Wednesday 22/04/09 Meelick - Shannonbridge
Length of boat trip: 2.8 hours
Motto of the day: Head-shaking in Banagher, the boating community at Shannon Harbour and the table quiz
The morning starts mild and cloudy. A kingfisher dives successfully above the lock. A mink strolls on the lock wall. We leave before lawnmover and weedkiller are deployed.
At Banagher we want to get water and go for quick shopping to the supermarket. All moorings where we could reach a water tap are blocked with boats which are not big enough to moor alongside them. So we moor at Silverline where we had bought diesel on the outward bound journey. I ask in the office if we can get water and it is no problem. But when I ask if we can also stay here for less than one hour for a short shopping trip the lady wants me to pay a fee of 5 €. I'm initially gobsmacked but then I protest energetically. She tells me that Carrick Craft also charge a fee for a short stop. At last she relents. But this welcome has discouraged us from asking to have a look inside two boats which we were intending to hire next time. Neither at hire companies on the Erne nor on the Northern Shannon were we ever asked for fees for a stopover. What about that for a welcome in Banagher?
After this episode we have a windy drive to Shannon Harbour where we moor in the second row below the first lock beside a friendly boater. We are blocking the mooring reserved for boats which want to go through the lock but if the harbour stickers stretch a point so can we. The boating community here is different from others on the Shannon. Shannon Harbour gets an improvement with a new quay and facilities like a playground and a service block but we haven't seen a new pump out facility.
We are missing a sign at the entrance: "You are leaving the Shannon, welcome to the real life and enjoy your stay in the harbour where well-sorted diversity and pluralism are coming alive." It's partly a more canal orientated community and some boats are not the newest and biggest. The philosophy here seems to be 'Better a boat than no boat.' A lot of people are busy at this time of the early season with working on their proud vessels and some of them are rare jewels. All in all, it seems to be more of a do-it-yourself and not chequebook oriented boating community. Hopefully it will be possible for us to visit Shannon Harbour next time by boat and get a visitor mooring place to stay here overnight.
The wind is increasing as we leave and we have a drive with F5 to Shannonbridge but it's dry. Later in the evening some showers arrive.
Moored beside us is a hire boat with a nice German two generation crew onboard and we meet them later in the evening at Kileen's.
This night the last table quizz of the winter takes part and we also take part informally by listening and a little bit of prompting. Life is too short to take everything seriously and we enjoy the sympathic way with which the locals in the pub play this game.
Thursday 23/04/09 Shannonbridge - John Joe's Marina
Length of boat trip: 3.8 hours
Motto of the day: Balou in the lock and a night in the reeds
Sunny spells welcome us in the morning. It's mild again and the wind has decreased. We enjoy a relaxed trip to Athlone.
At Inchinalee a hire boat is parked on the shore and a car is parked in the reeds by the flood.
In the lock at Athlone we meet Balou of the Jungle Book.
The lock keeper gets a bottle of German beer off a hire boat and the skipper of the Viking passenger boat seeing that, says that he himself has the wrong job.
The church tower of St. Mary has some mountain climbers on it today.
Lough Ree welcomes us flat and calm and we chuggle unhurriedly to Coosan Point in the Inner Lakes. Here we spend some hours visited by a snorkeller and watching a trout and a small pike being caught.
After the break we go on to John Joe's Marina where we meet Norbert and moor in the reeds. Persistent rain starts but we have a nice evening together.