In the morning, the sun was splitting the sky. Naturally I was up from 5:30 – I seem to wake earlier and earlier these days. I sat and read my new book "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" – an incredible story of 'How the West Was Lost' for the North American Indians (or native Americans to be correct).
After a couple of cups of coffee, Tess and I went walkabout and explored the track running south from the marina. Lots of fishing jettie, birds (a cheeky little wren watched us from about 2 feet away, covered in the fluffy stuff that comes out of the reeds at this time of year) and some donkeys. Or were they asses? There was a very young foal amongst them that came right up to the fence until its mother pushed it away. (Remember kids, don't talk to strangers!)
When Jake and Adrienne got up, we had breakfast and headed down to Naan Island on Upper Lough Erne for a day-trip. We took the western route which was very quiet and peaceful, only a few fishermen on the way. When we got to Naan Island, there were only two boats moored up. As we were coming into moor, we spotted a man having a barbeque breakfast – he was head-to-toe beige and from a distance looked stark naked! What a relief when we made out the pattern on his shirt!
Within half an hour we had the island to ourselves (was it something we said?) Jake made up the barbeque and Adrienne brought the goodies – lamb and leek burgers, peppers and courgettes grilled to perfection. (I taught Jake all he knows!)
Jake took the wheel all the way back to Bellanaleck through Carrybridge – he was relaxed and patient so no mad antics! When we were coming in to moor, I took over – a big expensive boat, a teenager and a jetty were not a terribly appealing prospect. Jake grabbed the forward rope and tried to jump onto the dock. Splash! He completely misjudged the leap. Landed on the pontoon ok, but pulled on the rope to stop his forward movement only to find the boat was still coming and the rope too. It was like watching a cartoon! With arms flailing with the slackening rope, the end was inevitable. Splash! This photo tells a story. Notice that he came out with his shades still on! Cool. Just a pity only a couple of fishermen on the opposite bank saw it all happen!
When Jake had dried off, we headed home. I think he had a great (wet) time.
Once we had settled on the boat, Jake was 'encouraged' to do some revising before watching the football while Adrienne and I tidied up. By 1:30 we were ready for some football action – England's first game against Paraguay. The Sheelin is just up the road from Erne Marine and a quick recce when we arrived gave us great hope – they had a large flat screen in the bar!
The match had just kicked off when we arrived, just in time to see the first and only goal. A glancing headed own goal from a Beckham cross! The groans of the locals were matched by the cheers of the English. Despite the banter and craic, the bar was just too smokey so we moved into the restaurant and had a grandstand leather sofa in front of a (smaller) TV and watched the rest of the rather dull match in smokeless comfort. On that performance, England haven't a mission of taking the World Cup any time this century.
After the game we went back to the boat and moved it round to the pump to get a fill of diesel – hopefully enough for the season. It cost £110 to fill both tanks, so it should be enough. (Eric didn't buy the line that it should only have been a tenner as the dial has gone round on itself. I think he had heard that one before!) While we were there, another boater came up and asked if this was the famous boat on the Internet! David had discovered it when he was looking for Brian Wylie's phone number and had read of our exploits! Great ice-breaker this site! He and his partner (wife? I have a poor memory, so don't be offended!) Debbie had moved up to Erne Marine from Carrybridge this year and so we had a great chat about the relative merits of each place. I think we both agreed that Erne Marine was an excellent choice.
David told us about an accident at the marina the previous evening – a young girl had fallen in and had been caught with the propeller of a small rib. Horrific. I couldn't stop thinking about it and what her parents must be going through all weekend. The line between joy and horror can be very small at times…
We tried out the local chipper for dinner – great cod and chips, so things just keep getting better and better.
After tea, we called Austin and Rhona to invite them down if they were at home. They arrive a couple of hours later with a bottle of red wine and a tube of Pringles. Being a crap host, I gave them glasses of white wine without asking what they preferred and slipped the Pringles to Jake. Sorry Austin, if you prefer red, just say. I promise to do better next time…
They told us about their trip to Thailand. Fascinating! They had a super time and even wanted to stay longer. Must have been good. One funny thing that I noticed is that they each had their own words for things and had gentle funny disagreements over which one to use in telling us about the trip. Rhona would say banquet and Austin would say "no, it was a buffet"! The veranda was really a patio!
As they were leaving, Jake and I cadged a lift back up to The Sheelin and watched Argentina beat Ivory Coast 2:1. We met Adrienne on the way back – she had come up to meet us with Tess. When we got back we settled in for the evening, played cards and went to bed.
Adrienne, Jake and I went down to the boat last weekend to get some R&R. Jake's GCSE exams are almost over, so I think he deserved a break! He did his usual grumbling and moaning about wanting to stay at home and have friends over (hah! he thinks I don't remember what went on when I did that at his aged! no chance!) But he came in the end – it only took a bribe of a Spain football shirt and a big screen in a local pub to score the change of mind – men are such simple creatures! And supporting Spain for the World Cup is just so lame…
Holly was doing her thing – having a sleep-over with her m8s (They use texting gibberish with each other. Call me a grumpy old man, but what's wrong with proper spelling and punctuation – it's easier than trying to translate everything to txt just to be cool). She had the whole weekend mapped out so we had to just go along with it, even though we knew she would be as cross as a sack full of weasels by Sunday evening due to sleep deprivation!
The drive down got off to a super start. A row in
After a major strop and demanding we go straight back home, I kidnapped Adrienne and Jake and started driving to Fermanagh on the basis that it would either all blow over or they could find their own way home. Adrienne's apology after a half hours stony silence was much appreciated as I took this to be confirmation of the rightness of my position and actions!
We were is much better shape by the time we got to Bellanaleck. It is wonderful what Fermanagh does for the soul!
Dawn broke with me wandering around again. After having a few cups of coffee I decided to take Tess for a walk and go turn on the imersion in the showerroom for when Adrienne and the kids got up. Sound's easy, doesn't it? What could go wrong?
I dropped the key for the showerroom between the cracks in the decking, that's what!
I could see it. It was a newly cut silver key. But it was two feet down. I sat in the sun and tried to work out what to do next. Luckily I had opened the showerroom and turned the heater on, so I wasn't going to get shouted at for that. On of the other boatmen came by and I explained my predicament. Kindly he told me to go to his boat "Greyabbey Pilot" and ask for a "grabber thing". I did, and although the extended grabber could touch the key, it was flat and wouldn't pick up.
Another passing boatman suggested a few other things and I hit on the idea of taking the fridge cover magnet off and tieing it to a shoelace. Bloody hell, it worked! Almost first time. With Adrienne watching!
With the panic over, we spent the rest of the morning painting the inside of cubboards and the plastic tiles in the head (toilet). Freshened things up a bit, but it was an eye-opener to see how many nooks and crannies are on a boat! But it was worth it, the galley looked a hundred times better without the period fake speckeled green tiles!
With the excitement over and a good night's rest I did my usual trick – wake at the crack of dawn and start wandering around. Making coffee (Jake, who sleeps in the galley cabin, could sleep through a hurricane). Reading a book (the final chapters in the final book of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse collection, "The Remorseful Day"… a very sad and poignant ending). And stumbling around the island with Tess.
When everyone else got up a few hours later we had breakfast and started to explore the interpretive center on the island. No one was keeping an eye on the time, so it was action stations when Brian Wylie called to say he was at the other jetty waiting for us!
The exit from the jetty was pretty good on one engine. We even had one of the Germans video our exit – his jacket had a "1" in a circle which I think is for Ard1 (see Wikipedia too). It was great to have an eventless exit caught on tape. (If anyone in Germany spots Harmony III on TV, let me know!)
When we got to the other jetty Brian was waiting for us. He quickly got on whipped the hatches off and started dismantling the impeller bit (goodness knows what the name of this bit is). When he got the rubber impeller out, it was pretty obvious what the problem was! It had no blades left.
For good measure Brian changed the impeller on the port engine too – it had blades but the rubber was a bit dozed and was like the same age as the other one.
The water pumping out the exhaust improved but still wasn't right. He tried a few thing. He put an 'O' ring on the filter cover. He disconnected a few pipes to see if there were any bits lodged in them. But he couldn't find a reason for the reduced flow. However, since it was running well enough and we were planning to go back to Bellanaleck, he said he would look at it in the next few weeks to see if he could fix it.
We left the jetty, circled Devenish Island and cruised down through Enniskillen to Bellanaleck again. No panics. No problems (aside from the starboard engine running a little hot). The berthing back at Erne Marine was excellent despite battling a strong current going North and a strong wind blowing South.
The rest of the evening was spent going for a walk with Tess to The Moorings and back along the main road, revising (Jake and Holly, not us!), barbecuing some chicken, playing cards and bringing the inflatable from the previous owner's house to the marina. Holly spent a couple of hours paddling around – Jake became crew cameraman with his granda's video camera. His framing and timing was pretty good – must have got it from his 'old man'!
After a few hands of cards we turned in for the night…
With the Bank Holiday, we took the opportunity to spend our first weekend on the boat, despite Jake and Holly being in the middle of their exams. Well, they could revise on water, couldn't they! (Jake is past his first week of GCSE's and Holly is in the middle of her Form 3 exams).
We had been stocking up on plates, cutlery, sleeping bags, food, paint and brushes and wine for weeks so had quite a boot load to take with us. We even had to find room for the dog (Tess) and her basket.
When we arrived, everything seemed in order and we quickly loaded up and got ready to move out (we had decided on an overnight on Devenish Island on the Lower Lough Erne). The exit from the berth was a bit unorthodox – more like a 7 point turn! (That always happens people are watching – Brian Wylie, local marine engineer, just happened to be walking past with a group of people).
The journey north up the River Erne was pretty uneventful. We were just trying to get used to Harmony III's 'feel'. We made it through
Within 10 minutes Adrienne shouted "we're on fire!" and pointed to smoke, that turned out to be steam, billowing from a vent on the side of the boat. Thinking we were going down, she quickly grabbed three, yes three, life-jackets and got them on her and Jake and Holly. I was busy turning the engines off and trying to lift the
When calm returned, I realised that the temperature guage was off the scale on the starboard engine. Over 200 degrees! The port engine seemed fine, so I restarted it and got us in to the jetty on Devenish without any further mishaps.
Now safe on dry land, a quick call to Brian Wylie and a couple of checks for him and he confidently said – "the impeller must have gone". This, is a rubber thing that helps circulate water from the lough through the filters and round the engine to cool them. We told him we were happy to overnight on the island and would limp over to the jetty on the mainland (other island?) for around 10am the following morning.
Panic over, we set about embellishing the tale for future entertainment. The funny thing is most of it was true. Adrienne did holler. She did grab only three life-jackets. And she did convince us that we were on fire. But in future retelling we plan to say that Jake had to grab the back of her belt, Holly had to grab Jake and I had to grab Holly to stop her throwing herself in! If I could draw, I'd do a cartoon of it!
We wandered around the monastic site on Devenish for a while and kept an eye on our German cruising neighbours whilst we lit a barbecue. My attempts to help get it lit ended with the stand falling off the portable barbecue and having to send Holly to find stones to prop it up. [Note to self: there are no stones of any size on Devenish except the ruins and it would be a crime to take them from a 12th Century site of historical importance for a tinfoil portable barbecue…]
We ended the night with a few games of cards and an early night – we need it after the day's traumas!
We got out "pleasure craft" insurance documents last week from Allianz c/o Douglas Insurance Services in Belfast c/o Tom Leonard. Cover starts from 11th May 2006 for one year.
I don't usually read through the small print in such things, but this caught my eye:
We are not covered for
"… any weapon or device employing atomic or nuclear fission and/or fusion…"
I guess I'd better jettison them on top of the many flying boats at the bottom of the Lower Lough! Flying boats were reportedly scuttled after the Second World War as the cheapest means of disposal. Some may have been located:
:… According to local knowledge after the war the Catalinas were scuttled in the northern section of the Narrows along with other unwanted equipment… "
The insurance also says:
Water-skiing and the towing of toys, rings, bananas, biscuits and the like are excluded. (!)