See that big puddle of water right smack in the middle of Northern Ireland? That’s Lough Neagh. Legend has it that Fionn mac Cumhaill, our national giant, scooped up a giant-sized handful of earth and tossed it into the sea as a stepping stone over to the UK mainland (the hole became Lough Neagh and the stepping stone the Isle of Man, both roughly the same size). The lough is about twenty miles from north to south, so big that all you can see is water on the horizon when you look across it – like you’re on the edge of the sea. I’ve been interested in the lough lately because I can’t get the notion of boating out of my mind. I live a mere ten miles south of the lough, so it’s the most appropriate place to exercise this potential new hobby of mine. A couple of days ago I visited Kinnego Marina on the southeast corner of the Lough, and took a few snaps. Beautiful, isn’t it?
The marina also has an indoor boat shop, so I went in for a browse. The boat that really caught my eye was the Bayliner 246, which is the one you can see me crawling about inside on the photo. I say crawling because, curse my DNA, I’m six-foot-four (I blame that on all the excessive milk-drinking I did as a kid). It would be nice to stand up straight inside the lower cabin of one of these boats, but I’m out of luck. Thankfully there’s one spot where I can stand with my hair touching the roof. Any further towards the bow (that’s the front of the boat; see, I’ve been learning boating terms), the roof slopes downward and I have problems. The saving grace in all this is that the standing-spot-for-tall-freaks is right by the cooker, and the cabin is so small that you’re not likely to be doing a lot of standing, anyway.
I love the thought of taking friends out to the middle of the lough, doing a bit of fishing, then gutting and cooking the fish on board. As the sun sets, with a boat this size, you have the option to drop anchor and make a night of it. The lough has access to the sea via the north coast of Ireland, so there’s the potential for long range trips – to the Isle of Man (and the various other islands in and around the UK and Ireland), Scotland, Wales; maybe even to the likes of France.
I’m dreaming. These boats are selling for silly money, like around £30,000. However, I did see plenty going on eBay second hand for much more affordable prices. Most of them are in England. How would I get one home? Well, smaller boats are often sold on trailers, so I could take the jeep over on the ferry. But I’m a lot more interested in a bigger cabin cruiser. These are generally berthed on a river somewhere. The idea is, you buy the boat and pilot it home on water. Wouldn’t it be nice to be sailing home in a second-hand boat only to hear the engine sputtering to silence when you’re in the middle of the Irish Sea? Did I say sailing? Oops. This is a motor boat and there is no sail. Something tells me I won’t be buying a boat from so far away. What am I talking about? I don’t have the money to buy one, anyway. Like I said, I’m dreaming. And why not?