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New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

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New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Old 05-07-2007, 03:42 PM
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Default New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

I made a trip to Chattanooga this week-end from my marina on Watts Bar which involves about 100 miles of one way travel and locking through two dams.

Upon entering Chickamauga lock above Chattanooga, I watched some folks in a smallish i/o bowrider attempt to tie to a floating mooring bit to pass downstream. After 4-5 failed attempts of moving in and backing out, they moved to another bit on the same side about 100 feet away. It only took three attempts before they were able to loop a line around that bit, and then they fought to keep the boat off the wall as it was tied bow first.

Lessons learned, never attempt to tie off to the first bit you come to in a lock as those are apparently more difficult to lasso. If you are unable to get a line onto a bit, there is a maximum 5 attempt rule before you have to move to another bit. I hope this information is useful to my fellow boaters everywhere.
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Old 05-08-2007, 09:34 PM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Up here, we lock-through locks.

You don't tie anything off, especially downbound. Unless you want your cleats removed, that is...
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Old 05-08-2007, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

on the ohio the locks have floating ballards that you are required to tie off to.
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Old 05-09-2007, 01:54 PM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

sinjun - 5/8/2007 10:13 PM

on the ohio the locks have floating ballards that you are required to tie off to.
Yep, same here on the Tennessee River where you drop/rise a significant distance. There are stories about dum-dums who tied off to stationary mooring bits before the lockmaster enlightened them. I even heard where a boat practically hung itself on the wall before the lockmaster realized what was going on and stopped the lockage.

I've never been through a lock even in FL where you didn't tie to something when you locked through. In fact, on the OWW the lock provides the lines to tie with. I'm not sure how it works in a lock where you do not tie your boat.

How the heck do you hold your position when other boats are in the lock at the same time if you're not all tied to something?
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Old 05-09-2007, 02:42 PM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Here, there are lines hanging down the wall every 8 feet or so. There's a monkeys-fist on the end to keep them stationary.

You enter the lock, find your place on the wall then grab a line. It's easier with two people, but I do it alone all the time.

If the lock is especially crowded, they'll have people raft up to you, but I don't let them tie anything on, just loop a cleat.
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:03 AM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

davepen - 5/8/2007 8:34 PM Up here, we lock-through locks. You don't tie anything off, especially downbound. Unless you want your cleats removed, that is...
You got that right.

We have our share of locks in the Pittsburgh area. Most entertaining place to watch inexperienced boaters is the ramp. 2nd most entertaining is inside a lock. Tying off in a lock can be a disaster.
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Old 05-10-2007, 05:35 AM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

TN, I use to fish the "boils" behind Watts Bar all the time. Huge stripers there, but you have to be pretty good at controlling your boat.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:54 AM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Bugbuster - 5/10/2007 5:35 AM

TN, I use to fish the "boils" behind Watts Bar all the time. Huge stripers there, but you have to be pretty good at controlling your boat.
Yep, the water can get pretty nasty when they're generating or lowering the lock level. More than one good ole' boy has paid the ultimate price to fish below a dam in TN.

Man, talk about rough, you shoud see the water coming out through the downriver side of the lock when they are dropping. Instead of discharging to the outside of the wall, the water in Chickamauga boils out into the approach to the lock. I had forgotten about that last summer and was tied to the wall about 50 feet from the door waiting to lock upstream. The lockmaster saw me and radioied me I may want to back off a bit.

Good thing I did too! Man, it looked like a class 5 rapid coming at me, even in that 41 Hatteras. Watts Bar, Ft Loudoun, Nickajack, and Melton Hill are not like that. Those are the only locks I've passed through on the Tennessee, so maybe some of the others discharge the same way. There is still a planned closure in the works for Chickamauga that will make a mess for quite some time. I hope to get a big trip down to the Gulf under my belt before that happens.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:59 AM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

I'm assuming you guys who talk about not tying your boats in a lock are only dropping a few feet when you lock through.

No way are you going to handhold a 100K lb boat in that type of situation. Will they allow larger boats to maintain their position under power off the wall?

You aren't allowed to do that on the Tennessee River system, but we're talking big drops and rises here. I can check for exact variations, but I'm thinking 40 feet or better.
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Old 05-10-2007, 11:47 AM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Yes, even the large boats (except tows) hang on to the mooring lines. Since they don't allow idling in the locks, I'm going to say no, you can't maintain your position via power.

Unfortunately, they don't publish the actual drops (probably because it varies based on the river level), but I think in most cases it's between 15 and 25 feet (in the locks I use regularly, anyway).

This will give you an idea of the overall elevations, however:
http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/docs/StairwayofWater.pdf

Granted, the Mississippi is just a creek compared to the Tennessee , but that's how its done up here...
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Man, that's interesting stuff for sure. I still have a hard time envisioning being able to hand hold a big boat without lots of deckhands.

I suppose the lines are long enough to allow you to make a turn around a cleat for leverage, but how the heck do delivery captains singlehand a boat through locks like that? I use a single line to the center cleat when locking through, so I guess maybe you could still do it depending upon how much current moves around inside the lock. The lockmasters up here can vary the rate of ascent/decent depending upon conditions, so I'm assuming your guys can too as to keep the movements at a minimum for larger boats.

Truth is, I may be taking a big boat up to Toronto from FL before too long, so I guess I better be doing my homework on things like this! Thanks for the info and the link. I'll check it out.
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: New Procedure to Lock Through a Dam

Here's a better link if you need more information:

http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/naviga...asp?pageid=145

This is just for my district, but you can look around from there...

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