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Ballyconnell to Enniskillen

Posted by Richard Ellis 
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Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
31 May, 2010 11:37
Hi all
Will put up a more detailed posting in the next day or so(with pics), but just to let anyone travelling that way know that the water levels on the Upper Erne seem to be very low at the moment. Reflection left the SEW about 11:30 on Sat am and almost immedietly encountered very low water, even before we reached the turnoff for Follies cut.We persevered, and bumped and dragged our way past Gad Island (Chrichton tower I think it is also called), This all happened at about 2-3kts. Low water again before Inish Rath (Hari-Krishns Island). Past the Lady Craigavon bridge we decided to take the alternative route to Enniskillen as the Inishcorkish route is renowned for being shallow. In the area of Marker 30C we dragged and bumped a number of times also. Finally reached the entrance to the river heading towards Carrybridge and was delighted to have between 1-4mtrs under me so increased speed to about 6kts. A short distance past Dixon Marina we came to a pair of Stb/Prt markers and bearing in mind that pairs of markers on a river stretch often mark a gap in an old forde I slowed down to tickover speed again. Thankfully so, as the depth under me went from about 2Mtrs to 0.2Mtrs in about 3-4 boatlengths and then we felt the by now familiar "bump" water depth then increased back to 2-3 Mtrs as quickly as it had disappeared so it would appear that there is a ridge across the channel at that point. On the return journey we came over this place off-centre and gliding at about 1Kt we cleared it with about <0.2mtrs under us. Final surprise for us came close to the Killyhevlin hotel just beside what looks like a pumping station and before the 5kt speed limit. We were on the side nearest the hotel but well within the channel travelling at about 6Kts when we hit something very solid. Discussions with fellow IWAI forumite (Hi Willie, good to meet you) which we met at the Round O Jetties in Enniskillen confirmed that this is a recently discovered hazard, locally known. On the return journey we stayed closer to the opposite side to the Hotel and although shallow we had no difficulties.
However and despite a very bumpy (litterly....) start to the weekend we met up with the Erne Rally group in Enniskillen and accompanied them to the LEYC where we met up with lots of old aquaitainces from the "homeland" and had a brilliant evening. Following morn we all headed off en-masse toward Rossigh jetty where we partook in the Commodores wine and cheese party, so great time had by the crew of Reflection. We were only disappointed that work commitments meant that we had to depart and return to base rather than accompany the Erne group to Beleek on Sunday pm. Many thanks to Colin, Doreen, Grace and all the other "Erne-ites" who made us so welcome.
Our original plan to return to Belturbet was altered as I did not like the idea of more bumping and dragging so we have changed our plans to base ourselves in Belturbet for June to Dixons Marina close to Carrybridge where water seems a little more plentiful. Detailed exploration of the upper Lough will have to wait until we have had a little more rain, I think another 4-6" of depth would have prevented any of the issues we encountered. I now have a renewed faith in Dutch Steel and the value of a long keel .....!
Could I ask anyone on the forum who is familiar with the Erne, is the level particularily low at the moment and I suppose more importantly, is it likely to get any lower........ I did expect the occassional "bottom kissing" moment but I have to say I was little shocked by the widespread bumping and dragging that we experienced. I really would like to spend some time on the upper stretchs of the Uppr Lough but at the current levels Reflection with 1.1 Mtrs draft could not cruise there comfortably even at very very slow speeds.
PS: Very rushed posting so apologies for spelling, grammer etc........... !

Rgds
Richard
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
31 May, 2010 13:51
Richard, sorry about the bumps, nearly as bad as our roads! Following what can only be described as an exceptional period of low rainfall which has been the state since the end of the great flood, water level is nearly as low as it can go. It could fall by another 150mm but there's a bit of rain this week and I guess that will hold levels were they are. After that, well, my personal view is that we're in for a long dry summer, but bear in mind that 5 days is a long time in forecasting terms and I've been wrong before!

That ford at Belleisle is well known locally, there's at least one complete outdrive and a couple of outboards in there. You did the right thing to slow to a crawl.

The shallows at the Water Treatment plant are also well known, at any speed above a crawl a good wake gets kicked up there. Incidentally, water level doesn't change much around the Enniskillen area, its sort of the pivot point of the seesaw if you like. Alun
Re: Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
31 May, 2010 14:32
Yesterdays Observer

[www.guardian.co.uk]


[www.guardian.co.uk]
Coren in full flow


Paul Mc Cann

On 31 May 2010 13:52, IWAI forum alungoodall wrote:

> Posted at: [www.iwai.ie]
> alungoodall wrote:
>
> Richard, sorry about the bumps, nearly as bad as our roads! Following what
> can only be described as an exceptional period of low rainfall which has
> been the state since the end of the great flood, water level is nearly as
> low as it can go. It could fall by another 150mm but there's a bit of rain
> this week and I guess that will hold levels were they are. After that, well,
> my personal view is that we're in for a long dry summer, but bear in mind
> that 5 days is a long time in forecasting terms and I've been wrong before!
>
> That ford at Belleisle is well known locally, there's at least one complete
> outdrive and a couple of outboards in there. You did the right thing to slow
> to a crawl.
>
> The shallows at the Water Treatment plant are also well known, at any speed
> above a crawl a good wake gets kicked up there. Incidentally, water level
> doesn't change much around the Enniskillen area, its sort of the pivot point
> of the seesaw if you like. Alun
>
>
>
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
31 May, 2010 21:41
Hi Alun,
Yep, it looks like we did a pretty good job of finding all the local snags alright......!

Just one quick question for you , with water level at a point where they are become an issue for navigation would not be the case that the sluices at Portora would be closed in order to preserve some depth on the Upr Lough?

For myself I think I managed to dodge a few bullets OK, but a person I spoke with in Enniskillen had I think replaced 4 props already this year !

Rgds
R


Quote:
alungoodall
Richard, sorry about the bumps, nearly as bad as our roads! Following what can only be described as an exceptional period of low rainfall which has been the state since the end of the great flood, water level is nearly as low as it can go. It could fall by another 150mm but there's a bit of rain this week and I guess that will hold levels were they are. After that, well, my personal view is that we're in for a long dry summer, but bear in mind that 5 days is a long time in forecasting terms and I've been wrong before!
That ford at Belleisle is well known locally, there's at least one complete outdrive and a couple of outboards in there. You did the right thing to slow to a crawl.

The shallows at the Water Treatment plant are also well known, at any speed above a crawl a good wake gets kicked up there. Incidentally, water level doesn't change much around the Enniskillen area, its sort of the pivot point of the seesaw if you like. Alun

Rgds
Richard
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
31 May, 2010 23:46
Richard, made a mistake in my earlier post; although rainfall has been around half of normal since the start of December, we actually did have a good flood in the Upper Lough at the beginning of April as a result of the snow melt. I have yet to reply to Udo Vogel about that.

Could the barrage gates be closed in order to help the navigation? Well, yes, they are. Under the current (forgive the pun) legislation they are closed if the Lower Lough falls below 150' OD in order to retain water in the Upper Lough for navigation.

Since that was written in 1950 boat sizes and numbers have grown somewhat and along with some silting of the channels, including as you pointed out around Inishcorkish, then it would be expected that some problems might be encountered as the Upper Lough is quite shallow anyway.

Given time, perhaps 5000 or 10000 years, it is likely that the Upper Lough will silt to the point were it is water meadow and river, rather than the present expanse of water. We're unlikely to see that despite le Frogs assertion recently that I have my own Tardis!

There is pressure from local farmers to carry out dredging as they believe, erroneously I'm afraid, that in some way dredging of the bed below existing water level will improve flood storage. It doesn't, and there is no reason from a flood prevention aspect, to do so. However, there is little doubt that from a navigation aspect such works would be beneficial.

When we were the navigation authority we did carry out those works, in particular at Inishcorkish and at the mouth of the Kesh River, on a fairly regular basis. However, since the Good Friday agreement we are no longer the navigation authority, so any request for dredging needs to be addressed to Waterways Ireland, who have now assumed that role.

Its raining datsun cogs here at present (as I forecast a few days ago) but unlikely to have much effect as the ground is cracked, parched, dry, and evapotranspiration at this time of year takes at least 20% of normal rainfall, but I would expect it to take all of tonight's deluge.

Coming back to an earlier point, closure of the barrage gates, its unlikely to have any effect in the Upper Lough; we'd actually need another couple of weirs at the two points of exit from the Upper Lough in order to achieve anything navigational. And I was up round the Finn on Friday afternoon and the reality is the land up there is a foot to 18" above water level at present so any raising of water levels is going to severely compromise agricultural use of that land. I took a few photos, I haven't downloaded them yet from the camera, but they really do help to inform.

To explain why closure of the gates would make no difference you have to understand how they work. When fully closed they have a crest level of 150' and when fully closed the water coming down the channel goes over the top of them, they're like a fixed weir. However, where we are at present, flow is so small that there is only likely to be 2 to 3" over the top and by the time you get the 8 miles up to the Upper Lough this would have been lost anyway.

Hope that helps, Alun
RE: Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
01 June, 2010 16:35
Richard,



The reason that dredging has not been carried out already on ULE is that it is categorised as as ASSI (Area of Special Scientific Interest).

This means that WI have to get approval from The DOE in Northern Ireland in order to carry out any work on the Upper Lough. As I understand they have been working on this for about 2 years and may be in a position to do something next year. The problem is that the bottom of the lake is part of the ASSI which also makes it difficult to deal with weed which will no doubt also be a problem this year given the low levels.



Mike Kingston
Re: RE: Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
01 June, 2010 17:49
Many thanks for the update Mike.
I am now wondering if I am guilty of contravening some DOE regulations as I have (to some extent) without permission personally dredged a trench along the section from Gad Island to Carry Bridge....winking smiley winking smiley.

I am not going to loose too much sleep about the situation Mike, as we seem to have gotten away without damage and there is lots of water between Carrybridge and Beleek for us to explore, so bit of a change in plans, but we will make the best of the circumstances as they are.
I am quite sure that "sooner or later" the inevitable rain will fall and we will at some stage get to explore the uppr Lough and eventually get back to Derg.

But for the moment, "no-hurry".




Quote:
Mike Kingston
Richard,


The reason that dredging has not been carried out already on ULE is that it is categorised as as ASSI (Area of Special Scientific Interest).





Mike Kingston

Rgds
Richard
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
01 June, 2010 17:55
Hi Alun,
Many thanks for the detailed explaination and yes it is pretty much as I expected as the flow through Portora on Sunday last was minimal, so as you say closing the gates will not make a whole big pile of difference 8miles upstream.
As always, found your explaination informative and facinating, I think there must be a bit of a Hydrology nerd lurking in me somewhere winking smiley winking smiley

Rgds
R

Rgds
Richard
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
01 June, 2010 18:56
Richard, forgot to say too ( a product of age, I'm afraid) that since the Lower lough is currently above 150' closing the gates wouldn't make a button of difference for that reason too. Looking forward to your photos, Alun
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen(With Pics)
02 June, 2010 18:42
Just a few quick pics from the Weekend including our dip into part of the Erne Rally

Saturday morning start in Ballyconnell very miserable with the rain piddling down. Briefly contemplated attempting to get under the bridge with the canopy up, but closer inspection showed that my heart probably couldn’t stand the tension, specially with the flow behind us and my Liver already in recovery mode from the kickoff Dinner Dance for the Erne Rally the previous evening in Belturbet.




Exiting the last lock Corraquill (No1) and on the homeward straight for the Erne...... (we thought...)



The new Senator George Mitchel (The Peace Bridge) linking ROI and NI replacing the old Aghalane Bridge which was blown-up when that access road was closed around 1970.




Slightly further down the Woodford river which for a large part forms the border between ROI and NI is the remains of the "old Aghalane Bridge", certainly a prettier structure but I guess when it came time to rebuild the bridge it was clear that it would not have been up to the task of handling the volumes of traffic of today.




A quick stop at Aghalane mooring to re-erect the canopy as we had now passed under all the low bridges and were heading for "open water.." A couple of German fishermen on the jetty did not seem to welcome us interrupting their peace and quiet for the few minutes it took us to erect the canopy, although we made a point of stopping at the farthest end of the jetty from them.





Reflection dressed in her brand spanking new "Erne flag" (the right way up, "I checked"...). Many thanks to Mike for arranging delivery of same.





Snaking along the Woodford really is a wonderful experience although I am sure a little more sunshine like the previous weekend would have helped raise the spirits somewhat. Kept a sharp eye out for the Kingfishers but the weather must have been a little too miserable even for them. Perhaps on the way back though.....




Crichton Tower on Gad Island, still raining and the mood on Relection gradually sinking as by now we had a number if overly intimate "bottom-rubs" from Lady Erne......





Trinity Church (I think its called) close to Trial Bay which used to be a lovely long sheltered bay for waterskiing. Nice sheltered jetty in there, Derryvore. Camera sort of fell by the wayside for the next few miles as intense watching of depth and constant into and out of gear soaked up all the concentration....



Arriving at the historic Enniskillen Castle(still raining) with Gantry lowered for the two bridges up ahead. A peep around the corner will show that we needed not have bothered lowering the Gantry. The bridges are huuuge.....




Reflection safely tucked in at the Round-O jetties. First job was to get some food into a couple of hungry bodies. Once refuelled the brains were in a much better state to have a rethink about our plans to return to Belturbet the following day. A couple of phone calls were made and 4 weeks berthage secured close to Carrybridge so all was well with the World again...... and "did you notice, it had stopped raining also....." That was the last of the rain for the weekend.
My neighbour on the Jetty (Hi Willie, good to meet you) it seems had been talking to his mates on his boat about "this boat called Reflection" which he had read on the forum was coming up from Lough Derg when suddenly we appeared alongside him. This was one of many examples we came across this weekend of how small a World this really is.



On the move again and following some of the Erne Rally boats out to LEYC which was to be their overnight stop.
Shortly before this we had passed out through the open Portora lock and after passing pair of markers 48D/48C North of Devinish, we got that great open air feeling of having left the rivers and channels and being back in open(and deep) water again.



The Rally flotilla had gotten a little fragmented and it was coming close to dark when the final boats arrived in actually after dark when the Rear Commodores boat finally arrived. It is great to see that all Rally’s share the phenomenon of "Rally time" ie everything runs about 2-3 hrs behind local time........
When the rally group arrived we were delighted to meet a number of families from the "homeland" and a lot of time was spent discussing old times. It was amazing that of all 50+boats on the Rally the one which tied up alongside Reflection had a chap on board who I went to Secondary school with ! It really is a very small World. The Rally had organised for entertainment in the LEYC and after over 9hrs very slow cruising on Reflection a "number" of cold beers hit exactly the right spot......




Following Morning the Fleet headed out en-masse lead by the Commodore Sean McCaffrey on Buddy towards Rossigh jetty where the Commodores Cheese and Wine party was being held. We took the scenic route around by the Manor House, Inishclare and Rossclare.







There is always one, on every Rally.........
Both lads certainly getting into the "spirit" of the event....



Nice up-lake scene with the cliffs of Magho or Tullybrack in the background, a little Dergesque ! perhaps


The Cheese and Wine (Thank you Commodore), now what a feast that was.....


And not only food for the body, but food for the soul as well, provided by a local brass band.
What with the Sunshine, the good food, the entertainment and good company it all seemed like a 1000miles away from recessions, depressions and whatever else yr having.
Now I remember why it is that I do boating.........:-)



The Fleet at Rossigh Jetty



Unfortunately Reflection was unable to stay for the rest of the Rally which although heading up to Beleek had still not left Rossigh at 17:00. We managed to extract ourselves from the seven deep raft and turn the 180 degrees back towards Carrybridge.
We might have been heading for home but being the Bankholiday weekend in NI there were lots other in all sorts of modes of transport enjoying the fine weather and obviously not affected by any "ash clouds"



Heading back through Ennniskillen , in the Sunshine this time.




Even the animals in Fermanagh have waterside residences....


It was a very very long weekend starting with a few lows but certainly accelerating rapidy into highs once we got over our initial humps and bumps.
A very big thank you to all of the Erne group who made us so welcome particularily Sean, Colin, Doreen, Gerard, Grace and many others. Looking forward to getting up there again for the long weekend and hopefully weather to match what we had for the end of last weekend.

Rgds
Richard



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/06/2010 20:09 by Richard Ellis.
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 19:12
Super post Richard. smileys with beer

Thanks for taking the time to narrate each picture which really completes the story.
Dave
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 19:35
Superb photos Richard. Enjoy.
Michael
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 19:46


As ever, excellent Richard.

OceanFroggie Noel Griffin
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 20:06
Richard what a fantastic post,enjoy your time down there its a real treat!
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 21:08
Hi Richard, brilliant...reminds me of the 2003 visit of the HBA, can't wait to get up there again. Are you sure the flag is the right way up, I thought it was the green grass at the bottom and the blue sky at the top.

Les 41M
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 21:28
Quote:
Les Saunders
Hi Richard, brilliant...reminds me of the 2003 visit of the HBA, can't wait to get up there again. Are you sure the flag is the right way up, I thought it was the green grass at the bottom and the blue sky at the top.
Les 41M

Official explaination as below Les, from the Erne branch Web site.....
[i]
[i][i]Lough Erne Flag
[i]There has always been some confusion about which way the Lough Erne Flag should be flown. The normal accepted way is as shown on this site ie the green stripe uppermost. The general idea is that green is for the land, white is for the shore and the blue is for the water.


Rgds
Richard
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
02 June, 2010 22:50
Les ,

I think you both may be in error regarding the origin of the flag - Blue is for Cavan and Green is Fermanagh
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen(With Pics)
02 June, 2010 23:07
Great post Richard sorry that we have had to postpone the CIC due to the low water levels on the SEW - the revised plan is to try again probably end of July/ early August . Club assembling Carrick this weekend to see what we can salvage from the debacle probably Lough Key area . Thanks for the reports on conditions on the Erne they were most helpful . Enjoy the Erne its marvellous hope you make it to Kesh / Lust Beg and Beleek .Safe cruising
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen(With Pics)
03 June, 2010 10:23
Quote:
michael moroney
Great post Richard sorry that we have had to postpone the CIC due to the low water levels on the SEW - the revised plan is to try again probably end of July/ early August . Club assembling Carrick this weekend to see what we can salvage from the debacle probably Lough Key area . Thanks for the reports on conditions on the Erne they were most helpful . Enjoy the Erne its marvellous hope you make it to Kesh / Lust Beg and Beleek .Safe cruising

Hi Michael,
Yep, It was disappointing to hear of the cancellation of the CC's outing to the Erne, I know that the guys in the LEYC were looking forward to meeting everyone for the BBQ on the 19th.
To be honest, I was a little surprised to hear that it had been called off , as the conditions on the SEW were actually not too bad at all. It was only when I came out on the Erne that it got a bit hairy... but as I had suggested, certainly a low speed operation the whole way.
Would I be correct in saying Michael that most of the boats travelling are twin screws and although more exposed than Reflection's single screw, they would be drawing less that Reflections 1.1Mtrs(3' 8") at slow displacement mode and would probably just about get away with it.
I know that it is each skippers call on what he considers suitable , or not and certainly no one want to be put unnecessarily into an unacceptable risk situation. If there is anyone who is travelling to the Erne anyhow(perhaps in shallower draft boat) pls feel free to give me a shout and I am sure we can meet up sometime
We had a great time around Lough Key, Boyle and Carick last Summer so I am sure you will all have at least as good a time as we had. On the way up we also spend some time in Carnadoe, Grange and Kilglass and that really was a magical little cruising ground, highly recommended.
Keep in touch
Rgds
Richard

Rgds
Richard
Re: Ballyconnell to Enniskillen
03 June, 2010 17:02
Quote:
Richard Ellis
Quote:
Les Saunders
Hi Richard, brilliant...reminds me of the 2003 visit of the HBA, can't wait to get up there again. Are you sure the flag is the right way up, I thought it was the green grass at the bottom and the blue sky at the top.
Les 41M

Official explaination as below Les, from the Erne branch Web site.....
[i]
[i][i]Lough Erne Flag
[i]There has always been some confusion about which way the Lough Erne Flag should be flown. The normal accepted way is as shown on this site ie the green stripe uppermost. The general idea is that green is for the land, white is for the shore and the blue is for the water.


Hi Richard, sorry we missed you last w/e,

its OK, you & I do have the flag the CORRECT way up winking smiley

Austin

Pas Vite



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/06/2010 17:03 by Pas Vite.

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