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How Locks Work
After  contacting the lock master by VHF  and cleared to enter, the wheelman heads towards the forebay (a wide area on either side of the locks).  Lining up on the wall the deck crewman has a portable radio and lets the wheelman know how wide the tow is off the wall and how far below (how far from the wall).  The wheelman  must take care not to touch the wall and gates of the lock if at all possible- damage repair can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.  As the tow approaches the wall, the crewman on deck prepares a bumper in case the tow gets too close.  He can only use the bumper on the concrete structure as it is made of an old line and will snag on wood and possibly pull him overboard.  The tow comes into the locks and stops at the lock masters command and the crewmember will catch a line on a fitting on the wall to secure the tow.  The gates close and the water is pumped in or out (depending on which way you are headed).  While the water is being pumped into the lock chamber the water is very disturbed.  The tow may surge back and forth, so the crewman must tender the line making sure it doesn't break or foul as the vessel moves up or down.  After the water level is achieved and the water settles, the lockmaster opens the other gate for the vessel to depart.  The crewman casts off the line and the tow moves slowly out of the chamber past the other gate and continues on the voyage.
Watch the towboat go through the locks!


 This is a list of the locks that  I go through while transiting the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and Lower Mississippi River. Back To Home Page

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