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Lock etiquette and waiting your turn.

Hiya, I'm marina based after purchasing my narrowboat last November and so far have only cruised down the lock free part of the canal here from Whilton Locks to Gayton junction and back. I would like some info or comments on who keeps control of queues and passage through lock flights such as the Watford staircase (near here) or the Audlem flight. What I mean is if there are many boats waiting at lock flights and the boats coming down the canal have priority who decides when the upward coming boats can take their turn without causing bad feelings otherwise they could be waiting hours whilst downward boats could queue jump. Thanks in advance.

Asked by: Trevor Smith  | 8.08am, Saturday 24 May


WW says:

At staircase locks like Watford or Foxton, there is generally a lock keeper or volunteer who will decide which boats can go through the flight and who must wait. If there are three locks in the staircase, it is normal to allow three boats to go up followed by three boats coming down. This may be varied if there are many more boats going in one direction than the other.
At normal lock flights like Audlem, boats should alternate up and down each individual lock to ensure minimum use of water. Boats coming down do not have priority.
If you arrive at an isolated lock which is 'against' you, ie empty when you want to go down, and another boat is approaching from the other direction, you should open the lock and let the other boat use it even though you got there first. This avoids the wastage of water that would occur if you filled the lock without the other boat in it.

Graham Booth  | 4.31PM, Saturday 24 May


Readers say:

Thank you Graham. I seem to have got the lock usage priority wrong due to trying to get my original question posted in a hurry, sorry. Thank you once again.

Trevor Smith  | 10.56PM, Saturday 24 May

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