Today, we were motoring back to the dock on return from Loch Ness and we have to pass this weir, staying clear of it. In this (Winter) picture it is flowing aggressively, but it was less so today. That's the canal to the left, and River ness to the right...
Image of Dochfour Weir - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I moved a bit to the right to make room for a big long barge that was heading toward us, mindful of staying a reasonable distance off the weir.
To my horror, my ship encounterd something on the bottom and slowed radically. I wheeled left with the remaining speed, but could not cut hard to the left as the barge was approaching. I had to cut the throttle to stop the prop, fearing a prop smash up. My trusty American depth alarm sounded a warning, but there was no time to react. You simply cannot stop your ship that quickly.
My ship rode up, and leaned left with a horrible rumbling beneath it, threatening to stop, with a weir to the right. I sent one of the crew below to get the klaxon ready to sound a warning to the barge but my ship did not quite stop and rolled free.
It must have been a tree or something, though I. I kept glancing back to see if if I had gone too close, or broken the approach protocol or something, or gone the wrong side of the bouy. I had not.
Later, I spoke to a local, and that section has a history of building debris up close to the weir, but I was not that close and it's not marked. It must have been boulders or something. In heavy flood, the water can get debris-laden, apparently, and has to be dredged.
Damn it guys, if that river is in flood, and you get stopped dead, and drift right with no headway, your ship is going to get pinned on that weir, or worse.
There is no way I am going past that weir unless I am well to the left in the picture, and there is no approaching traffic. Sticking to traffic separation has its risks for the right-most ship if you are heading NE, it seems.
I will write to the canal company in the morning.
I never want another heart-stopper like that again.
Lessons learned? Be wary of debris build-up in front of a weir, and far greater than you will imagine.
Maybe I should stick to salt water or something?