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Crews from the Aran Islands and Galway RNLI stations took part in a joint training exercise on inner Galway Bay this past Saturday (27 January).

The training was an opportunity for the crews from the two flanking stations to work together on a number of boat-handling and seamanship exercises to prepare for future joint search and rescue missions.

Brian Niland, helm with Galway RNLI who led the exercise for the Galway crew said: “We were delighted to welcome the Aran Islands RNLI crewm onboard the all-weather Severn class lifeboat David Kirkaldy, to Galway for a training exercise off Salthill.

“It was impressive to see the larger Aran Islands lifeboat and see how the two lifeboats can work side by side.

“The training was a great learning experience for both crews and will help us when we are requested to launch together, to help those in danger in the water. Our volunteer lifeboat crews spend many hours training so we can meet the dangers and challenges we face at sea.”

Galway RNLI crew on board the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Binny leaving Galway Port with the Aran Islands RNLI crew on board the all-weather Severn lifeboat David Kirkaldy | Credit: RNLI/Aoife MorrissyGalway RNLI crew on board the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Binny leaving Galway Port with the Aran Islands RNLI crew on board the all-weather Severn lifeboat David Kirkaldy | Credit: RNLI/Aoife Morrissy

Aran Islands RNLI coxswain Aonghus Ó hIarnáin said: “Saturday’s training exercise was a good chance to meet the Galway crew and show what the lifeboat from each station is capable of.

“The type of lifeboat a station has depends on geographical features, the kind of rescues the station is involved in and the cover provided by neighbouring lifeboat stations.

“Our Severn class lifeboat is designed for the offshore long jobs we face in the toughest weather, while the Galway Atlantic class lifeboat is one of the fastest in the fleet and is ideal for rescues close to shore, near cliffs and rocks which may be inaccessible to our all-weather lifeboat. Working together we are able to carry out search and rescue throughout Galway Bay.

“Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, RNLI lifeboat crews are ready to answer the call to rescue. If you see someone in trouble at the coast call 112 or 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Members of the public are being invited to suggest names for the new Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway city, as the Connacht Tribune reports.

Built over the course of a year, the cycling and pedestrian bridge across the River Corrib was opened last summer and is the first such span of the waterway in over three decades.

The application form is available from the Galway City Council website and submissions will be open until 6pm on Sunday 11 February.

Published in Galway Harbour

A community-based initiative hosted on County Galway’s offshore communities has been named winner at the National Age Friendly Awards 2023 held last evening (Thursday) in Clayton Whites Hotel, Co. Wexford.

The ‘Healthy Islands’ project picked up the Age Friendly Active & Healthy Ageing Award in recognition of its efforts to promote health and well-being, to improve communication and enhance knowledge of available services amongst residents of The Aran Islands (Inis Meáin, Inis Mór and Inis Oírr) and Inisbofin.

The project featured free activities and resources for more than 200 participating residents to promote health and wellbeing across all the islands, including pulse and blood pressure checks, healthy cooking demonstrations workshops, a community fun-run, yoga, relationship and sexual health education, citizen information advice, and exercise and fitness tips.

The initiative, which was rolled out in April, was coordinated by Healthy Galway County under Galway Rural Development’s Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) and supported by statutory, community and voluntary organisations, including Galway Rural Development, Galway Sports Partnership, Comharchumann Forbartha Arann Teo Inis Mór, Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin, Inishbofin Development Company CL and Comhar Caomhán Teoranta Inis Oírr.

Commenting on the award win, Councillor Liam Carroll, Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council said, “This wonderful initiative is worthy of the national recognition it has received. It successfully broke through the barriers to services and information that islanders can face due to their remote location. The collaborative approach to delivering the project is a template for future similar projects that seek to ensure everyone can enjoy good physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.”

Liam Conneally, Chief Executive of Galway County Council praised the various community and economic development groups on the islands for playing a vital role in the success of the project which, he said, presented a suitable template for similar initiatives in the future.

“Galway County Council is delighted to have supported Healthy islands and congratulates everyone involved in achieving this award success,” he added.

Alan Farrell, Director of Services, Galway County Council, commented, “The local buy-in and commitment of multiple agencies to bringing this project to fruition resulted in island dwellers across the life span being able to access a range of supports, information and services locally and build a better understanding of health and wellbeing initiatives that could be drawn on as needed. Another key benefit was that a range of organisations were able to improve their understanding of older islanders’ needs.”

Dr. Anne Cassidy, Senior Manager of Galway Rural Development’s SICAP team said, “This award win is testament to the high levels of participation amongst residents and the many community, voluntary and statutory organisations across the islands and the wider county. Healthy Islands has had a meaningful impact on the lives of older people and the wider community of the four islands. We look forward to seeing a further building on the relationships established through this project and increasing local access to services in the months and years ahead.”

Mary Cronin of Galway County Older People's Council praised the project’s community-centred focus, adding “Healthy Islands was predominantly aimed at the older population, but it also proved beneficial to other age groups, particularly those looking after a parent or relation, as it has helped them to better cater for the people they are linking in with and sharing the services and information.”

Andrew McBride, Healthy County Galway Coordinator said the project will have positive long-term consequences for islanders and service organisations.

“Due to their small population and geographical isolation, most organisations do not visit the islands resulting in low levels of awareness of services and interaction between providers and islanders,” he explained. “By travelling there, organisations now have a better understanding of these contexts, the needs and how these might be met. Likewise, islanders who face journeys of up to two hours to Galway City to avail of some key services were able to engage with service providers. The new relationships that have been formed will lead to future projects being identified to address the health and wellbeing needs of each individual island as all four islands have different needs and wants.”

Organisations that participated in Healthy Islands included Galway County Council, Croí, Healthy Ireland at Galway Library, Galway Sports Partnership, the Galway Public Participation Network (PPN), Age Friendly Homes, Sexual Health West, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Mental Health Ireland, Chime, Alone, the Irish Wheelchair Association, the HSE Health Promotion and Improvement unit, Jigsaw, Parkrun Ireland, West Be Well, Domestic Violence Response Galway, and the local Public Health Nurse and Gardaí.

Published in Island News
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James Corballis and Aaron O’Reilly, two trainee crew members with Galway RNLI, have completed their training programme and passed their final assessments which means that they can progress to fully fledged crew.

Lifeboat training covers a range of skill sets such as seamanship and boat handling, navigation and search and rescue. Trainee crew must complete 15 training modules and 49 different assessments of activities in the lifeboat station and on the water to ensure that the lifeboat and crew aboard are ready to handle a wide range of situations when saving lives at sea.

James Corballis is originally from Kilkenny and has been living in Galway for the past 15 years. “The RNLI has been a big part of my family growing up and from where I live in Galway I could see the lifeboat launching at all hours day and night. It was something that I always I hoped I would do and in 2020 I was able to join the RNLI,” he said.

“I’m delighted to have now completed my trainee plan, completed and passed the final assessments which means I can now move on to be ‘substantive’ crew and take on more responsibilities when we head out to sea when the pager goes off.“”

Aaron O’Reilly grew up on the water and has always been involved in sailing and powerboating. He said: “I’ve been involved in water-based sports all my life and I know how important it is to have assistance if you need it, if there is an accident or medical emergency out on Galway Bay.

“I joined the RNLI so I could give back to the community and now that I have passed all my assessments, I’ll be able to play a greater part in providing a 24-hour rescue service for the people who need our assistance.”

Frankie Leonard, lifeboat training coordinator with Galway RNLI said: “James and Aaron started volunteering with the RNLI in late 2020 and once they completed their training as shore crew, moved on to the training plan that would enable them to become crew on the lifeboat.

“It is a real credit to both of them that they were able to complete the training modules, put the skills learned into practice on shore and on the boat and prepare for and pass their assessments while also dealing with the challenges we all faced during the pandemic.

“We are delighted to have two crew with their expertise and enthusiasm on board. Crew training is a continuous process and the learning never stops.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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In recognition of their dedication and commitment of time, energy and skills, seven members of the Galway RNLI crew were presented with long-service awards for achieving 50, 100, 150 and 200 services.

Each time the crew members respond to their pagers and head out to sea on a rescue counts as a service. The seven crew had amassed a total of 900 services between them, including 200 services by David Oliver — who has been with the Galway RNLI crew since the station opened in 1995.

Mike Swan, lifeboat operations manager with Galway RNLI said: “Every year we recognise the dedication of our volunteer crew by presenting long-service awards. This year we have a number of crew who achieved significant milestones including Lisa McDonagh with 50 services; Shane Folan and Olivia Byrne with 100 services; Declan Killilea, Brian Niland and David Badger with 150 services; [and] David Oliver with a record 200 services.

“Our lifeboat volunteers have all kinds of backgrounds and jobs. At a moment’s notice, they readily exchange work, comfort or sleep for cold, wet and fatigue. They spend many hours of their own time training together so they can meet the dangers and challenges they face on search and rescue missions at sea.

“The awards are not just to celebrate the achievements of the crew who are willing to drop everything at the sound of their pager, but also their families and friends who play a key role in supporting our crew to spend time saving lives at sea and being there for them when they get home after what may sometimes be a very challenging day or night on the water.”

Swan continued: “Our volunteer lifeboat crew is on call 24/7, 365 days a year. The average time from the call from the coastguard requesting the lifeboat and crew to launch, to the boat and crew being on the water is approximately 10 minutes, day or night.

“The area covered by the Galway RNLI Lifeboat and crew is the section of Galway Bay east of a line between Black Head in Co Clare and Spiddal, Co Galway and includes Barna, Salthill, Galway city and the mouth of the River Corrib, Oranmore, Kinvara, Newquay and Ballyvaughan.

“Last year our crew and lifeboat launched 33 times and came to the aid of 31 people. This is only possible due to the dedication of our crew who go to sea and the wider group of volunteers who provide shore support and fundraising support which in turn relies on the generosity of our community in Galway further afield.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The impact of the current marine heatwave on Ireland’s coastline is being recorded by international researchers who are taking a “snapshot” of the European coast where land and sea meet.

As The Irish Independent reports, the Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) involves both land and sea-based researchers undertaking simultaneous sampling.

The 36-metre schooner Tara is currently in Galway, working with a mobile laboratory for land work.

The 36-metre schooner Tara in Galway PortThe 36-metre schooner Tara in Galway Port

Scientists can analyse samples even as they voyage across 46 different European regions extending from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia.

The baseline information on coastal ecology gathered will serve as an invaluable reference point to measure coastal climate change impacts.

Over 150 research teams from over 70 institutions in 29 European countries are involved, and the TREC project is being co-ordinated by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory( EMBL), working with local partners such as the Marine Institute in Galway.

The schooner, which is based in Lorient, France, is ice-strengthened to work in polar regions.

It is financed through a mixture of private and public funds with French designer Agnes B one of the main sponsors.

It has an “excellent chef”, but also everyone on board “gets to clean the toilets”, chief scientist Emmanuel Boss told the newspaper.

Chief scientist Emmanuel Boss(left) and captain Martin Hertau on board the French research schooner Tara in Galway docksChief scientist Emmanuel Boss(left) and captain Martin Hertau on board the French research schooner Tara in Galway Docks

“It doesn’t matter if you are chief scientist or captain of the boat – everyone has to do their chores as part of a roster,” he said.

“This makes for “far better relations” and no hierarchy, Boss said – “the relationship between crew and scientists is tighter than on any other boat I have been on,”he said.

The Marine Institute’s director of marine environment and food safety Joe Silke said the research being conducted “addresses crucial issues such as pollution, biodiversity loss, and invasive species, expanding on, and directly relevant to the Marine Institute’s work in Ireland's coastal habitats”.

The schooner, Tara, is open to the public today (Sunday, September 10th) in Galway docks from 10am to 6pm.

There is also a travelling exhibition, a reality game-based workshop and public workshops in the Galway City Museum and other venues next week.

Read The Irish Independent here

Published in Marine Science
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In recognition of the long career of RNLI coxswain John O’Donnell and the close relationship with the Aran Islands RNLI, last week the Galway RNLI crew presented a framed picture of the lifeboats from both stations to O’Donnell to mark his retirement.

Mike Swan, Galway RNLI lifeboat operations manager who made the presentation said: “The ties between the Galway and Aran Islands lifeboat stations go right back to the late ’90s when the Galway station was first operational.

“At that time some of the Aran RNLI crew were studying in Galway and living in the city during the week and as it wasn’t always possible for them to get back to Aran for their training exercises, they joined our crew for training.

“I’ve known John since before he joined the RNLI in 2003 and then when he became the coxswain for the Aran Islands lifeboat and I took up the role of lifeboat operations manager for Galway, our roles meant that over the years we were at meetings together with the coastguard and other emergency services, along with events and training at the RNLI bases in Dublin and Poole, England.”

Swan added: “The crews at both lifeboat stations have been on many joint rescues over the years. Although there is an imaginary line from Spiddal in Galway to Black Head in Co Clare that divides the area of Galway Bay that each station is responsible for, in reality — when there is a long rescue that requires all available resources or a search for a missing boat that has no last known location — the boundary becomes irrelevant and we work together as one crew.

“There have been many difficult nights on the water and challenging situations but when we look back on the 21 years that John was involved in the Aran Islands lifeboat, it is the friendships and camaraderie that we will remember.

“I was delighted to present a photo of our two lifeboats to John on behalf of the entire crew in Galway. In the photo you can see the Aran Islands all-weather lifeboat David Kirkaldy out on the bay with the Galway inshore lifeboat, Binny in the foreground.

“We wish John every happiness on his retirement from the RNLI and even though he will be as busy as ever, he won’t have to think about the pager going off at all hours any more.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A group of young kayakers in Galway were treated to a scarce sight at the weekend when an angelshark surprised them for a brief swim-around.

Kayaking instructors Ronan Breathnach and Colm O’Loan from Galway Bay Sailing Club had the presence of mind to dip their camera into the water and capture footage of this rarely encountered fish in the waters off Rinville on Sunday (28 May).

“What a great day out for the group of 12 budding marine scientists of the future,” said the Marine Institute, who confirmed the sighting of one of the critically endangered marine wildlife species which is also one of the rarest sharks in Europe.

Angelsharks were once abundant over large areas of the Northeast Atlantic but pressure from commercial fishing—particularly bottom trawling—has been blamed for a significant decline in their numbers over the last century.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan was on hand in Galway on Friday (26 May) to officially open the new span adjacent to the Salmon Weir Bridge over the River Corrib.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the first sod was turned on the €3 million active travel project in April 2022.

The cycling and pedestrian bridge is the first new crossing of the Corrib in over 30 years and aims to take pressure off the existing narrow road bridge, which dates from 1818.

Galway Bay FM spoke to some of the first members of the public to use the new bridge and gauged their responses HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour

The Galway Bay RNLI volunteer crew carried out a training exercise with the University of Galway Clinical Simulation and Interprofessional Education Facility this week.

The exercise took place on a calm evening and involved the lifeboat crew being called to a cruiser where a member of the lifeboat crew played the part of the casualty with a traumatic leg fracture.

A busy evening on Galway Bay – RNLI Galway’s inshore lifeboat ‘Binny’ and crew taking part in a trauma simulation exercise involving a casualty on a cruiser, with a visiting cruise ship in the background.A busy evening on Galway Bay – RNLI Galway’s inshore lifeboat ‘Binny’ and crew taking part in a trauma simulation exercise involving a casualty on a cruiser, with a visiting cruise ship in the background

Departing the lifeboat station at Galway Port, the crew on board the inshore lifeboat ‘Binny’, travelled to the cruiser where they came aboard, assessed and stabilised the ‘patient’ using their casualty care check cards. The crew were observed by Professor Aidan Devitt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Mr Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway. After returning to the lifeboat station, Mr Alan Hussey, Consultant Plastic Surgeon gave a briefing on managing burns and other traumatic injuries such as amputation or avulsion of limbs and digits.

767Transferring the ‘patient’ to the lifeboat by stretcher as part of a trauma simulation exercise with the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway. From left: RNLI crew Stefanie Carr; Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation; RNLI crew Seán Óg Leydon, Frank Leonard, Helm Dave Badger and Olivia Byrne. Transferring the ‘patient’ to the lifeboat by stretcher as part of a trauma simulation exercise with the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway. From left: RNLI crew Stefanie Carr; Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation; RNLI crew Seán Óg Leydon, Frank Leonard, Helm Dave Badger and Olivia Byrne.

The exercise also required the lifeboat crew to transfer the patient in a stretcher to the lifeboat. In a real-life situation, the lifeboat crew would have transported the casualty back to Galway Port for transfer to an ambulance.

Galway RNLI volunteer crew, from left: Frank Leonard, Stefanie Carr and Olivia Byrne assessing and stabilising a ‘patient’, Sean McLoughlin, who is also an RNLI crew member. The crew were observed by Professor Aidan Devitt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Mr Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway as part of a trauma simulation exerciseGalway RNLI volunteer crew, from left: Frank Leonard, Stefanie Carr and Olivia Byrne assessing and stabilising a ‘patient’, Sean McLoughlin, who is also an RNLI crew member. The crew were observed by Professor Aidan Devitt, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Mr Mike Smith, Senior Technical Officer Skills and Simulation, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway as part of a trauma simulation exercise

The simulation exercise was part of ongoing engagement between the University’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and the RNLI crew and had been arranged by Prof Dara Byrne, Professor of Simulation Education, University of Galway who said: ‘We are delighted to continue our work with the RNLI team and support them in their valuable work. The management of trauma and burns in the very early stages can improve patient outcomes so it is important to get it right. The expertise provided by the two surgeons today during the simulation will make a difference to both the crew and their casualties. The Simulation Team and I are looking forward to our next educational session with the crew and to working with them in the state-of-the-art Simulation Facility at the University of Galway.’

Olivia Byrne, volunteer RNLI crew, said: ‘On behalf of the entire crew, I’d like to thank Professor Byrne for arranging for the consultants from Galway University Hospitals to take part in this exercise this evening. In the event of a call-out that involves the rescue of a patient with a fracture, burn or other traumatic injury, the patient will be brought to hospital in Galway to be treated by these doctors and their teams. Getting their insights into how patients are treated for these injuries helps us to appreciate the relevance of our first aid training and the importance of doing training exercises to put our learning into practice.'

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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: www.gov.ie/transport 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: https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/craft-registration

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: https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/canal-permits

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 :

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/event-approval

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 : https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/winter-moorings-booking

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.

Rowing

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

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: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2005/si/921/made/en/print

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:

Navigation

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.

Slipways

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

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

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