The Lough Erne branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) welcomes the return to Lough Erne where boat owners with craft on the waterways can enjoy once more the beautiful scenery of this part of County Fermanagh, with the proviso that they adhere to the Executive’s advice about social distancing and practice good hand hygiene.
The suggested recommendations by the IWAI are:-
1. Please ensure that you are travelling directly to and from your boat, not stopping for supplies on your journey. You should prepare in advance and consider what provisions you will need when you are doing your weekly food shopping.
2. Be aware of the following surfaces and avoid contact if possible:
- Locked Gates, Keypads or access restrictions
- Water taps and shore power bollards
- Handrails, benches, light switches, boat or jetty cleats, and other frequent touchpoints
- Shared use trollies or wheelbarrows, fuel drums or pumps
- Where you do make contact with the above surfaces, ensure you do not touch your eyes, mouth, nose, or face until you have thoroughly washed or sanitised your hands.
3. Water taps should not be used at this time – please bring a supply of safe drinking water with you to your boat.
4. Please be aware that trolleys may not be available - consider how you will carry your belongings to/from your boat, limiting close contact with others through repeated trips.
5. While visiting your boat and within marinas, practice and maintain social distancing at all times. Please be patient and courteous to other marina and lough users. Take your time and allow sufficient 2-metre physical distance to pass on jetties. Use finger jetties or stay aboard your boat until it is safe to pass.
6. Please remain on your own boat and do not board others’ boats to socialise regardless of how tempting this may be.
7. Should you choose to cruise at this time, please be mindful that your actions have consequences. Owners should ensure their boats are well maintained and fully de-winterised following a protracted period of not being used; and that weather conditions, health conditions, and level of boating experience can all influence the likelihood of requiring assistance from emergency responders. Owners should also check which marinas and facilities around the Lough are open. Plan and prepare to spend time afloat completely self-sufficiently. This may include electric and water supplies on public jetties. It is also recommended that you do not pass through stretches where it is necessary to operate lock gates in order to minimise the risk of cross-contamination.
It should be noted that currently, all toilets and other marina facilities will be closed in compliance with Government guidance and that even simple helpful tasks like throwing/receiving a rope from a mooring vessel increases your risk of contracting or spreading the virus and should be avoided where possible.
Finally, the Lough Erne branch of IWAI says “ while we have all worked hard and made sacrifices to reach a point where it is considered safe to return to the lough, please do not become complacent. The threat of contracting Covid-19 is still very real, and we all have a responsibility to limit it’s spread”.