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Sunday, 30 April 2017

PicoMicroYacht - The Ardnacusha

PicoMicroYacht goes to Ireland  - the Ardnacrusha

The last leg of my Ireland crossing was from Killaloe to Limerick, through a huge lock called Ardnacusha, part of a hydroelectric system constructed by a German firm with Irish design and labour force in the 1920s.

The Ardnacusha hydroelectric system - the lock entrances and exits are on the right

Ireland had just had seven years of independence from the British when it was built, consuming one fifth of their annual budget. The lock is the deepest in Europe, going down 102 feet.

Upstream there is an artificial lough that acts as a sump and exiting this is a weir system with a large vertically lifting sluice gate that lets you into a seven mile long conduit to the lock. You have to book at least two days in advance to go through the gate and then the Ardnacusha lock.

The gate at the Parteen Weir System

When I got to the gate it was well and truly shut and my thoughts were that they had forgotten about me. 

There was a huge downpour and I sat in the boat under a tarp on the boat contemplating what to and looking at the Siemens-Schuckert weir architecture. But then a ‘knee-naw’ warning signal went off and the gate started to open, although I never saw anybody operating it.

I was now in the conduit and left the gate behind. The next seven miles seemed to go quickly.

I arrived at the jetty just before the entrance to the lock.

Soon I was in. The first drop is about 60 feet and I was now down at the bottom. Looking up, I saw some workmen who had come over to have a look, waving from the top. 

The door then opened and I could paddle into a second contiguous lock.

This lowered me down and I waited for the opening it's door. In all it took around 50 minutes to complete the lock cycle.

I was now able to exit the Ardnacusha and was on my way to Limerick.

As the waterway eventually opened out I passed some fishing boats. They also used oars for propulsion.

I had planned to go through the sea lock into the Shannon Estuary and finish my voyage there. But had found out it only opened once a week and for a few hours, the next opening time in five days.

There were only two slipways before the lock and I found one, at the the Barrack Land Boatman’s Club. A club member was very helpful in allowing me to use their slipway, so that I could get PicoMicroYacht out of the water to finish up.

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