Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A long overdue experience

I like to think I'm becoming a moderately experienced boater, but for one thing. I must have done easily a thousand locks, crossed the feared Walton maelstrom to enter the Wey navigation, made the dreaded tidal dash from Salters Lode to Denver, and rounded the impossible Briggate bend at Whittlesey on the middle levels. But there's one simple thing I have never had cause to attempt. Until now that is.

Provided we're not iced in on Friday I have to take Herbie single handed through a wide Grand Union lock. Cowley.

I've seen it done lots of times and different people use different techniques, so it'll be fun to have a go. Some people haul the boat in on a rope, others aim the boat at the lock and jump off at the last second. I think I'll opt for the easiest, but not the quickest way. Moor up the boat, open the lock, get back on the boat and drive in, climb out up the lock ladder etc.

I'm quite looking forward to it. Of course it might be spoiled by someone else going up at the same time.

Kath will be joining me on Friday night at Uxbridge, where I suspect we may find ourselves in the Swan and Bottle. Then on Saturday it looks like Rick and David will join us to take Herbie up to Rickmansworth. 17 minutes by car three and three quarter hours by boat :-)


Anonymous said...

Look forward to hearing how you get on and what technique you use! I say this because in 3 1/2 years of boating single handed, I haven't yet done a wide lock on my own, in my own boat. My first will be on the Trent & Mersey, heading towards Nottingham next month - (gulp). An added complication is a clingy dog who insists on accompanying me everywhere but can't quite manage lock ladders.
Good luck!
- Carrie

Simon said...

you'll have no problem, I assure you. On wide locks I tend to enter the lock dead slow (engine in neutral) and hop off on the way in carrying the center line; I don't like ladders in wide locks, the boat tends to wander off away from the side... ;-)

Martin Ward said...

Whichever way you do it, it's b*** hard work! The secret, as ever, is to take one step at a time, very slowly!
Have fun.

saltysplash said...

You could always call on someone for help, or at least let me tag along to take some pics :)

VallyP said...

I'm really trying to imagine what happens to the boat if you jump off at the last minute. Aren't there any cleats in the lock walls to tie up to as you go up? If not, your way sounds much the safest. My other half has boated single handed most of his life until I met him, and of course all the locks this side of the channel are wide by comparison, but we are blessed with bollards in the walls, and if not, then the lock keepers will (if they feel like it) take your ropes for you if the locks are very deep. The only other option is to climb the ladders, tie up and wait for your boat to join you at the top.

VallyP said...

Good luck, whatever you do!