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Celebrating Ireland's Floating Heritage

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Home arrow Memories arrow The Best 'Til Last - Inistioge on River Nore - 2005
The Best 'Til Last - Inistioge on River Nore - 2005 PDF Print E-mail
25 January 2009


Heading south from St. Mullins in June, en route to New Ross and on to Waterford, and our planned meeting with the Tall Ships, we paused at the mouth of the Nore. Here the slow moving river enters the Barrow and is no more. This union of water takes place in a flat landscape with high reedbeds on all banks. There is no mark of man to be seen, and nature has understated the event. We circle the boats once, promise ourselves we will be back on our way north in the autumn, and quickly pass on, the tide waits for no man!

The Tide, the Tide, the Tide, it was our first day on tidal waters and little did we know, our life for the next three months would be measured by the moon rather than the sun. And river tides are different, different effects at different parts of the river and various distances from the estuary. And don’t forget ‘the river’, it rained last night on the Slieve Blooms, there will be a right flood coming down behind the tide with all kinds of flotsam. Crikey, that tree trunk went past us doing about 8 knots, twice the length of Vicki May and two foot in diameter! I mutter a prayer of thanks for our deliverance and promise to keep a better look out for incoming torpedoes.
The months passed, the summer was over, and we faced the long trip back to homeports. Waterford and Carrick-on-Suir, and the smell of the sea, and Dabu’s fresh caught mackerel sizzling on the pan as we sat on the deck watching the sun set down behind Passage East, all behind us now. One last journey to be made a little unfinished business!
River Nore
Inistioge and the Nore awaited, “bear norewest before Ferrymountgarrett bridge” said John Dimond, our host and guide… was that a pun? “You can’t take an M or B barge up to Inistioge” said everybody else, “there’s no water”. “You can’t take four barges and a rake of other boats up at the same time, there’s no room!” But it was now or never, we only had a window of one possible weekend left before we headed north. A recce by a couple of the cruisers ran in to all sorts of problems. The omens were not great, but we had not come this far without a lot of effort, and we were not prepared to leave a blank page in the logbook.
Inistioge Quay would just have enough water for us at the top of the tide, an hour or so either side and the wall would be dry ….completely! So it was we left New Ross mid morning on a rising tide, timed to arrive at a holding point known as ‘the Red House’ about a half mile short of the quay. The cruise up the valley was spectacular, the river twisting and turning in a steep gorge with mature deciduous forest running right down to the water’s edge. Now and then we would sight one of the convoy before they slipped around the next bend. Otherwise, we were on our own, alone in this Amazonian landscape, the first explorers here, maybe on our own African Queen! (…excuse the mixing of continents!). “Vicki May”…68M!”, the radio wakes me from my daydream. “Can you check out that old pier as a possible overnight spot in case we have a problem and need a plan B?” We race off to take a few soundings before reporting back, just as the fleet passes the Red House, right on time for the final run in to the quay through very shallow and fast water.
A cruiser skipper at the quay can’t believe what comes around the bend in the river, one barge after another, “no problem” we reassure him, “plenty of room!” We moor the barges at right angles to the wall, steel bow to stone. Within an hour they are aground, settling on the gravel. The cruisers tie up against the barges and soon are aground themselves. Before long the tide has taken the river and the entire fleet is, literally, ‘high and dry’. We walk around our boats, admiring each other’s props, commenting on scars acquired on route, and congratulating each other on arriving safely. We are secretly praying that when the water returns to refloat our loves from this unnatural state that the bilge pumps won’t go into overdrive.
We walk into the beautiful village of Inistioge to reprovision, find instead an antique shop with all kinds of interesting ‘bits’. Robbie from Dabu restocks with globes for the oil lamps, hard to find nowadays, sadly they didn’t have ones to fit Vicki May’s. Midnight and we are safely afloat and relaxing with a few bottles of wine when we are ‘visited’ by an officer of the Fisheries Board! I knew Robbie’s mackerel would land us in trouble! A really nice girl, we give her a hard time, which I am sure she could have done without. Refusing a glass of wine, she did accept a cup of tea while awaiting her ‘patrol’ to return off the river. Return they duly did, in their stealth rigged rib, but alas without any confiscated salmon. We had plans you see, to lose one while it was been transported across the barges!
Next morning we meander down river to the previously reccied pier. Here we had plenty of water under our keels and were well positioned for an early break the following day for St.Mullins. This had been a landing stage built to serve a now disused quarry, the rusting machinery left behind when operations ceased. It was an eerie place, isolated and mysterious and full of the ghosts of times past. I’m not sure I would have liked to stay here without the company of other boats.
And then it was over, not just our Nore experience, but our expedition to the Three Sisters. As we sailed out of the Nore into the Barrow and turned our bows northwards, there were no more untried waters to explore. We were retracing our steps. I daydreamed at the wheel as we headed for the Scar and St Mullins, there to leave the salt tidal waters behind, not knowing when we would return.
I mused on the Nore, and was glad we had passed her by on the way down. And I remembered the story of the old farmer trying to make a match for his three beautiful daughters and him showing them off to a rich fella from the big city, he had kept the best ‘till last.
© Paul Martin 2005
HBA Fleet on the Barrow near New Ross 2005 - waiting for the Tide! HBA Fleet moored at New Ross 2005 - Tide Out
HBA Fleet in Passage East 2005 HBA Fleet in Waterford 2005
HBA Fleet at Carrick on Suir 2005 31B followed by Dabu and Vicki May heading up River Nore 2005
Lean On Me - Inistioge on River Nore 2005


Last Updated ( 03 April 2011 )
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