We have posted pictures of us passing through locks. But recently Dearest took a series of photos to show just what we do to prepare and lock through. I’m going to try to explain what happens as we move through the locks. For the most part the system remains the same, however, each lock has its own challenges. We try not to get complacent and look at each lock as a new adventure.
The boat needs to be protected from the walls as it moves up or down in the lock chamber. We have fenders on each side of the boat and they are placed along the rub rails before we enter. I found a nice fender while walking Toots. It’s just one of the advantages of having to walk the dog.
Before we enter the lock chamber we put on our PFD (Personal Floatation Device) we used to call them life jackets.
Notice the microphone that Cynthia has on. We use these to talk to each other while moving about the boat. They make it easy to know where each other are at any time and we can communicate without having to shout or use ugly hand gestures.
As we approach the lock chamber we will contact the lock-master on VHF channel 16 and they will direct us to a working channel. The lock master will advise us whether we are able to lock through at that time or whether there will be a wait. Most of the Lock Masters have been very helpful and we have only had to wait over an hour a few times.
There is a traffic type light at the lock and the Lock-Master will change that to green when it is OK to enter. Do Not Enter without the green light being lit.
Enter the chamber slowly. You don’t want to make waves as you enter. If you do the waves bounce back and forth in the chamber and it makes for a bumpy ride.
Cynthia likes to tie to the port side in the lock chamber. We will go to that side unless directed by the Lock Master.
I usually steer the boat into position in the lock chamber. Cynthia will direct me to the bollard. From my position at the wheel I cannot see the bollard only the area it moves in the wall. This is where the radio headsets really come in handy. She can tell me how close to the wall I am and when to stop so that she can loop the bollard and cleat us down. Most of the bollards move up or down the wall as the chamber is charged or discharged. We have only been in one lock where we had to let the line move around the bollard as we were lowered.
Let the moving begin. It is a much smoother ride when water is released from the chamber than when the chamber is filled.
After tied up we change positions in the boat. I go down to the side by the cleat with a cane that was Cynthia’s father’s and keep the boat from moving a lot. Cynthia will take the helm and if the front of the boat needs to be moved she will use the bow thruster to position the boat.
While the boat is moving either up or down we are busy keeping the boat in position, so not a lot of pictures as the boat moves.
When the gates are fully open the Lock Master will sound a horn to let us know we are able to proceed out of the lock chamber. Here again the headsets allow us to communicate to make an easy transition away from the wall and out of the chamber.
I am able to tell Cynthia when we are loose from the bollard and if the boat is at an angle I can suggest a short bow thrust away from the wall to get us out of the chamber without a lot of maneuvering.
As Cynthia helms the boat out of the lock chamber she will advise the Lock-Master when we have cleared the gates and usually thank them for their help. We are usually answered with a “Y’all have a safe trip now.”
Now you have seen what we see each time we enter and proceed through a lock.
Until next time; the river is full of ups and downs, here is to safe passage which ever way you travel.