In the autumn, we arrive in the dark, fling our bags on board, turn on the heat (and make sure it is working!), and then wonder what on earth we are doing on a cold uninviting boat when we could be sitting in comfort at home. Of course, we then sojourn for a pint, and hopefully return to a warm, toasty boat. It doesn’t seem so bad then, and I try to make use of the boat right up to mid-November if possible. But this is dependent on the weather, and the evenings also get darker. The boat just doesn’t seem as appealing as it does earlier in the summer.
Feeling sorry for myself
Alas, this Friday in particular brings me little joy. I got a bout of serious food poisoning some 3 weeks earlier. And just as I was ready to eat more than toast, I cracked a tooth. So I arrived to the boat starving, but unable to eat because of shooting pain in my jaw, and generally feeling cranky. Our pint turned into a late night which didn’t help at all.
But the next morning, I was starting to feel much better. Mark arrived, and we took the boat around to Killinure. We were delighted to see 3 other boats already moored there, making the most of the unusually fine weather. We had another late night. Just as well the clocks changed because we gained a much-needed hour!
Catherine and Jimmy arrived on their rib so we lazed around chatting in the warm sunshine. Eventually we pottered over to Hodson Bay. The lake was absolutely flat calm, the only ripples are of passing boats. I can’t remember the last time I saw Lough Ree so calm. But the sun disappeared, and although it was still calm, we were reminded by the sudden cold that this was definitely autumn, not summer. We didn’t stay.
We got a Chinese from Jia Jia, and it was excellent. Actually, between food poisoning and a filling in my tooth, this was my first full pain-free meal in weeks. Oh it was good!
The levels have dropped so sharply that using the gangway to get down to the boat is becoming difficult. These levels are more like summer – but I understand that there are good reasons. Although the reasons vary depending on who you talk to…because Waterways Ireland are closing Meelick and Rooskey locks for works, because Lough Allen is being drained to create capacity to cope with winter rains, because residents and businesses in towns along the River are fed up with floods, or because Irish Water wants to make Parteen Weir look full to justify removing the water to Dublin. Whatever the real reason, much of the land around the Shannon, especially up Leitrim direction is waterlogged. It has been waterlogged for several years, and just doesn’t have much capacity for coping with rain this winter. So dropping the levels doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all. But it is having an effect on navigation and I am hearing stories of hitting rocks, and one marina where some of the boats are aground.
Our Last Weekend
At the marina, it is very quiet. The only sound is a loose cover on a boat near us that is flapping in the breeze.
We dithered about what to do for the day, when I got an unexpected lunch invite, with some shopping thrown in.
So a little while later, I found myself in the Bastion Gallery. Ooooh! I love this shop! Followed by a nice lunch in Melody’s, beside Sean’s Bar.
Aaaand….. when I got back to the boat, guess what? It was winterised! Yaay! And I didn’t have to do a thing! I am a happy woman!
So we finished packing up all the stuff that had to come home, and…
And so the 2016 Season Ends Abruptly
So that’s it for 2016. We have had a good season. The boat behaved beautifully all season apart from the dodgy fuel gauge. We miss Carrick and the beautiful north Shannon but have found a lovely new home in Athlone. The weather wasn’t too bad at all. We have met lots of people – old faces and new faces. We were happy to help out when others got into trouble with overheating engines, broken fan belts, and groundings. And I’m happy to report that they all had happy and safe endings. We have visited places we hadn’t explored in years. And we have had some lovely food and excellent hospitality along the River’s shores.
Am I sad that the season is over? Well yes and no. Of course I am sad to see the boat looking unloved and I will miss the craic, and the wandering, carefree lifestyle. But I will be glad of a few weekends to catch up on much needed things to do around the house. And I certainly won’t miss the driving on a Friday evening along that hateful motorway.
Fair -Weather Sailor?
And by the way, if you think I am a fair-weather sailor laying up the boat for the winter and not using it, you are absolutely dead right! I don’t like the cold, the dark evenings, and the bleakness that comes with winter. I appreciate that the River has a different type of beauty this time of year, but (and I am ashamed to say this) it isn’t for me.
So to all my Shannon friends, I hope you have a safe and warm winter, especially the liveaboards. I hope you get all those pesky winter jobs done on your boat. And I hope to see you afloat and in good health next season. Of course the internet doesn’t shut down, so I will continue blogging. You’ll hear from me soon. Au revoir.
PS check out my new Links page, where you can click into places Alexandra visits, as well as shopping and other touristy information websites.