Scottish Canals has introduced a new online booking system for boaters transiting ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut,’ the Crinan Canal.
From Friday 17th July, vessels planning to travel through the canal will be asked to purchase their transit licence on Scottish Canals new microsite scottishcanals.co.uk/YCW2020 in advance of their journey.
This move to online licences means that both customers and staff will be able to maintain a greater level of physical distancing at the sea locks.
Catherine Topley, Chief Executive Scottish Canals, said: “Like most organisations across the world Covid-19 is having a big impact on our business. To allow us to open for the season and operate safely we have had to think outside the box and change how we do things.
“From adapting our operating hours, to moving more fully to user-operations and introducing online transit licences, our staff have worked hard to ensure that the Crinan Canal can open safely. We are now very much looking forward to opening our sea locks and welcoming back our customers to Scotland’s canals.”
In addition to asking customers to book their transit licence online, Scottish Canals has introduced further Covid-19 related measures to help protect staff and visitors including; sea locks and bridges only being manned by mobile teams, user operations for all lock gates, fewer boats allowed into a lock chamber at one time, boaters facilities operating a one in one out policy and boaters being asked to take responsibility for their own lines at every lock.
Donna Mallan, Operations Manager on the Crinan Canal, said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve the experience for the thousands of boaters who travel through ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’ and this year we had the additional challenge of Coronavirus and ensuring that we could operate safely. This new system will make it easier than ever to book a transit through the Crinan Canal and even more importantly will help protect our staff and customers.
“We have some staff who have worked on the canal for many years and this season, even for them, is going to one that they have never experienced before so I would like to kindly ask our customers to please read all the information online and in our skippers guide before arriving, and when there are delays to please be patient and enjoy the wonderful scenery the Crinan Canal has to offer.”
Vessels with a freshwater draft of more than 2.2 metres are asked to book at least 48 hours in advance of their planned transit; 24 hours for those with a draft of less than 2.2 metres. Boaters should have sufficient competent crew aboard their vessel. Experienced private pilots are available to assist single-handed crews seeking to make the nine mile journey through the canal. Full contact details are available here.