Small boat in locks - best approach?

reyes

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Hi all

I can't find find answers to what I'm curious about in a search, but apologies if I've just missed something.

Having had a Honwave 3.8m SIB, I've just purchased a Silver Fox BR (4.95m), which I already love!

One thing I have no experience of, but which I really want to get prepared for so I don't mess up, is what to do when I go through a lock.

For example, if the lock has riser wires, and given that I have one cleat at either end of the boat (railings around the centre), my boat isn't long enough (I expect) to span two wires width, so do I:

1. Attach a line from one of the cleats (e.g. stern) to the wire after having pulled up so the wire is central to the boat to try and prevent the bow from kicking out.
2. Attach a line from both the bow and stern so I'd have two lines behind the riser wire.
3. Attach a line to whatever I can as close to the centre of the boat and thread this single line behind the riser wire.
4. Something entirely different that I'm missing.

In general, there'd be two of us, so option 2 seems more appropriate. But, I would like to do some solo cruising once I've had some practice so knowing the best approach for that based on any experiences would be great, too.

Again, apologies if I'm repeating something but I can't seem to find what I'm looking for so far.

Thanks in advance!
 

oldmanofthehills

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When the water come into the lock to raise the level it will push the boat along. Main warp in direction of water into.

When water is let out to lower the level it will drag boat back. Main warp away from the outlet.

Obviouslly desirable to have ropes at bow and stern, but you are very light. If descending put long warps round bollard at top and back to boat. Make sure they are long enough. (In Bristol DocK that means 40m of warp but thats an extreme example)

If ascending and there is no lock keeper to throw warp to, send one of crew up the ladder to attach the ropes
 

Momac

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If you are going up never attach to the stern only
If you are going down then stern only may well be okay

I suggest moving the boat to get a line at the bow onto a riser them reverse , leaving plenty of slack to get a stern line on then adjust the ropes to put the boat somewhere between the risers
 

CPD

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For single-handing, a centre cleat is invaluable. My experience showed the best way (for me) was to always get he centre cleat on to a ladder/riser/bollard and then add (usually stern) a further line. 2nd line off first then centre line last, then off you go ....
 

Skysail

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One day I was in the lock office at Hythe Marina. A 30 ft yacht approached the lock channel with the crew standing in the bow with boat hook and F4 wind from astern. What followed was totally predictable, the crew grabbed the bow line, the stern was blown across the lock, and it all took some time to sort it out!
 

Momac

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but probably. If one can really only get a single warp attached, as has happened one has to guess the probable boat movement on operation

I would say probably not

I am river based and do a lot of locks.
The boat can easily be pulled forward when going up and usually get pulled backwards and forwards

If only a single line is possible it should be middle cleat if there is one.
 

Daverw

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I would fit a mid cleat, we lock in and out each time, when crewed line looped around drop wire just after mid and I hold loop at stern, when single handed mid cleat. Can be very interesting when doing full size ship lock though single handed
 

Dellquay13

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Also if going up put the boat as sensibly close as possible the downstream end of the lock as there will be less turbulence
(Edit: I’ve just seen the OP is based in Nottinghamshire so is probably Trent based with narrow locks, but the following for locks big enough for tugs and trawlers is still true)

This doesn’t always hold true for every lock. It may be like that on narrow locks, but on the lock into my harbour which is as wide as long, (30m x 30m?) the greatest flow comes from just off centre of the gates and only spreads out to the boats along each side by the lower half of the lock. Boat owners in the know try to get to the front of the lock to get bounced around less.
Luckily we have rising pontoons either side instead of chains or wires
 
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reyes

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Thank you for all the input everybody.

So is it right to say the preference really is to:

- Install a centre cleat (I have a rail near the centre -- does that suffice?) -- use this line with a stern line (would this become a bow line if I'm going down?)

Failing that (for whatever reason), what is the next best option based on what others have said?

1. Use two lines by attaching to one riser and then moving the boat to get to another before roughly going central to them. Therefore bow and stern are both supported so no pivoting can occur.
2. Use warps and bollards (if no lock-keeper and for single-handed locking, this is where I'm curious!)

And @Dellquay13 is quite right, I'm in Newark-on-Trent and I'm moored on it so the months ahead are all about the Trent!
 

Dellquay13

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Thank you for all the input everybody.

So is it right to say the preference really is to:

- Install a centre cleat (I have a rail near the centre -- does that suffice?) -- use this line with a stern line (would this become a bow line if I'm going down?)

Failing that (for whatever reason), what is the next best option based on what others have said?

1. Use two lines by attaching to one riser and then moving the boat to get to another before roughly going central to them. Therefore bow and stern are both supported so no pivoting can occur.
2. Use warps and bollards (if no lock-keeper and for single-handed locking, this is where I'm curious!)

And @Dellquay13 is quite right, I'm in Newark-on-Trent and I'm moored on it so the months ahead are all about the Trent!
I only remembered the narrow Trent locks like Sawley or the Soar, I had forgotten the big one one on the dyke where it becomes tidal. I’ve only seen it from the dual carriageway so don’t know any detail about the risers. If they are further apart than your bow and stern, I would consider the upstream one most important and get a sliding line around that, lower myself down to the next and get a sliding line around that one too. I would then haul myself back up near the upstream riser as this is the one taking most of the force and most likely to go awry, but keep a close eye on both lines making sure they don’t snag with the rise or fall.
The sluices on such a big lock are likely in the side walls rather than in the doors like canal gates, so you will soon learn where to avoid in future.
 

reyes

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Thanks Dellquay, that's great.

In a lock where there are no riser cables, what then? Is it simply lines from bow and stern to the lockkeeper/crew (if they're around) to wrap around bollards? If so, that makes me curious about doing that single-handed!
 

Dellquay13

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Thanks Dellquay, that's great.

In a lock where there are no riser cables, what then? Is it simply lines from bow and stern to the lockkeeper/crew (if they're around) to wrap around bollards? If so, that makes me curious about doing that single-handed!
I haven’t done a lock without riser chains or a pontoon for about 15 years, I think the last time I did one was at Pontrieux in Brittany in 2011, where we passed lines fore and aft to the lock keeper and we adjusted them as we rose 2 up, never single handed.
Since then I’ve only done huge locks, mostly at Milford Haven (which has pontoons in the front half section and chains if they use the full 150m long lock) and a few times through the Rance barrage above St Malo, which is a mad dash to get to the front where there are a few chains or usually just lash yourself to a few other boats if you aren’t as fast getting in as the locals.

If I was single handed with fore and aft lines up to bollards that need constant attention I would consider holding the aft line direct, and run the bow line through a turning block (or a big carabiner secured to a bow fitting) back up to hand, so I could haul both individually, but the direction of each pull would still be local to fore and aft.

When single handed I always have a boat length line with a big carabiner on the end ready to hand. It’s really handy to clip onto lines fastened at the bow that need hauling back on board quickly without leaving the helm. When casting off I bring my long bow mooring line back onboard with it, I clip the carabiner onto the line to be hauled, untie it ashore keeping a single turn round the cleat and keeping it taut in hand until time to cast off, let the bitter end go then pull it all in with the carabiner hauling line.
 
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reyes

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Thanks again for everyone's assistance, and for your follow-ups @Dellquay13.

I thought I'd report back after going through some locks yesterday...

My route was from Farndon (near Newark-on-Trent) up to Hazelford where I chatted with the friendliest lockkeepers yet, and who were very respectful when asking about my experience (or lack thereof) in locks, with my aim going through another one (Gunthorpe) prior to a deserved bite to eat and drink!

So, my approach was:

- Buy a boathook, which I did yesterday at Farndon marina.
- Add a line to my handrail (which is closer to centre than my cleats (bow/stern))
- Stay back in the lock (~1/4 through), and slowly creep to a riser cable before using the boathook to pull me in (if I drifted a couple of feet).
- With the line on my railing, double it over to form a loop, feed through, and hold.
- Wait patiently and excitedly.

That was it. All good.

The guy at Hazelford, who was the nice guy I alluded to above, was very kind and did a couple of thumbs-up checks prior to opening the sluices further. That was in contrast to Gunthorpe lock where I think we shaved about 15 minutes off the time! :D

Hopefully this helps someone else.
 
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