By learning how to use locks, you will have a host of new opportunities for pleasure boating on the rivers of North America. Lock attendants are present at most locks to help you through safely.
A series of dams on a river help maintain enough water depth to allow river traffic to operate year-round. As a result of a dam, there will be two levels of water at the dam site—one level above the dam and a different one below. Locks safely transport boats from one water level to another, like an elevator.
When approaching the lock:
- Be aware that commercial traffic always has priority over recreational boats.
- Wait at least 400 feet away from the lock for the flashing light signal to enter the lock.
- Alert the lock attendant that you wish to go through the lock. You can sound one prolonged blast followed by one short blast of your boat’s sound-producing device. You also may contact the lock attendant using your VHF marine radio, but never interrupt commercial communication.
- Enter the lock only after you’ve been signaled to enter by the lock’s traffic lights or by the lock attendant. Otherwise, stay well clear of the lock.