tullamore yesterday and up to the summit today. Now we have a long lock free stretch to look forward to. No more locks until tomorrow then!!

Traffic! Unexpected traffic!

Our headlamp in the danger zone. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Get out those winders .... Back on the canal!!

A bit premature with the winders ..... the lockeepers prefer to wind the locks for you whilst you stay on board and watch the ropes!! No complaints from me.

I was going to title this blog a sudden turn to the left but thought it might seems as if I was talking about politics. Definitely not UK politics on social media...well except with one or two ...yes Nick Stanley, you and a.n.other.

We had set off on the 2017 cruise with every intention of sampling the Grand Canal and the River Barrow. Naturally, we got held up by weather and wondered if we might just head for Lough Derg. I don't think we had even made our minds up when we left Athlone yesterday. Still windy...just on our limits and ...those familiar words....with the forecast looking set for a few days of even  stronger winds ...left it was.

Already delighted we made that decision. Once Shannon Harbour was behind We,had,a,comp,etely empty canal ahead. We had arranged with the Lockkeeper to moor below the Belmont staircase locks.
A long and informative chat with the lockie and we knew we would cross two barges today and that might be it until we reach the Barrow Arm, some 88 kilometres,distance!!! Can you belive it!!!

As always when we reach a new stretch of water,  we are re-reading the blogs from NB PUZZLER's 3 years on the Irish Waterways. This time their Grand Canal adventures.

Staircase lock Grand Canal style!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Athlone ...waiting for weather!

One weather front went through and we moved into Athlne to wait for the next. Our potential moorings up ahead won't be right for us in the very strong winds that are forecast for  the weekend

Not a bad spot to sit it out. We were also fortunate to have a visitor. Charles Lawn from Waterways Ireland came across and had a coffee. Charles was instrumental in our decision to finally make the move to Ireland. His support and encouragement helped us finally make our minds up so it was a real pleasure to welcome him on board.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Small World etc etc

Set off from Roosky early(ish) this morning. The weather was much better than anticipated ....or forecast ... and we made great time to Lanesborough. Having spent the best part of two separate weeks sitting out bad weather there last year, we decided to make the most of the day and went on. Not however, before catching sight of and catching up with the crew of Baglady. 

Roy tells me he met someone in UK recently who asked him if he'd come across us ... he reads the blog. So...if you are reading this...hello and thank you.  

Our day ended 51 kilometres away from where we started. Lough Ree grey but calm as we made our way down" And, with a bit of unsightly juggling  (the wind suddenly gusting as we swopped moorings), we are now on a full length pontoon ready for whatever the weather brings