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River Trent Locks


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I do most of my Trent boating in winter, when you work the locks yourself apart from on the tidal section. 

I recently had the pleasure of a couple of long days moving a boat from Keadby to Mercia Marina and noticed how things have changed since my last summer trip.

Cromwell lock for example,  used to be manned from early til late evening this time of year,  now 9am - 4pm!    But at least the keepers on there know how to operate the lock. 

At Newark Nether lock we were told that we would get through town lock but then "You'll have to moor below at Hazleford and go through tomorrow when someone is on duty"

This was while she filled the lock with the wrong paddle,  oblivious to the turbulence caused,  something I would have thought was basic training. 

I can understand advice being given on the cautious side if someone doesn't look/sound competent,  but we had already said Gunthorpe was our destination that evening. Not too many years back the last keeper you met on duty would radio ahead and ask colleagues to leave locks empty and bottom gates open,  something actually useful. 

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33 minutes ago, pearley said:

With the new(ish) control pedestal Hazleford is easy.

I'd argue that the old pedestals are better for self use, at least you can work the paddles independently,  but I know what you mean- they are pretty foolproof,  if a little slow.

What's worrying is volunteer keepers giving poor advice, and not being able to work their own locks safely. 

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4 hours ago, noddyboater said:

I do most of my Trent boating in winter, when you work the locks yourself apart from on the tidal section. 

I recently had the pleasure of a couple of long days moving a boat from Keadby to Mercia Marina and noticed how things have changed since my last summer trip.

Cromwell lock for example,  used to be manned from early til late evening this time of year,  now 9am - 4pm!    But at least the keepers on there know how to operate the lock. 

At Newark Nether lock we were told that we would get through town lock but then "You'll have to moor below at Hazleford and go through tomorrow when someone is on duty"

This was while she filled the lock with the wrong paddle,  oblivious to the turbulence caused,  something I would have thought was basic training. 

I can understand advice being given on the cautious side if someone doesn't look/sound competent,  but we had already said Gunthorpe was our destination that evening. Not too many years back the last keeper you met on duty would radio ahead and ask colleagues to leave locks empty and bottom gates open,  something actually useful. 

Happened to us at Hazelford I mentioned it to the Gunthorpe lockie who was on the ball. I think the vollies should ask first if you wish to self operate

Edited by Midnight
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I had a worrying trip up the Trent in July 2019 where at both Gunthorpe and Holme the Vlokies ignored my instructions. This iron hulled boat weighs well in excess of 20 tonnes. I am not a frail or feeble individual but I am over 70. I always ask that the paddles are raised slowly as in a strong current i maybe unable to hold her against the lock wall causing her to swing forend first across the lock.

At the these locks the volunteer ignored me and raised the paddles fast, presumably because they could and it made them feel good and the inevitable happened.

Then the paddles have to be shut down and the penning started all over again, nevermind the danger and damage that could be caused.

I complained to CRT but the report was never replied to other than to acknowledge its receipt.

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Just now, JamesWoolcock said:

I complained to CRT but the report was never replied to other than to acknowledge its receipt.

 

 

I complained to C&RT when the Nether lockie closed the gates as I was half-in them and, being GRP, was within inches of being crushed. I have no idea how much pressure those hydraulic gates have behind them, but C&RT assured me that there was a PRV set at low enough pressure not to crush a GRP boat ................ yeah sure there is!

 

All you get is "we will investigate and see if more training is necessary"

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3 minutes ago, JamesWoolcock said:

Well it bloody well is! These people are dangerous. 

 

This was my 'story' as detailed here at the time :

 

 

Departed Cromwell Lock heading upstream for Newark.

Called the Lock keeper at Nether Lock when 10 minutes out and asked to pen-up when convenient, received the reply “Lock is in your favour, gates are open, lights are green come straight in”

Entered the lock-cut and as the bow passed the gates, the gates started to close, - immediately stuck both engines into full reverse and just managed to back out as the gates closed to leave about a 3-foot gap  - we are a 14 foot beam GRP cruiser, we would have been totally crushed.

Called the Lock Keeper on the VHF: “Nether Lock, what the hell are you doing ?”

No reply but the gates opened and we entered.

As we finally got into the lock another boat called up “10 minutes out would like to lock up” the lockie replied he would hold the gates for them.

Normally the lockie would come and inspect our licence, ask for our destination, pass the time of day but this time (I presume he was so embarrassed) he just stayed in his hut until the other boat arrived, at which time (being ‘safe’ and having a witness should anything happen) he stuck his head over the edge of the lock and (sort of) apologised.

Asked him what had happened and he said: “I closed the gates because I thought you were already in the lock”  

 

Just a young lad - I think (hope) he has had a scare and will be more careful in future.

 

I’m all for volunteer lock keepers but they really should be taught the importance of looking out of the ‘hut window’ and awaiting the OK from the skipper before closing gates or raising paddles.

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I gave up reporting back to CRT after the incident at Keadby lock when the pillock of a keeper shut the gates and turned the lock on me as I ferried across the river towards it.

I phoned the Newark office directly,  possibly my mistake,  but never heard anything back or an acknowledgement of me reporting the incident. 

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We never got a reply from CRT when we complained about the lockie at Holme Lock opening the top paddles fully before I had secured the bowline back to the boat.

 

Very nearly had me off the front of the boat that day!!

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I have never once received an acknowledgement from CRT about the number of times I have safely negotiated all the manned locks on the tidal section with the help of employed or volunteer lock keepers.😁

No one ever tells us about the innumerable times the locks have been successfully and safely used, it would get boring.

CRT are not perfect nor are the boaters who use the system. Including the so called expert boat handlers. We all make mistakes, if no gets hurt, boats or infrastructure damaged then put it down to experience and move on.

Stay safe everyone

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18 minutes ago, John Hartley said:

I have never once received an acknowledgement from CRT about the number of times I have safely negotiated all the manned locks on the tidal section with the help of employed or volunteer lock keepers.😁

No one ever tells us about the innumerable times the locks have been successfully and safely used, it would get boring.

CRT are not perfect nor are the boaters who use the system. Including the so called expert boat handlers. We all make mistakes, if no gets hurt, boats or infrastructure damaged then put it down to experience and move on.

Stay safe everyone

I sorry to say that I think you maybe complacency missing the point!

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1 hour ago, John Hartley said:

I have never once received an acknowledgement from CRT about the number of times I have safely negotiated all the manned locks on the tidal section with the help of employed or volunteer lock keepers.😁

No one ever tells us about the innumerable times the locks have been successfully and safely used, it would get boring.

CRT are not perfect nor are the boaters who use the system. Including the so called expert boat handlers. We all make mistakes, if no gets hurt, boats or infrastructure damaged then put it down to experience and move on.

Stay safe everyone

 

I don't know if you are just missing the point, or, deliberately missing the point.

 

The actions of these (presumably) untrained volunteers have caused potentially very dangerous situations, which could have even possibly caused death,  The reason they didn't was because experienced boaters were aware enough to see a problem developing and react quickly enough to avert it.

The outcome may have been very different for less experienced boaters.

 

Without reporting these instances to C&RT they may well feel that their training is undertaken at acceptable levels - IT IS NOT.

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6 hours ago, John Hartley said:

I have never once received an acknowledgement from CRT about the number of times I have safely negotiated all the manned locks on the tidal section with the help of employed or volunteer lock keepers.😁

No one ever tells us about the innumerable times the locks have been successfully and safely used, it would get boring.

CRT are not perfect nor are the boaters who use the system. Including the so called expert boat handlers. We all make mistakes, if no gets hurt, boats or infrastructure damaged then put it down to experience and move on.

Stay safe everyone

Ok, let me tell you then about the innumerable times I've been worked through locks on the tidal Trent without incident.  

It's been great,  no complaints at all. Well,  ok, apart from the previously mentioned pillock at Keadby. But that's not bad in over 20 years using the river, like you said - nobody's perfect. 

But maybe that's because they're paid keepers, and some have actually been through a lock on a boat. 

If you want to bring your flask and sandwiches and play at pressing the buttons and controlling the pretty boats, at least get the basics of working your own lock right first. 

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I don't know the river Trent but as this thread concerns safety on rivers and the OP started off by saying they do most of their Trent boating in winter, I just wondered how they ensure they're not caught out away from a safe mooring if the river floods? To me that seems like a much more basic safety issue on rivers in winter than the odd incident at a lock.

 

I've moored for over 10 years on the Thames, Warks Avon and the River Nene and I'd never stray too far from my mooring in winter because if the ground is saturated it can only take a couple of days rain and one could be in trouble. Perhaps the Trent is a more placid river or there are lots of safe public moorings available within easy reach?

Edited by blackrose
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1 hour ago, blackrose said:

I don't know the river Trent but as this thread concerns safety on rivers and the OP started off by saying they do most of their Trent boating in winter, I just wondered how they ensure they're not caught out away from a safe mooring if the river floods? To me that seems like a much more basic safety issue on rivers in winter than the odd incident at a lock.

 

I've moored for over 10 years on the Thames, Warks Avon and the River Nene and I'd never stray too far from my mooring in winter because if the ground is saturated it can only take a couple of days rain and one could be in trouble. Perhaps the Trent is a more placid river or there are lots of safe public moorings available within easy reach?

There are plenty of safe floating pontoons on the river if you do get caught out during flood conditions and stuck the wrong side of flood gates to get back to your home mooring.

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2 hours ago, blackrose said:

I don't know the river Trent but as this thread concerns safety on rivers and the OP started off by saying they do most of their Trent boating in winter, I just wondered how they ensure they're not caught out away from a safe mooring if the river floods? To me that seems like a much more basic safety issue on rivers in winter than the odd incident at a lock.

 

 

There are (probably) safe moorings. at most. around a couple of hours apart, as NC says there are floating visitors pontoons adjacent to many of the locks, and other pontoons spaced along the River.

Lock approach walls are pretty high and if you moor up correctly with long spring lines they can easily take a 8-10 foot (maybe more) rise in water level.

 

Ok - its not a river or canal, but where we moor is tidal and we can get a 10 foot difference in height twice a day, it is not a problem.

On the Rivers the big problem with mooring up in times of floods is the possibility of 'half a tree' coming barrelling down the river and smashing into you - always moor bow into the flow and there is a chance the logs will be deflected, or 'tuck in' behind another boat and let them take the brunt !

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There's also the safe haven of the Nottingham Canal to sit a flood out. With passage on the upper (Beeston to Sawley) reaches being controlled by Cranfleet flood gates and movement through locks on the tidal section only by keepers there's not much point in venturing out in flood conditions anyway. 

People do though as in some places there's nothing physical to stop you, and every so often there's an accident to remind you it's not a great idea. 

Like the bloke who got stuck on Sawley weir and had to be rescued by helicopter. 

Or the couple that went over Stoke weir and capsized in their newly purchased narrow boat. 

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14 minutes ago, noddyboater said:

Or the couple that went over Stoke weir and capsized in their newly purchased narrow boat. 

 

Who complained it wasn't their fault and someone in authority should have stopped them going on the River.

 

14 minutes ago, noddyboater said:

Like the bloke who got stuck on Sawley weir and had to be rescued by helicopter. 

 

 

 

AirLiftedTrent.jpg

 

 

 

Or the guy who thought he knew how to 'wild moor' 

 

 

 

Moored on The Trent.png

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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Unfortunately the old saying "you learn by your mistakes" is certainly true in boating. It's not bad pootling down the canal and cocking something up but it does turn nasty quickly on a river, especially in flood. 

Most of it is common sense,  but some people don't have any. Like the bloke I met at Cranfleet who was amazed how fast the current was that day. He discovered this when he told his young son to jump off the bow and he would catch him and pull him out as he came past the stern.  

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

On the Rivers the big problem with mooring up in times of floods is the possibility of 'half a tree' coming barrelling down the river and smashing into you - always moor bow into the flow and there is a chance the logs will be deflected, or 'tuck in' behind another boat and let them take the brunt !

Indeed....

20210722_110820.jpg

 

We are getting off the Nene before Saturday, when weather warnings say quite a lot of rain is forecast, and looking ahead, its unsettled for a good week.

There really isn't a lot of safe mooring on the Nene away from marinas and private plots, a couple of floating pontoons maybe, but long stretches where it would be tie to a tree and stick poles down the sides if caught out.

Edited by matty40s
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I think its possibly more  dangerous  in the Summer with sudden heavy rain, and very little ground to soak away with housing developments etc as well as less experienced Summer boating visitors, Ive had to moor up in Cranfleet cut and Sawley mid Summer  for a few days, the lockeeper wouldnt let boats out IIRC the flood gates were padlocked(?)  , also had to do similar on The Avon which is less easy with not the same canalised sections. It can be very nasty through the narrow bridges there with fast running water. The lock channels though are usually less fast flowing so logs at speed is less of an issue. 

 

A cruise in mid Winter on a crisp dry day can be a joy, and the weather these days is as we know much more variable with long dry spells in the Winter and hard sudden rain spells in the Summer.

 

Rivers are all around, part of the fun but need to be treated with respect as does every part of the inland waterways. 

 

 

 

Edited by Stroudwater1
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