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Author Topic:   Peconic Locks
Louie IV posted 08-14-2009 12:58 AM ET (US)   Profile for Louie IV   Send Email to Louie IV  
I'm a novice boater with 2yrs. experience. Just bought a 32 ft inboard. Need to go through Peconic locks Never boated through a lock. What do I need to know?
Can I do this?
Smitty posted 08-14-2009 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Smitty  Send Email to Smitty     
Hope this helps!
Buckda posted 08-14-2009 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Smitty provides a good link with advice, but in case the link goes dead for future users, let me provide some advice here.

Often, the operator of a lock has information online. I would start by doing some research before your trip.

In some cases, there are lock instructions on-site. For instance, on some locks I've been through, there is a "button" that calls the lock master that can be used by pleasure boats without VHF radios. Near the button are basic instructions.

You can also hail the lock master via VHF (check your local charts for the appropriate channel). When you call the lock master, you should describe your vessel and inform him that you wish to transit the lock upbound or downbound. He will give you instructions on where and when he wants you to approach the lock. If his instructions are not enough information, you may use this opportunity to request additional information.

However, in my experience, the basic procedure is as follows, once the lock gate has opened and you have permission to enter the lock:
Enter the lock chamber and put your vessel where instructed.
Some locks have "fixed" lines that you can use to moor to - others (like the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) have lock personnel who will provide you with a line.
"Loop" your mooring lines to whatever "tie off" is provided - so that your vessel can slide up and down as the water level changes.
The lockmaster or a series of lights will inform you of when the water level will begin to change - typically a few moments after the gate from which you entered the chamber is fully closed.
Enjoy the ride up or down...
Reverse procedure once the lock gate opens on the other side and enjoy your afternoon.
In some cases, you will have to pay a locking fee. In other cases, the passage is free.

I've been on a few locks (Grand Calumet River) where the lock was so large and the drop was small where the lockmaster didn't even require me to tie the boat off - I simply idled in the 1000' chamber for the ride up or down.

jimp posted 08-18-2009 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimp  Send Email to jimp     
One twist to Shinnecock Canal is that if it is HIGH TIDE in Great Peconic Bay and the tide is higher than the water in Shinnecock Bay, the locks will REMAIN OPEN. Note the capital letters. I was always told that this is because Shinnecock is shallower and they want the water to run into Shinnecock from Great Peconic.

If the locks are open there is usually a very strong current (over 8 knots?) that builds and large standing waves in narrow southern portions of the canal (near the restaurant on the East side between the two southern bridges). These waves may easily be 4' (no joke) and act like river rapids as they shoot through the narrow canal. You need a lot of power to get through (heading north) and you really need to pay attention. Pay attention to your boat and PAY ATTENTION to boats coming with the current, they have poor maneuvering as they have low engine RPMs and their speed over the bottom is easily over 12 knots.

Speed in the canal is 5 knots and you can do that over the bottom against the current (but remember, your speed through the water is now about 13 knots), but remember that guy coming at 12 knots over the bottom? He's actually going slowly through the water and getting pushed by the currents and shoved by the waves.

It's doable and exhilarating. When it's low tide in Great Peconic, the locks are used.

Pay attention and enjoy the transit.


RMS posted 08-19-2009 12:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for RMS  Send Email to RMS     
Louie, I went through the canal for the first time a month ago, in a 31' twin inboard. Call the lock operator and find out the hours the locks are open and closed. Time it so you arrive when the lock is closed. I arrived a little late and dealt with an open lock. I had no damage, but the lock was very narrow and the current was strong. Also, Shinnecock Bay is very shallow, I took the east channel. Chartplotters are useless, you must spot the bouys by eye. Call BOAT US towboat for local knowledge prior to transiting. Good luck, Bob
Marlin posted 08-19-2009 09:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Marlin  Send Email to Marlin     
I last transited the lock quite a few years ago, also in a 31-foot twin inboard boat. The locks were open and the rip was quite strong. We went through planed off, making less than walking speed over ground. It was ...umm... "sporty". Not recommended for the novice. Luckily, a slack tide is never more than a few hours away!

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