Early September on Lough Ree. It is not late in the season, so the weather should be good. Right? Well, Monday was a beautiful day. Sunny, hot and dry. It was even warm overnight. Tuesday was the same. And Wednesday too. Thursday was warm with just a little rain shower. But Friday was different. On Friday, we had lashing rain and gales. Oh yes, it must be boating time!
The weather was so bad on the motorway, and the driving conditions so awful (idiotic, lunatic, kamikaze drivers), that I needed a coffee break when I got to Athlone. But by the time I got to the boat, the caffeine had kicked in, the rain had stopped and the sun was peering through. Maybe things are looking up?
We had some good food this weekend, starting with dinner in Killinure Chalets on Friday night. This is a very special place to us and I will review it another time.
On Saturday morning, we met a friend and had a late, lazy brekkie in Beans and Leaves. Lots of chat! Lots of coffee!
Then we cleaned the boat. It was covered in the seeds blown from a nearby tree (sorry I don’t know the name), and she was looking like she had some weird disease like boat chickenpox. There were handfuls of the stuff everywhere. Even the cobwebs (outside only!) were covered in it. So we were a bit later than usual setting off. The forecast was for poorer weather later, but for a decent Sunday morning. So we made the decision to go to Hodson Bay and return on the Sunday morning to get back before bad weather kicked in. Actually we had intended to go to Athlone, without realising that it was busy preparing for a festival that never went ahead.
We ate in the Hodson Bay Hotel bar on Saturday night. We have eaten the carvery during the day, but the night-time bar food was on a different level entirely. Calling it bar food doesn’t seem fair. Yes, it was that good. A seafood platter to start was so pretty, it seemed a shame to eat it. It was delicious with plenty of choice and home-made tartare sauce. Yummy. I had the beef special and if this is what the wedding guests in the ballroom were having, it is little wonder this Hotel has a good reputation for weddings. Mike had the calamari and that was excellent too. The bar got a bit noisy, so we moved to a glassed-in corridor along the front of the Hotel, with big comfy seats and a view of the lake. We returned in the morning for breakfast with a visitor. Well, actually I went back to use the pancake machine, but let’s call it bringing our guest to breakfast.
We didn’t delay and left to return to base before the dreaded gales we were promised. It had already started to get windy, but southerlies can largely be avoided by heading south towards Athlone, and then turning north at the Lough Ree Yacht Club and keeping close to the south shore. But the gales weren’t waiting for us to get off the lake, and started to whip up and become unpleasant. As I have said before, Alexandra is usually fine, but my nerves aren’t.
Once on the lake proper, we had no choice but to take the wind as close to the shoreline is not navigable. But Mike had a plan! Instead of taking the wind side on, we headed north, wind behind us. We kept Hare Island on our starboard (right), and once we went around the back of the Island, we were in its lee, and quite sheltered. We came around the Island, south towards Coosan, and heading into the wind. We could see several other boats coming up from Athlone, and they looked uncomfortable in the increasing wind. I was glad to be tied up and out of the wind. But annoyed that I had taken a chance on the weather forecast. And doubly annoyed that one of the life rings fell off crossing the lake. Lough Ree winds are notorious and this lake is not to be trifled with. I have always known this, and knew that moving Alexandra from Carrick to Athlone would be a disadvantage in poor weather. Boating is far more pleasant on a river if there is windy weather about, and can be downright dangerous on a lake. Later that afternoon, the gales became so bad that there was a risk of damage to buildings.
Listen to your Mammy!
My Mam has a test for boating in windy weather. If she can hear wine bottles clinking in the drinks press, then it is time to get off the river. Good advice!
We had been away from the boat for some time because of the drive4charity.com weekend and a big family event another weekend. So we were glad to get back to it, bad weather or not.