Monday, April 18, 2011

Pop the Lock

And now we come to another part of the Narrowboat experience...
dun dun dun...
The locks!

(sorry to disappoint if you thought this post was really about
popping and locking...
that would have been sweet to be busting out moves on the boat while steering, right?)

So here is the low down....

First of all, the locks act as a way to control the flow of water on the canals.  
It also serves as a device to raise or lower the boats between stretches of water at different levels 
(kinda like stairs on the water).
 Many of them have existed since Victorian times. (zZzzZz..are you asleep yet?)

Step 1- Approach lock (see top left picture of what looks like a gate)
Step 2- Tie down and moor the boat (temporarily), so we don't float away while Ben does all the brute work
Step 3- Use a little tool thingy (these are technical terms here) to unwind the barriers and raise the gates to let water in or out...depending on what level you find the water at and what direction you are headed.
Step 4- Steer the ginormous boat inside the lock (without killing anyone) while the water does it's thing.
Step 5- Wait on deck while Ben pushes the really heavy lock gates open.
Step 6- Steer yourself out of the lock while Ben closes the lock gates and winds down the barriers.
Step 7- Pull to the side of the canal to let Ben back on (assuming he's been a good boy).

These signs were posted at every lock.
Don't worry guys, I wasn't tempted.

( I don't like to bathe in ice cold water with dead rabbits floating in it...just keepin' it real people).

Some of the passage ways and bridges were really small. 
 A British guy at one of the locks told Ben that they were made that small on purpose
 because in Victorian times, a guy on the narrowboat would have to lay on his back
 on the roof of the boat and walk his feet along the top of the bridge 
so they could stop to tie up the horses to go through the locks. 
Claustrophobic much?

The Weston Lock was one of the deeper ones we did.
It was about 12 feet deep with the water at the lowest level.

This is what is looks like when the water goes down.
When we approached the Lock, the water was at the high level, 
so we needed to let it out to move "down" the canal...

Almost ready to leave the canal...water is now at the right level...

Ben would hold the rope while I steered to keep the boat from hitting the front Lock gates or getting stuck on the sill towards the back of the chamber while the water went out. 
Kinda scary to be honest, but as we got used to it,
 it got pretty easy near the end of the trip.
(I almost pooped my pants the first time though...I was very intimidated by the whole thing).

And what did the two little bedlam-ites do during this whole thing, you ask?
 (there were 6 or 7 locks each way on the route we took on the canal mind you)

they made forts out of sheets,
of course!

And here is the Lock in action...
we are going down in this particular one.

(and that is not static you are hearing, that is the water).

If we had to do it again, I think I would opt for a canal with less locks to get through,
but Ben loved them...go figure!



Steve and Donna said...

This looks like alot of work and you guys did it all. I thought you would have help (wow) A new experience :)

The Thompson Family said...

I can't believe you did it all!! That's so cool!! I bet my kids would love to help dad and mom to get through those crazy locks. You guys were brave to travel in a small boat with 2 small kids...I'm not sure I could handle my kids in a small area for that many day ;)You guys win the contest for the bravest parents! ;)