Which class of boats has priority when using river locks?

Which class of boats has priority when using river locks?

While boating along a river or canal, you might come across a lock. Now, it is essential to consider which class of boats has priority when using river locks.

Finding the answer to this question will help you in practical life and at boating examinations. Since river locks were initially created for commercial purposes hence commercial class boats and vessels will be prioritized over private or recreational boats. 

Which class of boats has priority when using river locks

What is a river lock?

If you’re new to boating, you may have the wrong idea about a river’s surface area.

You may imagine that such water bodies have a smooth and flat surface, but that’s not always true. Some rivers are more elevated than others, and the water levels, too, vary along the waterway.

A river lock is a mechanical device that helps to lift or lower water vessels when there are different water levels across a stretch of river or canal.

What is the purpose of locks on a river?

Nowadays, river lock has become an essential part of waterways.

They don’t just help to boost the speed of traveling but also ensure movements in the challenging sections and specific water levels in the river.

How do locks on a river work?

A river lock uses several dams to help vessels travel and cross different water levels with ease. The series of dams maintain the right level of water depth so that boats don’t face any problems while traveling throughout the year.

Even the impact of weather-related changes in water levels throughout the year can be evaded. Locks help lift or lower vessels.

Because of the dams, there are two levels of water along the waterway. One of them is above the dam while the other is below. The river lock will help move the boat between these two water levels, allowing the vessel to pass from one part of the river to the other.

So a river lock acts like an elevator, only for water vessels.

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How do boats go through locks?

If you’re trying to move through a river lock, you must follow certain protocols and precautions to have a smooth ride. Here’s a quick guide for you to ride through river locks, as suggested by Canal & River Trust:

  • Have patience and be careful about problems.
  • To prevent bumps from damaging the boat, go through the locks slowly.
  • When you’re traveling through the lock, there should be an expert on board.
  • Make sure that the boat is away from cills or gates.
  • Be slow and careful when water enters and leaves the lock, causing the boat to bang about.
  • Be careful about fenders that get caught in the gates or the lockside.
  • If you have to push open the gates, keep an eye out for slippery surfaces.
  • Have distinct signals in place so the captain and the crew can communicate quickly.
  • If you want to help boaters in the lock, ask them if they need assistance with the operations.
  • Wait for a boat before you leave the lock before you open or close paddles.  
  • When you open the gate, keep an eye out for unguarded drops at lockside.

Why understanding river locks is important?

If you can learn how to use river locks, the rules in place, and how to approach them, it will give you many more chances to get out and about on your boat.

Thankfully, most river locks will have an attendant, so if you aren’t sure what to do, they will be able to help and assist you with entering and exiting.

What color light indicates that it is safe to enter a river lock?

When you’re trying to enter a river lock, you have to look out for the flashing light. Light signals work in the same way as street signals do. If you see a green light flashing, it is an indication that you can enter the lock.

You will also hear a long honk on the horn, followed by a short blast, along with the green light signal to tell you that you can enter the lock. 

When passing through a lock which light means what?

Just like the signals on the street, there are three colors of lights flashed at river locks – green, red, and amber. A green light indicates that you’re allowed to enter the river lock.

On the other hand, a red light means you should not go in and keep a reasonable distance from it. An amber light suggests that it is safe to approach the river lock as long as you’re in control of the boat and its speed. 

What is the biggest lock in the world?

The biggest river lock in the world is the Kieldrecht Lock on the Port of Antwerp in Belgium. The lock began operating in June 2016. It is 500 m long, 68 m wide, and 17.8 m deep, making it the largest river lock in terms of both length and width. It also has four sliding gates.

Final thoughts on which class of boats has priority when using river locks

River locks make it easy for boats to travel across different water bodies and navigate various water levels. However, remember that even though small and recreational boats owned privately are also allowed to pass through locks, commercial boats are always the priority. So never try to overtake one when you are at a river lock.

In fact, you should never try to overtake any boat that’s ahead of you while entering, or exiting a river lock. Be careful and maintain proper decorum to ensure safety for your own boat as well as fellow boaters in the water. Remember to follow the lock attendant’s instructions and signals, too.  

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Which class of boats has priority when using river locks