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Sailing Body Responds to Draft Waterways Bye-Laws

20th October 2010
Sailing Body Responds to Draft Waterways Bye-Laws

The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) says it sees no value registering small craft that launch from clubs and training centres on inland waterways. The sailing body comments come as part of a Public Consultation programme on proposed new Bye-laws for all seven Irish waterways. Waterways Ireland has commenced the first Phase of a review of bye-laws under its remit. Bye-laws facilitate the management of a waterway, clearly outlining the roles and responsibility of Waterways Ireland and all the people involved in using the navigation, whether for recreational or commercial purposes. The association says the new bye laws alos place an added administrative burden on volunteers when organising events. "The requirement to apply for permission to run every event on a weekly basis will create significant administrative workloads on already over burdened volunteers", it said. The full ISA submission is below:

General Observations

1. Definition of Craft Types
There are no fewer then 14 definitions describing different craft types referred to in the bye- laws. Many of the definitions do not adequately describe the type of craft they are referring to, and have definitions within definitions. It difficult to understand which byelaws are referring to which type of craft – this will lead to confusion and as a result non compliance.
For example: a. 'Pleasure Craft' includes personal watercraft and fast power craft'. Pleasure Craft would imply a craft used for pleasure purposes, and there are already definitions for personal watercraft and fast power craft described – so why duplicate?
b. 'Vessel' means every description of craft including non-displacement craft and sea planes but does not include a boat or personal water craft' A non displacement craft is included under the definition of 'craft' so why mention it? You also need to look up the definition for a 'boat' and 'personal watercraft' before you understand which types of craft are being referred to as a 'vessel'.
2. Insurance
We are fully behind the principal that every craft should have suitable insurance. However we believe this is a matter for the users, owners and organisations. We can see no good reason why Waterways Ireland need to be sent policies in 'original certificate form'. This puts the responsibility and hence the liability of adequate insurance onto Waterways Ireland and will require a significant bureaucratic overhead. It could easily be made an offence not to have insurance and leave it at that.
3. Duplication of Existing Legislation
Much of the content of the draft byelaws proposed is already covered under existing legislation. (eg the wearing of personal floatation devices, age limits for driving powered craft etc.). Duplication of this legislation within the bye laws will do nothing to encourage compliance, and will mean a revision of the byelaws every time there is a change in legislation.
4. Over Regulation/confusion
The draft byelaws as presented contain 32 pages of 'small print' regulations. Some of the terminology and definition used is legalistic and confusing. It will be a very difficult task to educate the waterways users as to their responsibilities towards the byelaws, and an even bigger task to enforce them.
There has been no mention of a plan for implementing the byelaws, and we would have concerns that Waterways Ireland do not have a plan or adequate resource to communicate sufficiently the detail of the byelaws, or to enforce compliance.
5. Safety
It has been shown time and time again that regulation used to manage activity on the water does little or nothing to improve safety standards unless there is sufficient resource to enforce it. The attempt within the bye laws to incorporate a 'one size fits all' set of regulations to manage activities on the waterways is inappropriate, unnecessary and will be impossible to enforce. As such it will lead to confusion and non compliance.
There are some 'bottle neck' areas of congestion, where more stringent control measures may be necessary in order to encourage responsible participation and enjoyment. We recommend a different set of regulations be developed for known trouble spots, leaving the majority of the waterways relatively unrestricted.
6. Link with existing Local Authority byelaws
In recent years, Local Authorities around the country have developed byelaws of their own to manage access to and activity on the waterways, harbours and beaches under their jurisdiction.
We are concerned that there appears to have been little consultation or coordination with local authorities who already have byelaws established, particularly counties which boarder Waterways Ireland navigation. This could potentially lead to one set of regulations applying whilst launching your craft from a local authority controlled slipway, whilst another set of regulations applying once under way on the water.
We strongly urge waterways Ireland to liaise with local authorities to ensure their byelaws are consistent with those already established.

Feedback on Specific Byelaws
(6) Registration The proposal set out in bye-law 6 needs a total revision.
a. Compulsory Registration
The ISA is not opposed to the principle of registration of vessels provided it is equitable, has a purpose (other than taxation) and is required only where necessary. Otherwise there will be a strong disincentive to register, and the cost of tracking down and seeking to make vessel owners compliant will exceed any possible benefit.
We do not see any value in the need for registering small craft that launch from clubs and training centres, which are under the control of and/or are participating in an organised activity.
b. ValidityPeriod
Where registration is required it is not sufficient to make it valid for a period to be decided by the Chief executive. A validity period should be clearly identified (5 years would seem appropriate) and communicated to all the keepers of registered craft.
c. Cost
Registration should not be seen as a revenue generator for Waterways Ireland. It should be administered at cost and fees set as such. Again this should not be at the whim of the Chief Executive.
d. Lettering
The proposal for all craft wishing to display their own print of the registration number to have 300mm high numbers (7)(b) port and starboard on the bow, and on the stern is completely ill-conceived. There is an assumption that the number issued by Waterways Ireland (7)(a) is the same size? For smaller craft it is simply not possible, and for larger craft will meet with huge opposition if it is implemented.
e. Insurance
We are fully behind the principal that every craft should have suitable insurance. This is a matter for the users and owners and we can see no good reason why WI need to
be sent this in 'original certificate form'. By checking an insurance policy Waterways Ireland is taking responsibility for ensuring all craft registered have adequate cover for any incident that they are involved with on the waterways. It could easily be made an offence not to have adequate insurance (putting the responsibility on the registered keeper) and leave it at that.
f. Visiting Craft
There are a number of craft that use the waterways occasionally when visiting the area. They are unlikely to have prior knowledge of the byelaws and often will not be in a position to apply for registration three weeks in advance. This will significantly restrict access, and/or encourage non compliance. Temporary visitors will need to be catered for.
g. On-LineRegistration
Waterways Ireland are proudly declaring the development of a 'computerised registration package', yet all registration applications must be submitted by hard copy 'snail mail'. This is not the modern way to do business.
h. Duplication of Registers
The ISA currently operates a Small Craft Register which is available on line and may be used to identify all types of craft. It may be has a five year validity and costs €15. We have the ability to process applications in a day. This is already being used by many local authorities that require permits to launch craft. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the potential for combining the registers in order to help simplify registration system for the user.
(20) Zoning The ISA would ask Waterways Ireland to consult with us prior to implementing zoning, so we may help to ensure that congested areas are managed in a pro active way to encourage responsible participation, and will not cause confusion and/or unnecessarily restrict activity.
a. Restriction of Craft
Whilst we have no difficulty in 'Zoning' areas in order to pro actively manage use of the waterways in congested areas, it should be stressed that zoning may be required in congested areas in order to 'promote' responsible participation in activities. The current terminology used in the byelaws; 'restrict or prohibit craft from taking part' does not suggest Waterways Ireland is actively looking to promote activities on the waterways.
b. Consistent Markings
The ISA has been working with local authorities on implementing pro active management strategies for the management of beaches and harbours within their jurisdiction. The signage and buoyage for zoned areas need to be consistent with those used by local authorities and we would request that waterways Ireland consult with us prior to developing the infrastructure and management systems required for zoning.
(21) Commercial Operations
a. Voluntary Organisations
Byelaw 21 outlines the requirement to obtain permission to carry on any trade or business. It also mentions that there will be a charge levied in respect of this permission. There are a number of clubs and associations that organise training,
recreational and competitive events for which a charge is levied to the participants. This is not commercial activity, as the charge is to cover the costs of organising the said activity.
We believe it is not the intention of waterways Ireland that these clubs and associations will be charged for organising their activities, however this needs to be clarified.
b. Commercial Operators
The ISA has a number of accredited sailing schools and clubs that operate on the inland waterways. These organisations attract visitors and tourism to the area, whilst at the same time improving safety standards on the waterways.
There should be no charge levied for approved training activity that is carried out by an organisation that is accredited by a national authority and/or has been approved by Waterways Ireland.
(8) Owners, Masters and Crew of Craft
Paragraph (8). Carrying an anchor. It is not general practice in racing yachts to have an anchor stowed in such a position as 'to enable them to be dropped or weighed quickly'. This may incur a €150 fine depending on the interpretation of 'quickly'. This paragraph needs rethinking.
(25) Placing of objects
Clubs and training centres use temporary buoys to mark race courses, training areas etc. It is not reasonable to expect these organisations to apply for permission in writing every time they are involved in organised activity afloat.
(28) Miscellaneous Prohibitions
We note that there does not seem to be any prohibition on the causing of a nuisance for example by noise of engine, generator etc. in a public harbour to other users or any particular restriction on causing such annoyance. We believe such a prohibition should exist.
(32) Events If established organisations are forced to apply for permission for every event they organise their activities will not be sustainable.
a. Notification and Permission
An 'Event' is described as a 'regatta, race or any organised gathering of craft or people for the purpose of competition or display'.
Events in ISA organisations take place on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. They are often weather dependent and organised at short notice. It is unreasonable to expect clubs and associations to apply for permission organise every event, as this will severely restrict their ability to operate.
b. Insurance
ISA Clubs and Associations are fully aware of their responsibilities towards their liability for the organising of events, and carry insurance to cover all of their activities.
Should Waterways Ireland insist on receiving proof of insurance the liability may well be passed on to Waterways Ireland in the event the cover proves to be insufficient.
We recommend that paragraph 32. (6) (b) be removed.
c. Administration
ISA organisations are in the main run by volunteers. The requirement to apply for permission to run every event on a weekly basis will create significant administrative workloads on already over burdened volunteers.
We believe the intent of this bye law was not to restrict the activities of established clubs that organise regular events, and we recommend that for established clubs, training centres and associations affiliated to a recognised authority, a prior agreement be made between Waterways Ireland and the organisation concerned, to allow for the organising of events within agreed parameters without the need to apply for permission.

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General Information on using Waterways Ireland inland navigations

Safety on the Water

All users of the navigations are strongly recommended to make themselves aware of safety on the water for whatever activity they are involved in and to read the advice offered by the various governing bodies and by:

The Dept. of Transport, Ireland: and The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, UK, The RNLI – Water Safety Ireland for information in terms of drowning prevention and water safety.

Registration of Vessels

All vessels using the Shannon Navigation, which includes the Shannon-Erne Waterways and the Erne System must be registered with Waterways Ireland. Only open undecked boats with an engine of 15 horsepower or less on the Shannon Navigation, and vessels of 10 horsepower or less on the Erne System, are exempt. Registration is free of charge.

Craft registration should be completed online at:

Permits for use of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation

All vessels using the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation must display appropriate valid Permit(s) i.e A Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (€126) and if not intending to move every five days, an Extended Mooring Permit (€152).

Permit applications should be completed online at:

Passage on the Royal and Grand Canals – Dublin Area

For boat passage through the locks east of Lock 12 into / out of Dublin on either the Royal or Grand Canals, Masters are requested to contact the Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (M-F 9.30am-4.30pm) on tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or email [email protected] prior to making passage in order to plan the necessary lock-keeping assistance arrangements.

On the Grand Canal a minimum of two days notice prior to the planned passage should be given, masters should note that with the exception of pre-arranged events, a maximum of 2 boats per day will be taken through the locks, travelling either east or west.

Movements in or out of the city will be organised by prior arrangement to take place as a single movement in one day. Boaters will be facilitated to travel the system if their passage is considered to be safe by Waterways Ireland and they have the valid permit(s) for mooring and passage.

Newcomen Lifting Bridge

On the Royal Canal two weeks’ notice of bridge passage (Newcomen Lifting Bridge) is required for the pre-set lift date, and lock assistance will then also be arranged. A minimum of 2 boats is required for a bridge lift to go ahead.

Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (Tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or [email protected] ) is the point of contact for the bridge lift.

A maximum number of boats passing will be implemented to keep to the times given above for the planned lifts (16 for the Sat / Sun lifts & 8 for the weekday lifts). Priority will be given on a first come first served basis.

On day of lift, boaters and passengers must follow guidance from Waterways Ireland staff about sequence of passage under bridge & through Lock 1, and must remain within signed and designated areas.

Events Held on the Waterways

All organised events taking place on the waterways must have the prior approval of Waterways Ireland. This is a twelve week process and application forms must be accompanied with the appropriate insurance, signed indemnity and risk assessment. The application should be completed on the Waterways Ireland events page at :

Time Limits on Mooring in Public Harbours

On the Shannon Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway craft may berth in public harbours for five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month.

On the Erne System, revised Bye Laws state that: No master or owner shall permit a vessel, boat or any floating or sunken object to remain moored at or in the vicinity of any public mooring, including mooring at any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location, for more than 3 consecutive days and shall not moor at that same mooring or any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location within the following 3 consecutive days without prior permission by an authorised official.

Winter Mooring on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway

Winter mooring may be availed of by owners during the period 1 Nov to 31 Mar by prior arrangement and payment of a charge of €63.50 per craft. Craft not availing of Winter Mooring must continue to comply with the “5 Day Rule”. Winter Mooring applications should be completed online at :

Owners should be aware that electricity supply and water supply to public moorings is disconnected for the winter months. This is to protect against frost damage, to reduce running costs and to minimise maintenance requirements during the winter months.

Vessel owners are advised that advance purchasing of electricity on the power bollards leading up to the disconnection date should be minimal. Electricity credit existing on the bollards will not be recoverable after the winter decommissioning date. Both services will be reinstated prior to the commencement of the next boating season.

Smart Cards

Waterways Ireland smart cards are used to operate locks on the Shannon Erne Waterway, to access the service blocks, to use the pump-outs along the navigations, to avail of electrical power at Waterways Ireland jetties.

Berthing in Public Harbours

Masters are reminded of the following:

  • Equip their vessel with mooring lines of appropriate length and strength and only secure their craft to mooring bollards and cleats provided for this purpose.
  • Ensure the available berth is suitable to the length of your vessel, do not overhang the mooring especially on finger moorings on floating pontoon moorings.
  • Ensure mooring lines, electric cables and fresh water hoses do not create a trip hazard on public jetties for others users.
  • Carry sufficient fenders to prevent damage to your own vessel, other vessels and WI property.
  • Allow sufficient space between your vessel and the vessel ahead /astern (c.1m) for fire safety purposes and /or to recover somebody from the water.
  • Do not berth more than two vessels side by side and ensure there is safe access/egress at all times between vessels and onto the harbour itself.
  • Do not berth in such a way to prevent use of harbour safety ladders, slipways or pump-outs.
  • Do not allow the bow of your vessel to overhang the walkway of a floating mooring thus creating a hazard for others with an overhanging anchor or bow fendering.
  • Animals are not allowed to be loose or stray at any time.
  • Harbour and jetty infrastructure such as railings, power pedestals, fresh water taps, electric light poles, safety bollards, ladders etc are not designed for the purpose of mooring craft , they will not bear the strain of a vessel and will be damaged.
  • At Carrybridge on the Erne System, Masters of vessels are not permitted to use stern on mooring. Masters of vessels must use the mooring fingers for mooring of vessels and for embarkation / disembarkation from vessels.

Passenger Vessel Berths

Masters of vessels should not berth on passenger vessel berths where it is indicated that an arrival is imminent. Passenger vessels plying the navigations generally only occupy the berths to embark and disembark passengers and rarely remain on the berths for extended periods or overnight.

Lock Lead-in Jetties

Lead-in jetties adjacent to the upstream and downstream gates at lock chambers are solely for the purpose of craft waiting to use the lock and should not be used for long term berthing.

Vessel Wake

Vessel wake, that is, the wave generated by the passage of the boat through the water, can sometimes be large, powerful and destructive depending on the hull shape and engine power of the vessel. This wake can be detrimental to other users of the navigation when it strikes their craft or inundates the shoreline or riverbank. Masters are requested to frequently look behind and check the effect of their wake / wash particularly when passing moored vessels, on entering harbours and approaching jetties and to be aware of people pursuing other activities such as fishing on the riverbank.

Speed Restriction

A vessel or boat shall not be navigated on the Shannon Navigation at a speed in excess of 5 kph when within 200 metres of a bridge, quay, jetty or wharf, when in a harbour or canal or when passing within 100 metres of a moored vessel or boat.

Vessels navigating the Shannon-Erne Waterway should observe the general 5 kph speed limit which applies along the waterway. This is necessary in order to prevent damage to the banks caused by excessive wash from vessels.

Vessels navigating the Erne System should observe the statutory 5kt / 6mph / 10kph speed limit areas.

A craft on the Royal and Grand canals shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 6km per hour.

A craft on the Barrow Navigation shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 11km per hour except as necessary for safe navigation in conditions of fast flow.

Bank Erosion

Narrow sections of all the navigations are particularly prone to bank erosion due to the large wash generated by some craft. Masters are requested to be vigilant and to slow down to a speed sufficient to maintain steerage when they observe the wash of their craft inundating the river banks.

Unusual Waterborne Activity

Unusual waterborne vessels may be encountered from time to time, such as, hovercraft or amphibious aircraft / seaplanes. Masters of such craft are reminded to apply the normal “Rule of the Road” when they meet conventional craft on the water and to allow extra room to manoeuvre in the interest of safety.

Sailing Activity

Mariners will encounter large numbers of sailing dinghies from late June to August in the vicinity of Lough Derg, Lough Ree and Lower Lough Erne. Sailing courses are marked by yellow buoys to suit weather conditions on the day. Vessels should proceed at slow speed and with due caution and observe the rules of navigation when passing these fleets, as many of the participants are junior sailors under training.


Mariners should expect to meet canoes and vessels under oars on any part of the navigations, but more so in the vicinity of Athlone, Carrick-on-Shannon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and Limerick. Masters are reminded to proceed at slow speed and especially to reduce their wash to a minimum when passing these craft as they can be easily upset and swamped due to their very low freeboard and always be prepared to give way in any given traffic situation.


Canoeing is an adventure sport and participants are strongly recommended to seek the advice of the sport’s governing bodies i.e Canoeing Ireland and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, before venturing onto the navigations.

Persons in charge of canoes are reminded of the inherent danger to these craft associated with operating close to weirs, sluice gates, locks and other infrastructure particularly when rivers are in flood and large volumes of water are moving through the navigations due to general flood conditions or very heavy localised precipitation e.g. turbulent and broken water, stopper waves. Shooting weirs is prohibited without prior permission of Waterways Ireland.

Canoeists should check with lockkeepers prior entering a lock to ensure passage is done in a safe manner. Portage is required at all unmanned locks.

Canoe Trail Network – "Blueways"

Masters of powered craft are reminded that a canoe trail network is being developed across all navigations and to expect more organised canoeing along these trails necessitating slow speed and minimum wash when encountering canoeists, rowing boats etc

Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals – Lough Key

It is expected that work on Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals on Lough Key will be completed in 2021. Access to these canals will be for non-powered craft only, eg canoes, kayaks, rowing boats.

Fast Powerboats and Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

Masters of Fast Powerboats (speed greater than 17kts) and Personal Watercraft (i.e.Jet Skis) are reminded of the inherent dangers associated with high speed on the water and especially in the confines of small bays and narrow sections of the navigations. Keeping a proper look-out, making early alterations to course and /or reducing speed will avoid conflict with slower vessels using the navigation. Personal Watercraft are not permitted to be used on the canals.

Towing Waterskiers, Wakeboarders, Doughnuts etc

Masters of vessels engaged in any of these activities are reminded of the manoeuvring constraints imposed upon their vessel by the tow and of the added responsibilities that they have to the person(s) being towed. These activities should be conducted in areas which are clear of conflicting traffic. It is highly recommended that a person additional to the master be carried to act as a “look-out” to keep the tow under observation at all times.

Prohibition on Swimming

Swimming in the navigable channel, particularly at bridges, is dangerous and is prohibited due to the risk of being run over by a vessel underway in the navigation.

Age Restrictions on operating of powered craft

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the minimum age for operating of powered craft. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a personal watercraft or a fast power craft shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years does not operate or control the craft

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft powered by an engine with a rating of more than 5 horse power or 3.7 kilowatts shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 12 years does not operate or control the craft.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Lifejackets and PFD’s are the single most important items of personal protective equipment to be used on a vessel and should be worn especially when the vessel is being manoeuvred such as entering / departing a lock, anchoring, coming alongside or departing a jetty or quayside.

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the wearing of Personal Flotation Devices. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall ensure, that there are, at all times on board the craft, sufficient suitable personal flotation devices for each person on board.

- A person on a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) of less than 7 metres length overall shall wear a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of decked craft, other than when the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years complies with paragraph above.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft), shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years wears a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of a decked craft other than when it is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person wears a suitable personal flotation device, at all times while – (a) being towed by the craft, (b) on board a vessel or object of any kind which is being towed by the craft.

Further information is available at:

Firing Range Danger Area – Lough Ree

The attention of mariners is drawn to the Irish Defence Forces Firing Range situated in the vicinity of buoys No’s 2 and 3, on Lough Ree on the Shannon Navigation. This range is used regularly for live firing exercises, throughout the year, all boats and vessels should stay clear of the area marked with yellow buoys showing a yellow "X" topmark and displaying the word "Danger".

Shannon Navigation, Portumna Swing Bridge Tolls

No attempt should be made by Masters’ of vessels to pay the bridge toll while making way through the bridge opening. Payment will only be taken by the Collector from Masters when they are secured alongside the jetties north and south of the bridge.

Navigating from Killaloe to Limerick on the Shannon Navigation

The navigation from Killaloe to Limerick involves passage through Ardnacrusha locks, the associated headrace and tailrace and the Abbey River into Limerick City. Careful passage planning is required to undertake this voyage. Considerations include: lock passage at Ardnacrusha, water flow in the navigation, airdraft under bridges on Abbey River in Limerick, state of tide in Limerick

Users are advised to contact the ESB Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station (00353 (0)87 9970131) 48 hours in advance of commencing their journey to book passage through the locks at Ardnacrusha. It is NOT advised to undertake a voyage if more than one turbine is operating (20MW), due to the increased velocity of flow in the navigation channel, which can be dangerous. To ascertain automatically in real time how many turbines are running, users can phone +353 (0)87 6477229.

For safety reasons the ESB has advised that only powered craft with a capacity in excess of 5 knots are allowed to enter Ardnacrusha Headrace and Tailrace Canals.

Passage through Sarsfield Lock should be booked on +353-87-7972998, on the day prior to travel and it should be noted also that transit is not possible two hours either side of low water.

A Hydrographic survey in 2020 of the navigation channel revealed that the approach from Shannon Bridge to Sarsfield Lock and the Dock area has silted up. Masters of vessels and water users are advised to navigate to the Lock from Shannon bridge on a rising tide one or two hours before High Tide.

Lower Bann Navigation

The attention of all users is drawn to the “Users Code for the Lower Bann”, in particular to that section covering “Flow in the River” outlining the dangers for users both on the banks and in the navigation, associated with high flow rates when the river is in spate. Canoeists should consult and carry a copy of the “Lower Bann Canoe Trail” guide issued by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. Users should also contact the DfI Rivers Coleraine, who is responsible for regulating the flow rates on the river, for advisory information on the flow rates to be expected on any given day.

DfI Rivers Coleraine. Tel: 0044 28 7034 2357 Email: [email protected]

Lower Bann Navigation – Newferry – No wake zone

A No Wake Zone exists on the Lower Bann Navigation at Newferry. Masters of vessels are requested to proceed at a slow speed and create no wake while passing the jetties and slipways at Newferry.

Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) and Air draft

All Masters must be aware of the dangers associated with overhead power lines, in particular sailing vessels and workboats with cranes or large air drafts. Voyage planning is a necessity in order to identify the location of overhead lines crossing the navigation.

Overhead power line heights on the River Shannon are maintained at 12.6metres (40 feet) from Normal Summer level for that section of navigation, masters of vessels with a large air draft should proceed with caution and make additional allowances when water levels are high.

If a vessel or its equipment comes into contact with an OHPL the operator should NOT attempt to move the vessel or equipment. The conductor may still be alive or re-energise automatically. Maintain a safe distance and prevent third parties from approaching due to risk of arcing. Contact the emergency services for assistance.

Anglers are also reminded that a minimum ground distance of 30 metres should be maintained from overhead power lines when using a rod and line.

Submarine Cables and Pipes

Masters of vessels are reminded not to anchor their vessels in the vicinity of submarine cables or pipes in case they foul their anchor or damage the cables or pipes. Look to the river banks for signage indicating their presence.

Water Levels - Precautions

Low Water Levels:

When water levels fall below normal summer levels masters should be aware of:


To reduce the risk of grounding masters should navigate on or near the centreline of the channel, avoid short cutting in dog-legged channels and navigating too close to navigation markers.

Proceeding at a slow speed will also reduce “squat” effect i.e. where the vessel tends to sit lower in the water as a consequence of higher speed.


Reduced slipway length available under the water surface and the possibility of launching trailers dropping off the end of the concrete apron.

More slipway surface susceptible to weed growth requiring care while engaged in launching boats, from slipping and sliding on the slope. Note also that launching vehicles may not be able to get sufficient traction on the slipway once the craft is launched to get up the incline.

Bank Erosion

Very dry riverbanks are more susceptible to erosion from vessel wash.

Lock Share

Maximising on the number of vessels in a lock will ensure that the total volume of water moving downstream is decreased. Lock cycles should be used for vessels travelling each way.

High Water Levels:

When water levels rise above normal summer level masters should be aware of:


Navigation marks will have reduced height above the water level or may disappear underwater altogether making the navigable channel difficult to discern.

In narrow sections of the navigations water levels will tend to rise more quickly than in main streams and air draft at bridges will likewise be reduced.

There will also be increased flow rates particularly in the vicinity of navigation infrastructure such as bridges, weirs, locks etc where extra care in manoeuvring vessels will be required.

Harbours and Jetties

Due care is required in harbours and at slipways when levels are at or near the same level as the harbour walkways' as the edge will be difficult to discern especially in reduced light conditions. It is advised that Personal Flotation Devices be worn if tending to craft in a harbour in these conditions.


Slipways should only be used for the purpose of launching and recovering of water craft or other objects from the water. Before using a slipway it should be examined to ensure that the surface has sufficient traction/grip for the intended purpose such as launching a craft from a trailer using a vehicle, that there is sufficient depth of water on the slipway to float the craft off the trailer before the concrete apron ends and that the wheels of the trailer do not drop off the edge of the slipway. That life-saving appliances are available in the vicinity, that the vehicle is roadworthy and capable of coping with the weight of the trailer and boat on the incline. It is recommended that slipway operations are conducted by two persons.

Caution to be Used in Reliance upon Aids to Navigation

The aids to navigation depicted on the navigation guides comprise a system of fixed and floating aids to navigation. Prudent mariners will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation, particularly a floating aid to navigation. With respect to buoys, the buoy symbol is used to indicate the approximate position of the buoy body and the ground tackle which secures it to the lake or river bed. The approximate position is used because of the practical limitations in positioning and maintaining buoys in precise geographical locations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, prevailing atmospheric and lake/river conditions, the slope of and the material making up the lake/river bed, the fact that the buoys are moored to varying lengths of chain, and the fact that the buoy body and/or ground tackle positions are not under continuous surveillance. Due to the forces of nature, the position of the buoy body can be expected to shift inside and outside the charted symbol.

Buoys and perches are also moved out of position or pulled over by those mariners who use them to moor up to instead of anchoring. To this end, mariners should always monitor their passage by relating buoy/perch positions with the published navigation guide. Furthermore, a vessel attempting to pass close by always risks collision with a yawing buoy or with the obstruction that the buoy or beacon/perch marks.

Masters of Vessels are requested to use the most up to date Navigation guides when navigating on the Inland Waterways.

Information taken from Special Marine Notice No 1 of 2023