Last Sunday’s walk took on a life of it’s own. Somehow I managed to get my time management and distance calculations ever so slightly botched. Well, that should teach me a lesson. Better planning is needed. What’s the old cliché I’m reminded of?
Fail to plan… plan to fail!
A bit harsh maybe but still a wee lesson. So, I walked right by Rhode Bridge… which was supposed to be my stopping point for the day. I hasten to add that the bridges don’t usually have their names emblazoned on large billboards. My recollection, from the meagre map study I managed to partake in, was of a structure to follow within a few hundred meters of the bridge. Somehow I equated that structure to be a lock. Not long past the bridge I could see something in the distance.
It looked strange. Could it be the lock I was after? I could see straight lines across the canal… slanting though. Was the lock or it’s gates under repair? Could that be why the appearance seemed skewed? There seemed to be a digger parked there… yep, the lads from WI must be working in the area… on the lock itself?
All was soon revealed. The ‘structure’ was really a working barge, a mud boat, I think they’re called in the trade. It must have slipped it’s moorings and being empty the high sides were acting like sails. The strong westerly breeze managed to swing the boat diagonally across the canal and pinned it to the banks… stern on one side… bow on the other.
There was indeed a boat trying to get by. The couple on board could do with a hand. From where I was positioned on the bank I could see the stern mooring rope drifting in the water. I could jump onto the boat and get the rope but it definitely did not look long enough. The master of the boat needing to get by so we both jumped onto the mud boat to hatch a plan. Once on the barge I noticed the much shorter bow rope. What if we joined the two ropes? Would that allow enough length to allow me to pull the stern back toward the north bank?
We joined the ropes and did a test run… yes, it would work. The skipper hurriedly returned to his boat. At this point another boat arrived… so, being kind folk we allowed it to pass by without incident. The strong breeze was making life slightly difficult… as I pulled the stern of the mud boat toward the north bank the wind would push the bow out into the canal… toward the south bank… again blocking the path.
The couple eventually made it past the mud boat… with a bit of pushing and showing and dexterous manoeuvring. When they were safely on their way I tied up the stern rope… to a few saplings on the north bank. Not the ideal mooring but the best at hand.
The two boats went off toward the east… I set off toward the west without as much as a thought about my actual whereabouts. I was hardly underway when the good lady wife called to ask if it was time for her to set off and collect me. Yep… feel free, I’ll be a the prearranged rendezvous… yep, I will! All the while I was chatting I was walking… soon the lifting bridge was passed and still I kept heading west.
After a few more minutes I saw a fellow and his lad heading in my direction. When the drew alongside the fellow asked if I’d seen a boat near the bridge. Yes, there’s a green barge moored at the lifting bridge. No… that was not the boat he was on about. He was from Waterways Ireland and looking for the mud boat that was causing all the hassles further along. It was supposed to be near Rhode Bridge, he informed me.
What? Rhode Bridge is that way I gestured toward the west… in the direction you’ve just come from, I insisted. No… it was I that was mistaken… he pointed east… Rhode Bridge was where the mud boat was located. Gosh… it dawned on me that maybe I’d overshot my end point for the day.
OK, what now? The good lady was well on her way to collect me. If I walked back she may have to wait quite some time… otherwise, suggested the WI fellow, I could walk onwards with them, back to their vehicle parked some distance away and then he would drop me off at the correct spot.
I chose that option, thinking the vehicle would be nearby. Another 15 minutes walking toward the Shannon before we arrived at the van. At last, I could get a bit of weight off my feet!
There I was, soon back at the spot where I’d tied up the mud boat some time ago. I helped the fellow and the very helpful lad drag the boat back to it’s moorings. All things considered, it appeared as if the boat lost it’s mooring by mischief! No way could the looped ends of the bow rope have lifted themselves off the mooring stake which stood at least a meter tall. Naughty hands must have assisted with the process.
OK… to sum up… the good lady soon arrived and so the story ends… only thing, most of the time my camera was away from me, for safety sake, on both occasions when I was involved with dragging the boat about, so… regrettably, I have very few photo’s to show for my trouble!
None the less… there you have it! If I’d not made the mistake of walking by and helping with the mud boat in the first place the WI fella would not have found me… or I would not have helped him… or… you get my drift… thanks to the WI fella for straightening out my misguided navigational error… otherwise I’d still be walking!