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Helpful Hints on Locking Through


There's a first time for everything.
If you have never experienced the adventure of going through the locks, here's a quick primer. Don't worry, it won't hurt one bit.
  If you can dock your boat, you can handle locking through.
  Some folks have misconceptions about the 'mysterious' practices about locking through and are misinformed. This little bit of insight should help with all that. . .

  In most cases, you will approach the lock and proceed directly to the 'Blue Line', an area of break wall painted - wait for it - Blue! By tying up in this area, you are indicating to the lock staff that you would like to transit through that lock. Remember to always approach the lock area DEAD SLOW. If a boat approaches too fast, the wake will follow - and pass - the boat, right into the lock. Waiting At The Blue LineThe only thing that hurrying will do is result in some unwelcome looks from your fellow travelers and lock staff. There's no reason to rush any ways, as the staff will wait until everyone is in and secure. Remember that you will be inside the lock with your fellow adventures, so a little courtesy going in will be appreciated by all.

  Sometimes, if your timing is good, you can drive right into the lock without having to wait on the Blue Line. This can occur on quieter days, or if the lock had just emptied the load of boats heading in the opposite direction of you. Whatever the conditions, always make sure you have received confirmation from the lock staff to enter. They will generally gesture you into the lock from a distance, or call out to ask if you want to go through. Some lock stations are equipped with loudspeakers to call boats in, but most will simply indicate to enter with hand gestures. If you're not sure, just give them a wave or call to make sure everyone is on the same page.

  Have your lines ready before you enter the lock, making sure that they are looped under railings, etc.. A pike pole close by might come in handy as well.

  As you enter the lock chamber, you will be directed to one side or the other. Once you reach the designated spot and have come to a stop, simply loop your dock lines around the wire straps that run vertically along the inside of lock wall. One dock line coming off the the bow and one at the stern will do nicely. Unless you are doing this in a small runabout or personal water craft, a crew of at least two would be required. Generally, the captain will perform the stern duties, with the first mate handling things up front.

  With everybody in and secure, the lock doors will close and the water level will begin to rise (going up) or fall (going down). All the while, you simply keep a hand on the line you have looped, watching to make sure it doesn't snag against the wall. Don't ever tie off the line, as you will need to adjust it periodically during the process.

  Another note; once you have secured your vessel, the engine(s) must be turned off, all open flames extinguished, no smoking is allowed and your engine blower must remain on throughout.Lock Notices

  Finally, when the water has reached the new level, the lock staff will open the doors and let everyone know the sequence that the boats should leave. The first boat in isn't necessarily the first one to leave, so pay attention for these instructions.

  If it's your first time through, or a little apprehensive, don't be shy about letting the staff know - they will gladly offer whatever help you might need to get you through without incident. They can loop your lines for you, or even toss you one from the wall if your reach is a little off. They will even push your boat off the wall, if you ask.

  That's about it! It's really not difficult at all. Simply take it easy and be aware of your fellow boaters and the lock staff and you'll be a pro in no time.

  Depending on how busy things are, the whole operation should take roughly 20 - 30 minutes.

  The only time this formula will vary slightly is at the two liftlocks and marine railway. At the Peterborough and Kirkfield liftlocks, one can tie off their boat, as the the whole lock chamber moves up and down. As well, at the Big Chute marine railway, the lines are simply handed to the staff who ride along with the boats on the carriage.

You can do it!

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