Locks are wonderful places to meet people and to be considerate to others. This is even truer in wide locks.

In being considerate to other boaters there is often an opportunity to be considerate to the environment by saving precious water.

When approaching a lock, first of all consider whether there is a queue. It is sometimes difficult to see where overnight mooring ends and the queue for the lock begins. Ask anyone on the towing path as you pass or send a crew member to find out.

Before operating a lock, check if there is a lock keeper in charge and if so, always follow his/her instructions.

If not then check for anyone coming the other direction and judge if the lock is set more in their favour. If it is 50-50 then be a Considerate Boater and turn it to their advantage.

If you find yourself in a queue then get the crew to go and OFFER help to other boaters. Not everyone will want your help so don't be offended if they ask you not to get involved, (although help with opening a heavy gate is never refused). Your help will be appreciated by novices and it will speed up your own progress in the end.

Remember to respect the crew of the other boat and the way they operate locks and only do as they tell you since it is their boat that will be affected by your actions.

If you have a large crew then consider sending someone ahead to set the locks for you or those ahead of you. Setting locks in the right way can save water.

Leave room for other boaters on the lock mooring or even offer to let them breast up while you both wait.

If you come across a solo boater then offer to help. Once again it will help them and help your progress in the long run.

There are lots of opportunities to show due consideration to others at locks by allowing the crew to get back on board and finishing the lock off for them, (especially at the last lock in a flight).

Give extra consideration when sharing a wide lock with a more fragile boat such as a fibreglass cruiser.


Using wide locks can sometimes be frustrating. The phrase "damned if you do, damned if you don't" regularly passes your lips.

You know the situation, you arrive at the lock on your own and just as you are about to close the gates a boat appears in the distance. You decide to do the decent thing and wait for them but only to find that they turn into the marina just below the lock or they decide to stop and moor up for a cup of tea.

There is no easy answer to this except to try to signal the other boat. Usually, starting to close the gate will get a blast of their horn. If no one is waiting to come through the lock in the opposite direction then the Considerate Boater always waits. If there are others coming in the opposite direction then have the crew go and explain why you are waiting. They will understand.

If you have already started a flight of wide locks when another boat starts to climb then how about waiting for them at the next lock?


If your offer of help with a lock is accepted then advise the other crew that you will only do what they tell you to do. There is a safety and liability issue here. If you were to open a paddle inadvertently and the boat was damaged or sank, you could be held to blame. See the "LIABILITY" section.

Never steal a lock, (queue jump for the uninitiated), and never turn a lock in your favour if a boat is coming in the opposite direction and the water level suits their passage not yours.

If you are in that much of a hurry then what are you doing boating?

Never moor on a lock mooring, even for a short time unless it is an emergency.