Although we have skippered sailing vessels in australia, tonga, tahiti, much of the caribbean, mexico, and southern california, this was our first trip to Ireland, and were very much looking forward to boating the River Shannon.
And, interacting with the freindly and fantastic people of the emarald isle. Also this was my first visit to Ireland, or Europe for that matter.
We had just been sailing the British Virgin islands for 11 days, and RON'd at the San Juan Airport Hotel, before heading to JFK and then Shannon Airport.
A long time dream to visit Ireland was about to begin.
Ooops....a bit of a snag....Delta's departure from New York was about an hour late.....would Mike Bolger of Shannon Taxi still be meeting us as planned. It is about an hour to Portumna from Shannon.
Shannon Customs was "not" like most of the other customs checks. In fact many times, just trying to return to the USA, they act like they do not want us back in our own country. Ireland was delightfully different, arriving and departing.
I noticed that the customs line was moving along quickly, and the lady agent had a ;huge smile on her face. Finally, it was our turn, and we were greeted wondefully. The Irish lady agent, had a smile on her face and twinkle in her eye. How refreshing.
Now we follow the massses into the arrival hall, towing our wheeled duffels. Would Michael be there ? I looked over the heads of the other people, and there he was, with a sign advertising my name. " Michael, I shout and waved" ", Denny " he replies and we greet like old friends.
Michael then gives us a choice of routes, the fast and easy road , or the narrow back road scenic route. We took the scenic. Also, he was full of knowledge and we received our first guided tour on Irish soil.
Portuma House bread and breakfast:
David the owner met us in the small parking lot in front of the very nice appearing bed and breakfast. Smiling, he greets us with a rousing " aloha" , and our marvelous stay at Portuman house begins.
Helping us with our bags to our upstairs lodging, which was nicely appointed, we stow and hang our gear, shower, and go down stairs to the dining room where he has tea, coffee and cakes for us.
After talking story "craic" and getting some scoops on where town is, and the walking distance ( short ), and to try Molina's for lunch, we were off.
We would have two days in Portumna before getting our check outs on the 29 foot motor vessel, and beginning our trip up the River Shannon.
Honest...those two days, the sun was shining, the skies were blue, and it was beautiful, and warm. We hiked the near by trails, saw the old abby and the castle, a small boat harbor, and lovely forests, trees, bogs and meadows.
We also found STRONGS pub....a small local pub, and made great friends and had a super fun time. Learned some local info on the river, and got interested in hurling, and Mick, the bartender presented us with a hurling ball...signed by our fellow guinness lovers. We also happened to sample some Powers and Jameson's as well.
The River Trip Begins.
Tim at Emerald Star Cruises ( Le Boat ) presented our boat check as well as a chart breif. We had requested an early start, at noon, since the normal start is at 4:00 pm. We were ready and had planned our first overnight stop at Banagher.
On the river, we cruised along at about 2000 rpms, unless we approached fisherman in dinks or pleasure boats anchored or moored, then I came back to dead slow and no wake.
A new first for us....VICTORIA LOCK.......Not much prior information was available, but we had it somewhat figured out.
Erica had both bow and stern dock lines properly coiled and ready to go. She was at the bow, I had the helm and then the stern line.
Actually worked out pretty good as far as the approach and getting our lines to the lock keeper.
We were the last boat in line, and someone said, " Watch the gate ! " I looked down as the huge iron gate began to close.
Good advice, but it cleared our stern by a whole 4 inches. No worries , but a lesson learned.
Absolutely delightful cruising, and wonderful scenery. Erica acted as first mate and navigator, and kept alert as to our position on the chart as we motored along.
FYI: It took us a little over 3 hours from Portumna to Banagher, and we planned on picking up a slip at Carrick Yacht Charters
$ 10.00 for the night.
Passing under the bridge at Banagher, we were not prepared for the strong current. As soon as I slowly turned toward the fairway that lead to the slip, the current had us and we were sliding down sideways , beam to the current, at quite a good clip.
Using bakcing and filing , we stopped our forward progress and decided to continue up river, and return down current to an open slip that was very near the river. None of that beam to the current, again. The plan worked out great, with an easy downwind docking.
Banagher : Wonderful village. We walked from the large marina into town and to Flynn's Bar and Restaurant. Nice and warm, since our sunhine had gone bye the bye. Very nice, and friendly.
Met the owner Noel, who is a cheerful and pleasant genlteman.
For early dinner had chicken pasta, and Erica started on reducing the duck population.
As we walked back the carrick yacht marina area, we found nice surprise at the public docks. There were a fleet of the old cannal boats on display. We joined the local families in a slow stroll admiring the different vessels.
Back on board, we started up " Enfield's " heater, and warmed up the interior of the town star. Snugging in under an ample plie of blankets and quilts we spent a peaceful and cozy evening.
Tomorrow, we will be letting go the dock lines for an early departure to Athlone. And another new "entering the locks" experience.
Denny and Erica
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Edited: 4:53 pm, June 26, 2011