Mac of Cygnet

Volockies

358 posts in this topic

Yes, I know. Again. Today I came up Cranfleet lock, where there were 3 volunteers.  I declined the offer of a boathook to take my line up, as I always prefer to be off the boat in a lock, unless there are risers.

Before I had a chance to secure the boat, and without asking me, one of them opened a paddle.  Nothing disastrous happened, but I had to be pretty quick getting a rope round a bollard.  I had a word afterwards, and the chap was quite unrepentant, saying that he was helping me by pushing the boat over.  When I pointed out that a lock operator should always get the skipper's say-so before opening paddles, he replied that 'was a matter of opinion'.

I don't think it's a matter of opinion at all, but an important safety issue.  Do you?

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My opinion is that you should make a formal representation to the waterways manager, and require a response. What the volunteer did was potentially very dangerous. 

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4 minutes ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

Yes, I know. Again. Today I came up Cranfleet lock, where there were 3 volunteers.  I declined the offer of a boathook to take my line up, as I always prefer to be off the boat in a lock, unless there are risers.

Before I had a chance to secure the boat, and without asking me, one of them opened a paddle.  Nothing disastrous happened, but I had to be pretty quick getting a rope round a bollard.  I had a word afterwards, and the chap was quite unrepentant, saying that he was helping me by pushing the boat over.  When I pointed out that a lock operator should always get the skipper's say-so before opening paddles, he replied that 'was a matter of opinion'.

I don't think it's a matter of opinion at all, but an important safety issue.  Do you?

The ones that know what they are doing never lift a paddle without the skippers/steerers nod. Trouble is in fairness to them they do mainly think they are helping but on occasion have the opposite effect. So that's why you HAD to stop for beer due to the trauma :)

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It is certainly an important issue, not least because if there is any incident the person lifting a paddle before the user is ready would be liable for any damage. We always used to say to others in a lock "OK?". They might not know what they were OK'ing, but that was the ndown to them.

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I interviewed CRT's regional volocky manager in person a couple of years ago after an incident at Hillmorton, and got absolutely crystal clear conformation from him that volockies should only start "helping" with permission of the boat's crew, and should always stop/back off if asked.

Send a complaint. I have found volockies to fall into many different camps from the really helpful to the too scared to approach a private boat, to the absolute asshole end of the spectrum. The latter surprised me, having been given the full picture on how they are trained and managed, but I guess some still slip through the net.

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There are always some folk in all walks of life who decide to wear the 'I'm important' hat instead of the 'I'm helpful' one. 

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57 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

My opinion is that you should make a formal representation to the waterways manager, and require a response. What the volunteer did was potentially very dangerous. 

At your instigation, I've done just that, because I don't think this is an isolated incident. As the years wear on, I usually appreciate all the help I can get, but this has made me a bit wary.

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That is a deep lock and particularly coming up they should be being careful, so that action was not good.  Separately the fact that the volenteer does not agree that the boater is in charge is worrying, it sounds like it is not what they are told.  We came down that lock on a Saturday and there were volunteers there, but when we came up on a Tuesday no one, so presumably they are only there at weekends.

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On a positive note I am in the middle of a long cruise and the several volockies I have met so far have been exemplary and quite appreciated.

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55 minutes ago, WotEver said:

There are always some folk in all walks of life who decide to wear the 'I'm important' hat instead of the 'I'm helpful' one. 

Agreed I came up Atherstone flight recently single handed did every lock OK except for the top lock where one of the volockies decided opening both paddles fully was a good idea. I did ask him if he wanted me to show him how to do it properly but he didn't seem to be interested in my offer.

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15 minutes ago, rgreg said:

On a positive note I am in the middle of a long cruise and the several volockies I have met so far have been exemplary and quite appreciated.

I agree with that I came down Watford on my own today, and that vockie said are you on your own, I said yes, he said stay on the boat and I was wisked down very efficiently.

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Hi Mac,
Good to see you today, I was waiting to go down the lock as you came out.  I've generally found the vlockies on the system to be helpful but I agree this lot didn't seem to be very good. After you left there was a cruiser waiting along with me and he was first in the queue.  Lockie waved me in and I pointed out that the cruiser was first.  He told me I should know that it's always safer to put a steel boat in first and have the cruise come in along side.  I pointed out that as the cruiser was a good 10ft wide he should know we wouldn't both fit in the lock.  The cruiser went through first.

8 minutes ago, john6767 said:

I agree with that I came down Watford on my own today, and that vockie said are you on your own, I said yes, he said stay on the boat and I was wisked down very efficiently.

Agreed.  Last week I came up Watford and then down Foxton.  Very helpful friend lockies at both. 

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10 minutes ago, Martin Megson said:

Hi Mac,
Good to see you today, I was waiting to go down the lock as you came out.  I've generally found the vlockies on the system to be helpful but I agree this lot didn't seem to be very good. After you left there was a cruiser waiting along with me and he was first in the queue.  Lockie waved me in and I pointed out that the cruiser was first.  He told me I should know that it's always safer to put a steel boat in first and have the cruise come in along side.  I pointed out that as the cruiser was a good 10ft wide he should know we wouldn't both fit in the lock.  The cruiser went through first.

Agreed.  Last week I came up Watford and then down Foxton.  Very helpful friend lockies at both. 

I that case we must have passed you. we came off the Trent on Tuesday, up the Soar and then up Foxton on Friday.

 

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2 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

  When I pointed out that a lock operator should always get the skipper's say-so before opening paddles, he replied that 'was a matter of opinion'.

I don't think it's a matter of opinion at all, but an important safety issue.  Do you?

Was he disabled or impaired in mental capacity  in some way ?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

2 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

I don't think it's a matter of opinion at all, but an important safety issue.  Do you?

Nope the bloke was a fecking idiot who frankly needs reporting.

@ Hilmorton the idiot lockie opened the upper paddle whilst I was on the roof trying to get off. I looked like a surfer who never rode a wave and was standing on the board.

Most out of work Hudson Butlers are fine - it's the 1 in 10 who need a toe up the jacksie.

 

Edited by mark99
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My OH had to point out to the vlocky at Barrow that the lock might fill better when the bottom paddle was lowered....thankfully it was just being reset rather than having a boat in it. 

I agree that they can be quite variable from helpful to a downright liability. Even if I'm on my own I prefer to be off the boat so I can control the lock better. 

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The Hillmorton gang are... interesting. A lot of people seem to have had problems there ranging from rude to potentially dangerous.

When MtB and I locked through coming up for 9pm one night earlier in the year when all of the locks were unmanned (given the time), when we got out of the bottom lock, a woman that I recognised as one of the sometime-volockies came stomping out from the nearby house and painstakingly checked all of the paddles and gates whilst frowning disapprovingly at me, like she'd already put her lock to bed for the night and we had woken it up and got it all excited again when it had already been tucked in and had its story...

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I think at Hillm'tn they get fixated at "get the bastards through quick!"

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The Hillmorton volockies are very active on Twitter, they are certainly well up themselves.

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5 minutes ago, mark99 said:

I think at Hillm'tn they get fixated at "get the bastards through quick!"

I can't really comment on that because I only see them when transiting myself rather than spectating, but they do seem to be very bossy/controlling/disrespectful of the autonomy of boat crews, as well as being rather huffy if you step outside of their parameters.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

1 minute ago, Starcoaster said:

 

I can't really comment on that because I only see them when transiting myself rather than spectating, but they do seem to be very bossy/controlling/disrespectful of the autonomy of boat crews, as well as being rather huffy if you step outside of their parameters.

It's got to the point where we transit some locks when the buggers are not there. However at others, we welcome the presence.

Edited by mark99
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Avoiding volockies by going out of hours isn't even a solution at Hillmorton if my late evening experience was representative!

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I know it is slightly off topic, but how many times have you assisted a boat through a lock and the helmsman simply refuses to make eye contact, nod or in any way gives a sign to raise the paddles no matter how much waving and windlass pointing goes on?

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15 minutes ago, Derek Porteous said:

I know it is slightly off topic, but how many times have you assisted a boat through a lock and the helmsman simply refuses to make eye contact, nod or in any way gives a sign to raise the paddles no matter how much waving and windlass pointing goes on?

Very true - frequently.

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46 minutes ago, Derek Porteous said:

I know it is slightly off topic, but how many times have you assisted a boat through a lock and the helmsman simply refuses to make eye contact, nod or in any way gives a sign to raise the paddles no matter how much waving and windlass pointing goes on?

Some just stand there looking behind them at which point their crew, normally the wife there wacks the paddle up or opens it just one click

 

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