Putting safety first
Regarding the article in this month’s Canal Boat ( July 17), I couldn’t help but make the following observations:
Page 43 - photo of a boat tied to a bollard with the caption ‘Never tie off mooring lines in locks’. Good advice, under most circumstances.
Page 42 - photo of the boat Peggy – proudly stating Helmsman Training – with the centreline tied to the adjacent bollard, obviously going uphill and starting to list significantly, due to the line not being slackened off and no one in the vicinity. More importantly, the ‘steerer in charge’ is looking the other way, not even looking at what’s happening to the boat! Amusingly, the text says ‘the helmsman will normally be the first to spot that the boat isn’t sitting correctly’. Clearly not in this case.
It’s also not a great idea to have the cabin doors open when going uphill in locks. The flow from gate paddles has been known to flood the front well deck. With the doors shut, the deck should just drain. With the doors open, you can easily flood the boat. Most of the advice given in this article is good, but single-handed boating is brushed off and then goes on to say that there is no real need to use lines in narrow locks. Going downhill, that may be true. But going uphill, you can save a lot of china and glassware by securing a 15m centreline to the strapping post.
This line prevents the boat moving backwards and consequently, the inevitable surge forwards. I even turn my engine off when going uphill in locks.
By doing this, on a recent trip, I reckon to have saved over four hours’ engine running time, not to mention all the revving, fumes and wear on the gearbox and drive plate. The few moments it takes to secure the line is gained back, because the paddles can be opened more quickly without risking damage to the boat.
If you are going to deliver best practice advice, you should make sure the content is being delivered correctly.
PAUL STRUTT, via email
Ed says: Thanks for your good observations and suggestions, Paul. The photographs were designed to illustrate various points.