The Dublin Rally timeplan is found here, with photos
of the rally
here. See also a "nice"
writeup in the Irish Times of 18/06/11 re life in Grand Canal Dock.
In via the Royal
50th Anniversary of the closing of the Royal Canal in 1961 was
celebrated in style with a varied collection of craft taking advantage
of the newly opened access through Spencer Dock to visit the Dublin
Rally. Indeed, many of them have larger ambitions; they intend to
complete the Green & Silver Challenge by exiting Dublin through the
Grand Canal and completing “the loop”.
Over Easter Weekend the first boats began to arrive from the Shannon,
some coming from as far afield as Belturbet and Carrybridge on the river
Erne to supplement the local Twelfth Lock boats who have led a lonely
life, imprisoned as they have been for years on the small stretches of
the Royal that were navigable.
Friday April 29th we had collected 17 craft who would make the trip into
Dublin to join with those from the Grand who would enter the city a week
later on May 7th. After a “briefing” from the two” Micks” (Farrell &
Kinahan) we were ready to go and with good weather on our side we set
off at 8 on Saturday morning for Shandon. The voyage was uneventful for
most and we were all safely moored along Shandon Gardens by early
afternoon. The welcome at Shandon was warm; residents had not seen boats
there since 2004 and large crowds gathered. At 4pm we were joined by the
Finglas Concert Band with some rousing musical numbers. Later it was the
turn of the Brian Boru, that historic Dublin pub, to host the boaters
and we finished the night with a great traditional session. Due to tidal
conditions, it was unlikely any boats could get onto the Liffey before
1.30 on the Sunday so there was no need to start very early next morn.
decision to put our “fattest” boats first at the 2nd lock (Binn's Bridge)
was to result in delays here but it proved a blessing in disguise. The
hundreds of football and hurling followers heading for Croke Park were
shocked to see a large fleet of boats where they never saw anything but
floating debris before. By the time we sailed under the stands we could
hear the shouts overhead but didn’t know who had scored. Having heard
that end of Croke Park described for years on radio and tv. as “the
Canal End” it was nice to recall that the canal was “alive” again. We
passed onwards and cleared the 1st lock and railway bridge without
trouble and were soon at the Sea Lock waiting our turn to cross the
Liffey. By 5pm everyone was through and an hour later we were moored-up
on the jetties of the Inner Basin, Ringsend.
We felt a sense of satisfaction as mariners do when reaching the end
of a voyage, any voyage. But this one was special, particularly for
those members of the Royal Canal Amenity Group who were with us. It was
a memorable occasion which we were glad to be allowed share.
In via the Grand
boats came into Dublin on May 7th via the Grand Canal in windy, but
reasonably warm conditions. No great difficulties were experienced, a
bit of plastic here and there, until we got to the long level above
Portobello. This section was very shallow and filled with detritus of
all sorts which claimed a number of casualties. “Elsewhere” with
its duvet had probably the catch of the day. However, the divers of
Irish Diving & Marine Contractors Ltd. came to the rescue and there
was no great hold up. Going from this mire to the levels below
Portobello was to experience a journey to the promised land. Following
the recent dredging, the condition of the canal from Portobello to the
basin was a shock to the system and a joy to behold. A depth of greater
than 9ft (or 2.8m) was recorded above Leeson St.
"Green & Silver" route completions of 2011
Among the fleet entering the city via the Grand Canal were four vessels, two yachts, a rescue boat and a lakeboat, from Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club. These boats had left Dublin
via the Royal Canal on April 16th and so were on the return leg of their
“Green and Silver” expedition. Our heartiest congratulations to
the Gleesons, Wilsons and Denhams on
completing their journeys.
interrupts play on the Liffey
The traditional journey up the Liffey was curtailed due to security
issues at Islandbridge in preparation for the Queen of England’s visit a
few days later, this despite getting clearance from authorities in
advance. However a large fleet pottered about on the Liffey for a few
hours and returned to a fine BBQ at Grand Canal Dock where 120 steaks
and a proportionate amount of other food and drink were consumed by the
very enthusiastic crews.
Film Show and Book Launch
audience of more than 100 members turned out for a superb evening at
Waterways Ireland’s Visitor Centre on Monday 16th May. The evening
commenced with a with a showing of two archive films by Michael Lawlor:
The first, "Emerald Shannon", was a promotional film shot for
Guinness/Emerald Star Line in 1971 and featured a lot of characters and
sights, no longer with us. A second film showed the arrival of the ESL
fleet in 1970 including the unloading of the boats, their welcome by the
great and good at Wilton Terrace and the boats heading for the Shannon
via the Grand Canal. Everyone over 40 in attendance had an air of
absolute joy in seeing these films.
the setting of the “Green and Silver” challenge
by the Dublin Branch of
the IWAI, it seemed appropriate to celebrate the life of L.T.C. Rolt.
Gerald Potterton obliged and gave us a wonderful talk on the life of Tom
Rolt – you can read Gerald's earlier article on Tom Rolt in the Spring 2010
issue of IWN (also available online). Gerald also managed to organise
the publication of the 4th edition of Tom Rolt's classic "Green and
Silver”. This book was last published in 1993 by Athlone branch of IWAI
and its long been unavailable. Its great to have it back in print and 40
copies were snapped up on the night – the
book is now available from the IWAI shop.
Lifting Bridge won't lift
Saturday, May 21, a fleet of 13 boats locked down from Grand Canal Dock,
crossed the Liffey and locked up into Spencer Dock. Most were Dublin
Rally boats continuing their Green & Silver quest down the Royal Canal.
Unfortunately the planned lift of the Irish Rail bridge just before
the 1st lock didn't happen. While the root cause isn't known at this
stage, at least one of the bridge motors went with a bang.
to Spencer Dock is now only possible in and around low tide, due to the
Scherzer bridges being bolted in place (although they have opened in the
recent past), so the fleet was forced to spend the night at a very wind
swept Spencer Dock, the force of the wind heightened by the large block
of the convention centre. While the failure of the bridge was
disappointing for all crew involved, it was particularly disappointing
for the large group including three TDs gathered at Ashtown to welcome
Float No. 3. They did send in some food parcels to Spencer Dock to
maintain crew morale. Another boat The Rambler was being used to
film another of Dick Warner's popular waterways series It will be
interesting to see if the bridge episode makes it into the series.
No repair of the bridge being immediately planned, the fleet
retreated to the Grand Canal Dock on Sunday morning, although three
boats missed the morning tidal window and sailed on the evening ebb
tide. Our sincere thanks to dockmaster Mark Clarke for his patience and
good humour throughout. We hope that an analysis of the events of the
weekend will lead to better procedures being put in place to ensure this
doesn't happen again.
A second attempt to raise the bridge on Friday May 27th also failed
and a 3rd planned lift on June 4th also was cancelled.
The Grand Exit
Ten boats overnighted in Portobello on Friday night and early Saturday
started for the 1st lock, Suir Rd. Water levels were down and the
long level above Portobello had proven tortuous three weeks earlier.
It was the same for the fleet departing Dublin. Virtually all
boats needed attention from the diver to disentangle plastic, mattresses,
tracksuits etc. Despite a 7am start, the 1st boat didn't reach the
3rd lock until 09:30. It was 3pm before the last of the 10 reached
the 7th lock. One boat, Dasher needed the attention of the divers at the
1st, 4th and 7th lock, a quilt being the offending item at the 7th.
Faoi Dheireadh also had three calls. Another, Delphin
resorted to backup power provided by an outboard motor.
A second group of 5 boats from
the Belturbet Branch of IWAI had a late start, no
doubt due to their branch dinner dance being held on the night before.
Again, all boats needed attention from the divers at the 1st Lock. The last of the Belturbet boats
left Suir Rd. at ~4pm and overnighted at Park West. They reached
the 12th Lock at lunchtime on Sunday.
of the boats were joined by a group from the
Club - our thanks to them and to the crews that assisted them and
indeed pressed them into service.
A Royal Departure
railway lifting bridge in Spencer Dock prevented the Dublin Rally boats from
leaving the city as planned on 21st May. A second attempt to raise the bridge on Friday May 27th also failed
and a 3rd planned lift on June 4th also was cancelled. A "test
lift" on June 9th allowed The Rambler
and Ashford Star to head west (See photos
remaining boats managed to get out on June 18th.
Only six boats locked down from Grand Canal Dock at 7am (low tide was 07:35)
and headed for Spencer Dock. 13 boats had attempted to leave a month
earlier, but many had elected to leave via the Grand Canal due to other
commitments and the uncertainty surrounding the lifting bridge. Even
on June 18th, the bridge did not lift completely or correctly or indeed
on-time. However, lift it did, allowing the 6 boats out and also 5
boats to come in to the city. Four of the boats, "Rud Eile", "Got-it",
"Bo-Bo" and "Shu-Ra-Nu" were doing the Green & Silver route while "Saoirse"
was making its way home to Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club. "Bo-Bo" and "Shu-Ra-Nu",
piloted by Nick Theato and Pat Kelly are raising money
for the RNLI by doing the
Silver route - details
The six rally boats were led by "Seachran" and "1st Image" and these
probably had the best day, getting a clean run. Seachran only needed
diver assistance 4 times. At one stage, "Leitrim Star", "Fionnuisce",
"Vazon B" and "31B" were all on the 2nd level, with three being aground -
the level being down more than 2ft.
A big problem was algal blooms, presumably Cladophora (from a 1990
study) - see here
for a photo. If you get a clump of this around your propeller, you
lose power, have to pull it off the prop and start again. "Leitrim
Star" had encountered this in Spencer Dock itself and on the 2nd level.
The worst stretch was above the 6th lock. "Fionnuisce" couldn't get
more than 10m following a cleaning of the propeller and resorted to being
towed by the diver's jeep. "Leitrim Star" and "31B" had problems but
ploughed through. It seems that if you can get a decent speed up (i.e.
4mph) you can make progress. The 11th level was down a foot and almost
everyone picked up clothing on the prop of some sort or other. Only
four of the boats made it to the 12th lock between 5 and 8pm with two over-nighting
in Ashtown and following on on Sunday 19th.
It has to be said that we've never seen as much rubbish picked up on the props as
this year, both incoming and outgoing. While
Irish Diving & Marine Contractors Ltd. was doing a roaring
trade, this is not how canal boating should be. Our sincere thanks to them, to the WI
staff, the volunteers and particularly to the boat crews who were still
smiling at the end of it all.
The Belturbet Branch was
awarded the Endeavour Cup for their contribution to the rally.
Our thanks to the five crews who made the trip from Belturbet.