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Locking problem at the St. Lucy Lock Florida

 
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Avidmagnum12



Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 668
City/Region: Ocklawaha
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2011
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Otter
Photos: C-Otter
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:26 am    Post subject: Locking problem at the St. Lucy Lock Florida Reply with quote

On our trip through the Lake Okeechobee waterway, we ran into a problem while locking through the St. Lucy Lock that took me by surprise. We have in the past taken hold of two lines(when possible), one at the helm position and one at the stern. At this lock, the operator refused to hand one to me at the helm position and insisted that I exit the cabin and make my way to the bow and he would toss me a line. I tried to reason with him, but he insisted that I get on the bow (foredeck) or exit the lock. I tried reasoning with the lock keeper for over five minutes, he could not see that staying at the helm was safer.

Here are my emails to his supervisor with his responses.

C-Otter:Mr. Marshall
Thank you for taking the time to address the concerns that we have had at the St. Lucy lock. We have had the same problem at that lock on two separate occasions. The first being Tuesday January 14,2020, and again on our return passage on Sunday January 19, 2020. Both times the same lock operator was on duty. In each case, I requested that he lower a line so that I could control my vessel from my position of safety in the cabin by reaching a line through the window as I have done safely before multiple times in locks, including the other locks on the Okeechobee system. (Great service at all the other locks! The operators there are to be commended.) My wife also handles a line at the back of the boat.

Both times I was refused a line at my helm position and was told that I must leave my positive of safety and make my way forward to the bow of the boat. I informed the operator that I had safety concerns with that and was told to follow his orders or vacate the lock. Our boat trailer was on the other side of the lock and so I reluctantly complied and exited the cabin and worked my way forward to the unsteady foredeck. I tried to explain the situation with him. He said that he was doing his job and said a bow and stern line are required. I replied that two lines are important for safety, but my foredeck was not a safe place for me. He went and brought out a copy of Notice of Navigation 2019-001 and said that the bow stern rule was in there and so I had to be on the “pointy” end of the boat. If that’s stated in the Notice, neither my wife or I could find it. In fact, on the USACE Locking page it states that, and I quote, “ Safety is the prime consideration when locking any type of vessel through a lock. Operators must require all passengers to wear a coast guard approved life jacket, and make sure no one in your boat is standing on the foredeck or on the roof when you’re passing through a lock.”

Many of my boating friends are in the aging population with minor physical issues, some with true handicaps, but tend to have excellent boat handling skills. They have given up their go fast boats, large cruisers and more difficult to handle sailboats. The boats they tend to own now are smaller and easier to handle like C-Dory’s, small Ranger Tugs and Rosboroughs.

Solutions

No one should ever be forced to go out on the foredeck of a vessel.

Requests to have have a couple lines lowered as one comes into the lock, rather than tossed, should also be honored. The ropes should be at a reasonable spacing for the craft. (All other locks that we’ve been on already have lines down to speed locking times, but they do get wet.)

Elderly, injured and handicapped people should be treated with respect and not marginalized. Reasonable requests should be honored as long as they can complete the task safely, securely and with reasonable efficiently. Bullying is never to be tolerated.

I don’t know what your Federal mandates dictate, but in the Florida State Park service we are required to take training to acquaint ourselves with the Americans with Disabilities Act yearly. I feel that it’s important to renew our commitment to service.

I’m sure that by working together this incident can be easily remedied and put behind us. My concern is not for myself, but the others that follow after. If you have any questions or comments within the next couple of days feel free to contact me. After you discuss this situation with the lock tender, I’d like an update.

Response:
1: Lines are generally hard to just lower directly to an individual at lower pool. The issue is that when the line are lowered down individually, is that people start reaching too far and have falling into the lock chamber. We will make sure that our operators are communicating clearly that the lock line are being lowered to the vessels deck.

2: The operator is following the rules for a bow and stern line per the operators training and locking brochure (see attached), as with any rule there will always be situation for things to be handled differently. The bow and stern lines are the safest way to lock through.

3: The lock lines provided at St Lucie Lock are keep on the top of the lock wall due the differential in pool levels. This keeps them from getting fouled in boat motors while entering and exiting the chamber (lessons learned).

4: The operators are to be courteous and respectful to all of our customers.

C-Otter:
Mr Marshall
I have no problem with the safety rule of having a bow and stern line, however, the problem I had was being put in a dangerous position standing on the foredeck which is forbidden by the Corp of Engineers website. I can handle a bow line through the window safely.

I guess I’m looking for clarification....When I next go through the St. Lucy lock will I be able to take a bow line and control it through my cabin window?

Yes or No?

Respectfully Tom Schulke

Response: Mr. Schulke,

The lock requires two lines for safety in the chamber. Maybe you have a cleat somewhere between the bow and mid ship that could be used. This would keep you from having to get all the way out on the bow of your vessel.

Thanks


C-Otter:I then sent two photos to Mr Marshall with a side view of our boat and the cleat location by the helm. In retrospect, I should have sent them with my first contact.

Response: Mr.Schulke.

The pictures make it clear and yes that cleat is a exceptional location.


In conclusion:
So hopefully the problem is solved ( thanks to Mr. Marshall’s professionalism) and boats like ours will be locked through without having to go on the foredeck. The supervisor was able to see that our boats are “exceptional “ but we already knew that. I’d like to know if any other C-Brat has a problem in the future. Another C-Dory locked through on a different day and had no problems but a different operator was on duty. Have fun and be safe.

_________________
Tom and Joyce Schulke

2011 CD 25 "C-Otter" 07/2015 to present
2011 CD 25 "My Girl" 06/2015 renamed C-Otter
2004 CD 22 Commuter "Out2C" 03/10 to 06/15
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colbysmith



Joined: 02 Oct 2011
Posts: 4533
City/Region: Madison
State or Province: WI
C-Dory Year: 2009
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Traveler
Photos: C-Traveler and Midnight-Flyer
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think I would have been as accomodating or as polite. Simply for the fact it is necessary to remain at the controls to position the boat and hold that position until a line can be caught. IE, law enforcement probably would have been involved to remove me from "his" lock, and then an ensuing discussion between all parties involved. I have soloed through many locks, and that includes where the lockmaster has had to lower a line. It is nice that you at least got a response back from them, not just once, but in a continuing conversation. I am curious how they expect you to make your way to the bow thereby leaving the boat in an unsecured position with no control from the helm? I've also never heard of a lock even suggesting one tie a lock line to their cleat. This in itself would be unsafe. This just seems to be a case of some guy being a prick because he doesn't have a good understanding of boats or seamanship. Their argument of falling out of the boat thru the window at the helm is assinine compared to feeling it safer for you to walk the thin gunwale and then stand on the bow to catch a line. Hopefully your conversation with the controlling management for this lock resolved the unsafe practice of this one locktender.
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Avidmagnum12



Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 668
City/Region: Ocklawaha
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2011
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Otter
Photos: C-Otter
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Colby
The lock tender was going “by the book” Bow and stern line. But does that mean stand on the bow? Not on a C-Dory because the rules also say no one on the foredeck. I’m going to have to give him the benefit of the doubt. The good thing is that the supervisor stated that we could lock through at the helm window and hopefully no one else has to go through the frustration I went through. Safety first and as Dr. Bob said at our gathering a few years back “ the best first aid is to not get injured “. 😇

Oh...Colby. Keep your mice in Wisconsin or we will have to put a python on the Midnight Flyer. 🐍

Tom
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hardee



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
Posts: 12632
City/Region: Sequim
State or Province: WA
C-Dory Year: 2005
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Sleepy-C
Photos: SleepyC
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom, It might just be me, but I would keep that bit of e-mail coorospondance printed for future display, especially if that is going to be a common passage for you.

Harvey
SleepyC Moon

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Though in our sleep we are not conscious of our activity or surroundings, we should not, in our wakefulness, be unconscious of our sleep.
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Avidmagnum12



Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 668
City/Region: Ocklawaha
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2011
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Otter
Photos: C-Otter
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harvey
Already on the C-Otter...Thanks Tom
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colbysmith



Joined: 02 Oct 2011
Posts: 4533
City/Region: Madison
State or Province: WI
C-Dory Year: 2009
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Traveler
Photos: C-Traveler and Midnight-Flyer
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Oh...Colby. Keep your mice in Wisconsin or we will have to put a python on the Midnight Flyer. 🐍


Hm, now that might be a good idea, if all else fails! Mr. Green
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smittypaddler



Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 337
City/Region: Neenah, Wisconsin
State or Province: WI
C-Dory Year: 2004
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Na Waqa
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:54 pm    Post subject: I had similar problems in 2004 Reply with quote

I'm sorry to see things haven't changed at the St Lucy Lock. Here's a quote from my Great Loop:

"Today was my first experience with the infamous Okeechobee Waterway locks, and it was just as bad as the descriptions I'd read. The locks were occupied with several eastbound boats when I got there. I could see they were lined up on both sides of the lock, so I figured I'd be able to moor on either side when it came my turn, and decided on my starboard. That's where all my fenders were mounted when I got in the lock and the dockmaster insisted I moor portside. It was very windy and Na Waqa was being blown about as I ran around, trying to move my fenders, and fend off the lock walls at the same time.

I finally got myself situated, and the lockmaster began shouting at me because I hadn't made fast the two lines he'd tossed me, as he'd instructed. I didn't see the sense in that, since the lines are fixed on top of the lock, and I'd have more and more slack as the boat rose (there are no floating bollards), and told him so. Wrong thing to do. We started out on the wrong foot, and it just got worse. I first tried standing on the starboard rail, so I'd have some leverage on the lines, but then I couldn't fend Na Waqa from the wall on the other side of the boat. So then I tried standing on the foredeck, near the wall where I could fend off. But that let my stern swing away from the wall, which the lockmaster didn't like at all, and he shouted his displeasure at me most unpleasantly.

Finally, I ran the forward line under the bowsprit guardrail, then aft to the cockpit, where I stationed myself. This geometry worked well. I had good leverage on both lines, fore and aft, and could fairly easily keep Na Waqa close to, and parallel to, the wall. This was a good thing, because about that time the park ranger, who was locking through in his boat just behind me, shouted, "Here comes the waterfall!" I looked upstream, and yup, just like all the guide books said, the lock doors were being opened, and a 10-foot high waterfall was forming between the doors. "Holy S__t!"

Fortunately, I made it without banging either Na Waqa, or the park ranger's boat. But for the very first time since starting this trip, I did not say "Thank you" to the lockmaster on the radio as I left the lock."
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Avidmagnum12



Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 668
City/Region: Ocklawaha
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2011
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Otter
Photos: C-Otter
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ouch....you had it worst than I did as I was not single handing.The reason that he had you port side was on that particular lock westbound was he would have had to go to the other side of the lock to throw you lines. Extra work for him. Every other lock on the system had lines hanging down in the water so it was easy to pick a side if the lock was not full. The lock tender was proud in that his lines were kept dry. Big deal. Wet weighted lines would fix this but I don’t think this will happen in the near future.

I would absolutely hate to single hand through the St. Lucy lock.

Thanks Tom
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smittypaddler



Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 337
City/Region: Neenah, Wisconsin
State or Province: WI
C-Dory Year: 2004
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Na Waqa
PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:50 pm    Post subject: Nope; I was on left side of lock as you're coming in. Reply with quote

Nope; I was on the left side of lock as you're coming in. I have twin 40's so it's easy for me to swing 180 in a diameter of 22 feet (my boat length; forward starboard engine, reverse port engine, adjust each throttle to maintain position), and I can time it so at the end of the turn I'm right up against that left wall, but with my starboard side facing it. It's sometimes easier than changing all the lines.
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Avidmagnum12



Joined: 23 Mar 2013
Posts: 668
City/Region: Ocklawaha
State or Province: FL
C-Dory Year: 2011
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: C-Otter
Photos: C-Otter
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2024 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately the lock tender is up to his old ways and forcing skippers to again exit the cabin and go to the bow. An unsafe move. Two fellow C-Brats were forced to do so. When told that his supervisor said we could stay in the cabin he said that he had a new supervisor. They were again told that they would be denied lockage.

I kept all the old correspondence and forwarded it to the C-Brat that was involved and he is VERY on it. Starting with contacting the new supervisor!

What I need now is for anyone locking through the St. Lucie lock in a C-Doty to record all conversations with the lock tender from the initial contact on to the end. If you video it even better. Note date and time and ask name of lock tender if you are put in an unsafe situation. We hope to have this resolved soon but confirmation of results is important.

Safe Boating…..Tom
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