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nicknorman

Single handers - would you do this?

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I don’t do much single handing of locks, normally Jeff and I always boat together. So I was a bit surprised at this today, at Junction lock Fradley, where we were sitting enjoying a beer.

 

Single hander came into lock to go down, ~45’ boat. He closed top gate, took centre line off boat but didn’t attach it to anything. He then wound one bottom paddle up. He left the windlass on, but that is only a minor crime. I then was more interested in my cold beer and chatting, but it transpires (as he told us later) he then walked off down the pound by the café looking to see if there was a space for him to moor, leaving his unsecured boat in a draining lock. Some time later I suddenly realised that his boat was right at the back of the lock, and looked like it was behind the cill marker. I went to check and it was, and the rudder was coming up so I ran to close the bottom paddle at which point he arrived in a panic. He went to the top paddle with his windlass whilst I closed the bottom one without a windlass.

 

I then got a bit confused because Jeff was shouting something to him. Transpired that the top paddle had been left open all along, and this was why the boat got sucked back onto the cill and everything happened rather slowly (it wasn’t just the beer!). His immediate reaction had been to close the top paddle, but with the boat already slightly cilled that would have been a really bad idea.

 

He felt his only mistake was to fail to close the top paddle, and that once he had opened the bottom paddle and the boat moved forward, it was safe to leave it. I can’t say that is something I’d do.

 

Fortunately no damage and we got his rudder spindle back into the cup. But seems like a bad idea to leave your unsecured boat descending in a lock, especially with your dog tied to the boat!

 

 

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The first time I single-handed Wolverhampton locks I did this at all 20 (not at the bottom one for an obvious reason) it was only after it dawned on me what might have gone wrong....

 

(Last time I did them in three hours despite not setting locks ahead) 

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No. Always stay on the lockside keeping an eye on what is going on.

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In my experience, if you wait until the boat is most of the way down (so not at risk of cilling), and then walk to the next lock (or two) to set it, and then walk back, you've not saved a lot of time compared with doing the locks one at a time....

If there is a low pound (eg Northampton flight) then I would set the next lock, so I can go straight from one lock to the next.

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10 minutes ago, matty40s said:

The Voldoggie should have pulled the boat forward and barked warning earlier.

He wasn’t there!

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I have very occasionally left the boat to go ahead and lift a paddle or open a top gate if the next lock is very close, but only when the lock has emptied enough to know the back end is below the cill, or where the configuration of top gate and handrail is such that there is no chance of the bow catching on the way up. And with a 70ft boat there is no likelihood if surges developing which could result in a significant gate impact, as could occur with a shorter boat. 

But if the pound is anything longer than very short the time saved in lockworking is lost in the extra walk, so as SG says it is rarely worth it.

  • Greenie 1

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34 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

He wasn’t there!

Where are the volockies when you need them!

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I will leave the boat if it's halfway down, tied up and not drifting about. And if the next lock is very close and there's no possibility of someone coming the other way. So, not very often. Bosley and Audlem possibly. Certainly not to check if there's mooring space. 

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Of course, if @nicknorman had just sat and continued to enjoy his beer, he could have had  another whilst he was being entertained by the recovery operation! I wonder if our intrepid single-hander would have dismissed his error so lightly in that event?

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Id never do that, if the boat drops back even on an empty lock due to backflush the rudder is going to hit, possibly bending tiller etc.

we used to do dodgy stuff ( rope from lockside to gear lever when working  widebeam downhill through locks , was a bit special, tying the tiller and walking round polishing brass, whilst singlehanding was another, but leave boat unattended in lock no way.

Edited by roland elsdon
Cant get widebeam through narrow lock

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2 hours ago, nicknorman said:

 

 

He felt his only mistake was to fail to close the top paddle, and that once he had opened the bottom paddle and the boat moved forward, it was safe to leave it. I can’t say that is something I’d do.

 

 

 

Not something I would do, but I have also know single handers to walk down and set the next lock while their boat is decending by its self in the one above

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Absolutely No. When single handed going down, centre rope 2 turns around a forward bollard or at my feet if there's none and I never leave the boat until it's down and the bottom gates open - too many hang-ups both going up and down. Fortunately always been there to sort it out.

  • Greenie 1

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When single handing in narrow locks I tend to let my 40' boat float, untied, while I set the next lock in the flight but I do keep an eye on what's happening. To date most of the problems I've had with locks have been with crew involved.

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I would never leave the boat unattended once in the lock and it is emptying (or filling).  The only time I do walk on to start setting the next lock is whilst waiting for the current lock to fill or empty, and the boat is tied up on the landing.

Edited by malp

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3 hours ago, malp said:

I would never leave the boat unattended once in the lock and it is emptying (or filling).  The only time I do walk on to start setting the next lock is whilst waiting for the current lock to fill or empty, and the boat is tied up on the landing.

Agree 100%. Too risky to leave a boat unattended in a filling or emptying lock.

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5 hours ago, p6rob said:

When single handing in narrow locks I tend to let my 40' boat float, untied, while I set the next lock in the flight but I do keep an eye on what's happening. To date most of the problems I've had with locks have been with crew involved.

Even keeping an eye on it from the next lock sounds risky. If there was a problem it would probably happen so quickly that it would a!ready be too late by the time you ran back from the next lock. Even if you are Usain Bolt (you're not, are you?).

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I would never leave the boat unattended, until the lock was completely full or empty.  Then you can go and fill your water cans or whatever.

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Depends, when filling will leave it unattended once it's very near the top and jog up to the next one in the flight to get it set - such as on the way up the Marsworth flight.

Prob saves me more than 45 minutes over the whole flight there.

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20 hours ago, Arthur Marshall said:

I will leave the boat if it's halfway down, tied up and not drifting about. And if the next lock is very close and there's no possibility of someone coming the other way. So, not very often. Bosley and Audlem possibly. Certainly not to check if there's mooring space. 

More or less what I might do. Greatest concern being that the skeg/ rudder blade below the cill. Mind you, I did once catch the skeg on a cill 🤒 My own stupid mistake caused by my allowing my attention to be distracted. 

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29 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

If the wife walks to set the next lock I am up by the paddles

 

Is it really single handing if your wife is helping?

  • Greenie 1

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