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Timx

Single locking

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Hi, I locked up in a hire boat the other day on my own while she was still asleep, a 52' in a 60 'plus lock on the staffs and worcs, unremarkable, taking it slow. But it was my first solo so was good for me to do it alone, anyway , as I went through, a single hander then went through the other way, an experienced man.i expressed my trepidation at trying it going down, cilling etc. he looked bemused and said its easy, as you open the paddles the boat will move forward away from the cill, and when it is empty it will ease away fro the gate to let you open them, he then bow hauled it through with one pull on his middle line,he said he didn't do ladders since his hip replacement. Is this others experience can I adopt this technique with out any worries.

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If your boat is going downhill, you just need to keep the stern of your boat ahead of the white line indicating in most cases, where the cill extends to. Often going downhill is a lot gentler than going uphill, in the same way that letting water out of a bathtub is more gentle than filling a bath with the taps open and causing splashing etc.

 

I often singlehand my widebeam through lock flights, and as long as you have your wits about you, and do things methodically, watching both ends of your boat to make sure both are moving freely at all times, and controlling the position of the boat using whatever ropes you are able to at the time....you should have no problems. I mostly use the middle rope, but make sure you NEVER tie it to anything...as it will pull the boat over to the side if it isn't given enough slack.....but also if you put it around a bollard, be careful the change in angle of the rope from bollard to boat roof, doesn't tighten over the rest of the rope...(happened to me)....which would effectively prevent you from giving it more slack when needed. (maybe keep a sharp knife available in case you do need to cut a rope if you get into difficultly..things happen fast.

 

when going uphill........

I normally take the centre line from boat roof...and round the bollard a little....in order to stop the boat swinging and hitting a lock wall (caused by inflow of water into the lock from the front)....I sometimes form a loop in the rope...put it over the bollard...open a paddle, but making sure I have enough time to run back...remove the looped rope....and manage the boat manually....to stop it moving backwards (and over the cill)....

the art is to do things at your own pace, and be careful when people talk to you and redirect your attention from your boat.....

 

 

also..bear in mind that if you are going uphill from a full lock into a pound which is at a very low level...there is also a risk that when your boat is half out the lock, it get's caught on the cill on the lock outlet....and any leakage from the gates behind your boat, would cause your stern to begin dropping, while your bow is stuck on the lock outlet....many boats on the Huddersfield canal have experienced this issue...so you need to not only be worried about going downhill and getting cilled at the stern, but going uphill and getting cilled at the bow.......

Edited by DeanS

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I'm not sure its universally true that whereever you position a boat at the start going down, opening the paddles will draw the boat forwards. It should do, but if the lock isn't that deep and the cill becomes an issue vs the momentum of the boat means it doesn't come forwards that much........better to position it at the front of the lock to start with. Also, if/when it is drawn forwards, the boat doesn't know to apply the 'brakes', and will bash the gates - hardly good practice for either the gates or the contents of shelves, cupboards etc on the boat.

 

Everything is possible singlehanded as it is with crew, the "pinch point" - or to put it another way, the thing to think about the most - is how to get on or off the boat when its at the bottom of the lock.

 

1. Step onto the roof then jump/lift up onto the side of the lock

2. Use the ladder (I do it from the roof of the boat, this way I only put my hands on the topmost rungs, which are normally much cleaner than the rungs which have been underwater)

3. Avoid the issue by bowhauling on or out the lock as appropriate.

 

 

If there's no ladder....then you need to think carefully. If there's a tailbridge, then you might want to choose a different technique than bowhauling. If there's no convenient towpath or lock landing before/after the lock (eg a roving bridge?), bowhauling might be complicated etc. Some locks are easier down than up because you can drop onto the roof (no ladder, tailbridge so bowhauling is complicated) but its too deep to get up again - don't forget to open the gates if going down!!! (Beeston Iron lock springs to mind here). You really want to plan it in your mind so you only do this bit once. You don't want to eg climb a ladder, then have to descend the ladder, then climb it again etc.

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You can't be prescriptive about this. What the OP saw the 'experienced singlehander' do in that lock is not what he would do in every lock, of course. You've just got to take a look at what's there and adapt your methods accordingly.

 

And your methods will change as you learn - I've singlehanded about 90% of the locks on the system now but I'm still learning!

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Right so not as easy as he made it sound, as he made it sound like locks all acted the same. Thanks for replies.

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Yes, "experienced" might be restricted to just one set/flight of locks. Unless someone warns you how a lock behaves, when you do it for the first time there's no way of predicting with certainty how the boat will react, going up or down.

 

We did the Droitwich this year and the top flight has side pounds which fill the lock from front and rear at the same time. That's an interesting experience.

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For any temporary mooring around a bollard, I use a variant of the Lightermans hitch. I make a reverse loop, that is with the return underneath the line. I then drop this over the bollard, pull tight and then coil on top of this in the opposite direction (clockwise if the first loop was anti-clockwise) for 2-5 turns depending on the ropes laying ability.

 

This holds the heaviest of pulls by the boat but by simply lifting the trailing part of the rope and flicking the top coils off it will release more line as required or indeed to take up any slack. To completely untie, just flick the first bottom loop off in the same way. I have a bad back so am able to do all of this standing up other than bending to lift the trailing end up of course.

 

I hope the above makes sense

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Why not Alan? Providing you keep your eye on the situation. Even in the event of tightening by the rise/fall, it's an instant guaranteed release as it just can't lock up the line, no matter how tight.

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Why not Alan? Providing you keep your eye on the situation. Even in the event of tightening by the rise/fall, it's an instant guaranteed release as it just can't lock up the line, no matter how tight.

 

Firstly, I think you should clarify if broad or narrow lock. I'd tie a boat in a broad lock but not a narrow one.

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Firstly, I think you should clarify if broad or narrow lock. I'd tie a boat in a broad lock but not a narrow one.

Good point Paul, nobody had actually asked me! I've only ever used broad-beam locks (GU). Presumably, a narrow lock keeps the boat in place so not such an issue?

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Good point Paul, nobody had actually asked me! I've only ever used broad-beam locks (GU). Presumably, a narrow lock keeps the boat in place so not such an issue?

Not if you have a little one! I tie up in every lock, wide or narrow, preferably to a centre bollard. If there are no centre bollards, I have been known to tie it to a ladder.

 

This is all very shocking to the purists, of course, but in some locks the boat can be thrown forward quite violently as paddles are opened. Shade Lock, Fradley actually broke my centre line before I had a chance to drop a paddle. By contrast, so far the Shroppie and Llangollen locks have been so douce and well-behaved that the rope has hardly been needed. But you never know.

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Not if you have a little one! I tie up in every lock, wide or narrow, preferably to a centre bollard. If there are no centre bollards, I have been known to tie it to a ladder.

 

This is all very shocking to the purists, of course, but in some locks the boat can be thrown forward quite violently as paddles are opened. Shade Lock, Fradley actually broke my centre line before I had a chance to drop a paddle. By contrast, so far the Shroppie and Llangollen locks have been so douce and well-behaved that the rope has hardly been needed. But you never know.

 

Why not put the boat at the front of the lock?

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