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New to the waterways my experience so far !

Posted by Darren Whelan 
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New to the waterways my experience so far !
07 June, 2019 09:35
Hi all ,

After 10 years of saving and looking at boats , my ship came in and landed on the Irish waterways !
My experience so far hasn’t been very good at all and me and my family haven’t started at all well .
My boat is currently in enniskillen and I plan to bring her down south , Iv looked joining 70km section from the north to the south and parts of it look very small and tight .
Iv some questions if you can help ?

1 I’m terribly at maneuvering and my height is height for bridges , what’s the best advise with low bridges ? Go very slow and possibly loose control ? Or to almost stop and use your hands to maneuver at crawl space ?

2. Have you any advise for this section of water ?

3 is there a lovely marina near the Shannon ? Iv children and all the places Iv been have no family’s and are completely dead ?

4. Parking on waterway jetties .... I understand you have 4 days max .
This makes it very hard to leave your boat on a Sunday and return the following Saturday ?
Many don’t seem very safe ?
What is your experience ?

Thank you and I hope it gets better .....

Re: New to the waterways my experience so far !
07 June, 2019 11:38
Hi Darren,

You didn't say what kind of boat you have so it's somewhat hard to give detailed advise.
Negotiating bridges can be tricky but generally its best to keep a little way on the boat to allow you to steer

The Shannon Erne Waterway can accommodate boats 24m long, 4.5m wide and 3.2m high over a width of 3m (1.2m draft as well) if my memory serves.

The direction of the flow is important. If you are going against the flow (as would be the case coming west along the Woodford River section of the Shannon Erne Waterway) steering should be a little easier. Going with the flow, you have to keep a little more speed on to maintain steering. If there's a heavy flow on the river, you may need to travel quite fast in order to maintain steering. The thing is, if there's a heavy flow, you won't be able to stop the boat and hand walk through. You'll be swept down onto the bridge and probably turned broadside to the flow which would not be good.

Once you get onto the canal section of the SEW it should be easier because there will usually be less flow.

If the issue is with air-draft, perhaps you can reduce the height somewhat by dropping the canopy or the mast or something.

There's no shame in taking it handy in tight situations. If you are unhappy about your ability to steer through a bridge arch, then go dead slow and get people out on deck with fenders. Some of the bridges on the SEW are on fairly tight corners so id does pay to take it slowly. You will get better with time. Like everything else in life you get better with practice.

You can only leave a boat in one of the public harbours for 5 consecutive days. Waterways Ireland do police this, especially in the busier harbours. Most of the harbours are fairly safe. We did have a drum of diesel stolen of our deck once but other than that, never had any problems. Obviously it makes sense not to leave temptation for the ungodly. Put cameras, phones, binoculars and the like out of sight when you leave the boat. If you have navigation equipment and radios on a fly-bridge, you may want to consider de-mounting them and stowing them below when you are away. Outboard motors are vulnerable so make sure you have a substantial lock and some people recommend removing the normal engine top-housing and putting one of those flexible bag covers on. Thieves are less likely to nick an engine if it's without its complete housing.

If you are planning to come to the Shannon for the summer you should probably try to get a berth at one of the commercial marinas and use that as a base.

There are lots of nice marinas on the Shannon but I would say in general if you want things like children's playgrounds and that you'll need to go to one of the bigger public harbours. Speaking for Lough Derg which I'm most familiar with there are good playgrounds at Portumna Castle, Terryglass, Dromineer, Garrykennedy & Mountshannon. I'm sure there's one in Killaloe too, its a decent sized town, but I can't remember where.

Another suggestion would be to try joining some of the boat rallies. The Shannon Harbour Rally (June 21-23), The Lough Derg Rally (July 6-13) and The Shannon Boat Rally (July 26-Aug 4) all put a lot of emphasis on activities for children and you'll meet up with people who have similar interests and you can always get together with them at a later date.

It depends on the age of the children but we find with our own grandchildren (aged 8 and down) that keeping the trips fairly short (say 1-2 hours at most), having lots of toys and games and books on board, and having things like a dinghy or a canoe for them to paddle about in works well. (Proper kids sized PDFs are a must of course.)

Hope this helps,

Best Wishes,

GMY Chang Sha
Re: New to the waterways my experience so far !
07 June, 2019 12:54
Colin , thank you so so much for your valuable experienced advise !
The boat is a sports cruiser , it has a high arch which I can’t take down easily .... the boat fits if I stay in a straight line but when you go off target the arch will hit hard .
I went trough upper lough earn during the week with two feet on each side and dragged to one side it was terrible !

Thanks again

Re: New to the waterways my experience so far !
09 June, 2019 21:39
Hi Darren welcome to the waterways, all I can say is stick with It we started in 2012 with our first cruiser and had a lot to learn and probably still do. At the time the kids were two 5 year olds and a 6 year old and as Colin said short trips are best if the kids are young .I would also recommend getting a berth they cost but take a lot of hassle out of boating trying to get back to the boat all the time trying to move it.. We often went to our marina and stayed not moving the boat at all .The rallies are a great place for both old and young to meet my three boys have many friends on the waterways that they meet all over the Shannon .I hope all goes well going forward and I wish ye happy boating. regards Ian

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