Crinan Canal Skipper's Guide
Our Skipper’s Guide tells you everything you need to know about boating on the Crinan Canal. In addition to important safety advice and tips on how to transit the canal, you’ll find details of local facilities and more.
Safety on the Crinan Canal
- Do have an adequate number of competent crew aboard. Single-handed passage is possible but may be subject to delays depending on staff availability to assist
- Do take time to plan ahead, lay out warps, fenders, and clear decks before you set off
- Do check fuel and oil levels before starting the engine and also that all controls are working properly
- Do make sure that children and non swimmers wear life jackets
- Do relax and take your time.
- Do not speed in the waterway, this damages banks and affects other waterway users
- Do not cruise after darkness
- Do not cruise near weirs or attempt to shoot them in canoes
- Do not allow pets to wander – keep them on leads and do not allow them to foul the canal banks
Maximum lock dimensions:
Length: 26.8m (88ft)
Width: 6.1m (20ft)
Fresh water Draft: 2.5m * (8ft 10in)
AS OF AUGUST 2023 PLEASE NOTE Reduced draft - Draft: 2.2m
Air draft: 29m (95ft)
Please add at least 100mm (4 in) to your saltwater draft for calculating your draft in the canal. Boats sit deeper in fresh water than salt water.
Due to possible weather-related level changes, customers with a draft of more than 2.2m should always check with the appropriate sea lock 24 hours in advance to confirm the draft for the date of passage.
Please note that water conditions continually change and that the maximum draft cannot be guaranteed. Consult the sea lock keeper for the maximum draft of the day. During drought conditions the maximum draft is considerably lower than in the rainy season and managed daily.
The sea locks work on Channel 74.
Please note when our team members are performing locking or maintenance duty they will be unable to respond to VHF calls.
If you do not get an immediate response, you can contact the Crinan Canal office, or approach the lock if open to the sea - it is likely that the Lock Keeper has spotted you.
Navigational Charts and Information
Admiralty charts: Loch Fyne 2381; Lochs and Harbours in the Sound of Jura and Approaches 2476; Loch Crinan to the Forth of Lorne 2326.
Imray charts: Firth of Clyde C63; Upper Clyde & Loch Fyne 2900; Belfast Lough to Crinan C64; Crinan to Mallaig and Barra C65.
Pilots: Admiralty West Coast of Scotland Pilot; Clyde Cruising Club Sailing Directions - Firth of Clyde; Kintyre to Ardnamurchan; Imray Pilot: Clyde to Colonsay.
Please observe the speed limit on the canal to help avoid bank erosion through excessive wash and please slow down when passing moored craft. The final approach to Crinan between Crinan Bridge and Lock 14 is narrow, with moored craft lying above Lock 14. Please exercise caution while transiting this section of the canal.
Use of locks after closedown
Do not use the canal locks after the canal has closed for the day as water levels are adjusted for the following day and any unplanned locking can lead to flooding or water loss.
To avoid possible contact with the lock cill please ensure your vessel does not pass the cill marker on the lock wall and remains clear of lock gangways during lock operations. If you are in any doubt please ask Scottish Canals staff for advice.
Please note that to maintain access for emergency vehicles we are unable to rotate Ardrishaig Sea Lock Bridge and Lock 4 Bridge at the same time and must also comply with slight restrictions during school term time, both of which may cause short delays to boating traffic.