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Which Class of Boats Has Priority When Using River Locks?

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

which class of boats has priority when using river locks

For boaters, traveling and discovering different areas will always be exciting. However, in doing this, there are basic places that you need to pay attention to, like river locks. They require certain knowledge to commute through.

This leads us to the question, “Which class of boats has priority when using river locks?” It’s important to understand this if you want to travel across the lock during rush hour.

Don’t forget to follow the post until the end as more tips and suggestions will be highlighted throughout the text. Continue reading to learn more!

An Overview About River Locks


1. The definition of river locks

On waterways, a river lock is defined as a mechanic that raises or lowers boats between separate segments of different water levels. The level of water will be altered in a stationary compartment within the lock.

2. How do river locks operate?

A river lock works with a dam to allow boats to safely pass and navigate through varied water levels. It maintains a consistent water depth throughout the year, ensuring that no boats have difficulties when commuting.

Natural phenomena that change the level of water on a yearly basis may also be minimized, which is fantastic. It can occur when a boat is lowered or raised via a lock. As the dam and the river lock are connected, there are two levels along the stream. One is located below the reservoir, while the other is located above it.

The lock enables a vessel to travel between the two levels, allowing passage through one portion or the other. It works as an escalator, but is specialized for watercraft.

3. River locks’ purpose

Today, river locks are installed on canals. Its presence helps the pace with which people travel and maneuver, even at different flow rates or in difficult stretches of a river. You can keep traveling despite changes in water levels or lengths. Moreover, you may cut your journey time in half.

It is predicated on the option of taking a straight path. Yet, non-navigable seas can also be sailed on by boaters thanks to river locks. Such river locks also aid ships, as certain rivers and canals are typically unable to accommodate large vessels.

However, it doesn’t mean smaller recreational boats are not allowed to use river locks on canals. By following particular rules, using locks on lake or river canals will be a privilege for all types of vessels!

4. The importance of having river locks

Nowadays, river locks are indeed an essential feature of maritime transportation. It would be difficult for boats to approach certain levels of water without a river lock.

However, not all waterways cross over ground that has been leveled, and river locks make it easier for vessels to enter these areas of the water. River locks will also save travel times by allowing navigators to adopt more direct paths to their destinations without fear of meeting impassable waters.

Class of Boats Has Priority When Using River Locks


Boating was and continues to be an important aspect of the commerce industry. Several firms and governments use boats to transport commodities. In fact, business and trading have been two of the primary motivations for the creation of river locks.

As a result, commercial boats will always take precedence. If a commercial boat comes into contact with a passenger ship at a river lock, the commercial craft will be prioritized.

Here is the list of some business watercraft you should keep in mind while traveling across river locks:

  • Bulk carrier cargo ships: Bulk carriers deliver large amounts of goods. Grains, ores, charcoal, and cement are examples of the goods shipped as loose cargo, meaning cargo that hasn’t been packed, aboard such ships. For evening cruises on the sea, these ships carry several floodlights.
  • Container ships: A container ship is a vessel that is built to transport enormous volumes of cargo in different kinds of containers.
  • Tanker craft: Tanker vessels are cargo ships that transport large volumes of liquid goods. Tankers are further divided based on the type of cargo they carry.
  • Fishing boats: Ships or vessels used for leisure or fishing at sea are known as fishing boats. The two main types of fishing crafts are trawlers and non-trawling boats. There are fishing storing racks, rod holders, and other features on these boats.

How to Commute Through a River Lock

If you are struggling when commuting through a river lock, here are some tips for you:

  • Be patient and cautious when dealing with challenges. Slowly pass through the locks to avoid harming the vessel with bumps.
  • There should be an expert onboard when you pass through the lock. Ensure the boat isn’t too close to any cills or gates.
  • While water enters and exits the lock, go slowly and carefully. Keep an eye out for fenders stuck in the shutters or on the lockside.
  • Keep a watch out for slick areas if you need to force open the gates. Establish different signals so that the captain and crew can interact swiftly.
  • Before opening or closing paddles, wait for a vessel to depart the lock. Keep an eye out for unsecured drips at the lockside as you enter the gate.

For more details, please check out this video: This clip will give you a closer look on how to travel across a river lock in the safest way and other precautions while practicing this task, so we suggest you watch it carefully!


River locks, as you can see, are incredibly vital in today’s water navigation. Anyone who takes the time to understand river lock legislation and how to manage them will obtain better skills for their boating experiences. They’ll be able to get to regions of the river that aren’t accessible to boaters who don’t have this kind of information.

Now you have knowledge of: “which class of boats has priority when using river locks?” We hope that the above information will be helpful during your boating trips. Did you enjoy the article? Do you want to add anything else? Please let us know and leave a comment below.

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