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ivan&alice

Narrow Locking Technique

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11 hours ago, David Mack said:

No ropes needed. Just use the engine to stop the boat as it touches the cill or top gate, then leave it in neutral or tick over in forward gear. 

I tend to use a line in most locks, narrow or wide, walking off the boat and bringing it to a halt with a turn round a suitable bollard.

As someone else has said, stopping a boat which gets its propellor disabled by bags or other debris using the engine just does not work.

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7 minutes ago, matty40s said:

I tend to use a line in most locks, narrow or wide, walking off the boat and bringing it to a halt with a turn round a suitable bollard.

As someone else has said, stopping a boat which gets its propellor disabled by bags or other debris using the engine just does not work.

Or as I once experienced on Hatton, having the prop shaft coupling separate as I put the boat in reverse was an interesting moment.  Lucky the steps were close so I was off with the centre line, up the steps and stopped the boat on a bollard before it hut the gate.

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21 hours ago, ivan&alice said:

 

Should I fully open the paddles or is it wise to open them partially? (With the boat tied up in a broad lock I tend to be rather more aggressive with the paddles than others, fully opening the paddle on the same side of the boat in a broad lock, the flow tends to pin the boat to the wall and the rope stops the boat moving forward/backward.

 

Lapworth is very nice and easy - one of my favorite flight s- but some narrow locks pull, as others have mentioned. Napton, for instance. Going up Napton I find it helps working the paddles "in parallell": a few turns on one side, then a few turns on the other, helps keeping the boat still. But then we're only 50 ft - maybe it's otherwise with a longer and heavier boat. I'm not strong enough to hold the boat back with ropes if the lock really pulls hard, hence the carefulness and using the engine to keep the boat still.

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21 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Many narrow locks pull the boat forward when filling. You have to learn your boat, if you can easily hold it back on the prop at the back of the lock near the cill, OK. If not it is better to move forward in the lock before you fill it being careful not to hook the bow in the gate. If all else fails, rope the bow back round the rear lockside stump. Its worse with a shorter boat, like 50 to 60 feet.

The locky is in charge, if necessary drop the top paddles before the boat rams the babby/gate.

 

 

Indeed. Different boats, even of similar lengths can behave very differently. After two 58 foot shareboats, both of which were happy to stay close to the bottom gates when going up, we bought a 60 foot boat which behaved very differently. 

 

On the fiercer uphill locks, like Deptmore Lock and most of the T&M locks, it is pulled very strongly forward, sometimes hitting the gates even in reverse with  with full revs. I had to quickly adapt my uphill technique and rest the front fender on the gate in uphill locks.

Edited by cuthound
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The main problem at Lapworth is meeting a boat coming the other way in those really short pounds (especially the ones on a bend) -- and figuring out how you're going to get past each other.

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20 hours ago, Captain Pegg said:

Once you have used your boat in it’s proper environment - i.e. a narrow canal - you may just find locking more enjoyable.

 

Don’t overthink it, Lapworth should be easy enough. As others have suggested at 65’ you’ll not really need to worry about positioning or controlling your boat. The narrow locks at Lapworth, all of the BCN and Worcs & Bham are very stable. Those on the Oxford, Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey less so in my experience when ascending.

Made it up the flight of 19 in 3h 40min, definitely much faster and MUCH more enjoyable than broad locks! Was very comfortable and had no issues. Didn't use the ropes, rather rested the boat gently against the gates.

 

 

8 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

No one has mentioned it yet, so I will. If you normally boat with side fenders down, take them off.

I hear that you are supposed to but it doesn't really make practical sense to me why. I bumped the sides a number of times and would have lost a fair bit of blacking if I'd taken my fenders off. I get that they could get caught on something, and that could pull the boat over, but it would have to happen very early on while it was filling and you'd have to really not be paying attention for it to really be a problem.

 

 

18 hours ago, Wanderer Vagabond said:

It's interesting different people's styles and the reasons for them. I almost always use a rope in a lock, although as you say never tie it off, just wrap it around the bollard enough times for it to hold. I also use the rope to stop the boat in the lock, having gone into one of the Ryders Green locks on the Walsall, picked up a wadge of plastic bags and suddenly having no reverse to stop the boat so I hit the bottom gate (fortunately not very hard having leapt off and tried to stop it on the centre line). Since then I now go in and stop the boat with a rope on a bollard.

I always use a boatmans hitch on the centremost bollard, and I've gotten pretty good at judging how much slack is needed for a lock to not have to adjust while filling (of course I still keep a close eye). The one downside I have found is that the midlines wear as they rub over the lock walls, but a new rope is an easier fix than a dent or worse in the hull.

 

 

8 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

Move point 7 up to point 5 or point 4 and a half.

 

Why wait for the boat to be in the lock to close the paddle?  Once one tail gate is open, close the paddle.

You're right of course. Open left gate, close left paddle, hop over, open right gate, close right paddle. For the top gate, if there is only one, wait for full then close the non-hinge-side paddle, go across, open gate, close hinge-side paddle, boat comes out, close gate.

 

 

2 minutes ago, adam1uk said:

The main problem at Lapworth is meeting a boat coming the other way in those really short pounds (especially the ones on a bend) -- and figuring out how you're going to get past each other.

Had one of those, but wasn't too bad.

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11 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

Made it up the flight of 19 in 3h 40min, definitely much faster and MUCH more enjoyable than broad locks! Was very comfortable and had no issues. Didn't use the ropes, rather rested the boat gently against the gates.

 

 

I hear that you are supposed to but it doesn't really make practical sense to me why. I bumped the sides a number of times and would have lost a fair bit of blacking if I'd taken my fenders off. I get that they could get caught on something, and that could pull the boat over, but it would have to happen very early on while it was filling and you'd have to really not be paying attention for it to really be a problem.

 

 

I always use a boatmans hitch on the centremost bollard, and I've gotten pretty good at judging how much slack is needed for a lock to not have to adjust while filling (of course I still keep a close eye). The one downside I have found is that the midlines wear as they rub over the lock walls, but a new rope is an easier fix than a dent or worse in the hull.

 

 

You're right of course. Open left gate, close left paddle, hop over, open right gate, close right paddle. For the top gate, if there is only one, wait for full then close the non-hinge-side paddle, go across, open gate, close hinge-side paddle, boat comes out, close gate.

 

 

Had one of those, but wasn't too bad.

 

Boats with fenders down can get stuck going up or down a narrow lock. At best it is a major inconvenience, at worst it can sink the boat.

 

Better to lose a bit of blacking than the boat.

Edited by cuthound
Phat phingers

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10 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

I hear that you are supposed to but it doesn't really make practical sense to me why. I bumped the sides a number of times and would have lost a fair bit of blacking if I'd taken my fenders off. I get that they could get caught on something, and that could pull the boat over, but it would have to happen very early on while it was filling and you'd have to really not be paying attention for it to really be a problem.

Because when you leave the lock and the fender gets caught and rips off you leave a submerged fender with a piece of rope long enough to get caught round someone else's prop.

 

If the fender gets caught and your boat sinks well that's your look out.

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16 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:
9 hours ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

No one has mentioned it yet, so I will. If you normally boat with side fenders down, take them off.

I hear that you are supposed to but it doesn't really make practical sense to me why. I bumped the sides a number of times and would have lost a fair bit of blacking if I'd taken my fenders off. I get that they could get caught on something, and that could pull the boat over, but it would have to happen very early on while it was filling and you'd have to really not be paying attention for it to really be a problem.

@cuthound and @Rob-M beat me to it! Lapworth will be fine, but eventually you'll find a narrow lock that is tight with fenders down. You risk getting stuck, or worse. The blacking will just be taken off the rubbing strakes. That is what they are for. The clue is in the name! Easy to dab a bit of blacking on them at the end of the trip. Most modern boats are 6'10", so you have an extra inch each side over a working boat, but lock sides can get pushed in. Getting hung up on fenders going downhill can leave the boat suspended in the air as the water drains away, then dropped and sunk. 😱

Jen

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies

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34 minutes ago, Rob-M said:

Because when you leave the lock and the fender gets caught and rips off you leave a submerged fender with a piece of rope long enough to get caught round someone else's prop.

And on the Trent and Mersey locks caught fenders have been known to lift gates right off as a boat leaves.

46 minutes ago, ivan&alice said:

 I bumped the sides a number of times and would have lost a fair bit of blacking if I'd taken my fenders off. 

Instead you get a semi-circle of blacking rubbed off by the fenders, so I can't really see that you're ahead.

 

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1 hour ago, ivan&alice said:

Made it up the flight of 19 in 3h 40min, definitely much faster and MUCH more enjoyable than broad locks! Was very comfortable and had no issues. Didn't use the ropes, rather rested the boat gently against the gates.

 

 

I hear that you are supposed to but it doesn't really make practical sense to me why. I bumped the sides a number of times and would have lost a fair bit of blacking if I'd taken my fenders off. I get that they could get caught on something, and that could pull the boat over, but it would have to happen very early on while it was filling and you'd have to really not be paying attention for it to really be a problem.

 

 

I always use a boatmans hitch on the centremost bollard, and I've gotten pretty good at judging how much slack is needed for a lock to not have to adjust while filling (of course I still keep a close eye). The one downside I have found is that the midlines wear as they rub over the lock walls, but a new rope is an easier fix than a dent or worse in the hull.

 

 

You're right of course. Open left gate, close left paddle, hop over, open right gate, close right paddle. For the top gate, if there is only one, wait for full then close the non-hinge-side paddle, go across, open gate, close hinge-side paddle, boat comes out, close gate.

 

 

Had one of those, but wasn't too bad.

You’d only have lost blacking off your rubbing strakes not off the hull sides themselves. The purpose of them is to protect the hull and they exist because using fenders in a narrow lock is not advisable.

 

In any case locking doesn’t tend to take blacking off rubbing strakes anyway. Scraping the back end along concrete wash walls is what does that.
 

JP

Edited by Captain Pegg

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If you continue to head North you’ll need better than pipe fenders.
Get a car wheel and a couple of wheelbarrow wheels. 
(with those still attached you’ll definitely not get in a narrow lock)

 

 

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4 hours ago, adam1uk said:

The main problem at Lapworth is meeting a boat coming the other way in those really short pounds (especially the ones on a bend) -- and figuring out how you're going to get past each other.

As the volockie said to me "do you mind passing him in the pound" and was right put out when I replied "We will be here all day if I don't"  Told the misses I was a smart ass.

  • Haha 4

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Assuming you are coming up from Bancroft basin the southern Stratford locks can be a pain in the rear.  At Maidenhead road lock, the bottom gate has a cranked balance beam  and needs a lot of strength to get moving to close.  Wilmcote flight has gates that swing open and lock 14 is narrower than the rest so you will get stuck with fenders down [bad practice IMHO, should only be down when mooring up or between narrowboats in broad locks.]  I know of at least one Barry Hawkins narrowboat that won't fit.

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On 09/08/2020 at 18:03, cuthound said:

 

Boats with fenders down can get stuck going up or down a narrow lock. At best it is a major inconvenience, at worst it can sink the boat.

 

Better to lose a bit of blacking than the boat.

FIFY. 

 

Boats are quite capable of getting stuck in a narrow lock (and even a wide lock) with or without fenders.  In some situations a soft fender will ride past a jutting brick on a lock wall when a hard rubbing strake will jam.  This happened to a friend's boat, with no fenders down.  The boat caught on the hull-side and tipped sideways, jamming the boat tight while descending.  Luckily it was jammed so tight that it remained suspended above the water and did not sink.  CRT had to dismantle the lock to get the boat out. 

 

The important thing is to keep an eye on the boat and be ready to drop paddles.

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1 hour ago, doratheexplorer said:

FIFY. 

 

Boats are quite capable of getting stuck in a narrow lock (and even a wide lock) with or without fenders.  In some situations a soft fender will ride past a jutting brick on a lock wall when a hard rubbing strake will jam.  This happened to a friend's boat, with no fenders down.  The boat caught on the hull-side and tipped sideways, jamming the boat tight while descending.  Luckily it was jammed so tight that it remained suspended above the water and did not sink.  CRT had to dismantle the lock to get the boat out. 

 

The important thing is to keep an eye on the boat and be ready to drop paddles.

 

The above is the exception that proves the rule.

 

In 47 years boating I have come across maybe 20 boats stuck in locks.The vast majority of boats got stuck because they left the fenders down in narrow locks. However as you say the protruding wear edge of the baseplate or a rubbing iron can catch on protruding bricks, chains  etc.

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12 minutes ago, cuthound said:

 

The above is the exception that proves the rule.

 

In 47 years boating I have come across maybe 20 boats stuck in locks.The vast majority of boats got stuck because they left the fenders down in narrow locks. However as you say the protruding wear edge of the baseplate or a rubbing iron can catch on protruding bricks, chains  etc.

The issue is that by lifting fenders, people may be complacent and assume nothing can go wrong.  For that reason, the main advice should be to always stay vigilant while locking.  Everything else is of less importance, yet the simple message of vigilance is often forgotten.  On wide canals (such as where I'm moored now) there's little reason to lift fenders at all, yet plenty of snooty boaters looking down on those who leave them down, for no other reason than feeling superior.

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35 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

The issue is that by lifting fenders, people may be complacent and assume nothing can go wrong.  For that reason, the main advice should be to always stay vigilant while locking.  Everything else is of less importance, yet the simple message of vigilance is often forgotten.  On wide canals (such as where I'm moored now) there's little reason to lift fenders at all, yet plenty of snooty boaters looking down on those who leave them down, for no other reason than feeling superior.

 

Yes vigilance is required at all times when boating, and especially when locking and even more so when single handing.

 

Be careful of ripping your dangling fenders off when entering or leaving wide locks and only opening one gate.😉

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5 hours ago, cuthound said:

 

The above is the exception that proves the rule.

 

In 47 years boating I have come across maybe 20 boats stuck in locks.The vast majority of boats got stuck because they left the fenders down in narrow locks. However as you say the protruding wear edge of the baseplate or a rubbing iron can catch on protruding bricks, chains  etc.

I will admit to getting stuck in Hurleston bottom lock many years ago, I had moored overnight just below, pushed off and turned almost immediately into the lock completely forgetting I still had fenders down on the side that had been against the bank

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I got stuck in Hurlestone bottom lock on a hire boat. I hadn't even thought about fenders which were attached to the gunnels. Once I had reversed back out I had to cut them off with a bread knife as I couldn't untie them. I wasn't impressed with the hire company as I had told them we were heading that way.

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On 08/08/2020 at 19:41, ditchcrawler said:

The governor lets me in, closes up, draws top paddle, I climb out and she walks ahead and I work the rest of the lock, only lost the boat once when it drifted off while I was closing the top gate

Yep that’s how we do it, going down the crew sets the lock, opens the gate then moves forward to the gate paddles.    The helm steps off when the boat is in the lock and the as the they close the gate the crew starts to draw the paddle then the helm goes forward and opens the other paddle.   
 

on long flights of locks we change helm/crew every 5 locks or so, only different on working locks is SWMBO doesn’t climb lock ladders so when I am crew I don’t move forward to the next lock until the current lock is nearly completed and she can Safely step ashore to control the paddles.     

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4 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

I will admit to getting stuck in Hurleston bottom lock many years ago, I had moored overnight just below, pushed off and turned almost immediately into the lock completely forgetting I still had fenders down on the side that had been against the bank

We had all the fenders up and still got horribly stuck, not been back since, but might have another go now that its fixed. We shared a K&A lock with a fender down, driving two boats in together, not a clue why a fender was down, but there was a huge bang and the fender shot about 6 foot into the air.

 

................Dave

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All this talk of where to send the crew to get the next lock set, etc...has me dreaming of what it must be like to have a crew! 🙄

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When the crew was just me and my wife, my folding bike was very useful at flights. I would cycle along the flight to see if a boat was coming the other way, and if not, open one paddle at several of the locks nearest our boat on the way back to set them so that it would only be necessary to open the gates on arrival. 

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On 13/08/2020 at 14:04, cuthound said:

 

Yes vigilance is required at all times when boating, and especially when locking and even more so when single handing.

 

Be careful of ripping your dangling fenders off when entering or leaving wide locks and only opening one gate.😉

I'm going up The Chesterfield, talk about tight, why are they so tight?, a few axtra inches would seem to be much safer.

I am a bït worried about going down tbh, there are very few boats around, and I prefer to do it all on my own unless another (experienced) boater offers, which they usually do, and I pick up a few tips, to the extent that a landlubber asked me how I knew so much about locking (little does he know!)

 

 

 

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