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Volunteer lockers; help or complete nuisance


RufusR
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The criticism I have for volockies is when you're doing the Delph or Lapworth in the wind and slashing rain, they are nowhere to be seen.

 

Warm sunny day volockies are less about helping boaters and more about telling your mates in the pub you're a lock keeper, in my opinion.

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The criticism I have for volockies is when you're doing the Delph or Lapworth in the wind and slashing rain, they are nowhere to be seen.

 

Warm sunny day volockies are less about helping boaters and more about telling your mates in the pub you're a lock keeper, in my opinion.

Slightly unfair I think - for Lapworth anyway. We were helped for several lock up Lapworth in the pissing bucketing rain, until I suggested to the volockies that they go help the incompetent crew in front with whom we were rapidly catching up.

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Slightly unfair I think - for Lapworth anyway. We were helped for several lock up Lapworth in the pissing bucketing rain, until I suggested to the volockies that they go help the incompetent crew in front with whom we were rapidly catching up.

 

 

All credit to them then!

 

I have to say though, I've never encountered a volocky when boating in foul weather. I only see them on nice days.

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Well I have NEVER been asked if I wanted assistance. So if CRT really did say that they are not following thier own guidelines.

Yes CRT really did say that, because that is what is supposed to happen.

 

I agree that it is still regularly my experience that they start doing things without asking if you want assistance though, so clearly the message has still not been full taken on board by many of the volunteers.

 

Out of curiosity, did the issue of the boater taking responsibility for thier own actions come up at the meeting?

To me if CRT firmly make the statement that the boater is supposed to be in charge, and the volunteer is only there to guide and assist, it is implicit that the overall responsibility if something still goes wrong is the boaters, (provided the volunteers act as they are supposed to be trained to).

 

I would always expect that as the boater I'm responsible, but if a CRT volunteer takes action you don't want them to, or refuses to change that action when something goes wrong then they, (and ultimately CRT, who have taken them on as a volunteer), become directly responsible for the consequences. CRT were well aware that inappropriate action by a volunteer that caused a sinking (or worse) would be a very serious matter for them.

 

Obviously in the real world things are regularly not quite as clear cut. For example if there is no volunteer involved but you are sharing a lock with another boat, and one of their crew does something that causes a problem, then that "boater is in charge" of their actions, but you may still end up getting an unwanted consequence of those actions.

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On staircase locks you can understand the need for lock keepers (Employees or volunteers) or in areas where water management is important. But why for example do we need volunteer lock keepers at places like Hillmorton.

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On staircase locks you can understand the need for lock keepers (Employees or volunteers) or in areas where water management is important. But why for example do we need volunteer lock keepers at places like Hillmorton.

Well in theory at least, to reduce bottlenecking especially somewhere like Hillmorton where there are very long pounds both sides and a tendancy for there to be queuing at busy times as a consequence. If inexperienced / incompetent boaters can be helped through that speeds things up and reduces delays. Of course sometimes, with some volockies, it doesn't seem to quite work like that!

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Over the past couple of years or so we've had mixed experiences.

 

Have nothing but praise for the Lapworth ones and nearly always had help there. They ask us if we want assistance then seem to follow our lead with how quick to wind paddles etc. Similar at the Delph this year going down.

 

Have yet to have any help at Hatton despite seeing volunteer lock keepers there on several occasions (the only time I've seen them do anything was a couple of times when they closed the gates and turned the lock against us)!

 

Worst experience was Foxton when they refused to leave an empty lock behind us going down and resulted in us taking on significant water into the back cabin through leaking gates despite the rear doors being shut. Braunston we were having to help them understand how to let water down and they significantly added to confusion on the flight!

 

Tom

Exactly the same happened to us at Foxton on June 21st. It was only on the final (bottom) lock but the cabin got quite wet before I could pull the slide closed. I had to stand in the way of the leak and was completely soaked.

 

Frank.

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On staircase locks you can understand the need for lock keepers (Employees or volunteers) or in areas where water management is important. But why for example do we need volunteer lock keepers at places like Hillmorton.

Let's just clarify that "at Hillmorton bottom locks" do they ever move from the bottom locks, never seen that?

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First thoughts, was it definitely a genuine vol Locky ?

 

There are (or was) a couple of randomn geezers on the system complete with blue sweat shirts, we met one once on the T&M.

 

Second thoughts, have you discussed this with CRT and what did they say?

Agree on both counts.

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I suppose in the ideal world you'd have someone you trust on every paddle and someone you trust in charge of the boat's movement.

 

Most bad things happen when the boat ends up over a cill, or snags something in the lock or gate. When that happens the most important thing is to get the water back to a safe level as quick as possible where it's possible to recover the situation.

 

In that situation, as the person responsible, you do need the others to react quickly to any instructions. Often that may be to shut the outlet paddles and open inlet paddles ASAP. Not easy if you are solo or only have help from a freind...and you have gates which are leaking!

 

As we found out on the Huddersfield Wide once, it's even trickier taking a 58ft boat through a 56ft lock with a very leaky gate. Be carefull folks.

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I suppose in the ideal world you'd have someone you trust on every paddle and someone you trust in charge of the boat's movement.

 

Most bad things happen when the boat ends up over a cill, or snags something in the lock or gate. When that happens the most important thing is to get the water back to a safe level as quick as possible where it's possible to recover the situation.

 

In that situation, as the person responsible, you do need the others to react quickly to any instructions. Often that may be to shut the outlet paddles and open inlet paddles ASAP. Not easy if you are solo or only have help from a freind...and you have gates which are leaking!

 

As we found out on the Huddersfield Wide once, it's even trickier taking a 58ft boat through a 56ft lock with a very leaky gate. Be carefull folks.

That is why ether I or my wife are at the lock paddles.

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So far I've only had good experiences with the volockies I've met, but I'm sure those forum members who have had problems are being honest about it and it does sound as if CRT are making some effort to respond to the reported problems. The worst thing I've yet seen is there's sometimes two or more of them at the top or bottom lock of a flight but none at the other locks, while at other flights they spread out and use their walkie-talkies to good effect.

 

It may well be the case that some hide away in bad weather, but if they lack waterproofs I wouldn't blame them, and anyway most leisure boaters tend to moor up when it rains. Where the volunteers really come into their own (if they're good at it) is in managing flights and staircase locks to use water efficiently, and/or at busy places where queues can develop. Plus of course helping any boats whose crew find locks a struggle due to ill health or ignorance.

 

When out with the NBT some of the less experienced volockies don't quite know what they're dealing with and will cheerfully admit it; it adds a bit of interest to their day to see a pair go through, and they help us as best they can and learn from it. I haven't yet had the nerve to ask one of them to do a spot of bow hauling for me...

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I can't see why CRT have directed resources to get volunteers to do what boaters have been doing without any need of help, seeing as they claim poverty and have to prioritise resources. Wouldn't these volunteers at three locks be more useful going and painting the rotting lock gates south of Leighton Buzzard, that have never seen a coat of paint because they are out of sight of visitors ?

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I can't see why CRT have directed resources to get volunteers to do what boaters have been doing without any need of help, seeing as they claim poverty and have to prioritise resources. Wouldn't these volunteers at three locks be more useful going and painting the rotting lock gates south of Leighton Buzzard, that have never seen a coat of paint because they are out of sight of visitors ?

 

Yes, of course they would be more useful.

 

However, CRT would hardly get any volunteers for that. They get volunteers when the "jobs" on offer sound like fun, so we have the situation where CRT spend money managing volunteers to do jobs that don't need doing, in order to put a tick in a box.

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I think the first thing a volunteer lock keeper should be trained to do when a boat arrives is ask one very simple question.

 

"Good morning/afternoon sir/madam. Would you like me to help you with the lock(s)?"

 

Answer "no" then volunteer lock keeper removes themselves from the lock area.

 

Answer "yes" then volunteer engages with boat person and asks if they would like the paddles operated for them.

 

I would tend to say no in the first instance because I LIKE doing all the work at a lock and I sometimes find that someone bypassing my right to do this is offensive.

 

I may occasionally like help with gates.

Maybe they should just not be given windlasses :rolleyes:

  • Greenie 1
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I think the first thing a volunteer lock keeper should be trained to do when a boat arrives is ask one very simple question.

"Good morning/afternoon sir/madam. Would you like me to help you with the lock(s)?"

Answer "no" then volunteer lock keeper removes themselves from the lock area.

Answer "yes" then volunteer engages with boat person and asks if they would like the paddles operated for them.

I would tend to say no in the first instance because I LIKE doing all the work at a lock and I sometimes find that someone bypassing my right to do this is offensive.

I may occasionally like help with gates.Maybe they should just not be given windlasses :rolleyes:

That's a VERY good idea!

 

Take away their windlasses and the Fincher incident would never have happened. You're right, the main difficulty with vollies revolves around them operating the paddles rather than the gates.

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That's a VERY good idea!

 

Take away their windlasses and the Fincher incident would never have happened. You're right, the main difficulty with vollies revolves around them operating the paddles rather than the gates.

 

I suspect CRT would like to take boats away from some owners too...

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Let's just clarify that "at Hillmorton bottom locks" do they ever move from the bottom locks, never seen that?

Neither have I, on one occasion when a Rose hire boat managed to make a pigs breakfast of the second lock, the volunteers (two of them) continued to feed boats up through the bottom lock until eventually the boat they had just locked through had to stay in the lock as there was no room in the pound, just about 10 of us waiting and sending crew forward to help the hire boat. This was their second lock and they had let the volunteers do the first, and did not have a clue.

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