Singlehanded locking, as my friend Barry explained, basically just involves getting your control lines led to the center of the boat, so you can adjust them from one place, and still handle fending off fore and aft. Most boats have more than one person aboard for locking, but it is not that uncommon for boats to lock thru singlehanded. This describes how I did it, there are other ways.

Most of the Erie Canal locks had thick ropes hanging down (most of which are too short for a low-freeboard sailboat, so you need to tie extensions onto them), which is what I usually used. There are also thick cables, thick pipes (probably the best method) and ladders (you keep catching a turn around various ladder rungs as you ascend or descend) available in various positions of various locks.

For the bow, I had a thick rope with a loop in the end of it always tied on. This was for passing the lock's line thru, basically a fairlead that was quick to get into. There was also a line on the side deck, made down at one end, and laid out on the side deck with the bitter end in a clear and obvious (so you could see it in a hurry) place. This line was used to extend the lock's line, by tying a double sheet bend. There was also a long, floating bow line attached and ready to go in case I needed to tie up somewhere. A boathook was nearby, and often used.

For the stern, the stern rail was used as a fairlead (much quicker to use than threading the line thru a normal fairlead. A floating stern line was attached and ready to go, and a line to extend the lock's line via a double sheet bend was made down and laid out on the deck. A boathook was nearby (though never used).

Most boats, including Orbit, pull the stern to port when initially put into reverse (prop walk). For this reason, usual docking techniques are to come alongside the dock on the port side, so the foredeck person gets the bow line ashore, then the helmsman, putting the boat into reverse to stop it, also brings the stern in close enough to get the stern line ashore.

When singlehanded, I prefer to come alongside starboard side to (the opposite way), get the stern line on first, then, when reverse has caused the stern to walk away from the dock (and therefore caused the bow to walk closer to the dock), get the bow line ashore.

Typical lock:


1. Steer into lock, slow speed, move pitch to neutral

2. Walk quickly forward, get the stern line (boat is still moving forward) then bring the stern line aft. Tie stern line to rail and apply reverse thrust to stop boat, bring bow in towards wall.

3. Get bow line on.

4. Bring ends of both lines midships with a turn around a cleat so that lines can be dropped long enough to fend off fore or aft.

 

 

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