How To Navigate Locks Safely

Navigating locks can be a challenging but rewarding experience for boaters. However, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure that you navigate locks safely. Here are some steps and information to keep in mind when navigating locks.

  1. Plan ahead: Before approaching a lock, make sure to plan your approach carefully. Check the lock’s hours of operation, as well as any restrictions on boat size or draft. You may also need to call ahead to reserve a space in the lock chamber.
  2. Follow the lockmaster’s instructions: When entering a lock, make sure to follow the lockmaster’s instructions carefully. The lockmaster will give you instructions on where to position your boat and how to secure it to the lock wall.
  3. Prepare your boat: Before entering the lock, make sure to prepare your boat for the process. Remove any loose items from your deck, and make sure your lines are properly secured to your boat.
  4. Approach the lock slowly: When approaching the lock, make sure to reduce your speed and approach the lock slowly. This will give you time to assess the situation and adjust your approach as needed.
  5. Use fenders: When entering the lock, use fenders to protect your boat from damage. Fenders should be placed on the side of your boat that will come into contact with the lock wall.
  6. Keep a safe distance: When entering the lock, keep a safe distance from other boats. This will give you enough space to maneuver and make adjustments as needed.
  7. Maintain control: While in the lock chamber, maintain control of your boat at all times. Keep your engine running and be prepared to make adjustments as needed.
  8. Exit the lock slowly: When exiting the lock, make sure to exit slowly and carefully. The lockmaster will give you instructions on when it’s safe to exit.
  9. Be patient: Navigating locks can be a slow process, so be patient and take your time. Don’t rush, and make sure to follow the lockmaster’s instructions carefully.
  10. Stay alert: Finally, it’s important to stay alert at all times when navigating locks. Watch for other boats, debris, and other hazards, and be prepared to adjust your course as needed.

Navigating locks safely requires careful planning and preparation, as well as following the lockmaster’s instructions carefully. By following these steps and using common sense, you can enjoy a safe and successful lock navigation experience.

Have something to add or correct? Please let us know by clicking here.
* See disclaimer in the footer of the site for use of this content.

Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Our Newsletter

Get the latest boating tips, fishing resources and featured products in your email from!