Yesterday evening I made my way to a favourite mooring spot on the river (the location of which will remain secret). It’s secluded, quiet and has a pool five to nine feet deep. On the way I had to work through Shipton Lock. As usual I aim to gently put my button on the gate, walk the gunnel and operate the lock. I did this the night before without a hitch
This time, due to the position of the sun, I misjudged my speed and distance and was less than gentle with the button. I gave it a bit of a bang! Of course as you may guess just at the point of contact another boater was riding across the bridge. He was not best pleased and said so mumbling about buggering it up for others and why didn’t I do it manually like everyone else. Well that was the plan. He obviously thought that bashing into lock gates was my normal practice. What he didn’t see, or didn’t want to see, was the engine was in reverse.
This reminded me of a story told to me only a few weeks ago, but I can’t remember who by. The teller had risen early to set off on their way. They filled their first lock and entered. They were somewhat obscured from the lower pound and didn’t see the ‘working’ boat coming. As they were about half way down there was a god almighty bang as the working boat hit the gates of a half full lock. The ‘working’ boater came up to the lock and demanded to know what they were doing in his lock at that time of the morning! An argument ensued during which he insisted that the teller should refill the lock and reverse out of his way. It transpired that the ‘working’ boater did this every morning, just drove his boat straight in through the closed gate. The lock had always been empty. My story teller had inadvertently buggered up his routine and he was one pissed off bunny. This was the way he always approached that lock and no one had ever been in the lock before. Well he got a bit of a shock this time!!! In reality it doesn’t matter if someone was in the lock or not crashing through a closed gate is not only dangerous, but gate consuming. A gate has a life of about 25-30 years and this continuous pounding would reduce that considerably.
There is a good reason why I do Shipton as I do (not the banging bit). It is a cross over lock, the towpath changes sides and you have to go over to the other side to operate the lock. We are not talking a normal little lock tail bridge. The bridge snakes across the bottom of the lock. The end of the bridge on the other side takes you away from the lock gate. No excuses I know.