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Boating On Rivers - Reminder of the Dangers


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Stuff happens, its easy to criticise.

But "stuff" is less likely to happen to those who have prepared and know what they're doing. So it's even easier to criticise (possibly with some justification), those who haven't properly prepared and don't know what they're doing.

Edited by blackrose
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As this subject has been started, can I ask about the Trent Junction when coming down the T&M Canal and going up the Soar towards Leicester? What's that area like - too scary for a 10hp engine and 40-foot boat (ours)?

I have seen a photo of the junction and it doesn't look too bad, and thought to go there by car (and then on foot) to check it out before we tackle it in 2017. The Soar/Leicester branch of the Grand Union looks like a pleasant canal and we thought we'd go that way down to smelly old London.

 

I guess you mean the sharp turn to starboard into the Soar from the Trent, rather than about two miles back upstream where the Trent and Mersey and the river Derwent join the Trent.

It's no problem other than when there's a bankfull of fresh coming down, and in those conditions it's best to start turning very early, so early in fact that you'll think you've turned too soon.

The turn must start from well to starboard of mid-stream, and ideally you need to be at least beam on to the current in the Trent so that your bow is pointing up the Soar as you draw level with the ness, which was to starboard as you approached but will now be passing from port to starboard across your bows.

If you leave it too late to start turning, then the water coming down the Soar will push your head off to port and send you straight for the bank a little way above the railway bridge, just beyond which is Thrumpton Weir. If you turn too early you can correct the situation by simply easing off, and maybe even holding back a bit, until the current carries you down side-on to just above the ness.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
  • Greenie 2
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That's all good advice Alan but unfortunately the people that this message needs get to are unlikely to be the people that frequent this forum.

 

Forumites are by their nature interested in boating, browsing topics and asking questions. It's those who aren't really that interested who need to be better informed about the dangers of rivers.

While not everyone will read it, I'm buying a boat soon and while there's no substitute for experience I'm a million times better educated on all apects of boating than I was thanks to a few years reading threads on this forum. Then again you have a point because the reason I read these kind of threads in the first place is that I realise it can be dangerous out there.

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We were at Torksey lock yesterday and watched a boat go out onto the Trent.

 

No sign of an anchor, definitely no life jackets being worn by either crew member.

 

As the level went down they unwound the line from the bollard and promptly dropped it in the water. The lockie and I had to alert him to the danger of it getting it around his prop as he was totally oblivious.

 

He then set off to the far end of the lock gathering speed and despite us calling for him to reverse he went faster and rammed the gates quite hard. This was despite the lockie telling him to wait as he was fine waiting were he was.

 

The lockie opened the gates which promptly swept him across the lock as his bow was still against the gate. He managed to get straight and leave the lock.

 

They were clearly very inexperienced and unprepared but presumably they made it to where they were headed and didn't ground or sink on the way.

 

It's realy no wonder some get into difficulties.

 

You really have to ask why in God's name did the lock keeper let that boat out onto the river. In the days when Cromwell, Torksey, Stockwith, Selby and Naburn were manned by lock keepers who were usually ex-boatmen, but invariably experienced rivermen, any boat or skipper that, in their estimation, wasn't up to the job was refused passage.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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While not everyone will read it, I'm buying a boat soon and while there's no substitute for experience I'm a million times better educated on all apects of boating than I was thanks to a few years reading threads on this forum. Then again you have a point because the reason I read these kind of threads in the first place is that I realise it can be dangerous out there.

And you read these threads because you're interested in all aspects of boating.

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You really have to ask why in God's name did the lock keeper let that boat out onto the river. In the days when Cromwell, Torksey, Stockwith, Selby and Naburn were manned by lock keepers who were usually ex-boatmen, but invariably experienced rivermen, any boat or skipper that, in their estimation, wasn't up to the job was refused passage.

Such sensibleness is probably prohibited by some discrimination act these days.

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You really have to ask why in God's name did the lock keeper let that boat out onto the river. In the days when Cromwell, Torksey, Stockwith, Selby and Naburn were manned by lock keepers who were usually ex-boatmen, but invariably experienced rivermen, any boat or skipper that, in their estimation, wasn't up to the job was refused passage.

I concede the same thought crossed my mind. Especially after he told me a similarly unprepared single hander had been let onto the river up to keadby the day before.

 

But then it occurred to me that some smart Alec who knew it all had at some point challenged CRT,s ability to stop them and won so they now think 'stuff it let them go'.

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A few days ago I went to a talk about Sileby Mill. Photos were shown of a boat sunk below the weir there. Apparently the skipper was advised not to proceed and moor up - this was ignored the boat lost power on leaving the lock and over the weir it went. The skipper jumped to safety but his wife ended up in the water in the pool below the weirs - a really nasty place to be as the currents are strong.

My advice for what its worth is if in doubt don't boat on rivers when there is a strong flow.

Information on river levels can be found here http://www.gaugemap.co.uk/

You do need to look at the levels regularly to be able to interpret the information on it.

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I concede the same thought crossed my mind. Especially after he told me a similarly unprepared single hander had been let onto the river up to keadby the day before.

 

But then it occurred to me that some smart Alec who knew it all had at some point challenged CRT,s ability to stop them and won so they now think 'stuff it let them go'.

 

That may well have happened, but if that is C&RT's rationale for putting incompetent boaters in harm's way, then we should be asking why, in circumstances such as this, they aren't exhibiting the the same sort of unshakeable resolve evident when revoking boat Licences and evicting boaters from their waterways for alleged mooring irregularities.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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That may well have happened, but if that is C&RT's rationale for putting incompetent boaters in harm's way, then we should be asking why, in these circumstances, they aren't exhibiting the the same sort of unshakeable resolve evident when revoking boat Licences and evicting boaters from their waterways for alleged mooring irregularities.

Ask away Tony, ask away.

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I have been shaken by this report - not by the fact that rivers in flood are extremely powerful but by the news (to me) that boats may 'roll under' the protective barrages across weirs.

 

I had one unpleasant experience at Alrewas many years ago which, whilst I got away with it, taught me a lesson. If I had lost control of the boat, though, I would have expected to end up stuck against the orange and white plastic until the conditions improved - embarrassing but not serious. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this view.

 

If they don't stop boats, what are they for?

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I have been shaken by this report - not by the fact that rivers in flood are extremely powerful but by the news (to me) that boats may 'roll under' the protective barrages across weirs.

 

I had one unpleasant experience at Alrewas many years ago which, whilst I got away with it, taught me a lesson. If I had lost control of the boat, though, I would have expected to end up stuck against the orange and white plastic until the conditions improved - embarrassing but not serious. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this view.

 

If they don't stop boats, what are they for?

 

To create the illusion that there's no risk of your boat going over a weir, and as a sop to today's Health and Safety mania.

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I have been shaken by this report - not by the fact that rivers in flood are extremely powerful but by the news (to me) that boats may 'roll under' the protective barrages across weirs.

 

I had one unpleasant experience at Alrewas many years ago which, whilst I got away with it, taught me a lesson. If I had lost control of the boat, though, I would have expected to end up stuck against the orange and white plastic until the conditions improved - embarrassing but not serious. I'm sure that I'm not alone in this view.

 

If they don't stop boats, what are they for?

They certainly don't always stop boats, as our unfortunate next-door neighbours found out at Ditchford.

 

ETA. I suspect from a safety point of view, they're more about people in the water than boats. The ones used on the Nene have grab-handles on the links between the floats to give unfortunates heading for the weir one last chance.....

 

friday-2nd-november-2012-ditchford-locks

 

MP.

Edited by MoominPapa
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We were at Torksey lock yesterday and watched a boat go out onto the Trent.

 

No sign of an anchor, definitely no life jackets being worn by either crew member.

 

As the level went down they unwound the line from the bollard and promptly dropped it in the water. The lockie and I had to alert him to the danger of it getting it around his prop as he was totally oblivious.

 

He then set off to the far end of the lock gathering speed and despite us calling for him to reverse he went faster and rammed the gates quite hard. This was despite the lockie telling him to wait as he was fine waiting were he was.

 

The lockie opened the gates which promptly swept him across the lock as his bow was still against the gate. He managed to get straight and leave the lock.

 

They were clearly very inexperienced and unprepared but presumably they made it to where they were headed and didn't ground or sink on the way.

 

It's realy no wonder some get into difficulties.

From the sounds of it they are probably stuck on a sunken island somewhere on the way to Cromwell by now!

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And you read these threads because you're interested in all aspects of boating.

Yes, but paticularly interested in not sinking/going over a wier/hanging up in a lock etc.

I read those threads with more interest than how to keep your fire going all night for example, but yes it's all good stuff, you can't have too much info. :)

  • Greenie 1
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I guess you mean the sharp turn to starboard into the Soar from the Trent, rather than about two miles back upstream where the Trent and Mersey and the river Derwent join the Trent.

It's no problem other than when there's a bankfull of fresh coming down, and in those conditions it's best to start turning very early, so early in fact that you'll think you've turned too soon.

The turn must start from well to starboard of mid-stream, and ideally you need to be at least beam on to the current in the Trent so that your bow is pointing up the Soar as you draw level with the ness, which was to starboard as you approached but will now be passing from port to starboard across your bows.

If you leave it too late to start turning, then the water coming down the Soar will push your head off to port and send you straight for the bank a little way above the railway bridge, just beyond which is Thrumpton Weir. If you turn too early you can correct the situation by simply easing off, and maybe even holding back a bit, until the current carries you down side-on to just above the ness.

Sound advice, a while ago on the Calder I turned too early to get onto the cut at Wakefield

 

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.6733185,-1.4914336,318m/data=!3m1!1e3

 

It was just a case of easing off and going downstream sideways for a bit before I was in the right place.

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I have been shaken by this report - not by the fact that rivers in flood are extremely powerful but by the news (to me) that boats may 'roll under' the protective barrages across weirs.

 

 

 

That's the reason why there needs to be an 'early acceptance' that a problem has arisen and action (dropping the anchor) is needed, it may take some distance before the anchor 'sets' and everything comes to a nice controlled stop.

Its no use waiting until you hit the barrier and then decide to drop the anchor.

 

We were with a couple of other boats at Cromwell (last summer), as we left to come back to the marina one of the boats engines overheated (in a big way) and had to be switched off - he was at least 200 yards upstream of the weir, but it took well over 100 yards to get he dropped and set - the weir looked frighteningly close as we went in to try and attach a tow rope.

 

If he had not dropped it until 100 yards before the weir - he would have been over / under it.

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There's nothing like experience and some of us learn the hard way.

 

Many years ago when single handed I left Newark in the evening with a bit of fresh in the river. As I approached the lower wall at Cromwell the current pushed my stern around so I ended up facing back upstream. When I woke next morning the river had risen another couple of feet. It was early morning about 6am so with nobody else around I headed back upstream to make a turn. Unfortunately I followed the north bank and turned to port as I came around I realised the flow was quite a bit stronger than I thought and was now heading sideways at some speed to the boom with my bows at least now pointing back towards the north side.

 

As I had motored upstream for quite a distance and Midnight's engine is designed for rivers I wasn't too worried at first, but realising this was too close for comfort I gave it some 'gun' . Plenty of grunt had me heading fast across the flow back toward the lock moorings and the entrance to the lock cut. It was then I spotted a white cruiser pulling out from the downstream moorings and heading towards the lock. Faced with the prospect of spearing the plastic or being slammed sideways into the offside cut wall wasn't the greatest moment in my boating experience. I choose not to back off and fortunately the horn alerted the cruiser to speed up out of the way so it all turned out OK in the end, but a heart stopping moment.

 

In hindsight it would have been a lot safer to cruise back upstream on the south bank and turn starboard out of the current, but hey experience is a great thing.

Edited by Midnight
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If they don't stop boats, what are they for?

I find myself a bit surprised by the thoughts about the floats across the weirs. I have always interpreted them as being nothing more than a very clear indication to "Go the other way!", and by inference, "This is where the water wants to take your boat!"

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There's nothing like experience and some of us learn the hard way.

 

Many years ago when single handed I left Newark in the evening with a bit of fresh in the river. As I approached the lower wall at Cromwell the current pushed my stern around so I ended up facing back upstream. When I woke next morning the river had risen another couple of feet. It was early morning about 6am so with nobody else around I headed back upstream to make a turn. Unfortunately I followed the north bank and turned to port as I came around I realised the flow was quite a bit stronger than I thought and was now heading sideways at some speed to the boom with my bows at least now pointing back towards the north side.

 

As I had motored upstream for quite a distance and Midnight's engine is designed for rivers I wasn't too worried at first, but realising this was too close for comfort I gave it some 'gun' . Plenty of grunt had me heading fast across the flow back toward the lock moorings and the entrance to the lock cut. It was then I spotted a white cruiser pulling out from the downstream moorings and heading towards the lock. Faced with the prospect of spearing the plastic or being slammed sideways into the offside cut wall wasn't the greatest moment in my boating experience. I choose not to back off and fortunately the horn alerted the cruiser to speed up out of the way so it all turned out OK in the end, but a heart stopping moment.

 

In hindsight it would have been a lot safer to cruise back upstream on the south bank and turn starboard out of the current, but hey experience is a great thing.

 

 

 

Safer still, and a whole lot easier, would have been to swing the boat on a rope from the stern quarter on the side of the boat that's away from the wall. If you go about it the right way it's a doddle, even singlehanded, . . all you need to do is make sure there's at least a boat and a half's length of clear wall astern of you before you start.

Start the engine and put a bight of rope from the stern quarter [port side, where you were tied at Cromwell with just a little bit of slack in it round the closest bollard ashore, take off the stern line that you were moored with, then into ahead gear and put on just enough rev's to tighten the stern rope, go up forard and take the headrope off, then back to the controls and use a bit of rudder as necessary to keep the stern pointing directly at the bollard the stern rope is on as the boats head swings downstream.

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I have been shaken by this report - not by the fact that rivers in flood are extremely powerful but by the news (to me) that boats may 'roll under' the protective barrages across weirs.

 

 

When a slab sided boat is trapped across the water flow immense hydraulic forces are applied below the waterline, quite easy for it to be turned over towards the flow especially with a narrow boat. Edited by nb Innisfree
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When a slab sided boat is trapped across the water flow immense hydraulic forces are applied below the waterline, quite easy for it to be turned over towards the flow especially with a narrow boat.

Indeed - as can be seen clearly in the Oxford boat sinking thread.

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Until 2013, the situation on the Severn, at least, was that the river in such conditions would be deemed to be "in indemnity". A slightly jargonish phrase, but a good idea.

 

If the lock could be worked, but the river was at a level that might cause navigation difficulties, the keeper would require the boat's skipper to sign a form indemnifying BW/CRT from any damages. Effectively, "we're advising you not to proceed - but if you insist, on your head be it, and sign here to say you understand the consequences". One would hope that might give even the most pig-headed boat-owner cause to reconsider.

 

This system was quietly dropped in 2014 and I've never found out why. I thought it was a good idea and one that could usefully be extended to other river navigations.

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