One of the most challenging and dangerous aspects of inland waterway navigation is working canal locks. As a responsible inland waterway boat insurance provider we therefore thought it prudent to list a few simple rules to ensure that navigating canal locks need not be problematic.


PUBLISHED 05/12/2010

BY admin

IN Tips & Advice

Canal locks are often such a fantastic a focal point of the UK’s inland waterway system, but unfortunately they’re also the most dangerous aspect of inland waterway navigation. Thus as a responsible boat insurance provider to help you avoid unnecessary risks we thought it prudent to list a few simple rules to ensure they need not be so problematic.

  • Children should not be allowed to operate locks unless they have more than sufficient strength and even then only when accompanied by an adult.
  • Pets should be kept locked inside the vessel away from locks, even well behaved animals serve as a distraction at a time of heightened risk.
  • Never tightly tie the vessel when going down in locks
  • Locks require reasonable physical strength and proficiency. Those lacking strength should consider a geared windlass.
  • Open and close all lock gates and paddles SLOWLY keeping a firm, solid grip at all times.
  • Forewarn all your fellow crew to wear nothing but sensible footwear, footwear that is flat soled and rubber gripped.
  • Locks are inevitably incredibly deep when full, therefore any non-swimmers and/ or children should wear life-jackets.
  • Keep the boat hull clear of the sills which sit at the bottom of the lock gates (usually 2 foot wide) both front and back.
  • Always ensure someone is at the helm when draining and filling locks, particularly important to avoid the sill hazard mentioned above.
  • Always approach locks slowly and be aware of any floating waste such as logs (or even the odd shopping trolley/ or old sofa in built up areas!) near entrances and exits to locks.
  • Do not walk down the boat side when in or entering locks, particularly important when the lock is draining or filling which causes movement in the boat.
  • Always close lock paddles using the windlass to help protect the lock gate, but in doing so kept firm hold of the windlass, never let it free cycle.
  • Monitor your boat is in the lock. In the event of anything untoward happening, simply stop what you are doing. Close the lock paddles again and investigate/ rectify

Finally, ask if in doubt, experienced boaters are always a font of great advice and are usually happy to help. This article is brought to you with good intent and with lots of passion for boating, please do revisit the website should need a competitive narrow boat insurance quotation.