The Soo – Lessons in Locking Up

Our trip down the locks had been a cakewalk and we were expecting somewhat the same for the trip up the Canadian lock even though it was just Dan and me aboard (we had Niels and Vicki along when we went down bound).

While we had complete calm going down, we had a good wind on our stern and we were sharing the lock with a large tour boat and a Soo Pilot boat aft. The latter came into the lock while we were still moving to the front of the lock along side of the tour boat so we had very little room to maneuver in any direction. Between the wind and the current within the lock, we had more than a few attempts trying to get close enough to the wall to grab the heavy rubber lines that are used to secure your spot in the lock.

Lessons Learned

There were so many lessons learned – not that we won’t make other mistakes in future locks but here’s what we did learn:

  • Rather than trying to secure the amidships line, I needed to get the stern line around the vertical rubber line and pass it back to Dan
  • You have to use your boat hook at a significant angle to get the hook behind the rubber line
  • Don’t try to pull a 20,000-lb boat in with a boat hook (shoulder was not happy)
  • Don’t drop the boat hook (or if you do, make sure it is the floating hook)
  • Don’t worry about your fenders getting slimed
  • If you are assigned a starboard tie, remember that you walk heavily to port in reverse
  • Give each other a kiss afterwards, as the boat survived and so did we.

While I’m sure we entertained the tour boat greatly judging by the number of cameras that were pointed in our direction as we came into the lock and that my swearing may have shocked a few children – we’re sailors and as Captain Niels frequently reminded us – “it’s the hard edges you have to worry about” .

August 7, 2015

Like what you read? Leave us a comment!