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Life Rings at All Locks??

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Firstly condolences to the family and friends of the person who lost their life, I don't think that anyone goes out boating with the intention of losing their life. Sadly alcohol can confuddle people's perceptions, and at the end of the day tho is a tragic incident for all concerned.

Over 20 years ago we would never go out for a jaunt on our boats, without a lifering, and now as a solo boater I have a gadget thingy that I can throw to people, as well as an automatic lifejacket similar to the ones that the bwb folk wear,to keep me safe if I ever I fell in (which I have many times over the years.

I would have thought that having a lifering is an essential part of a boaters equipment, as mine only cost me just over £50, well worth I for piece of mind.

I don't drink alcohol, but I have done many daft things over the years, which could have ended in tragedy, I did not think at the time how dangerous they were.


Yes! We can all debate about the effectiveness/ cost/implications of having liferings along the network, but please lets not forget that a life has been lost, and a family are heartbroken.

  • Greenie 1
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I might consider swapping to one or two of those as I find the life ring is often in the way where as I could mount a Balcan Bell by the doors.


We have a Balcan and 'horse-shoe' life 'rings'.


The down side of the Balcan is that it does not help the MOB float or provide any buoyancy at all. It is purely a length of very thin string ( 2mm ?) that has a loop in the end for the MOB to put their wrist thru to pull them back towards the boat.

If you throw the Balcan and 'miss' then its not much use - a 'life-ring can be pulled back in and re-thrown. In theory the Balcan can, but not so easily.


A 'life-ring' can be thrown to mark a MOB position, it can have rope attached to pull the MOB back and either with or without rope it provides buoyancy for a MOB weighed down with wet clothing.


Ideally you could (should ?) have both on board and the best one deployed to suit the circumstances

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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Yes! We can all debate about the effectiveness/ cost/implications of having liferings along the network, but please lets not forget that a life has been lost, and a family are heartbroken.


Indeed, lives are lost and families are heartbroken every day. The world is both a joyous and horrific place. I don't go in for all that "Darwin awards" stuff as I find it a bit tasteless, but the sad truth is that there are far more sensible ways in which to lose one's life and break the hearts of one's family than this example.

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There is a specific issue with falling off the boat in a lock. The area of water is greatly reduced, possibly to zero depending on what gear the boat is in. The part of the boat presented to get up on, is hardly ideal for getting up; and the ladder may not be accessible depending on length of boat/position of boat;position of ladder. Also, unlike most canals where you can stand up in, for much of the time the lock will be too deep to do this. Also there is the fact that the boat may be in gear (for example, forwards gear, you fall off backwards, while the risk of being crushed by the boat isn't there, there is a risk from propellor, and the swirling water to deal with).


I'm not sure if there is a "golden egg" solution to this particular situation, but any kind of useful flotation device be it a life ring or a life jacket, could potentially help the victim and buy time to mount a more coordinated response. I'd suggest (I'm by no means an expert though - never fallen off in a lock):


1. close all the paddles

2. throw the lifering/other flotation device to the victim

3. someone else gets onto the boat, turns the engine off, and its secured at the other end of the lock by its lines

4. an attempt is made at getting the victim back onto the boat at the stern

5. if (4) doesn't work, the lock is very gradually refilled (observing the lines in 3 and keeping the boat in position with them), then at attempt is made at getting the victim onto the lockside/bank

ETA There is also the option of trying to completely drain the lock, so the victim can try to stand up. This would be more effective in the top chamber(s) of a staircase.

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If the report that he was so drunk that he fell off his seat is true, then he may have been to uncoordinated that he would have been unable to climb a ladder or any other means of getting out of the water.


A sad loss of life and hopefully a salutory lesson on the dangers of excessive drinking on or near water.

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