This year the time seems to have just flown by while waiting for the summer to start. What happened to the 25 degrees C in the evenings, instead we have had it colder than winter on a good few days. However, did that stop us boating and opening up new hidey places to go, no, it did not. The CSIG has continued to be very busy and has introduced a new version of the charts, surveyed new areas to be opened up to general use, started a Pilot with Waterways Ireland (WI), added more surveyors, and increased the number of testers to around 100. We have also worked well with WI engineers adding new markers and mooring places, which the CSIG discovered.
BETA V5 RELEASE
It is not long ago that we released V4 of the Beta suite, but a large addition of new data, and a new algorithm spreading the depths more evenly making them easier to read, new more realistic marker shapes, and a number of corrections suggested a new release in time for the summer cruising would be in order. So Beta5 charts have been loaded onto the file share for all testers who want the latest version. Many thanks to Brian Willson whose efforts behind the scenes combined with his IT skills are absolutely crucial to what the CSIG has achieved. It should not be forgotten that the App, which Brian has developed, enables the surveyors to do their job much more easily, ensuring that the data collected is cleaned and safe to use. The App is constantly updated as Brian finds yet more things for it to do. He has also automated a lot of the chart production enabling a fast turnaround on new charts. Well done Brian.
SEARCH FOR SPEEDBOAT
It was with great sadness that we saw the sinking of the beautiful speedboat named Olds Cool. She was on the cover of a recent IWN. Luckily, the skipper survived a very quick swamping and sinking. Pat McManus spent 4 days surveying the area where the boat was suspected of sinking using his sidescan, and although some hits were found, none related to the speedboat. Divers were sent down on a number of these occasions for confirmation, but unfortunately, the boat has not been found. Given its timber construction, it does not bode well for a future retrieval. Many thanks to Pat and the diving teams from the Athlone Sub Aqua Club who put into practice all those training sessions during last winter.
NEW CRUISING AREA – MEELICK POOL
About 3 years ago, Dr Donal Boland from the barge the James and Mary, investigated the possibility of navigation within the Meelick area south of Victoria lock and discovered there was potential. The area lies next to the old village of Meelick with a 600-year-old church and a very friendly pub. Donal invited Pat McManus and between them, they set about obtaining a detailed survey of the area. Having completed an initial survey an invitation to the HBA was sent out and around 20 barges duly arrived to the area the week after the Shannon Harbour Rally in 2014. The following year over 30 boats arrived and found nice mooring up against a deep bank with a road leading to the village. Once the itinerary for the Derg Rally had been announced and an anchor out was planned on the South Shannon it became obvious this area south of Victoria lock was big and deep enough to host the Rally. Given that the Rally was celebrating its 40th year, the expectations were that a large number of boats would be attending. Pat and Donal decided an even more detailed survey was required and they immediately set about that task. The Rally duly arrived with 89 boats including 25 barges, and all were accommodated within the now newly named Meelick Pool. Rocks had been marked and guidance was given and all entered, anchored or tied up and left safely. The weather was good and a great anchor out was achieved with music and barbeque provided from the commodores barge to entertain and feed the crews.
So, the CSIG wants to thank Donal and Pat, who donated their surveys to the CSIG for inclusion in the next version of the charts. The CSIG will be working with Waterways Ireland to try to achieve navigation markers within the Pool so everyone on the river can safely use this quiet hideaway.
SECLUDED SAFE MOORING INSIDE TERRYGLASS HARBOUR
Terryglass is a beautiful village at the North end of Lough Derg and was one of the intended locations to bring 89 large boats and barges for two days during the rally. This looked impossible especially since the harbour was pretty much already full before the rally entered. The CSIG decided to see if there were any areas within the harbour that were currently unused and could be made available for the rally. Cliff Jeffers on the 4B and I took the 4B in behind the red markers to see what the depth was like and we were comfortable we could get barges into the area. We contacted Waterways Ireland and immediately got a response that they would help. Their GIS engineer arrived down and also surveyed the area with us, and agreed there was potential. The WI barge arrived and laid down Buoys to which a raft of barges could tie up to, and we got nine barges into the area, freeing up space in the main harbour for the remainder of the fleet. The CSIG would like to thank WI for a very prompt response and an excellent solution. The area is very well sheltered and quiet leading to a new name for it, T4. Not D4 as in Dublin, T4 as in Terryglass 4. Well done Waterways Ireland.
ROYAL AND GRAND CANAL CHARTS
The CSIG has started to work on charts for both the Royal and Grand Canals. We have shorelines produced including locks and approach roads, bridges and items of interest. They are only in rough-cut state right now while we wait for some initial proving. Both canals have tracklogs thanks to Graham Liddy and Beth O’Loughlin. A new tester will be trying them out and after completion, we should be in a position to provide an early release. Watch this space.
PILOT PROJECT BETWEEN CSIG AND WATERWAYS IRELAND IT
I mentioned in the last bulletin that the CSIG was in negotiation with the IT department of WI to create a working group with the aim of sharing certain information between the two organisations to the benefit of both. I am delighted to say that all the legalities have been completed, the Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by both parties, and the first official meeting of the pilot group is taking place in mid August. Everyone involved is very excited about the possibilities especially after some preliminary meetings have shown great promise. More detail will be included in the next bulletin.
NEW SURVEYORS AND TESTERS
The most critical area for the CSIG is the collection of suitable data for inclusion in the charts. To this end, we need surveyors to acquire the data and testers to check that we have interpreted it correctly. I am delighted to say we now have some additional surveyors coming on board, in the north Lough Derg Area, and in the Lough Key area. And the lads in Lough Erne have been very busy also, producing more detailed tracklogs of the area. Pat has been very busy with extensive surveying of the lower Shannon from Athlone to Portumna , in addition to the surveying completed for the Derg Rally and the HBA CIC. An interesting development is the use of a jet ski to acquire the reed line data, so we are delighted to see this come on stream since the jet ski can go into areas not possible with a cruiser or dinghy, and aerial photography is very hard to decipher exactly where the reed lines are.
Of course, we really need as many people giving us data as possible, so if you think you can help please contact me at email@example.com. It is not hard, and we provide training.
I also want to thank Colman Byrne here who manages the Testers distribution list and the OneDrive file share. This has been very busy lately with the addition of so many testers, so many thanks Colman.
We have now crossed the one hundred tester’s threshold and the feedback keeps coming in. One recent feedback highlighted a shallow area inside the navigation on the lower Shannon, we sent a survey boat to check it out (thanks Pat) and within 48 hours, Waterways Ireland had a new marker at the location. Please keep the information coming in.
The CSIG is now nearly 4 years old, and we have achieved something really special. We continue to improve on this as new data comes in. It is a very long-term project with such a large area of water to cover and we need all types of skills to help us get an even better product. Right now, we don’t see an end in sight since each time we meet someone new we find out about a lot more hidey and quiet places. But as the charts stand today, I think it is fair to say that the CSIG has produced what has to be the best charts available for the inland waterways of Ireland. It is appropriate to say thank you to all those who have contributed over the years, those that have moved on and those that are still with us, thank you all! Now where is that summer with just a little sun, a little heat, and a little wind.
© Les Saunders 2015