Sometimes there will be two double locks side by side and just as often a solitary double. Worth noting now the `double` locks on the Stort are not capable of taking two narrowboats at the same time. Both navigation's locks are 85 feet long but the Stort has a 13 foot beam 2feet 9 inches less than the Lee locks.
The interesting thing on both navigation's is the varying operation of each lock. A picture saves a thousand words so let`s go that route.
The lock on the right is ready for a boat to enter and be lowered down to the next river level, you can see a boat at the lower level in the adjacent lock on it`s way up.
Our boat enters the lock and we press the left hand gate close button.
The sluices allow water to enter or exit the lock depending on your going up or down in the lock.
The White posts are at each end of the lock and indicate the position of the sluices.
The one in the picture indicates the sluice is down(closed). This should also be the case at the other end of the lock as we don`t want any water coming in at that end.
Think of emptying your sink at home with the tap on!
So now we need to let the water out of the lock to lower the boat down. By pressing the right hand sluice button just once the sluice will rise in stages until fully up. When the water stops draining the gates open button can be pressed and the boat can continue it`s journey.
Ok sorry if the above bored some of you but I know for a fact many of Jaq`s friends etc. have no clue how we travel through locks.
Normal practice on the canal system is to close all gates and sluices as you leave. Here on the Lee and Stort the norm is to leave everything open and just carry on so expect to close gates and paddles at most locks.
Still at the same locks but this time the left one. This one is manually operated with a windlass- a metal handle that fits the shaft of the lock mechanisms- that with the aid of hydraulics operates the lock gates and sluices. At the side of the unit is a lever that has to be positioned according to what function you want to use. Lever in for sluice/paddle and lever out for gate. Did you notice the singular in the previous sentence? Well the reason is each gate and paddle has to be operated separately from each side of the lock.
In the picture on the right you can see the lever for selecting gate or paddle and across the lock the second unit for the other gate and paddle. Good luck if you use this one because the way gates etc. are left open you could have a lot of winding. Boaters aware of the Hatton locks will know how much winding is needed to open paddles, imagine all that winding for each gate as well.
Another type of lock operation is the electric post shown on the left. This is only to operate the lower gates. Upper gates and paddles are normal push and wind operation. Now just in case you can`t read the button markings they are open/close and west gate/east gate. Did you bring your compass? Don`t laugh but Jaq was taking her turn on lock duty and shouted down "which way is East Les" Thinking we were having a cultural moment I climbed up to see what the problem was. Being a man I wasted no time figuring points of the compass and just pressed each button in turn. Perhaps `Near and Far` might be good substitutes for East and West but what do I know.The paddles are operated by the hydraulic winding as demonstrated by Jaq above.
Yet another lock has the electric gates and a more familiar paddle gear. The one on the right has a fat what i think is the gearing box. Not sure about the position of those gate arms. They look to be vulnerable in certain circumstances.
Finally we have this lock. Can you spot the oddity about this lock? No! OK let me step into the picture and show you.
So just as we were finishing along came two boats to use the lock. One came in and was fine about waiting till we finished and we all chatted as boaters do. I could just imagine this lock and water point in certain places on the Grand Union canal, it could lead to violence.