New release of the Beta Charts v 8.1 coming soon

The Charts Special Interest Group (CSIG) has been working tirelessly over the summer months to improve the current excellent Beta version 7. We have inputs from surveyors primarily working in the North Shannon areas where we were light on depth data. Shorelines were already good enabling excellent positional information. However, without the depth data, exploration of those nice quiet spots was not safe. Thanks mainly to Robert Navan, Mike Kingston and Pat McManus who have spent weeks surveying areas like Lough Key, Acres Lake, Lough Allen, and some lovely offshoots to these areas, along with the additional data from transits through Lough Erne down to Lough Derg, we have now populated good chunks of the North Shannon. There is more to do, and we could do with some more help, so if you are inclined don’t hesitate, take part.

Michael Geraghty is now surveying away in North Derg, and with his specially fitted out Jet Ski, he has been able to survey all around the reed lines in comfort. This setup is excellent for exploring the shallow areas and we are delighted Michael has come on stream. Tony Baker, Brian Willson and Fergal Kerney are also working in Lough Derg, and we have interest from two more potential surveyors to add to this Derg group.

Brian Willson tells me that finally the owners of the Global Mapper program that we use for creating the charts have made the changes, which Brian requested. He has tested the changes with the application writers, removed some bugs, and agreed that at least some progress has been made. This is crucial for Brian bearing in mind the size of the areas that need to be rendered in that he loses his PC for up to 14 days at a time. The new update has reduced the process to 3 days, still a huge time, but progress.

As I write this, I am sitting in a marina in Leitrim town on the annual HBA event. I have been using an early test version of Beta v8.1 in anger, and once again, Brian has excelled himself with this new release.  It will be with you all soon.

Updates to IWAI Branches

When we started the CSIG group almost 5 years ago, funding amongst other items was a major issue. Thankfully, the Derg Branch set us up as a special project, and continues to run our finances for us. At that time, a number of us went round the IWAI Branches presenting what we would like to do and requesting funding to do it. Most branches gave us as much as they could spare, and we would now like to go around all the branches again, thanking them and showing them what they got for their funds.

So, I am making myself available to any branch who would like an updated presentation on what we now have to offer to members of the IWAI. If you would like to avail of this presentation, please contact me in the first instance, Les Saunders, at ( to arrange a suitable time and venue.

Surveying with Pat McManus

At one of our very early meetings in Shannon Harbour about 4 years ago, this young man came along, and I can still hear his words to me. He said, I am an angler and am not sure if there is anything I can do to help the group, but I’m here now and so I’ll stay for the meeting.

Some angler – Pat has almost solely been responsible for surveying Lough Ree and loads more areas. He has also purchased all his own equipment, and provides all his own fuel for the surveying work he does, and believe me, this is no small amount given the many, many hours he spends surveying. Pat has joined the HBA (Heritage Boat Association), and before every event, he spends weeks surveying the target areas for us. He has also done this for the two main IWAI rallies, the Derg Rally and the Shannon Rally. For example, last year Pat spent weeks in Meelick Pool, so the whole rally of over 90 boats could explore an area that was completely out of bounds prior to his survey.

Pat has also forged contacts with the water authorities, has been licensed to do archaeological surveys, and is now the PRO for the Athlone Sub Aqua Club. He trains every winter with the divers and is one of very few first responders approved by the authorities. Pat has also produced special angler charts showing the deep pools and other places where that BIG fish may be hiding, and has assisted the RNLI and the Coast Guard with specialised charts for their use. Oh yeah, he also likes Rugby, can’t understand that but I guess each to his own.

Pat has a blog, which he updates regularly; you should drop in and have a browse at

I thought there might be interest to see what kind of equipment Pat uses for surveying. His hardware consists of a Windows laptop, a depth sounder, and a Humminbird Side Scanner. His software consists of MemoryMap, Autochart (used to be Dr Depth), the special surveyor App that Brian Willson produced, and the specialised surveyor background tiles produced again by Brian, all running on the Laptop.

Pat has split his Windows screen into three areas, and he uses one for MemoryMap, one for Autochart, and the third for Brian’s app. With the side scanner, Pat sets it up to show bottom data for 50 meters on the port side and for 50 meters on the starboard side. This gives him an excellent view of any potential hazards, which can be further investigated later. The side scanner also provides more data than the Garmin 451s, which was used in the early days, so surveys can be completed in faster time and more accurately. Pat splits the data coming from the side scan unit so he can extract the NMEA data needed for depth and the scan data for hazards, and the streams are fed into the laptop unit via an Ethernet connection.

To make surveying easier and to stop duplication Brian has divided the whole waterways system into tiles. When a surveyor is about to cover a particular area, he obtains the relevant tiles from Brian and works with these. This way all previous data for that area is shown and the surveyor can see the tracks performed by others.

Pat normally surveys using a 20-meter wide grid, but once he enters an area of less than 10 meters depth he changes to a 10-meter wide grid. The grid enables him to keep on track. If an anomaly such as a rock is found, then Pat circles that anomaly tightening the circle until he has a clear picture of it. As I described in the last article, Brian’s app eliminates the data limit we had when using the inbuilt data cards on the GPS units, so surveying can be for as long as one likes.

So, once set up, the surveying process is really quite straight forward, and because of the tools we use, which are fairly basic, anyone can do it. If you would like to try your hand, please contact me and I will put you in contact with the nearest surveyor who will show you first-hand how it is done.

I think it is fair to say to Pat, thank you, you are some special angler.


Have a great autumn on the river and canals; test out those places we have found and hopefully the weather will be kind.  If you want a copy of the charts for your tablet, smartphone or laptop, please send an email to me as below. And again, if you would like a presentation at your branch meetings please contact me.

© Les Saunders ( CSIG PRO