Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Why do people not wait at the nearest point on the lock landing to the lock?

It's a pet hate of mine. No, "hate" is too strong. It irritates me that when approaching a lock with a queue there is often room for a whole narrowboat between the boat next to go in and the lock itself. When there are a few boats waiting, this usually means that there are no bollards or rings for those at the back of the queue, who have to hang on to ropes.

Glascote bottom lock today was a prime example, although at least there was piling to secure a centre rope to.

Look at that! Yes, a boat has just moved off the bollards to enter the lock, but the new first-in-queue is hanging on to the furthest bollard.

Jubilee is fourth here, and there is another boat behind us. Needless to say, when there are no other boats in the way, I always move to the front!

Before this we stopped at Fazeley to see David and Mary. They came on board for a coffee; I remembered to take a photo this time.

The queue at Glascote took about an hour. We had originally intended to stop at Polesworth; in the end we tied up just beyond Alvecote Basin.

Before that, though, we stopped briefly at Canal Crafts, an end-of-garden shed-based enterprise at Amington. The old boy who runs it seems to be still going strong. He and his grandson (and the dog) gave us a cheery wave as we left.


Alf said...

When boats are that far from a lock, I just pass them & when I get told that there is a Q, I just say that I thought they were stopped for a break as they are so far back, usually wakes them up !! It was specially good when I was Hotel boating, sometimes could get a motor & butty in front !!

Sarah said...

Two reasons.

One, relevant for me, is that the forwardmost point often involves tucking the fore end right into a corner from which it is difficult to get out when it's time to go into the lock, thus causing unnecessary delay. I am sure the locks were not designed for boats to wait so far forward.

Two, once you've tied up to wait, what's the point of everyone untying and moving each time a boat goes into the lock? It's nearly always very easy to keep track of the order in which people arrived, and thus when their turn is, without necessarily having them lined up in that order.

Now, my pet hate are those people who are waiting, and when you come out of the lock leaving them plenty of room to go in, wait until you've disappeared into the distance before even starting to untie - even when there are others waiting behing them. And what amazes me are the people who will stand hanging onto a rope even when there's a bollard right by their feet.

Halfie said...

Sarah, (1) I give the fore end a gentle shove, walk to the back and push that out too. Then the boat is more or less lined up for the lock. Good point about the design of the locks, though. In the case of a queue I imagine the horses would have been unhitched and the boats bowhauled through. Even in that situation the fore end could be pushed out if necessary.

(2) Most boaters are British. The British like queueing and don't like jumping the queue. If people didn't move up, later arrivals, possibly confused by the massive gap before the lock, would get shouted at if they tried to slot in in front. Then they would have to reverse ... mayhem!

I agree with the rest of what you say.

Sarah said...

I have to say I've never had a problem with that. I'll go and see new arrivals and invite them to wait in front even though they'll be going through after. Everyone seems to understand and to be perfectly happy with it. The British do indeed love queuing, but the queue need not be strictly linear - look at ordering drinks in a pub for example. (Kate Fox describes this in detail in Watching the English). Woe betide anyone who tries to get served before their turn, but an outsider would be hard pushed to observe the virtual - but very real - queue.

Pushing the fore end out is all very well in ideal conditions - although with a longer boat you need to be able to push it further to get the same effect, and thus either to be tall or end up using a shaft - and if it's windy, then don't even think about it. Why not use the locks as they were designed, to be steered into, and trust to the Brits' innate sense of turn taking to make it work.