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Vol. 26 Issue 2.
Special Notice to Mariners 1999
The Inspector of Navigation for the Shannon has sent a copy of this notice, which provides a useful reminder of some DOs and DON'Ts. Here is a summary of the main points.
Vessels in the Shannon Navigation must be registered with the Shannon Navigation office, The Docks, Athlone, Co Westmeath; tel (0902) 94232; fax (0902) 94147. The only exceptions are undecked boats with engines of less than 15hp.
In the period 1 April to 31 October, you can berth in a public harbour for no more than five consecutive days or a total of seven days. You should not block access to pump-out stations.
Remember the speed restrictions.
A vessel or boat shall not be navigated at such a speed or in such a manner as to cause or be likely to cause injury or damage to persons or to other vessels or boats or any other property.Hovercraft, amphibious aircraft and other unusual vessels are, when waterborne, subject to the normal rules of the road.
Take care in three areas:
Cuckoos and jammersStuart McNamara
Like their feathered cousins, the VHF Cuckoos are first heard as soon as the weather improves. Their speciality is chattering or singing endlessly, preferably on Channel 16.
I have also heard two jammers already this year on Lough Ree: probably people whose radio mike socket pins have corroded over the winter, causing the radio to transmit all day, effectively jamming everyone else's radio within 30-50 miles. You can check for this by seeing if the TX symbol or light is permanently on on your radio display.
Cuckoos clog up the marine radio band with unnecessary chatter. "What's the harm?" they say. "Sure hardly anyone uses VHF on the inland waterways and the coastal VHF stations are miles away!" Well, not quite. The Irish Marine Emergency Services (IMES) hopes to introduce marine VHF to the Shannon later this year, with remote monitoring from Dublin for emergency calls on Channel 16. The existing Shannon Radio is already very close to Lough Derg.
Marine VHF sets have two settings. Low Power (1 watt) has a nominal range over water of three miles; high power (25 watts) has a nominal range of thirty miles - but it can have a range of fifty miles along line of sight. So if you are transmitting idle chatter or your children are singing songs on Channel 16 (which I regularly hear on Lough Ree), you could be blocking out a rescue helicopter at 2000 feet: over Galway Bay if you're on Lough Ree, over the Shannon if you're on Lough Derg or over the south-east if you're on the Barrow.
IMES and Air Corps helicopters will probably assume a rescue role on the inland waterways later this year and lifeboats are to be introduced on Lough Ree and Lough Derg. The least we can do for these people, who risk their own lives to rescue us, is to ensure that we respect their communications channels.
The River Suck railway bridgeReggie Redmond
In 1991, I gave a formula, in the Athlone Aerial and in Inland Waterways News, for calculating clearance under the Bord na Mona railway bridge at the entrance to the River Suck. With the increased interest in the Suck, I am giving the formula again.
The air draught of my boat, Crannagh, is 7ft 10in; our clearance under the bridge was 4ft 5in. So the height of the bridge above water was 12ft 3ins, at a time when the level over the lock cill at Athlone was 7ft 9in. Adding those two measurements (12ft 3in and 7ft 9in) gives a nice round and easily remembered figure of 20ft.
The significance of this figure of 20ft is that it is, by and large, a constant. If the level over the cill rises by, say, 1ft, it can be reasonably assumed that the height of the bridge over the water is reduced by the same amount.
So before journeying up the Suck it is only necessary to ask (or phone) Athlone lock for the level over the lower cill. This figure, if deducted from 20ft, will give the height of the bridge; if one's own known air draught is then deducted, one's clearance under the bridge is the result:
20ft minus lower cill minus air draught = clearanceFinally, in wet weather I would deem it inadvisable to proceed if the clearance were less than 1ft, since one might not be able to get back the following day!
Lough Ree reportBrian J Goggin
Athlone Chamber of Commerce and Industry has published a 120-page report entitled Lough Ree: Lake of Kings, King of Lakes. The report is intended to form the basis for a strategic action plan for the integrated development of Lough Ree; its most important recommendation is for the setting up of a locally-based, democratically-elected taskforce to carry the process forward.
Although its recommendations are still subject to debate locally, the report does contain a large amount of useful information on such topics as the socio-economic context, strategic issues (eg water quality, angling, speed limits, unauthorised moorings), the tourism product and its marketing, biological and ecological features and conservation status. Contact the Chamber at Jolly Mariner Marina, Coosan, Athlone, Co Westmeath; tel (0902) 73022; fax (0902) 73326.
Garda boatBrian J Goggin
Some months ago, the Irish Times announced that a Garda Water Unit is to be set up and given a 30ft, 260hp boat for patrolling the Shannon, the Estuary and the Shannon-Erne waterway. The article gave three reasons, none of which I understood, for this development:
I asked some follow-up questions, principally about two topics:
IBRA's £5 a night: update
IWAI's Executive has been unable to convince IBRA not to introduce the mooring charge. However, IBRA has agreed to a 40% discount (ie a reduction to £3 a night) for IWAI members and their families using their own boats, provided those boats display a sticker indicating current IWAI membership. This will also entitle members to the discounts on diesel fuel sales that have been in force for some years.
This proposal will be discussed by IWAI Council after this issue goes to press. If it is agreed, stickers will have to be printed and distributed urgently.
The whole incident has highlighted the need for better communication between the two organisations; some measures have been proposed to facilitate that.