CSIG Releases New version of charts

It has been over a year since the Charts Special Interest Group (CSIG) released an updated version of the charts for the Inland Waterways in Ireland. It is with great pleasure that we can now announce the latest release, CSIG 2020.

This latest release has added just short of a million new soundings since the last release in September 2018, and has made any corrections noted to us, and included the new and changed markers around the system. The active soundings for the system now total almost 8 million (active means they have been verified as valid). There have also been major changes to the Grand and Royal Canals and the River Barrow as well with wider coverage for roads and other items (about 1 kilometre on either side), and a lot more detail. Lough Erne has a very large number of new soundings as has Lough Ree. The team in Lough Erne is now 5 strong and they continue to forge ahead with new data. With Lough Ree, we had a difficulty extracting data from the software due to a change of ownership of the software, but Pat McManus found a solution and has added a further 2 years of survey data to this new release.

From a processing point of view, the biggest change has been the introduction of the new MBTiles format. This standardises the format across a number of platforms and adds a new option. For the end user the change is minor in that all of the existing apps for both iOS and android systems remain the same, but for laptops there is an additional app to MemoryMap called OpenCPN. The MBTiles format runs on all except MemoryMap, and that format remains the same for the new charts.

By way of reminder here are the choices of for each of the devices.

iOS platforms (iPhone and iPad)

               Guru (used to be called Galileo)


Android platforms




               Memory Map


Cartograph on iOS has the advantage of being able to scale the map size which helps greatly depending on the resolution of the device. Locus is the better choice for Android devices.

With respect to Laptops, MemoryMap uses a ‘raster’ format which means essentially the chart is a picture which just gets bigger or smaller when you zoom. There are 4 levels of zoom ranging from Basemap to Detail which allows for different levels of data.

OpenCPN using MBTiles is more ‘Vector’ like, which brings in more data as you zoom in automatically, and there is no charge for the app on a laptop. So it looks very like the function on the tablets or smartphones.

With respect to the charts the various options are as in the September 2018 version. There is a ‘Full’ version with a choice of the Canals only, the Erne only, the Shannon only, or the whole lot together. There is also a ‘Lite’ version with the same choices, but in this case the number of zoom levels drops from 19 to 18, and the size is only half that of the Full version. The Full version for the whole system is 1.4GB in size so be aware of that when planning a download. My broadband runs typically at 10MB at home and a download of the Full version takes about 20 minutes. For most users the Lite version is more than adequate with a significant saving in space.

Thank You

The production of the charts this time around has been completed on the new computer which the IWAI Executive funded. This has been so needed for Brian, who in the past lost the use of his own computer when generating the various maps. To give you an example of the difference, on Brian’s old computer, and chart production run for the SQLite DB format took upwards of 7 days continuous processing. The new computer achieves this in 3 days, and Brian still has his own computer for personal use.

Many thanks to the IWAI Executive for this addition to the CSIG kit.

General updates

The CSIG team are looking at taking advantage of some new low cost technologies where it is hoped to be able to retrieve depth data automatically from various locations. Colman Byrne has purchased some test equipment and we hope to be able to report progress in that direction in the near future.

Robert Navan will be restarting his searches with Mike Kingston for that elusive Sunderland in Lower Lough Erne, and the team there continues to add soundings every time they go out. Bay after bay is getting mapped, and with such detail we have been able to use contours in a good few more places.

Anton Wigley is still surveying the Canals and Barrow with Beth O’Loughlin, and is now mapping these areas directly for input to Brian’s final chart. It is really great to have a second mapper on the team under Brian’s guidance.

Pat McManus has taken a small step back while he undergoes treatment, but is expecting to be back in action in May. Get better soon Pat.

The CSIG continues to support the Nav-Watch group, and we hope to use their data inputs for newer areas as they continue to survey the canals.

The CSIG continues to support the TSIG and as their locations finally get operational we will assist in finding the best locations and acquiring the right depth data.

Mike Kingston gave a superb presentation to the Skerries Sailing Club just before Xmas focusing on the find of the Catalina in Lower Lough Erne. The audience were fascinated with the find and in particular expressed great interest in the goings on during the Second World War. Well done Mike.   


The CSIG has been operating now for almost 9 years, and although in the early years we had some member changes, the core teams have been pretty static for all that time. We think it would be good if we could bring in some new blood with some new ideas to help progress the CSIG. Although there are almost 8 million soundings covering pretty much all of the navigable areas, we are still missing data in off beat locations such as bays and hidey holes. We do have a jet ski set up on Lough Derg for getting into those difficult places, but we would like to see more of that. Of course any help is really welcome and the skills needed for most of the work are not complex.

The CSIG is willing to run a training day for potential surveyors. We would even fit out your boat on that day to get you started. You do not need very much. A chartplotter with depth sounder on board preferably with external wiring (most have this for connecting to the boat equipment), an old laptop, and the software that we will supply will get you going.

Of course, the actual mapping job is very skilled, and with only Brian, Pat and Anton doing that work, it would be great if we could add some new blood there as well. Brian will advise what to do, and he has automated a lot of the systems, so if you ever had a hankering to get involved in geo mapping, please come forward to the CSIG.

So, if you are interested in joining this fantastic project please express your interest through our charts website http://chartssig.iwai.ie  or via our email address at charts-info@iwai.ie .


Please remember that all current users of the charts have been deregistered as per our annual process. So, if you want to get these fantastic new charts, you will have to renew your IWAI membership as soon as possible. You will not gain access to any of the charts unless you are a current paid up member. If you pay by Direct Debit, then you are already registered and will not need to take any action. It is worth thinking about Direct Debit for payment, it makes it simpler for everyone.


Please contact the CSIG at charts-info@iwai.ie if you would like a presentation on the charts at any of your branch meetings, or if you would like to contribute in any way to the CSIG group. You know, it is a very friendly group and we do have great fun doing what we do. Until next time, safe cruising.