2015 New York Safe Boating - 33
Cast off all lines when the gates in front of you open. This
will happen when the water in the lock chamber reaches the
desired level. Proceed at reduced speed to exit the chamber
in order. Remember to observe posted speed limits and stay
clear of dams in lock areas.
These locks were built, along with a series of dams, to bypass
rapids, waterfalls, and otherwise unnavigable areas.
Enter locks with caution, and always follow the direction of
the lock operator. If you enter a lock with a larger boat, be
aware of the boats' prop turbulence and wake-these can
destabilize your boat. Many large commercial boats will
occupy the entire space within a lock, so never try to squeeze
into a lock chamber with a larger boat unless the lock
operator directs you to do so. The operator will determine
the order in which boats enter a lock to operate the lock
For more information about the New York State Canal
System check out the website at www.canals.ny.gov.
ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS OF THE
The lock operator uses light signals or horns to control boat
traffic through the lock. All canal locks and lift bridges
monitor VHF channel 13.
There are three elements of weather that concern the
boater: temperature, precipitation, and wind. Be alert to any
changes in these weather conditions, and head to shore if
bad weather is brewing.
Keep the following tips and suggestions in mind to ensure
your safe and enjoyable trip along the canal and through the
When approaching the lock, boaters should stop at a safe
distance from the lock and give three distinct blasts on the
horn, whistle, or other signaling device. Lock operators will
respond to your sound signals with lights:
hold your position and wait.
When warm air meets cold air in the atmosphere, severe
weather conditions result. South winds often bring warm,
moist air into a region. If the weather has been cool the
warm moist air flows over much colder land or water and
dense fog often forms. With light winds, the fog near the
ground can become thick and reduce visibility to zero.
tie up your boat to the approach wall.
and await instructions.
Lightening is a serious hazard to boaters. At the first sign
of lightning or even the distant rumble of thunder boaters
should lay fishing rods flat on the deck and lower or remove
antennas. If possible get to a safe harbor or off the water.
Being on open water during a lightning storm can be a
terrifying and dangerous experience.
Green light means that the lock is ready and you
Red light means the lock is not ready, and you must
If the lock operator does not respond to your signal,
If you see six flashes of red or green, remain stopped
Be patient if lock staff are not ready to lock you through
immediately, as they may have other water management
Be aware of the wake your boat creates. Excessive wake can
erode the shoreline, destabilize other boats, and damage
docked boats as well as the lock itself. Keep the channel
near the lock gates clear and allow boats departing or
entering the lock a safe and easy passage.
Precipitation may take the form of rain, hail or snow.
Although boating in the rain or snow isn't necessarily
pleasant, the main danger is that precipitation can reduce
Upon entering the lock chamber, proceed under control at
a safe and reduced speed. Make sure your boat is equipped
with adequate mooring lines or fenders. Lock operators are
not required to handle or furnish lines. As you near the walls
of the lock chamber, your crew must be ready to loop lines
around snubbing posts, lock wall ladders, and tie lines. Be
sure to loop your lines, not tie them! Otherwise, your boat
may be left hanging and be damaged as the water level
changes. Be alert to other boats entering the chamber and
move ahead if necessary. Never use your hands or feet to
fend a boat off the chamber wall-serious injury may result!
Use a boat hook, oar, or paddle. All crew handling lines
should wear PFDs. Passengers not involved in the locking
process should remain seated and out of the way.
Wind is probably the key element of weather affecting
boaters. Wind creates waves that can affect your ability to
steer a course, and affects your ability to maneuver, anchor
and dock your boat. If the wind or waves are strong enough
they can capsize your boat.
Always check the weather before getting underway. Use
the local TV news, the Weather Channel, the Internet, radio,
or newspaper. Check your VHF radio or portable AM/FM
radio during your voyage to stay up-to-date while underway.
Be especially alert for Small Craft Advisories. These indicate
conditions like strong winds of up to 33 knots (38 miles
per hour) and/or sea conditions dangerous to nearly all
recreational boats regardless of size.
Once you're in the lock chamber and safely positioned
against the chamber wall with lines looped, turn off the
engine but leave your blower running. Never smoke or
operate flame appliances. Never leave your boat unattended
in the lock.