Following discussion with Scottish Canals, this note sets out the rules that club members must follow to ensure that IRC boats can safely transit under the new and old swing bridges.
Scottish Canals are treating the space between the bridges as a lock, i.e. they expect powered craft to travel slowly and have limited room for manoeuvre in the space between the bridges. When windy, boats will be required to tie up when one bridge is closed and the other is opened.
For IRC, this means that our boats must not attempt to go under either bridge for the (possibly) 20 minutes it may take for powered craft to transit through the bridges.
As we do not carry radios we are not able to contact the bridge operators to inform then of our intentions. However, the bridge operators will have good visibility via CCTV and line of sight from the control tower and will keep a look out for us.
To avoid there being any scope for confusion (which could end up with one of our boats getting into difficulty with craft heading towards us in the limited space between the bridges), all IRC crews must adhere to the following set of rules:-
1. As before, IRC boats should never attempt to follow other craft through the bridges when open.
2. Amber flashing lights have been installed on both bridges – we can only proceed under the bridges when these lights are turned off.
Flashing lights means that the road and bridge management process has started and one of the bridges will be opened imminently. The bridge operator’s attention will be on controlling the road and canal traffic at this time and they will not be able to wait for us to pass through.
3. IRC crews should not go within 50m of either bridge unless they intend to go under that bridge.
We must turn quickly when doing several pieces “under the bridge” or when coming back to the boathouse from Dochgarroch so that the operator has a clear understanding of our intention.
All work pieces must be finished well before either bridge so that crews do not stop to catch their breath before turning. On the Dochgarroch side, this means before the boathouse. On the Muirton side, this means before the set of pontoons that are adjacent to the caravan site entrance.
4. IRC crews must only go under a bridge if they intend to travel the full distance and go under the second bridge.
No one should turn or stop between the bridges and we should use reasonable efforts to transit quickly.
For their part, Scottish Canals will check that there are none of our boats between the bridges and allow them to complete their transit before they start bridge operations.