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Which Class of Boats Has Priority When Using River Locks?

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

which class of boats has priority when using river locks

One of the questions you’ll find in a boaters examination is ‘Which class of boats has priority when using river locks?’ The privilege is given to commercial boats and crafts in consideration of river lock usage.

Originally, most river locks were established for commerce and trade. Thus, commercial class vessels are more prioritized than recreational boats. To become a skilled boater, however, you need to know more than just this answer.

It’s best to put the words into practice and be willing to learn other factors that are related to river locks. These can help you sail safely and comfortably.

All About River Locks


What is a river lock

A novice to boating may misinterpret the definition of the river’s surface area. Some think that bodies of water are smooth and flat. But you must know that a few rivers are higher than others. Water levels also differ along the waterway.

The river lock is a mechanical device that lowers and lifts a vessel when the water level varies on a canal or river.

River lock purpose

A river lock is always present on a waterway nowadays. Therefore, water travel is integrated with it. Its existence improves the speed of traveling and movements even in various water levels or challenging sections of a river.

It will be impossible for boats to reach different water levels if not for river locks. Despite variations in water levels and stretches, you can continue to travel. With river locks, you can shorten your travel time.

It’s based on the possibility of passing through a direct route. Boaters can even sail on waters that are deemed non-navigable. Ships can also benefit from these river locks as some rivers and canals can’t normally give access to huge vessels.

How a river lock work

A river lock collaborates with a dam to permit vessels to cross and travel various water levels with no complications. It levels the water depth so no boats will have problems when traveling all year round.

Wonderfully, impact from natural events that alter the water level yearly can also be avoided. It can happen as the lock lowers or lifts a boat. There are two levels along the waterway with the association of the dam and the river lock.

One is below the dam and the other is above it. The lock allows a boat to move between these two levels so the passages on one section or another are available. It functions as an elevator but only for water vessels.

Other Factors Related to River Locks

1. Sound signal that will tell the attendant you intend to pass through the river lock

One prolonged blast and a shorter blast are the signals that an attendant should hear when you want to pass through the lock. You may use Better Boat Air Horn, Vixen Horns, Super Blast Horn, and Amarine Made Trumpet Horn for making the signals. They’re known for their efficiency.

You have to release these signals at least 400 feet away from the river lock. Once the attendant recognizes your request, he/she will respond with a flashing light system.

2. The flashing light when entering a river lock

This flashing light permits you to enter a river lock; similar to what you can find on the roadways. They are in amber, red, and green hues. Before entering, you will hear a blast of a horn or a flashing light.

When you see a green light, you can safely enter the lock. It means the other way around when a red light flashes. You need to stay where you are when you see it. When green and amber lights flash, it’s okay to proceed with caution. If it’s just an amber light, it means you can move forward with full control of your boat.

Final Part

Aside from knowing which class of boats has priority when using river locks, you’ll know the importance of the said lock in modern-day water travel. It can lead you to a shortcut as you travel without hindrance.

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