Captains benefit from good tools to determine the best, fastest or shortest route for the ship they are sailing on. In choosing the route, a captain must take into account the dimensions of the ship and the dimensions of the waterway.

The draught of the ship depends on the load. But at the time of the journey, this fact is fixed. As well as the height and width of the ship.

Type of ships are divided into classes. You can read more about this in the study section ‘Ship knowledge’. This layout is shown below:

Figure 41: Classification according to ECMT

The data of the waterways concern the width of waterways and engineering structures such as bridges and locks and the height of bridges, the depth of thresholds, etc. The latter of course depend on the water level.

In this chapter we would like to introduce you to the various sources that you can consult in order to find the relevant data of the waterway. It is not intended to be exhaustively complete. This is not possible either, because new sources are constantly being added and old sources are disappearing. Think, for example, of developments in the Internet field and electronic card systems.

It is therefore important that you, as a captain, keep an eye on what is available on the market. And then you need to determine which source(s) are most suitable for you to use.

This chapter briefly discusses all the sources mentioned below.

  • Teletext
  • Internet
  • Waterway maps
  • Booklet of operating times for locks and bridges
  • Waterways in the Netherlands (ViN) – loose-leaf folder
  • Waterways in the Netherlands (ViN) – computer program
  • Various digital route planners
  • ANWB Water almanac 2: sailing data
  • Dutch Captain’s almanac
  • Notices to Seafarers
  • Notices to Captains
  • Current Atlas
  • Address list Notices to Captains
  • Tide tables Netherlands
  • HP33 (water levels and currents)
  • Light list (HP 2)


Teletext can be viewed via television or via the Internet. A great deal of up-to-date information can be found on teletext, including information on matters relating to inland navigation. For example, up-to-date information can be read about water levels and obstructions on Dutch or foreign waterways. You can also read information about, for example, markings that have been moved temporarily (this information comes from ‘Notices to Seafarers’).


There is a lot of information on the internet that can be used to determine the route. One of the Internet addresses is:

Here you can find information about water levels, high and low water messages, wind data and data about discharge and flow speeds and for example messages to the shipping industry. The information is very up to date: often it is even updated every hour.

Waterway maps

There are several waterway maps. There are maps that are meant as ‘topographical’ maps, to help the captain find his destination and route.

Sometimes you can also read the size of the water. As you already know, ships are divided into classes. The Dutch waterways are also divided into these classes. These classes are depicted on different maps.

There are also hydrographic charts and sea charts showing navigation marks, depth of water, construction on land and so on. These charts are treated in the ‘Navigation Spacious Waterways’ course in the ‘Captain All Inland Waterways’ course.

Booklet ‘Operation times for locks and bridges’

The booklet ‘Operating times’ states the operating times of bridges and locks. It is published by the Advisory Service for Transport, Public Works and Water Management of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. Also available on the internet. Go to

Waterways in the Netherlands (ViN) – loose-leaf folder

The reference book ‘Vaarwegen in Nederland 2002’ is published by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Advisory Service for Transport and Public Works.

For every waterway in the Netherlands you can find relevant data. We use an example to describe these data.

Figure 42: Channel of  Sint Andries

Suppose you want to know if you can sail your ship under the bridge over the lock head. The following data can be read:

  • The ship may have a maximum length of 110 metres, a width of 13,5 metres and a depth of 3,7 metres, Cemt Class Va
  • This bridge is located 0.7 km from the beginning of the canal.
  • On the Waal side is the passage opening (dv opening) of the bridge. This bridge is fixed and cannot be opened. The height of the underpass is therefore important.
  • The clearance height is 9.93 metres. This is in relation to the local reference surface with an average water level.
  • The width is 14 metres

Waterways in the Netherlands (ViN) – computer program

The computer program ‘Vaarwegen in Nederland’ (Waterways in the Netherlands) is a publication of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, the Advisory Service for Transport, Public Works and Water Management (AVV) in Heerlen. The edition is on CD-ROM.

There are several data available with this computer program. This concerns: the data per waterway (dimensions of engineering structure such as bridges and locks, for example), telephone numbers and operating times of locks and bridges. In addition, you can order a supplement with which you can get detailed maps of the Netherlands on the screen.

Computer program PC – Navigo (navigational route planner)

PC-Navigo is an automatic navigator for inland waterways. It’s published by NoorderSoft.

There are two variants:

  • PC-Navigo Europe:

the waterways of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Western Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and the Balkan countries;

  • PC-Navigo Netherlands:

only the waterways in the Netherlands.

PC-Navigo provides access to a wide range of data, such as: prevailing water levels (weir and channel levels), location of bridges, locks, quays and harbours, waterway dimensions and engineering structures dimensions, operating times and controls, flow direction, flow velocity, applicable speed limits and permitted dimensions, data on water level and decline/gradient.

PC-Navigo can also be used to perform complete route calculations, such as determining the accessibility of places for a particular ship of a certain size, or finding the shortest or fastest route between two places.

ANWB Water almanac 2: Ship data

The Water almanac is a publication of the ANWB. It is a two-part almanac intended for water tourists.

Part 2 of the Water almanac gives data on waterways, ports, locks and so on. These data are useful for professional navigation. These data include the maximum permissible draught of ships, dimensions and operation of bridges and locks, VHF channels, tides and berths.

Figure 43: From ANWB Water almanac

Dutch Captain’s almanac

The Dutch Captain’s almanac is published by Wolters Kluwer on behalf of KSV Schuttevaer.

There are flood tables printed. This can be used to determine at which times of the day there is enough water to be able to sail with your ship at certain places or to enter a port. You can also determine the flow rate and time of ebb and flow. You will learn how to work with this in the ‘Navigation Spacious Waterways’ course for captain All Inland Waterways.

There is a chapter on information about waterways and ports. It provides a telephone number for each place, bridge, lock that is relevant for inland navigation, so that data can be retrieved. This almanac does not include all the data itself (e.g. on bridge height or operating times).

There is also a chapter in which inland ports are discussed in detail: how is the port situated, what is the width and depth, what is the normal water level, what is the data about bridges, etc.

Notices to Seafarers

The Notices to Seafarers (BAZ) are published weekly by the Hydrographic Service. These can be found on Teletext, page 724. They are available free of charge on paper from the Hydrography Department itself and from the so-called A agents. Or on this site is from the Hydrographic Service.

All changes in or near the waterway are reported in the BAZ (e.g. moved navigation marks, changed depth, navigation marks installed or ingested).

Notices to Captains

Particularly urgent notices to captains are broadcasted via the radio stations Radio 1, 2 and 3 every hour after the news items.

The shipping reports are also available 24 hours a day via the Inland Waterways Information Line of the Message Centre of the RIZA (

You can also request them via teletext page 721 (domestic) and 722 (foreign). The water levels are listed on page 720, seven days a week from 08.15 hours.

Current Atlas

Current atlases are issued by the Hydrography Department and are included in the HP33.

A current atlas is used to determine the current in the estuaries, and the flow rates (average, in reality of course always depending on the weather conditions). You can read more about this in the course ‘Navigation Spacious Waterways’ for captain All Inland Waterways.

Address list Notices to Captains

This address list contains a collection of addresses, telephone, maritime radio and mobile phone numbers that are important for shipping. The list has been compiled in order to obtain direct information on the state of the waterways from the relevant authorities. To be requested at the RIZA, Berichtencentrum voor de binnenwateren, Lelystad.

Tide tables for the Netherlands

In addition to the publications in book form, you can also obtain information via the Internet, many of which can be found on the of water levels in the Netherlands, North Sea and England. Also is an informative site.


The book ‘HP33 (Water levels and currents along the Dutch coast)’ is published annually by the Hydrographic Service. This book shows the times and heights of high and low tide for various ports. You can read more about this in the course ‘Navigation Spacious Waterways’ for captain All Inland Waterways.

Lights List (HP2)

In this book you will find a description of the coastal lighting and fog signals with separate chapters on radio beacons, racons, reconnaissance light buoys and light surfaces.