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Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was called out on Thursday evening (19 January) to assist three people on a 16ft speedboat adrift at the most northern part of the lake near Portumna.

Valentia Coast Guard requested the launch following reports that the speedboat had suffered engine failure while towing wakeboarders.

At 6.05pm, the lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Doireann Kennedy, Joe O’Donoghue and Oisín Higgins on board.

The lake was flat calm on a clear, dark night with a star-filled sky. The air temperature was below freezing so the lifeboat crew brought a grab-bag with three blankets.

Valentia Coast Guard provided the lifeboat with a contact for the casualties. The lifeboat requested the casualties to use their phone torches when they saw they lifeboat approaching.

At 6.25pm, as the lifeboat passed Terryglass Bay en route to Portumna, the casualties lit their phone torches revealing their location. They had drifted south of their original reported location and were close to Lough Derg navigation mark J.

Five minutes later the lifeboat was alongside the casualty vessel and the volunteers established that all three people on board were unharmed but were feeling cold.

The casualties were provided with blankets and told to wrap up and sit in a huddle at the bow of their boat. The lifeboat crew then set up an alongside tow and made way to Terryglass Harbour, where the speedboat was safely tied by 7pm.

Having ensured the casualties were safe and ashore, the lifeboat departed the scene and was back at station at 8.15pm.

Jeremy Freeman, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users “to dress appropriately for winter weather and water temperatures. Make sure your engines are serviced and always carry sufficient life jackets for everyone on board and ensure that they are worn.”

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An RNLI assessor trainer who has delivered training and assessments at Lough Derg RNLI for almost 20 years was treated to a surprise leaving party by station volunteers this week.

On Wednesday (14 December), Helena Duggan and her fellow assessor trainer Seán Ginnelly came to Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat station as part of a scheduled training session, Helena to give a class and provide assessments for the deputy launching authority volunteers and Seán to assess crew on their latest theory modules.

As this was Helena’s final teaching session with Lough Derg RNLI before she leaves to become the assessor trainer for another group of RNLI stations in the Irish region, volunteers arranged a surprise leaving party in her honour.

Helena has taught and assessed volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI since 2003, a year of intensive preparation before the new station — the second only inland station in Ireland at that time — went live for service on 24 May 2004.

As the classroom session came to a close, RNLI volunteers arrived with homemade cakes and scones. Helena was presented with two specially commissioned pieces of art: a 3D woodcut of Lough Derg by artist Henri Bocxe and a ceramic sculpture by artist Annemarie Mullan.

Helena was also presented with this ceramic sculpture by artist Annemarie Mullan | RNLI/Eleanor HookerHelena was also presented with this ceramic sculpture by artist Annemarie Mullan | RNLI/Eleanor Hooker

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI thanked Helena for her “years of teaching and preparing volunteers, for your wisdom and advice, your stories and laughter”.

Helm Owen Cavanagh said he was “sad to be saying goodbye” and gave his and the crew’s warmest thanks for her “years of friendship and teaching”.

The only remaining crew from the 2003 intake, volunteer helm and lifeboat press officer Eleanor Hooker shared memories of how Helena prepared her and other volunteers for their roles ahead with great patience and commitment.

“As was mentioned at the party, Helena is an inspirational character, she sets a standard to which all of us aspire, but as she said last evening, she is still around and will be there for any of us should we need to chat,” Eleanor said.

“Seán Ginnelly is the new RNLI assessor trainer for the station and it was wonderful to see the comfortable and immediate rapport with him and all at Lough Derg RNLI.”

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Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels and waterway users on the Shannon Navigation that jetty upgrade works at Coosan Point on Lough Ree are under way as of Tuesday 25 October.

Originally set to continue to next Wednesday 2 November, the works were completed ahead of schedule on Friday 28 October.

The jetty lights that were turned off to facilitate these works have now operating again, the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways confirmed.

Elsewhere, re-decking of the floating jetties in Dromineer on Lough Derg will commence on Tuesday 1 November.

Security fencing will be erected around the front of the gangway to restrict access onto the floating jetties for the duration of the works, which are expected to take around six weeks to complete.

This story was updated on Friday 28 October to note the early completion of works at Coosan Point.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Lough Derg Freshwater One Design regatta last weekend was, for most, a two-day event reduced to one, and for the Northern Ireland sailors who made the long journey to Dromineer somewhat disappointing, especially for the Belfast Lough Flying Fifteen entries, Bryan Willis and Trevor D’Arcy.

But it would seem it was better not to argue with the gale force gusts on the Saturday of the eighteen Flying Fifteens entered, ten actually turned out. Of those, one of the Northern boats, Bryan Willis and David McFarland in Simply Gold had a frightening experience when Bryan was swept overboard while hoisting the spinnaker and got tangled with the spinnaker sheet as the spinnaker was still up. As it was trying to fill, it pulled the sheet tightly around him. The County Antrim Yacht Club helm Bryan said, “ If David moved from the weather side to try to pull me in, the boat threatened to capsize on top of me. It was a relief to be rescued by the Safety Boat”. He continued, “All the boats that went out on Saturday got into trouble at some point, and one was completely upside down”.

Bryan Willis in Simply Gold (4074) neck and neck with Trevor D'Arcy in Don't Look Back (3782) in the lighter winds on Sunday at Lough Derg Yacht Club's Freshwater One Design Regatta Photo Olly KierseBryan Willis in Simply Gold (4074) neck and neck with Trevor D'Arcy in Don't Look Back (3782) in the lighter winds on Sunday at Lough Derg Yacht Club's Freshwater One Design Regatta Photo Olly Kierse

Trevor D'Arcy and Alan McLernon from Carrickfergus, also on Belfast Lough, did finish, though, at second behind Niall and Ronan O’Brien. But they retired from the second race.

As Afloat reported earlier, Sunday’s conditions were the opposite, with light fluky winds, and on that day, D’Arcy scored another second, 6, 5 and 10 to finish fifth overall. Willis and McFarland redeemed themselves with a 2,3, 6 and 8 to finish ninth.

Some of the Northern Ireland Squib fleet, decided not to travel, leaving the Strangford Lough entry, Robert Marshall from Killyleagh, along with Peter Wallace Gordon Patterson, Terry Rowan and Stephen Stewart from Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough to compete in the 32 strong fleet.

With no racing on Saturday, all of day 2’s four races counted and coming out on top by one point was Royal North’s Toy for the Boys with Peter Wallace and crew Fiona Ward from Kinsale. Peter won the 2018 Squib Nationals at Royal Irish. Runner up was David Stewart in Granat from Royal Irish with the far travelled Dick Batt from Royal Victoria YC on the Isle of Wight in third slot.

The other Northern Ireland Squibs who travelled to Dromineer finished at eighth, 11th 12th and 13th, respectively: Terry Rowan in Dogwatch, Stephen Stewart in Second Chance, Gordon Patterson’s Fagin (last year’s winner), all from Royal North, and Slipstream with Robert Marshall from Killyleagh. Patterson’s crew Ross Nolan said, “ It was great to get back to Dromineer for the annual season closer and catch up with everyone. Challenging racing in light and shifty conditions, especially with shorter races due to the compressed schedule. This was typical close Squib racing and another great regatta”.

Result sheets are downloadable below

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers were called upon to assist a lone sailor on a 36ft yacht aground at Bonaveen Point on Tuesday afternoon (11 October).

At 4.45pm the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier was launched with helm Steve Smyth, Eleanor Hooker and Richard Nolan on board, headed for the reported location at the northwestern shore of Lough Derg above Cloondavaun Bay. Winds were southerly Force 4/5 and gusting, with good visibility.

The lifeboat arrived on scene 20 minutes later at Fowler Island, north of Bonaveen Point on the Co Clare shore.

Two local people, in their lake boat standing off in safe water, came alongside the lifeboat and informed the volunteers it was they who called for assistance after they were unable to assist the person on board the yacht.

They expressed their concern for the skipper on the yacht, who had been aground for the three hours and who they could not safely take off under the conditions due to the casualty’s limited mobility. They had attempted an approach but damaged their propeller on rocks that extend 30 metres from Fowler Island into the lake.

Valentia Coast Guard offered an airlift for the casualty but the RNLI volunteers felt that would prove difficult due to the location and the height of the mast on the yacht.

Studying their lake charts and using their local knowledge, the lifeboat volunteers planned a route to the yacht with the intention to evacuate the casualty.

The helm requested the crew to take up positions in the bow, port and starboard, to take soundings and to report sightings of hazards in the water. Then the helm lifted one engine and skilfully navigated a course around rocks to the casualty vessel.

At 5.41pm the lifeboat reached the stern of the casualty vessel. An RNLI volunteer boarded the yacht to assist the skipper and, with an RNLI volunteer in the bow of the lifeboat, they helped the casualty transfer to the lifeboat.

Once everyone was recovered to the lifeboat, the helm, with one crew member at the stern on the lookout for hazards, immediately began a route back to safe water, after which they assessed the casualty for any injury. The sailor was feeling cold but otherwise well.

Just before 6pm the lifeboat arrived at Cloondevaun Harbour and left the casualty in the care of their friend. The two people in their lake boat also arrived safely to shore, ahead of the lifeboat.

Catherine Gleeson, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “carry a means of communication and let someone know your destination and your planned time of arrival”.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers were requested on Saturday afternoon (8 October) to assist two people on a 16ft yacht aground on a shoal near Terryglass Harbour.

The inshore lifeboat Jean Spier was launched at 5.05pm with helm Eleanor Hooker and crew Tom Hayes, Joe O’Donoghue and Richard Nolan on board. Winds were southeasterly Force 3-4 and visibility was good.

Twenty minutes later the lifeboat located the yacht on a shoal north of Terryglass Harbour. With a crew member taking soundings off the bow, the lifeboat made a cautious approach to the casualty vessel.

Both people on board the yacht were safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets. A lifeboat volunteer boarded the vessel and established that it was not holed.

It emerged that the skipper had been hoisting the yacht’s sails when its outboard engine failed, and the wind pushed the yacht onto the shoal.

The lifeboat attempted to free the yacht from the shoal but it was evident that the bow keel plate was stuck fast.

Two RNLI crew rotated the bow and used the wind and wave to lift the yacht off the shoal before taking it out into safe water, where volunteers set up an alongside tow to Terryglass Harry, where it was tied safely alongside at 6.45pm.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users: “If you find yourself in difficulty on Lough Derg, dial 999 or 112 and ask for marine rescue.”

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On Sunday afternoon (25 September), Valentia Coast Guard requested Lough Derg RNLI to assist three people on a 30ft cruiser reported adrift in Scariff Bay, southeast of Mountshannon Harbour.

The inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched at 3.47pm with helm Eleanor Hooker, Owen Cavanagh, Steve Smyth and Tom Hayes on board.

Winds were westerly Force 4 gusting Force 5, with fair visibility, a low mist and frequent squalls.

Shortly after 4pm the lifeboat located the casualty vessel by the Scilly Islands in Scariff Bay. All three people on board were unharmed.

The lifeboat provided two survivor lifejackets and requested that the third person don their lifejacket on board.

An RNLI volunteer transferred across to the casualty vessel and established that that engine had failed.

Given the location and the deteriorating weather conditions and poor forecast, the helm requested the crew to set up for an astern tow to Mountshannon Harbour.

In the lee of Bushy Island at the entrance to Mountshannon Bay, the lifeboat volunteers changed to an alongside tow to facilitate navigating the channel into harbour.

The casualty vessel was safely tied alongside at Mountshannon Harbour at 4.45pm and the lifeboat returned to station.

Liam Maloney, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “carry sufficient lifejackets for all passengers and wear them, and also carry a means of communication so that you can call for assistance if you find yourself in difficulty on the lake”.

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Three people had an unexpected night ashore when their 35ft cruiser ran aground at Illaunmor, requiring the assistance of Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers on Sunday afternoon (11 September).

At 3.25pm, Lough Derg’s inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Doireann Kennedy, Joe O’Donoghue and Tom Hayes on board. Conditions had southerly Force 3-4 winds with good visibility.

Initial reports from the casualty vessel indicated that it was aground by the entrance to Dromineer Bay. With no evidence of a vessel in difficulty in the bay, the lifeboat asked Valentia Coast Guard if they could make contact with the casualties to determine their exact location or identify nearby landmarks.

At 3.33pm, with additional information from the coastguard, the lifeboat located the casualty vessel at the southern end of Illaunmor.

Using onboard electronic navigation equipment and taking soundings off the bow, the lifeboat made a cautious approach to the casualty vessel.

As the lifeboat neared the cruiser, it was evident from the diving platform that someone on the casualty vessel had suffered an injury. The helm asked two crew members to put on gloves and to ready the first aid kit. The lifeboat was alongside at 3.41pm.

It emerged that one person on board had been in the water in bare feet to assess their situation and had suffered lacerations to their foot. The other two people were safe and unharmed. All were asked to don their lifejackets.

Two RNLI volunteers transferred to the casualty vessel and attended to the injured person. Once the RNLI volunteers were satisfied that the person had no other injuries, he was instructed to remain seated with his foot elevated.

The lifeboat crew also ascertained that the casualty vessel had grounded bow-up on a rocky shoal.

An RNLI volunteer checked under the floorboards and in the engine housing to make certain that the vessel was not holed, then set up an astern tow after being requested to do so by the helm. The second RNLI volunteer on board the casualty vessel returned to the lifeboat to assist with tow lines.

At 4.10pm the lifeboat attempted to take the casualty vessel off the shoal but it was stuck fast. The helm made the decision to take all people off the boat and to the safety of Dromineer.

Volunteers also made contact with RNLI shore crew back at station and asked that they book accommodation for the three people at Lough Derg House in Dromineer.

An RNLI volunteer secured the vessel and deployed the anchor. All three people were assisted on to the lifeboat and taken to Dromineer where, at 5pm, they were met by the proprietor of Lough Derg House. Shore crew also made contact with the cruiser company to arrange for the recovery of the casualty vessel.

Peter Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “keep to the navigation route on your charts and keep a constant lookout”.

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Lough Derg RNLI continued what’s been a busy few days on the lake on Monday afternoon (29 August) when its volunteers were called on to assist five people on a cruiser aground in Scariff Bay.

At 2.45pm the inshore lifeboat Jean Spier launched with helm Eleanor Hooker, Doireann Kennedy, Chris Parker and Steve Smyth on board, headed for the reported location east of Bushy Island at the southwest of the lake. Winds were southeasterly Force 3 and visibility was good.

The lifeboat located the casualty vessel, a 38ft cruiser, at 3pm and made a cautious approach with an RNLI volunteer taking soundings off the bow.

All five people on board were safe and unharmed and were requested to don their lifejackets.

The cruiser was aground on a rocky shoal with large rocks visible at its stern and bow and with sand to the port side.

The lifeboat lay alongside the casualty vessel’s port side while a volunteer climbed on board to check whether the vessel was damaged or holed.

Accompanied by the skipper, the RNLI volunteer checked under the floorboards, in the bilge and engine housing where they found a hairline break in the hull below the water line that was permitting ingress of water.

It was decided that the safest course of action was to drop anchor, secure the vessel and take all five people off and to the safety of Mountshannon Harbour, where crew would help the casualties make contact with a marina and marine engineer with facilities to recover their boat.

At 3.30pm the lifeboat delivered all five people ashore at Mounstshannon. After assisting them to make contact with a marine engineer, the lifeboat was returned to station to be readied for its next service.

Peter Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Lough Derg RNLI advises boat users to “dial 999 or 112 and ask for marine rescue if in difficulty on the lake”.

Monday’s callout follows similar shouts on Friday and Thursday to boats run aground on the lake as summer draws to a close.

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Following Thursday evening’s callout, Lough Derg RNLI’s lifeboat volunteers were back at the Goat Road on Friday afternoon (26 August) to assist two people on a 30ft cruiser aground at navigation marker E.

At 4.45pm Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat, Jean Spier, launched into Force 3 northwesterly winds, with helm Eleanor Hooker, Doireann Kennedy, Chris Parker and Richard Nolan on board.

The lifeboat arrived on scene 15 minutes later to find the casualty vessel bow-up on a shoal inside the Goat Road, a location midway up the northeastern shore of the lake.

Both people on board were safe and unharmed and were requested to don their lifejackets.

An RNLI crew member transferred across to the casualty vessel to check that it was not holed and, after being requested to do so by the helm, set up an astern tow.

At 5.15pm the lifeboat had the casualty vessel off the shoal and under tow to safe water, where the drives and propeller were checked and found to be in good working order.

While the RNLI volunteer was providing guidance on lake buoyage before the cruiser continued its passage south under its own power, the Lough Derg RNLI boathouse contacted the lifeboat to report that a 16ft motor boat with four people on board was in difficulty in Scariff Bay at the southwestern end of the lake.

Once the crew member transferred back, the lifeboat made way to Scariff Bay, calling in for an exact location while en route. It was reported that the people on board the casualty vessel could see Rabbit Island.

At 5.40pm the lifeboat located the casualty vessel deep inside Scarriff Bay near Castlebawn Castle on the southwestern shore opposite Rabbit Island. All four people on board were safe and unharmed and wearing their lifejackets.

The lifeboat volunteers set up for an alongside tow and the RNLI helm asked the skipper of the casualty vessel to raise his outboard engine to reduce drag. The lifeboat took the vessel to the safety of Mountshannon Harbour, where volunteers assisted with the recovery of the vessel to a road trailer.

Commenting later, Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager at Lough Derg RNLI gave advice for all boat users to “anticipate each navigation buoy on your route and keep a constant lookout, and especially for the Goat Road navigation mark which is closer to the centre line of the lake than might be expected”.

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General Information on using Waterways Ireland inland navigations

Safety on the Water

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

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

Registration of Vessels

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

Craft registration should be completed online at:

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

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

Permit applications should be completed online at:

Passage on the Royal and Grand Canals – Dublin Area

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

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

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

Newcomen Lifting Bridge

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

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

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

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

Events Held on the Waterways

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

Time Limits on Mooring in Public Harbours

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

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

Winter Mooring on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway

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

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

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

Smart Cards

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

Berthing in Public Harbours

Masters are reminded of the following:

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

Passenger Vessel Berths

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

Lock Lead-in Jetties

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

Vessel Wake

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

Speed Restriction

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

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

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

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

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

Bank Erosion

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

Unusual Waterborne Activity

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

Sailing Activity

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


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


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

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

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

Canoe Trail Network – "Blueways"

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

Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals – Lough Key

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

Fast Powerboats and Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

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

Towing Waterskiers, Wakeboarders, Doughnuts etc

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

Prohibition on Swimming

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

Age Restrictions on operating of powered craft

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

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

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

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further information is available at:

Firing Range Danger Area – Lough Ree

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

Shannon Navigation, Portumna Swing Bridge Tolls

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

Navigating from Killaloe to Limerick on the Shannon Navigation

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Bann Navigation

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

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

Lower Bann Navigation – Newferry – No wake zone

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

Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) and Air draft

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

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

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

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

Submarine Cables and Pipes

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

Water Levels - Precautions

Low Water Levels:

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


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

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


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

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

Bank Erosion

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

Lock Share

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

High Water Levels:

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


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

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

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

Harbours and Jetties

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


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

Caution to be Used in Reliance upon Aids to Navigation

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

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

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

Information taken from Special Marine Notice No 1 of 2023

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