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Narrowboat cruising on system

Posted by John 
Narrowboat cruising on system
21 March, 2011 22:16
Hello everyone, my first posting on the forum.
I reside in Ireland and have been taking holidays on the UK network for several years in various narrowboats.
My wife & myself have been looking at spending extended periods as liveaboards,(8 or 9 mts per year) initially thought about spending time in the UK but now looking at the feasibility of doing similar in Ireland. I have a few questions to ask before deciding if this is possible;

1. The boat we wish to buy is a "standard UK" dimension narrowboat, 57ft long. This is in order to use it on the UK system too. I have sourced an ideal liveaboard and intend to spend this summer on the UK system. I need to know if it is possible to cruise the entire navigation in Ireland in a narrowboat and how feasible it it to operate it on the more open water expanses on the shannon & erne system.

2. Is there a standard "license fee" payable here, as in the UK? & is it payable to a single entity for the entire system

3. Is there dry docks on the system that can handle this size and weight of narrowboat for maintenance such as blackening and hull inspection.

4. I have got various literature regarding the Irish network, is there toilet pumpout facilities other than the ones listed as far as I can see up near Enniskillen? I need to make a decision regarding the toilet system aboard.

Sorry for the barrage of questions in an opening post but hopefully you all can help me out. Any other advice then I ask you to please share with me, the more advice and knowledge I can acquire the easier the decision becomes.
Many thanks in advance.

John.
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 00:07
Hi John and welcome,

1 No problem with the dimensions. Standard canal guage here is 60 x
13. You could have weather issues on the larger lakes, but if your living
aboard for 8 to 9 months at a time, then it should be no problem for you to
wait a few days for them to settle, if necessary.

2 Waterways Ireland are responsible for the inland navigations, both
north and south. There are no licence fees on the Shannon, SEW or Erne,
you just pay for locks and opening bridges. The licence fee on the Royal,
Grand and Barrow is 127 Euro per annum. This covers bank mooring and lock
fees all three navigations.

3 There are drydocks and again size wont be an issue.

4 Pumpouts are rare on the canals and Barrow. There are some on the
Shannon and more on the Erne.

Keep asking and we'll try answer...!!

M(W&W)F
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 09:28
Thank you for the reply.
The pumpouts will be an issue as I thought initially. Which toilet system do the majority of boaters use on the system here? Casette or some other system? I would like to retain the holding tank and pumpout but this will be a problem to use if facilities are not available.
Is there any sort of plan to have pumpout facilities installed in the foreseeable future on the canal system? It costs me around 10 to 15 pounds sterling to have a pumpout in the UK, but then again there are many more users on the UK system to make it feasible.

The licence fee is much more reasonable here, but then there is the payment of lock and bridge fees, but that is absolutely fine as "you use, you pay" seems a good balance.

Once again, thank you for the response, very helpful indeed.

John



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 22/03/2011 09:53 by John.
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 09:47
Enniskillen has a pumpout at Round'O jetty, others that I know that work are at Carrybridge & Knockninny, these are the three that we use.

Belleek & Castle Archdale ( both on Lower L Erne ) also have pumpouts but not sure if they work.

not too sure but the new service block between Galoon / Bun Bridge ( Upper L Erne ) may have a pumpout too.


Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 09:51
Hi John,

I would recommend, as a starting point, logging on to the Waterways Ireland website and ordering from the wide selection of information booklets (many of them free of charge) which are available. As well as providing information about navigational criteria (which does, from memory, provide details of available pump out facilities) you can also order charts, restaurant guides and much other useful literature.

Good luck with your plans.

Rich
COOL BLUE
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 09:39
Hi John,

To add to what Mick said:

Dimensions are no problem but some of the narrowboats have very low
free-board and as such can be vulnerable to wave action which can come from
either weather or passing boats. Might be wise to consider some system of
washboards or whatever to make sure you can close off the "downstairs" of
the boat from the steerers position at the back to prevent water ingress.

While there are no licences needed to navigate the Shannon or Erne, the boat
must be registered with Waterways Ireland. Download the form at
[www.waterwaysireland.org]
and send it off. There's no charge but the inspectors staff may give you a
hard time if the boat isn't registered and they can in theory impound the
boat. If the boat remains on the BW register, they will accept that
registration for a time.

There are dry-docks, but not that many and the demand for them is high at
times. You'll probabaly find that the lifts in some of the marinas would
be able to take your boat as well.

The Shannon and Erne are fairly well served with pump-outs in terms of
locations but their reliability record is somewhat patchy. As Mick said,
they are rare (almost non-existent in terms of functioning ones) on the
Canals and Barrow.

Charts for our waterways are available from our on-line shop.

Best Wishes,

Colin
GMY Chang Sha
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 10:01
Quote:
Richard Whitla
Hi John,
I would recommend, as a starting point, logging on to the Waterways Ireland website and ordering from the wide selection of information booklets (many of them free of charge) which are available. As well as providing information about navigational criteria (which does, from memory, provide details of available pump out facilities) you can also order charts, restaurant guides and much other useful literature.

Good luck with your plans.

Rich
COOL BLUE

Hi Rich,
I have already got a lot of literature from the website, it is helpful indeed and it is one of the reasons why we are looking about spending time navigating and exploring the Irish system. It indeed details some of the pump out stations but most are on the Erne and seem limited the more south one travels. Saying that some of the literature is dated 2003/4 so I thought that maybe there were more facilities built since that date, hence my questions here.
Thanks for the reply.

John
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 10:09
Quote:
colin_becker1
Hi John,
To add to what Mick said:

Dimensions are no problem but some of the narrowboats have very low
free-board and as such can be vulnerable to wave action which can come from
either weather or passing boats. Might be wise to consider some system of
washboards or whatever to make sure you can close off the "downstairs" of
the boat from the steerers position at the back to prevent water ingress.Yes indeed, one of the criteria that made me ask about the viability of using a narrowboat for exploring the system, it is something that needs consideration.

If the boat remains on the BW register, they will accept that
registration for a time.The boat has a current BW licence until 2012 and we will cruise the UK system this year, but if (when!) we bring it across to Ireland we wont have it on the UK register as we intend to spend a few years here on the boat & will register it here at that time

Charts for our waterways are available from our on-line shop.Will order those too, early days yet but we need to plan for the move if is going to happen.

Best Wishes,

Colin
GMY Chang Sha
Thanks Colin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22/03/2011 10:10 by John.
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 12:53
John,

Colin Becker makes the important point about narrowboats in Ireland - they are vulnerable. Is the boat you're buying a trad or semi trad? This would be a good choice for sealing the stern from wave ingress, I would also suggest that you have a well fitted and sturdy cratch cover put on the bow and that bow doors have a good rise from the deck and that the bow deck drains are of a decent size.

You don't say if you want to return the boat to England from Ireland. If you don't then I would give a lot of thought to selling it and buying a boat better suited to Ireland's waterways. It is not that narrowboats cannot travel the system its really a case of why would you want to be in such a vulnerable craft when there is no need? (having lived on and cruised all the English system over a period of ten years on a narrowboat I do speak from experience). And living on a wide beam is so much easier...

To put this in perspective: have you made the run from Tarleton to Preston on a narrowboat? If you have did you enjoy the trip round the Astland Lamp? This is the only place on the English system that compares with the scale of the Irish inland waterways and, if you got a desire to turn west and have a play in the estuary, you may be the kind of adventurous soul who will enjoy narrowboating in Ireland. If, like most of us, you tried to avoid looking and concentrated on the markers for Preston, you might want to think again. If you did make that run then it would have been in controlled conditions as BW will not let boats out in weather that might be iffy - these are decisions that you will have to make yourself here before crossing the larger bodies of water.

I am not saying it cannot be done (English narrowboats do turn up here to cruise the system, often making it to Belleek and even Limerick and Waterford but few consider it a regular long term option), rather asking the question why would you want to?

Giles.
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 14:39
Hi Giles,
Thank you for the reply, this is exactly the sort of advice I need. I have read about narrowboats using open expanses and tidal waters and need to understand the practicability of doing so in Ireland. The boat is a 57ft trad, so having it sealed in the vulnerable areas, at the stern especially, will be more of an issue.
I am at the stage of planning at the moment Giles, I have only done the “tourist rings” in the UK over the years and have not been on open waters at all, so all very new to me.
Lots to think about, staying on the UK waterways for a few years may be the way to go, having retired early makes the move possible this year and we are both looking forward to it.

John
Re: Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 19:11
John
I would agree with Giles. Whilst a narrow boat would be just about suitable for
the northern section of the Shannon and Shannon/Erne Waterway I am not convinced
they are suitable for the larger Loughs. You may also struggle with current in
certain places if going up stream.
Pumpouts are designed for the standard UK holding tank arrangements but their
availability on the Shannon is varied. However, the hire fleets are supposed to
have them fitted, so the hire bases presumably have pumpouts availble for
changeover periods. I don't know how much they charge but probably not much more
than you are used to in the UK.
One other consideration is suitable moorings, particularly on the Shannon. The
standard UK narrowboats are not really suitable for rafting up, either inside or
on the outside and in many places you may be limited for space with the
necessary length, especially at busy times.
Although there are many who will disagree my view is that the standard narrow
boat is excellent for the canals in the UK and the Royal and Grand over here,
but not for the wider rivers. It is a case of 'horses for courses'.
I must also point out that these comments are based on my experiences when we
were based in Newark on the River Trent and cruising down the tidal sections.
Peter Bentley
Joint Venture
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 19:40
Thank you Peter. It is great to have so many helpful replies, advice like yours and others here is invaluable. It gives me much more to think about and possibility makes the decision for me to remain on the UK waterways, which I enjoy immensely in any case.
I may possibly hire a craft here in Ireland and see how it suits us both, and make a decision where we go from there, and as Giles stated it may be a possibility of selling our narrowboat in the future and buying something more suitable for the Irish system should we decide that is what we want to do at a later date. In any case the craft needs to be a comfortable liveaboard and that narrows it down quite a bit, possibly a widebeam that is suitable for the system.
Lets wait and see what happens.
Once again, thanks to everyone for swift and concise replies, it is appreciated.

John
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 20:33
It is only the Royal and Grand canals that are short on Pumpouts, The Erne System, the Shannon Erne Waterway and the Shannon all have them. The hire companys will charge, The ones on the Erne are free, those on the SEW and the Shannon need a standard WI card which also works the locks andother facilities on the SEW

Mike Kingston
Re: Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
22 March, 2011 22:08
Hi John

You are right. Your info is out of date!
Most of the bigger harbours on the Shannon have pump-outs, as have most of those on the Shannon-Erne!
However, how many of those are operational is very much a variable.
The Grand and Royal canals are less well supported, though they do have pump-outs in the new developments where they meet the Shannon, Shannon Harbour and Richmond Harbour!
I don't know about the Barrow, but no doubt some of our Heavy Metal guys will be along with that info shortly!

Duncan
Re: Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
23 March, 2011 12:56
Quote:
Mike Kingston
It is only the Royal and Grand canals that are short on Pumpouts, The Erne System, the Shannon Erne Waterway and the Shannon all have them. The hire companys will charge, The ones on the Erne are free, those on the SEW and the Shannon need a standard WI card which also works the locks and other facilities on the SEW
Mike Kingston
Thanks Mike

Quote:
Duncan
Hi John
You are right. Your info is out of date!I thought that may be the case.
Most of the bigger harbors on the Shannon have pump-outs, as have most of those on the Shannon-Erne!
However, how many of those are operational is very much a variable.
The Grand and Royal canals are less well supported, though they do have pump-outs in the new developments where they meet the Shannon, Shannon Harbour and Richmond Harbour!
I don't know about the Barrow, but no doubt some of our Heavy Metal guys will be along with that info shortly!

Duncan
Thanks Duncan
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
23 March, 2011 20:49
On very rare occasions I've seen the odd narrow boat on Lougs Derg and Ree, but in perfect flat calm weather. I'd also suggest mid week for the large loughs to avoid typical weekend wake from cruisers, both displacement or planning, and wake from small fast craft in narrow channels where there is not enough room to turn into the wake. Mid week the place is virtually empty. It's doable with caution. Mind you in a blow against current I've met 4th waves on long wide stretches of the river. No probs though on the two canals.

OceanFroggie Noel Griffin
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
23 March, 2011 21:51
Heres a thought, maybe daft, but there y'go. Could some sort of outriggers be designed for your average narrowboat which could give the necessary stability on the Broad loughs? Just a thought, rubbish to your content, Al
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
24 March, 2011 02:04
Quote:
Alun Goodall
Heres a thought, maybe daft, but there y'go. Could some sort of outriggers be designed for your average narrowboat which could give the necessary stability on the Broad loughs? Just a thought, rubbish to your content, Al

An idea alright. This narrow beam barge "I Frances" crossed the Atlantic a decade ago.

Atlantic crossing: [archive.iwai.ie]

She had been modified to survive the crossing, topsides sealed, concrete keel, and was virtually unsinkable and self righting.

OceanFroggie Noel Griffin



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 24/03/2011 02:05 by OceanFroggie.
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
24 March, 2011 10:33
Quote:
OceanFroggie
Quote:
Alun Goodall
Heres a thought, maybe daft, but there y'go. Could some sort of outriggers be designed for your average narrowboat which could give the necessary stability on the Broad loughs? Just a thought, rubbish to your content, Al

An idea alright. This narrow beam barge "I Frances" crossed the Atlantic a decade ago.

Atlantic crossing: [archive.iwai.ie]

She had been modified to survive the crossing, topsides sealed, concrete keel, and was virtually unsinkable and self righting.

The modifications included
Quote:
a mast and sail,
...
O si sic omnes... smoking smiley

PJ: It is never too late... the finger smiley

John SV Breakaway
Re: Narrowboat cruising on system
24 March, 2011 23:09
The narrowboat responsible for more misunderstandings about the seaworthiness of these vessels than any other is 'Progress', Chris Coburn's much traveled campaigning vessel. It even made it to a gathering of small ships off Dunkirk at one of the anniversary bashes to the horror of the French authorities. It is far from standard and probably cost considerably more to build than many replica wide beam Dutch barges. I once witnessed it leaving a Thames lock and was stunned by the speed it was moving at within a few seconds of the throttle being engaged.


[www.nb-progress.com] is the website if anybody is interested.


Giles.
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