Bata canal story

History of the Bata canal

The idea to regulate the Morava River was reawaken again about 1927. At that time, this idea captured the industrial magnate Tomáš Baťa. After his tragic death five years later, Jan Antonín Baťa took that daring plan. The regulation of the Morava River as well as the construction of the Canal had some important advantages for the Bata Company. In addition to the realization of an old dream to interconnect the European large streams, it was the transport of lignite from the mines in Ratíškovice to the factories and heating plants in Otrokovice, because the railway transport was too expensive, and also the construction of the melioration system around the Morava River. The construction, which was demanding as to its organization and technique, was running between the years 1934 and 1938. The total length of the navigation section was 58,1 km from which 1 km led through the riverbed of the today’s not more navigable Dřevnice River, and some sections were led through the Morava riverbed.

Completion of the original cargo port in Otrokovice on the Dřevnice river, the early-1930s.

Everyday traffic on the Bata Canal, the late-1930s.

The Canal could be used by boats with the tonnage of 150 tonnes, the navigation depth was 1,5 m.

The navigation line began in Otrokovice and ended nearby Rohatec, at the place of lignite reloading. The boats had to pass 14 locks that helped them to heal the water-level height differences. At each lock, there was built a small house for the operator, to which a small homestead belonged. In addition to the locks, a lot of other technically demanding equipments had to be constructed – for example the railway drawbridges or the weirs with automatic regulation of barrage water-level. A part of those devices was destroyed during the war, a part came to the end of their operational life and was not renewed; some of the devices, however, have survived up today. Interesting is, for example, the waterway crossing in Vnorovy. The Canal intersectsthe Morava River here and its water-level is some meters higher than the river. Therefore, under the river’s bottom is hidden a piping that ensures the same Canal’s water-level past the crossing as it was prior to it. In many locations, the irrigation did not catch on more or less and moreover, the regulation showed even the negative consequences resulting in drying up of some parts of the countryside. The navigation itself was running, as follows: an empty freight boat was towed by a towboat from Otrokovice to Spytihněv, from there it was towed by a tractor (in the beginning by horses). From Staré Město, a towboat, which was replaced by a tractor in Veselí nad Moravou, towed the boat again. The tractor towed the boat to Sudoměřice and from there, the loaded boat set for the similar return trip. The boats made way for each other at the ports or at the so-called passing points. In optimal situation, the entire trip lasted 10 hours, often longer. In addition to the boats with lignite, the excursion ship Mojena went on the Canal since 1939. This ship adumbrated present tourist usage of this waterway. During the World War II, the Canal was damaged by the German troops significantly and immediately after the war, the Bata factories were nationalized.

The freight transport was terminated at the beginning of the 1960s because of its unprofitability.

The struggles to put the Canal into operation again, namely for tourist usage, occurred in the mid-1990s for the first time. In 1996, the local villages initiated the establishment of the Agency for the Tourism Development on the Bata-Canal whose activities were focused on making this natural and technical sight accessible. An important project of the Agency was the support of private boat hire-offices without which the tourism on this waterway is hardly imaginable. In 2002, the Bata-Canal benevolent company was established that takes part in traffic organization, operates the information centre and supports the entrepreneurs whose activities relate to the development of tourism along the Canal. Nowadays, it is a reputable waterway.

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The present

The Bata-Canal is a used waterway important for transport, class 0. Without licence, it is possible to drive small vessels up to the engine output of 20 kW, which are designed only for buoyancy navigation with the maximum speed of 20 km/h. That means a person above 18 years of age is allowed to drive the vessel without a special licence; the hire-office staff will only provide training to handle the watercraft. Slide navigation is forbidden. The maximum speed of 8 km/h is allowed on the canal sections.

The Bata-Canalis about 60 km long now (from Otrokovice to Skalica). It goes either on the Morava River, or on artificially excavated canal sections. The Canal is navigable from the town of Kroměříž down to the town of Hodonín, but here are some “obstacles”: 1. On the northern side, there is missing a lock at the Bělovský weir nearby Otrokovice, i.e. the section from this weir to Kroměříž is independent and not connected to the rest of the waterway. 2. On the Bata-Canal’s southern side, there is missing a lock in Rohatec, which makes the navigation from the water-gate in the direction of Hodonín impossible – there is an independent navigable section. The height difference on this waterway (18,6 m) is equalized by 13 locks with the dimensions 5,3 x 38 (50) m. Eleven lock chambers are fully automatic and can be remote-controlled.

The navigable level is maintained by 13 weirs. It is strictly prohibited to float the weirs! The Bata-Canal is 1,5 m deep in average. It is highly recommended the watercraft draught not to exceed 80 cm. The watercraft size should be adapted to the lock sizes – watercrafts should thus not be wider than 5 metres.

The Canalis 12 metres wide in average.

There are 56 bridges on the waterway; many of them are unique technical monuments. The vertical clearance varies according to the actual flow rates, exceptionally 2,1 m, usually 2,4 m. The most frequent vertical clearance is 3,3 m, but the lowest bridge at the village of Huštěnovice has 2,2 m.

There are 10 fixed slipways on the waterway with various parameters. The slipways on the river may not be maintained (silt clearing). We recommend using the slipways in the ports, which are kept in good repair. Your car can be watched here as well.

At present, the Bata-Canal is used just as a tourist waterway. The freight shipping does not work more. People spend their holidays or weekends here or they come to sail and to see other natural sights from the board. They can borrow a vessel in one of eight hire-offices working along the waterway. Very popular are also the regular cruises on the boards of large ships, or stays on houseboats.

The operation on the Bata-Canal begins usually in April (according to the weather), on 1 Mai, the sailing season is officially opened with “Unlocking the Sailing Season”. The waterway “puts itself to winter sleep” with “Locking the Sailing Season” on 28 October. In good weather, however, the boat hire-offices work even after this date. Both aforementioned events are usually festive and open to the wide public. They are mostly accompanied by cultural programme, cruises and other convenient events. In addition to the above events, evening parties, country music performances and barbecues are running in the hire offices in the course of the entire season – shortly said, you can find here everything, which is a part of summer.

The operation on the Bata-Canal is limited just by locks that have their rules. They work for limited periods of time that you can find under “Aktuální provoz – Actual operation” on!

Extension from the town of Hodonín to the town of Kroměříž

For the coming years, it is planned to make the Bata Canal navigable from the weir in Hodonín up to the town of Kroměříž. The new mission of the Bata Canal waterway, extended to a coherently navigable section Kroměříž – Hodonín with the total length of 76 km, is to create a backbone for the tourist area of Moravian Slovakia.

Within the first investment covering the navigation towards Hodonín, a new lock chamber Rohatec with hinterland will be built beside the existing weir on the Radějovka River. Furthermore, the bed of this hitherto not-navigable section beneath the weir will be widened within its length of about 800 m.  Within the construction, the existing farm bridge will be raised and a new steel footbridge for pedestrians and cyclists will be built. This footbridge shall provide safety connection of the Czech and the Slovak side. A lot of compensating measures, whose objective is to minimize the negative affect of the construction on the environment, is a significant part of the project. The relocation of the existing bio-corridor belongs to the most important measures.

The second investment shall include the construction of a new lock chamber to overcome the existing Bělov weir near Otrokovice. At its impounding reservoir, the necessary adaptations will ensure the required waterway parameters. A new landing place will be built in the town of Kroměříž. The Canal will be extended by about 15,8 km in the northern direction.