Featured Links  


Canals, & Waterways

A Boat Insurers Safety Tips For Travelling Through Canal Locks

This article is provided with goodwill by MERCIA MARINE a UK Boat Insurance company.

Once fully insured and enjoying the UKs inland canal waterway system, due to our beautiful rolling landscape one cannot escape taking your boat through lock gates from time to time. In fact some lock runs, such as the UKs longest lockset in the south of Birmingham has in excess of 30 locks that will keep you busy all day!

Canal locks are fun and good exercise, as well as enviable opportunity to relax and meet other boaters moving down/up locks with you. However from a boat insurance perspective, locks are also one of the most prominent sources of boat insurance claims on the UKs inland waterways. So with that in mind we thought it might be useful to give you few tips on how to avoid problems that could otherwise spoil travelling through one of the country's greatest legacies.

  • Always keep tight hold of your windlass when opening and closing lock paddle gates. Letting go may result in it spinning of in very rapid rotation and flying off only to injure someone (this happens more often than you may think!)
  • Always open and close lock paddle gates in a slow and controlled manner keeping an eye on your vessel as you do so. In the event of, anything untoward simply close the paddle gates and investigate.
  • Where lock paddles are particularly hard to open, if possible & the lock allows, have two people open the paddle together.
  • When going upwards always make sure to keep a close eye on the boat when filling locks, keep the bow and stern safely away from incoming rushing water.
  • When going downwards keep the stern of the boat at least a meter clear of the back gates, to avoid hanging it upon the concrete/stone sill at the bottom of the lock.
  • Ensure any ropes are secured to prevent them falling into the water and snagging the propeller.
  • Ensure any ropes tied to the locks whilst filling/emptying locks have enough slack in them to allow the boat to continue to freely move when water is emptied from locks.
  • It goes without saying not to allow anyone to walk down the sides of the boat when moving, but this never applies more so when entering/leaving locks.
  • The boat driver should not be tempted to climb on and off the boat roof to assist with paddles. Instead take driving locks in turn to give each other a rest.


  • Keep any on board animals (dogs primarily!) locked indoors or a tight leash when travelling through locks to prevent them trying to jump on/off board.

:- Finally, in the event of any lock operating issues or underwater hazards, phone British Waterways (01923 201120). Leave the removal of any obstacles to the, trained professionals, it's what they're paid for!

Whilst we cannot guarantee this list to be exhaustive, we hope you find these few safety guidelines useful to enable you to enjoy the Waterways trouble free!

Mercia Marine Insurance logo Mercia Marine, UK Boat Insurers - Get covered today!

This article has been provided and paid for by MERCIA MARINE UK BOAT INSURANCE

by making a donation to the Beatrice Charity.