Search and Rescue
First contact for search and rescue anywhere on the system is H.M. Coastguard via Channel 16 V.H.F. or telephone 999 and ask for Coastguard. The Coastguard are supported by the R.N.L.I. at Portrush, Lough Neagh Rescue at Kinnego and Ardboe with various other organisations assisting. H.M. Coastguard also have a team of locally based Coastguards operating around Lough Neagh. Community Rescue Service operate on the Lower Bann and can be contacted via PSNI 999.
Navigation on the River Bann and Lough Neagh System stretches from Coleraine in the north to Blackwatertown in the south. At present there are approximately 90 kilometres of navigable rivers and 390 square kilometres of navigation on Lough Neagh. The system is not really suited to craft needing more than 1 metre of water although there are quite a few pleasure boats drawing 1.5 metres with one at least drawing 1.60 metres. Lifting keel yachts are greatly favoured. Deep draft can lead to problems in late Summer/early Autumn when Lough Neagh is at it lowest. There are no airdraft restrictions on Lough Neagh which makes it a haven for sailing. The Lower Bann is restricted to an airdraft of 4.1metres (subject to spring tides). The River Blackwater has an airdraft restriction of 2.55metres assuming Lough Neagh level of 12.5M O.D. The Upper Bann has an airdraft restriction of 3.05metres assuming Lough Neagh level of 12.5M O.D.
There are two systems in use with the IALA A (red to port) system used on Lower Bann north of Coleraine Town Bridge and on Lough Neagh itself. The cardinal marks on Lough Neagh are numbered clockwise from 1-47 starting at Toome Canal entrance and finishing at Bamford Bank (see admiralty chart no 2163). On the Lower Bann south of Coleraine Town Bridge most of the dangers and shallows are marked by a semicircular red and white sign with red denoting danger and white safe passage.
The level of Lough Neagh is controlled by a set of floodgates at the entrance to the Lower Bann at Toomebridge. Control range specified by the Lough Neagh (Levels) Scheme 1955 is 12.45m to 12.60m O.D.Belfast. Levels on the Lower Bann are controlled by floodgates at Portna and the Cutts and weirs at Movanagher and Carnroe.
Rivers Agency strive to keep the level within range but various factors outside their control can and do effect the level. The Lower Bann is capable of lowering Lough Neagh by 25-35mm per day but in times of heavy rainfall with the floodgates open the Lough can rise quite quickly. This is due to the fact that six major and various minor rivers flow into the Lough. This usually only occurs during the winter months. The Lough Neagh catchments area is approximately 4836 sq km (over one quarter of Northern Ireland). The average total rainfall is in the region of 1000mm.
There are no charges or licence fees as such for boating on the system, however there is usually a charge at the various slipways for launching. This varies throughout the system but is usually in the region of £5/£7 . Berthing fees vary from £5.00 for an overnight stay to £600 for a years berth depending on length etc. There are quite a few public jetties with no charge for an overnight stay. Although there is a overnight charge at most of the marinas on the system at some it is not collected to encourage visitors. For example at Kinnegoe Marina a years berth (any length) is £370 and an overnight visit is free. There is a lock passage fee on the Lower Bann of £1 per vessel with a reduction to 50p per vessel if two craft or more go through together. The double chamber at Portna is counted as one lock passage.
The Navigation Authority for the Lower Bann Estuary from the Cutts Lock to the Barmouth is Coleraine Harbour Commissioners. By agreement Waterways Ireland/Rivers Agency look after the section from the Cutts to Coleraine town bridge. Waterways Ireland is the Navigation Authority for the Lower Bann from the Cutts Lock to Toome Canal Entrance. There is no Statutory Navigation Authority for Lough Neagh although the local councils enforce rules and regulations in the vicinity of their marinas and facilities. Whilst under no statutory obligation the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure help out on Lough Neagh with various projects. The Honourable the Irish Society own the bed and soil of the Lower Bann. Shaftesbury Estates own the bed and soil of Lough Neagh and Craigavon Council own the bed and soil of Kinnego Bay. The River Bann and Lough Neagh Association and the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland are in full support of Waterways Ireland becoming the Navigation Authority for Lough Neagh, the Upper Bann and the River Blackwater.
There are five sets of manned locks on the Lower Bann. It is advisable to contact the lockkeepers in advance of arrival.
contact telephone numbers as follows :
Cutts (Coleraine) 028 70342999
Carnroe 028 29540570
Movanagher 028 29540570
Portna 028 29540214
Toomebridge 028 79650640
Hours 8 .00 a.m. - 6.00p.m.
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This page was last updated Sunday February 12, 2012