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An investigation into an incident where a party of 15 kayakers encountered difficulties during a round trip from Bulloch harbour to Dalkey island on Dublin Bay last September has found that “disregard for Met Éireann forecasts” contributed to a decision to embark on a “potentially unsafe tour”.

All kayakers returned or were rescued in the incident which occurred on the evening of September 13th, 2020, but one of the kayakers was in the water for 40 minutes and unable to return independently.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report published yesterday (October 28th) notes that while a small craft warning was not in place earlier that evening, it was in place by the time the group was setting out to sea.

The MCIB says that an” apparent complete disregard” for the instructor training regime run by Canoeing Ireland (CI), the national governing body for kayaking, “seems to have contributed to the decision to embark on a potentially unsafe tour”.

A photo of two canoes ashore at Bulloch Harbour contained in the MCIB reportA photo of two canoes ashore at Bulloch Harbour from the MCIB report

The party of 15 kayakers involved three instructors and 12 participants on a guided kayak coastal trip from Bulloch Harbour to Dalkey Island and back of approximately 2.86 nautical miles.

Both kayaks with cockpits and “sit-on-top” kayaks were used, the report says.

After leaving Bulloch harbour, the kayakers became separated into two groups with a “small group drifting northwards” and a “large group” making its way “(eventually) to the north end of Loreto Convent”.

Three “999” calls alerted the rescue services to the incident, recording "concern on the part of members of the public that the kayakers were struggling”.

The calls said that “some had become separated from the main group and were drifting towards Dublin harbour; that one seemed to have capsized; that a kayaker appeared to be in the water; that the instructors were rushing to assist; that the “small boat” (presumably a reference to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution inshore lifeboat should be sent to assist; and that the kayakers were in trouble”.

One of the kayakers capsized three times. An Irish Coast Guard ((ICG) rescue helicopter, RNLI all weather (ALB) and inshore (ILB) lifeboats and a land-based Irish Coast Guard crew responded, as did the tour organiser who paddled out to bring a group of nine kayakers ashore at Loreto College. However, in emails to the MCIB investigator, the organiser says her concern for the group's safety was "nothing to do with my tour or the conditions".

"It was caused in its entirety by the disruption to their equilibrium with the sudden and unnecessary arrival in our space of the ICG search and rescue helicopter, the RNLI ALB and the ILB lifeboats and the ICG land-based vehicle," she states.

"The approaching tsunami of rescue services swarming around my guests suggested an urgent and imminent danger where none existed," she stated by email.

The investigation was unable to determine the precise level of skills of all instructors, and notes that at least two of the participants did not have sufficient experience for the conditions.

It says “the qualifications ascribed by the organiser’s observations to one or other of the instructors (kayaking level 3 sea skills, kayaking level 4 training and kayaking level 2 instructor) “did not meet the appropriate qualifications recommended by CI for an instructor taking out a group in conditions similar to those which were encountered on the tour”.

The weather report was noted moderate to fresh winds of Beaufort force 4 or 5.

It says the organiser’s observations did not refer to the Code of Practice for safe operation of recreational craft, and the report says “it is reasonable to assume that no regard was had to its contents” and that this contributed to the decision to embark on a “potentially unsafe tour”.

A fisherman who assisted one of the two groups of kayakers recalled that local conditions were such that the combination of an ebb tide with wind from the south/south west had the effect of wind against tide giving rise to “white horses” and a sea swell of approximately 1.5 metre, the report says.

“While this contradicts the data evident from the tidal streams... challenging sea conditions were encountered,” it says.

It says the overall ratio of participants to instructors was in keeping with that identified by CI’s website, namely a ratio of 1:4.

The report says two of the participants indicated that no warnings were given to them that they would become immersed in the water, and that “they were not told what to do in the event of their becoming immersed in the water”.

It says the fisherman “noted that the female kayakers whom he took on board were tired, cold, wet and fatigued and would not have made it ashore on their own”.

The report says that one of these was “in an uncontrolled situation in and out of the water for a period of approximately 40 minutes”.

This participant told the report of feeling “in deep water” shortly after leaving the calm of Bulloch harbour “in the sense that she believed she had no control over the direction of her kayak and that the waves were taking her where they wanted”.

She “recalled being terrified, not being able to speak and having to try to attract the attention of the instructors by waving her hands”.

A big wave flipped her over and her personal flotation device “burst open”, but still remained on her upper body.

She was separated from her kayak for a time, swallowed sea water when swimming back to it, and was “coughing and expending energy” in a bid to keep her head above water, before being assisted.

Two instructors were unsuccessful in addressing the situation, it says, and when the third instructor arrived – leaving the larger group unsupervised, or supervised by the organiser who had to paddle out to them – the kayaker described having to be held in her craft by that instructor.

She was treated by two ambulance paramedics on her arrival back at Bulloch harbour, and recalled they were concerned with the amount of sea water she had swallowed.

The larger group drifted towards rocks, and the organiser paddled out to meet them. The report quotes a participant in this larger group recalling that when they disembarked on the rocks, an Irish Coast Guard officer instructed them to wait where they were, and to get onto a lifeboat which would be along shortly.

“This instruction.... was countermanded by the organiser who instructed them to make their way over the rocks, on foot,” the report states.

The investigation was told that another participant in the large group asked the Irish Coast Guard officer and the organiser “to stop giving conflicting orders as it was confusing”.

“This participant’s recollection was that she would have preferred to follow the directions of the Irish Coast Guard, as she was not happy about climbing over the rocks as she did not have proper footwear and she was anxious and fearful about slipping”.

“According to this participant, the organiser was adamant that the large group should climb over the rocks and the large group duly did so, without incident,” it says.

“They were unable to access a gate through a wall at the top of the rocks and had to make their way around the wall onto other (less slippery) rocks and then onto a flat shore where they were met by the Irish Coast Guard officer,” it says.

It says the organiser took issue with the Irish Coast Guard officer’s use of the word “hypothermia” in a radio report..

The report says that “as no records were made available, it has not been possible to determine what contingency planning was in place”.

It says that the forms signed by any of the participants on the tour were not provided to the investigator.

“According to one participant, she completed a form for her first excursion with the organiser a month previously but did not complete a second for the tour while the other participant does not recall completing any form,” the report says.

“ The form contains a detailed purported waiver of any liability on the part of the organiser. It is not the function of this report to comment on its legal validity,” it says.

The report also notes that “a waiver of liability form is not a substitute for the proper assessment of conditions and participants in a sporting or recreational activity on the water”.

The organiser, who was not one of the instructors, denied that one of the participants was in the water for 40 minutes.

The organiser stated of this participant that “on the 13 September we had a client who was not keen to get back into her kayak and who was feeling tired”.

“She was eventually returned to her kayak with the help of three instructors. If one floats in the sea, the effect of wind and water will carry you somewhere. That is the nature of floating in the sea. It doesn't mean that the conditions were inappropriate,” the organiser said.

The report also quotes the organiser as saying “one woman capsized more than once and needed some convincing to get back into her kayak. I have no wish to embarrass anyone and I don't see the need to say any more other than she was eventually returned to her kayak, and that she was not in the water for 40 minutes, though she was in the water for longer than usual”.

It also says there appears to be no record of any communication over VHF between the tour group and the organiser or instructors, such VHF “traffic” as is recorded on the Irish Coast Guard SITREP and report exchanged between the emergency and rescue services and the fisherman to coordinate the operation.

The report notes several draft reports preceded the final report, and changes were made “where they were warranted”.

It says the organiser detailed her own qualifications, stating “I am a level 4 instructor and hold the highest level skills award which is level 5”. She also said she is a tutor and can train and assess instructors.

It said that the organiser “does not consider regard should be had to CI, as she asserts that the current awards are “not fit for purpose for tour guiding as opposed to providing more in depth instruction”.” It says the organiser stated that a capsize drill is carried out at the harbour, but “no information has been provided as to who gave this instruction for this tour, nor as to what the content was on the date in question”.

It quotes one participant as stating no capsize drill took place.

It says that during the course of the investigation, the organiser of the tour was asked to provide certain records within the meaning of Section 30(1) the 2000 Act and to provide any additional information relating to the incident. It says “no such records or additional information were made available, over and above various statements about the incident made by the organiser in written exchanges in which she raised a number of issues.

The report says that on December 18th, 2020, the organiser wrote to the deputy director of the Irish Coast Guard requesting the “retraction, withdrawal and correction of the IRCG SITREP” for the incident.

The report makes a number of recommendations in relation to more effective delivery of the Code of Practice safety content, and says “consideration should be given to the establishment of a directory of commercial providers of coastal sea and river paddle facilities”.

The report says “consideration should be given to how best to enhance safety standards within the commercial paddlesport provider sector, including whether a mandatory registration or licencing scheme which requires the registration of instructors and their qualifications should be introduced”.

It says “consideration should be given to a mandatory requirement that commercial providers of coastal sea kayaking facilities register in advance with the local Coast Guard to ensure that the rescue services are aware, in advance, of the group’s itinerary, departure and return times, as well as numbers in the group”.

It says mandatory use of suitably licensed VHF radios by commercial providers of coastal sea kayaking facilities should be considered.

It says that CI in conjunction with Sports Ireland should “consider establishing a programme” to facilitate it in “establishing a scheme for the mandatory audit of safety policies and practises in clubs in collaboration with related sport national governing body, and, insofar as it is possible, the audit of instructors in commercial paddlesport providers”.

It says CI should consider “whether a safety audit and compliance system could be developed within its instructor training and registration system so that registered instructors have training in relation to safety requirements including those in the Code of Practice and Marine Notices, and so that CI could better contribute to safety through its regulation of its accreditation and registration system”.

The 240-page report includes lengthy appendices exchanges of communications between the organiser and the investigator. The report is downloadable from the MCIB website here

Published in MCIB
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Kayaking in Ireland has had two new pages added to its history books, with the first medals ever being won in the discipline and Ireland's first-ever European Champion being crowned.

At the recent Championships, held on the 2024 Olympic course in Varies-Sur-Marne, near Paris, David McClure became Irelands first-ever European Champion in Freestyle in the K1 Men division. He sealed his victory with an emphatic win over Joaquim Fontane I Maso, the current World Champion. David, who currently coaches Ireland's next generation of Freestyle athletes, had an ideal set-up for Saturday's final, winning the semi-final and finishing second in the qualification round.

Aoife Hanrahan won a bronze medal in the K1 eventAoife Hanrahan won a bronze medal in the K1 event

In a demonstration of the depth of the Irish team who were competing in Paris, the Championships also saw Ireland's first-ever medal being won in the Women's competition. Aoife Hanrahan, also currently studying for a full-time degree in Pharmacy, won a bronze medal in the K1 event, just behind Poland's Zofia Tula. Aoife had brilliant momentum throughout the entire competition, having qualified in second place from the semi-final.

This championship saw one of the biggest teams Ireland has had at a major international, with 18 athletes competing across the various categories.

Published in Kayaking
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“Stop for a quick apple and orange drink. Paddle on in flat water. Stop for cake and try throwing a lifebelt onto a beach...”

“ Arrive Courtown at about 11.15 to champagne and a congratulations cake reception! A lifetime trip was over....”

Timmy Flavin’s understated diary entry on June 16th, 1991 was recorded after a 942-mile paddle around the coast of Ireland with his fellow kayaker Donal Dowd.

Enduring stinging armpits, swelling fists, cracked lips, missing Raybans, endless storms and unplanned capsizes, the pair set out from Courtown pier, Co Wexford on May 11th, 1991.

After paddling through phosphorescent waters to the Saltee islands, they spent their first night with an orphaned chick in a nestbox provided by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy – as Birdwatch Ireland was then.

The pair paddled an average of just over 31 miles a day until they reached Courtown again four weeks later. The log kept by Flavin - in his best broad Cork accent- has now been published as an illustrated book by his wife Bríd Farrell as a tribute to her late husband’s epic adventure.

Flavin records both indispensable details for the kayaker contemplating a similar circumnavigation, and memories of people that he and Dowd met along the route. As Dowd says, “the ever-changing sea provided us with both tranquillity and white-knuckle fear..”

There are the peaks and troughs of an Atlantic swell, and there is also much humour. Leaving Ballywalter for Annalong, Co Down, on the final leg down the Irish Sea, Flavin reached for his Raybans, couldn’t find them, “and nearly collapsed with shock...” Somehow he survived squinting in the bright sunlight. By the time they pair reach Howth, north Dublin, their fragile hands could grip a paddle but could barely hold a litre of milk or orange juice.

The log includes an equipment list with useful comments on what was and wasn’t required. A silk scarf was “invaluable and essential, while a helmet “ was never used, not carried from Malin onwards”.

“Loose leaves” from a diary were “posted home regularly”, Flavin wrote, and “postage-paid cards were used”, but there was no reading material packed – “no book, no space”. There is also advice on food in the “menu” section, where the nightcap was “white coffee, sugar, Ovaltine, biscuits..”

Timmy Flavin died four years ago of cancer, and the book includes moving tributes to him penned by Donal Dowd, Tony Noctor and by Michael O’Sullivan, a colleague in the ESB where Flavin worked.

“A gentle quiver of a breeze must have passed over the MagGillycuddy’s Reeks and across the Atlantic waters to the Sceiligs, Blaskets, Bull Rock and down the channel of the Blackwater on the 28th May 2015, when Timmy Flavin took his last breath on earth,” O’Sullivan writes, charting the career of a “giant of a man”, proficient at both kayaking and orienteering and a volunteer instructor at Cappanalea outdoor pursuits centre in Co Kerry.

It was at Cappanalea that his future wife, Bríd, met him. All profits from her late husband’s log are being shared between the Kerry University Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit, and the RNLI Valentia lifeboat station, in Co Kerry.

At the Water’s Edge: Two Boats – Around Ireland by Kayak by Timmy Flavin is priced €15 and copies are available directly from Bríd Farrell at email address: [email protected]

Published in Kayaking
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The Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School is hosting its annual Open Day this Sunday 5 May with opportunities to try sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding for only €10.

Children aged 7 and up and their families can get to grips with the INSS’ fleet of 1720 Sportboats, as well as easy-to-master sit-on-yop kayaks and popular stand-up paddleboards, guided by the school’s experienced instructors.

Waterproof overalls and lifejackets will be provided for sailors, wetsuits and buoyancy aids for kayakers and paddleboarders, and hot showers will be provided after your fun on the water — so all you need to bring is your enthusiasm!

Three times slots are available on the day (10am-12pm, 12.30pm-2.30pm and 3pm-5pm) and booking must be made in advance. For more details see the INSS website HERE.

Published in INSS

#LoughRee - RTÉ News reports that a man has died after an incident while kayaking on Lough Ree yesterday afternoon (Saturday 4 March).

Coastguard and RNLI teams recovered the casualty, believed to be an experienced water sportsman, after he went missing between Hodson Bay and the village of Lecarrow. He later died at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe.

Published in News Update

#RNLI - Youghal RNLI has rescued a man who was found clinging to his kayak yesterday afternoon (Sunday 19 February) after he was in the sea for up to 45 minutes.

The volunteer crew was requested to launch their inshore lifeboat at 2pm after a member of Youghal Coast Guard who was driving past Redbarn beach observed what he thought to be someone in trouble in the water.

The lifeboat, helmed by Patsy O’Mahony and with crew members John Griffin, Eddie Hennessy and Martin Morris onboard, launched at 2.08pm and arrived on scene four minutes later, where they found the kayaker had got into difficulty one mile from the beach.

Weather conditions at the time were described as good, with a Force 2-3 north-westerly wind. The tide was falling and the water while calm was cold.

On scene, the lifeboat crew observed the kayaker clinging to his board. He had been unable to get back into the seat on top of the kayak and was showing signs of hypothermia after being immersed in the cold sea for up to 45 minutes.

The casualty was quickly recovered from the water and administered casualty care on the lifeboat and back at the lifeboat station until a doctor from the East Cork Rapid Response unit arrived. The kayaker was then transferred by ambulance to Cork University Hospital.

Speaking following the callout, Youghal RNLI lifeboat operations manager Derry Walsh said: “The kayaker, who was wearing a lifejacket when he got into difficulty this afternoon, had been in the water for a long time before he was spotted and he was suffering from hypothermia when we reached him. Time was of the essence and I have no doubt that a life was saved.

“I would like to commend the member of the public and the member of the coastguard unit here in Youghal who spotted the kayaker in difficulty and raised the alarm. Our crew responded rapidly and used their skills and training to administer casualty care. The kayaker was lucky today and all at Youghal RNLI would like to wish him a speedy recovery following his ordeal.”

Walsh added: “We would always encourage everyone taking to the sea to respect the water. Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. Wear a personal floatation device. Check the weather and tides. Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Kayaking - A Cork man is in the midst of an epic kayaking expedition along the Persian Gulf to raise awareness of the region’s marine environment, as the Evening Echo reports.

Colin Wong from Bishopstown is close to Abu Dhabi as part of a three-man team that set off from Kuwait over two months ago, and by the time they reach Muscat in Oman they will have covered more than 2,000km along the Gulf’s western coast.

The trio are paddling under the banner of Kayak4Kuwait, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of the sea to the countries of the Persian Gulf.

While the journey is Wong’s biggest and most demanding expedition, the 32-year-old is no stranger to long stints on the water, kayaking the River Nile in Uganda last November after placing second in the Liffey Descent marathon.

The Evening Echo has more on the story HERE.

Published in Kayaking

#RNLI - Newcastle RNLI was requested by Belfast Coastgaurd to launch to the aid of what was believed to be a dinghy in trouble a half-mile south of Newcastle Harbour on Saturday afternoon (31 December).

However, when the inshore lifeboat arrived on scene, the crew discovered that the callout was to three kayakers in trouble, with one man found clinging to his kayak in the freezing water and unable to get to safety.

The lifeboat volunteers observed one kayak being towed by another but only one person was visible. On further investigation it was established there was one person in the water further along the shoreline.

Proceeding further south, the lifeboat crew located a male clinging to the front of his kayak, unable to get to safety.

The person was recovered from the freezing water onto the lifeboat and the crew carried out the RNLI’s ‘casualty care’ before returning to Newcastle Lifeboat Station to await the arrival of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

The lifeboat then went back to the scene to rescue a further kayaker and his kayak while Newcastle Coastguard recovered the third casualty from the shore line. The casualties were transferred into the care of paramedics.

“Another five minutes and we could have been dealing with a completely different outcome,” said Newcastle RNLI lifeboat helm Alan Jones. “The water is absolutely freezing at this time of year.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Rescue - Howth’s coastguard and lifeboat teams launched to the rescue of a lone kayaker off the North Dublin headland yesterday morning (Wednesday 28 September).

After a concerned onlooker called 999 when spotting that the kayaker was on the water with no life jacket, Howth Coast Guard and Howth RNLI’s inshore lifeboat were both tasked to the scene near Ireland’s Eye.

In the meantime the kayaker had proceeded around the back of the island and out of visibility from the caller on land. While the kayaker didn’t appear in difficulty, there were concerns for their safety.

A coastguard mobile unit proceeded to the end of the pier while the lifeboat launched on service to the far side of Ireland’s Eye, where the crew located a female on an open-deck kayak struggling in the water. She was brought back ashore by the lifeboat without incident.

“If she fell in the water, she had no means of staying afloat as she had no life jacket and only had a phone to call for help, there can be very limited if any phone signal once you go on the water,” according to an Irish Coast Guard spokesperson.

“The kayaker hadn’t checked the weather, which was unsuitable for the craft she was in. The lessons learnt are you need to have an emergency plan if going on the water – VHF radio, flares, whistle, weather information.

“Equally if not more important, you need a life jacket, no excuse.”

The rescue came just hours after Larne RNLI launched to assist two kayakers in difficulty off the Co Antrim coast, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Rescue

#RNLI - A group of kayakers were brought to safety on Thursday night (18 August) by Union Hall RNLI after they got into difficulty during a night-time kayaking expedition off Castlehaven in West Cork.

The alarm was raised by one of the kayakers after two of the party became separated and the group requested assistance to make their way back to shore.

Union Hall RNLI's inshore lifeboat was launched at 10.45pm and proceeded to the scene, where they learned that the two kayakers originally thought missing had made it to safety on shore and the rest of the group requested assistance to get back to land.

It was decided to take the group off their kayaks and bring them onto the lifeboat before bringing them the short distance to Reen Pier.

The 15 people were helped onboard the Atlantic 85 lifeboat while their kayaks were towed back to shore.

"This was a large group for our inshore lifeboat to assist and our volunteer crew did well in ensuring that everyone was taken onboard quickly and safely," said Union Hall RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Kelleher.

"The weather conditions were challenging for the lifeboat crew to get from their base in Union Hall over to Castlehaven but thankfully conditions on scene were much calmer.

"With the call for help coming in quite early and the lifeboat crew on scene quickly, we were able to get the situation under control in a short time with everyone accounted for and safely brought ashore."

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

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