Finally on the Move by Daquiri (Cloondra to Mullingar)

Yay we’re so happy to be typing this our cruising for 2023 has finally begun. We came into Richmond Harbour last September so its just short of 6 months that we’d been there. Now it’s quite the norm for there to be a boating season in Ireland but its something we’re not used to & its the longest we’ve ever stayed in one place since moving on the boat. Talking of moving on the boat last year was our TEN year anniversary of moving aboard. Of course we were just cute fluffy puppies then all scared of the boat & for those who remember we had wise old Barney dog teaching us the boating ways. In those days there were 3 Golden Boyz onboard.

So that also means our blog is 10 years old. Happy 10th Birthday blog!

So the reason for our extended mooring has been due to winter maintenance on The Royal Canal. There was some before Xmas then some after Xmas. We’d been waiting for the one at Killashee to be finished & ringing weekly for updates when we got the bad news a leak had been found further up the canal at Ballybrannigan. This meant that Waterways Ireland would fill the levels up after the lower down repair meaning draining the levels higher up so we wouldn’t be able to get very far. This meant we wouldn’t make quite a few events we’d planned as it’d put us so far behind schedule that The Royal Canal route would have to be given up on. Then we had an amazing stroke of luck as Paddy the lock keeper arranged for us to go effectively the day between the 2 stoppages. They ran enough water down just to get us up although we were warned levels would be pretty low. We were ecstatic to be off & now able to join in all the events along The Royal Canal, Yahoo!!

So we departed Richmond Harbour & were ready & waiting early for Paddy on the first day. The plan was to get to Mosstown Harbour. We had 5 locks & 2 lift bridges to do. Waterways Ireland accompanied us all the way operating the locks & bridges. Although it was pretty cold it was a glorious sunny day so we had a great cruise.

We made really good time To Mosstown & the levels weren’t too bad for us.

As it was a nice day we decided to push on to Ballybrannigan. This was only another lock but the water level became increasingly challenging. We crawled along to the next lock with very little water under us it makes steering very difficult & its really important to stay aligned in the centre of the channel. We had a very tight right turn under Pake Bridge & Golden Boyz almost didn’t come round with the water so low but she just made it. The low water also makes the tiller very heavy so mum was doing a Popeye impression using all her power to steer. We made it to the next lock & were floating properly again for a few minutes as we came up the lock.

Then we were warned the next stretch was going to be harder so we literally dragged the boat along the bottom with Paddy tracking us in his car. If we felt the slightest tilt of the bow it was really important to nudge off it so the stern didn’t end up grounded as that’s deeper in the water. This was tougher than doing Savick Brook on the Ribble Link crossing in the UK, But we finally made it & it was a bit better through the next bridge. With the worst behind us we moored up on a beautiful winters evening at Ballybrannigan. 23.7km & 6 locks & 2 lift bridges

Now we’d normally spend longer at spots to explore but were on a mission to get up the canal so the intention is we’ll be able to look round properly on our way back. So the next day we had a much shorter day & better water levels up to Abbeyshrule. 9.1km & 1 lock.

This effectively had got us off the level that Waterway Ireland are needing to drain so they were planning on starting that literally as soon as we left. Mum had a lovey evening in The Rustic Inn as Michael & Donna from Richmond Harbour came over to see her. Thursday was a planned day off as mum had work to do & as luck would have it the weather absolutely dire. Mum had an early start Friday so we had thought about tootling up to the next lock but the wind snow & rain were absolutely bitingly cold so we decided to stay put.

So we were up & out on walkies at 7am & mum started to untie the boat at 7.30am. All the ropes had frozen solid around the bollards so mum had a devil of a job untying & she had to be very careful not to slip along the edge. But eventually she pushed the boat off wrapped up like the Michelin man while we chilled nice & warm in front of the stove!

It really was cold as we cruised over Inny aqueduct & past Abbeyshrule airfield but the sun was peeping our & the wind had thankfully dropped.

Our original plan ad been to go to Ballynacargy on Friday spend the weekend there then up to Coolnahay on Monday but it worked better for WI staffing if we could do it in one day. Something to do with Cheltenham next week lol!! SO we had a long day ahead & 13 locks to climb. We turned up at the first lock just before 9am literally just as our Wi crew of Mick, Sam & John arrived. Between us we made great progress & were soon passing Ballynacargy which looked like a winter wonderland.

We progressed like a slick oiled machine & incredibly reached Coolnahay for lunchtime. That was the last of the locks & where we bade farewell to our fantastic lock crew. A quick glance at the weather showed us that it was due to deteriorate across the weekend so despite already doing 5 hours at the tiller in the freezing cold mum decided to carry onto Mullingar. So mum the brave warrior manged 7 hours straight at the tiller as we pulled into Mullingar. 13 locks & 27.3km.

It was defintely a wise move though as Saturdays weather brought more rain wind & snow.

We’re now all moored up in position to enjoy the Paddys Day celebrations at Mullingar which we’re really looking forwards to & we have visitors arriving soon. So a big thank you to Waterways Ireland for getting us here.

Oh & we haven’t got Toddy back yet which was kind of a blessing as moving him & the boat would have been hard on timings but we are now quite a long way from him. So now it’ll likely be a train journey for mum to collect him. Fingers crossed he’s back soon.


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