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25 June 2014

SOME USEFUL ADVICE FOR NAVIGATING LOCKS

Benoît Collin-Vincent is a lock-keeper at Joigny. As a boy he used to spend his time playing on the Ardennes Canal, and now it’s his turn to help inexperienced Locaboat sailors to navigate their first lock on the Burgundy Canal.

In France, most locks are open from 9am to 12.30pm and again from 1.30pm to 7.30pm. So you have plenty of time. Don’t panic about navigating a lock, because there’s nothing difficult about it, especially as we’re there to greet you, reassure you and make sure that the manoeuvre goes as it should. And we’re dressed all in blue, so we’re very easy to spot! Holidaymakers don’t always get it quite right, at least not the first couple of times. But, as I explain to them, a lock is really just a lift for boats.

One of the mistakes to avoid is holding the ropes in your hands and getting into a flap. It’s better to stay calm, moor up around 200 metres from the lock and wait there for your turn. Some locks have traffic lights, and others don’t. In the latter case, you just have to be patient and avoid making a dash for the gates before they’re completely open. There’s no point in rushing... especially when you’re on holiday!

The other pitfall to avoid is doing a U-turn in your boat close to the weir. People often think that there’s plenty of water at that point, but in fact the opposite is true. This is where water is being held back, so it’s not deep and there are often a lot of reeds and sandbanks.

My other little tip, which may seem obvious but is often overlooked, is to learn the river signs, and the simplest way to do this is to read your navigation guide, the booklet that Locaboat gave you before you set off. It really is child’s play. But I would say that the most important thing of all is to learn to work with the water.

Benoît Collin-Vincent is a lock-keeper at Joigny. As a boy he used to spend his time playing on the Ardennes Canal, and now it’s his turn to help inexperienced Locaboat sailors to navigate their first lock on the Burgundy Canal.

 

In France, most locks are open from 9am to 12.30pm and again from 1.30pm to 7.30pm. So you have plenty of time. Don’t panic about navigating a lock, because there’s nothing difficult about it, especially as we’re there to greet you, reassure you and make sure that the manoeuvre goes as it should. And we’re dressed all in blue, so we’re very easy to spot! Holidaymakers don’t always get it quite right, at least not the first couple of times. But, as I explain to them, a lock is really just a lift for boats.

 

One of the mistakes to avoid is holding the ropes in your hands and getting into a flap. It’s better to stay calm, moor up around 200 metres from the lock and wait there for your turn. Some locks have traffic lights, and others don’t. In the latter case, you just have to be patient and avoid making a dash for the gates before they’re completely open. There’s no point in rushing... especially when you’re on holiday!

 

The other pitfall to avoid is doing a U-turn in your boat close to the weir. People often think that there’s plenty of water at that point, but in fact the opposite is true. This is where water is being held back, so it’s not deep and there are often a lot of reeds and sandbanks.

 

My other little tip, which may seem obvious but is often overlooked, is to learn the river signs, and the simplest way to do this is to read your navigation guide, the booklet that Locaboat gave you before you set off. It really is child’s play. But I would say that the most important thing of all is to learn to work with the water.

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