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Proper Charlie

Foxton locks open 24 hours a day

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I remember being stuck at Grindley Brook staircase for over 2 hours once, because there was no lock keeper on duty the boats just kept coming down, one after the other. I was acting as a human mooring pin and holding the boat on the centre line.

In the end I used my secret weapon, and sent Mrs Hound to the top lock to sort it out.

I would imagine similar situations arising during busy periods at Watford and Foxton if they don't deploy volockies at both ends of the flight during busy periods. 

Edited by cuthound
To unmangle the effects of autocorrect.

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But there is a big difference between not having any supervision/organisation during the main part of the day, vs not locking the flight over night when hardly anyone wants to transit.

 

as an aside, is it my imagination or are there proportionately a lot more single-handers than there were 30 years ago?

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1 minute ago, nicknorman said:

But there is a big difference between not having any supervision/organisation during the main part of the day, vs not locking the flight over night when hardly anyone wants to transit.

 

I'd agree if it really was just overnight. But in mid-summer, last boat has to be in the locks by 6.15 latest and the lockies are gone at 7pm. I can imagine quite a few boats wanting to go up or down after that time.

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Obviously time it was electrified go on green light and move forward as able simples.

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43 minutes ago, Machpoint005 said:

Hmm I predict canal rage occurring.  A few years back on a Saturday afternoon I was number 4 of 6 boats at the bottom registered with the lockie's waiting for some boats to come down. As the last boat exited the bottom a just arriving shiny share boat charged straight into the lock, in front of the 1st waiting boat (who had waited over an hour). The lockies refused him passage and he was livid but after 20 minutes reversed out of the lock to the cheers of the audience. Fortunately for peace one of the vol lockies was about 6 foot 6 tall and almost as wide, so kept fists in pockets.  How is a anyone, particularly single handed supposed to check the passage is clear, return to the boat (out of view of the locks at the bottom), to go into the first lock and be sure that no-one at the other end has come in.

 

Sort of raises the question of whether it is a considerate act to attempt the staircase single handed, especially at a busy time? (I don't doubt for a moment that it is perfectly possible to do it).  

 

At Foxton it really is quite simple to check - assuming we are talking about an out-of-hours situation, or when limited traffic is expected, you only need to check the flight of five. Going down that is dead easy - you just look from the top gate. At the bottom, you have to tie up and walk a few metres to look. Hardly rocket science and no more than you would do at a single lock (you do check that a boat is not just about to come the other way, don't you?) 

I have not single handed either flight but I would guess that it is especially easy - there are the usual lock ladders in each chamber. As with any lock, single handed may be a little slower but if a boater coming the other way (or even from behind) is fussed then they can always offer to lend a hand! At a busy time there will be more than enough helpers around. The problem usually is in keeping them under control but most really appreciate being given the chance especially if clearly instructed.

I cannot see much difference at Watford.

  • Greenie 1

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50 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

 

as an aside, is it my imagination or are there proportionately a lot more single-handers than there were 30 years ago?

I've been boating for 44 years now.

I would say that proportionally there are many more single handers these days  (there are many more boats using the system today than then, my first experience was the Warwickshire ring in July and we only passed a boat or two on the move each day).

In those days most single handers were the last of the working motors.

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50 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

But there is a big difference between not having any supervision/organisation during the main part of the day, vs not locking the flight over night when hardly anyone wants to transit.

 

as an aside, is it my imagination or are there proportionately a lot more single-handers than there were 30 years ago?

As a newbie I cant go back thirty years as a liveaboard just yet ( 27 ) but you are right there are many more but I feel that is because of the housing market. When we had a mooring at Bath in 93/4 there were a total of about twenty boats on line between Bath and Bradford ish and most were not liveaboards you could cruise between the George at Bathampton to say the cross guns at avoncliffe and only pas 3/4 boats but I no longer think thats the case. I believe that many singletons after a recent divorce see it nowadays as somewhere to live because of property price hikes over recent years.

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7 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

The idea of lock keepers controlling these flights is a new one.

If you had gone through 40 years ago, you would certainly have had no assistance, (and none of the paddle posts painted red!).

If people want to go through on their own, outside of attended hours, surely it helps alleviate the considerable congestion at these locks at busy times.  I've no idea what it has been like in recent summers, but I know waits of several hours have been common in the past, even to the point that people who have arrived by the advertised times are told they can't go through to the next day.

If I remember rightly if you had gone through 5 years ago in the winter you would have been on your own but they were closed overnight.

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8 hours ago, Proper Charlie said:

Just had an email from CART about this. I know they trialled this at Watford last year, but surely it's crazy to allow boats through without lockies?

I've been to Foxton locks today (!3th. March) and spoke to the volunteer lockies about this. They had no knowledge about 24hr locking at Foxton and nobody from C&RT had spoken to them. They chained up the top & bottom gates at 3.30pm. A boat arrived at 2.50pm and was refused passage.

Edited by Flyboy

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I work as a VLK at Watford and over the last 2 years, when the flight hasn't been locked overnight, I'm not aware of any significant issues arising 'out of hours'.  One of the main tasks of the VLKs at both Watford and Foxton during the busy times is to manage the flow of boats up and down so that waiting is fair and kept at a minimum. This generally works well and, at the height of the summer, by the time my shift ends at 6.30 ish the queue at Watford, at least, is down to a couple of boats and that is manageable by those waiting.  I guess time will tell if the same works at Foxton.

There are instructions on how to use the Watford staircase written on the balance beams and at the start of the flight but unsurprisingly not many boaters seem to notice that the instructions are there or take time to read them.

 

ETA: I've not heard that Foxton has/will be going 24hour either so have only seen the notice posted above.

Edited by Hotspur

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4 minutes ago, Hotspur said:

I work as a VLK at Watford and over the last 2 years, when the flight hasn't been locked overnight, I'm not aware of any significant issues arising 'out of hours'.  One of the main tasks of the VLKs at both Watford and Foxton during the busy times is to manage the flow of boats up and down so that waiting is fair and kept at a minimum. This generally works well and, at the height of the summer, by the time the shift ends at 6ish the queue at Watford, at least, is down to a couple of boats and that is manageable by those waiting.  I guess time will tell if the same works at Foxton.

There are instructions on how to use the Watford staircase written on the balance beams and at the start of the flight but unsurprisingly not many boaters seem to notice that the instructions are there or take time to read them.

I didn't see any instructions at Foxton today.

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Of course blocking navigation without lawful authority will be an offence under the bylaws. Will he be prosecuted?

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Perhaps someone had cocked up the emails saying this year's timings.

Sent the Watford one first and then just copied and pasted not taking out the relevant bit. The email doesn't read correct to me.

Edited by matty40s

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On going down Foxton there was a strong current running across the centre passing pound from a side pound which can suddenly shove the bows over to wallop the lower lock entrance, needing power on to avoid this happening.

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3 hours ago, Detling said:

  How is a anyone, particularly single handed supposed to check the passage is clear, return to the boat (out of view of the locks at the bottom), to go into the first lock and be sure that no-one at the other end has come in.

It surely wouldn't be too expensive ( or technically difficult) to develop a traffic light system which is triggered by opening the first gate.   The light then stays red until the last gate opens.   I know this would mean single boats at a time but for much of the time when there are no Lockies the traffic will be lighter surely.

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27 minutes ago, Jerra said:

It surely wouldn't be too expensive ( or technically difficult) to develop a traffic light system which is triggered by opening the first gate.   The light then stays red until the last gate opens.   I know this would mean single boats at a time but for much of the time when there are no Lockies the traffic will be lighter surely.

How many years has it managed to work without such things.

 

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Just now, ditchcrawler said:

How many years has it managed to work without such things.

 

How many years has it been 24 hour access with the number of boats on the canals today?

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3 minutes ago, Alway Swilby said:

They should build an inclined plane to bypass this bottleneck. I'm surprised no one thought of it before :-)

They could set up a fund for it and take lots of money off people .......

Edited by matty40s

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2 minutes ago, matty40s said:

They could set up a fund for it and take lots of money off people .......

They could even sell bricks to raise money! I think there are some around somewhere with our names on them :-) 

 

haggis

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5 minutes ago, haggis said:

They could even sell bricks to raise money! I think there are some around somewhere with our names on them :-) 

 

haggis

Cheshire Rose will av em.☺

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21 minutes ago, Alway Swilby said:

They should build an inclined plane to bypass this bottleneck. I'm surprised no one thought of it before :-)

I kind of thing you would not be allowed to operate that on your own, if no "lockies" were present.

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On Monday, March 13, 2017 at 09:51, Rog Davies said:

White before Red, you'll end up dead

Red before white, you'll be alright

 

But I feel it a shame to stop passage at 7pm on some of the long summer nights when it is light way after 9pm. Some of my best boating memories are early and late cruising.

The challenge is to always to foxton and watford in 1 day with a pair. Use to love trying to do this and to be first up or down with no hold ups 

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