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The lock-keeper welcomes you

Son métier et son rôle sur le terrain...


The lock-keepers

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Published on 27 May 2011

The lock-keepers are civil servants assigned to the waterway authority Service de la Navigation du Sud-Ouest and made available to VNF. Their tasks cover management, operation and maintenance of the waterways, but also for enforcing waterway regulations.

The lock-keeper’s profession and role

The lock-keeper is on duty at one or several mechanised locks, as well as on certain specific structures. More than a keeper, he is effectively the "lockmaster" and as such assumes complete responsibility for the structure.

In addition to their statutory tasks for navigation, they carry out running maintenance of the structures and their approaches, and monitoring of water levels to make sure that navigable depths are maintained.

The lock-keeper and the boater

The prime representative of the waterway authority for boaters, the lock-keeper looks after safety of navigation and the physical safety of all users, and is there to ensure that regulations are respected. In this capacity, he may be prompted to issue instructions or advice. Take their recommendation seriously, these are professionals who know their business!

On the mechanised locks, they sirect the locking manoeuvres (lock filling and emptying, and opening/closing of gates). They organise the passage of boats in accordance with the order of arrival or priority (some boats have priority).

Instructions on tying up boats in the locks

Mooring and handling the mooring lines are the skipper’s responsibility (article 6.28 of the general waterway code of regulations).
However, the lock-keeper may assist in putting lines around the bollard (or other apparatus provided) if he feels it useful or necessary, and particularly in the following exceptional cases:

  • in case of danger, to assist in making the boat secure as quickly as possible,
  • to instruct the boater in the correct use of his mooring lines.

In case of grave and imminent danger, the lock-keeper may have to handle the mooring line himself, after having stopped the lock cycle for safety.

In case of incident, contact the lock-keeper immediately.

Please note!

Because he/she may be required to manage several structures, or may be engaged in maintenance tasks at or near the lock, the lock-keeper may momentarily be absent from the lock-side when your boat reaches the lock. Please be patient and understanding!

In certain sectors and for reasons of organisation of work rosters from March to May and from September to November, or throughout the canal during the winter season, boats may be accompanied by a lock-keeper, generally in company with one or several other boats, to proceed through a series of locks: this is accompanied navigation.

On the automated locks, it’s the boater who controls the lock operating cycle. The lock-keeper only intervenes in case of difficulties, called up on the terminal on the lock-side control cabinetor on the control monitor.

L’éclusier et l’usager terrestre

Parce qu’ils doivent assurer leurs missions sur le terrain, la plupart des éclusiers logent dans les maisons éclusières situées à proximité des ouvrages. C’est leur lieu de vie... et de travail.

Like any individual, they are entitled to respect for their privacy and for vie privée ainsi que du domaine qui est le leur. Respectez-les, comme vous souhaitez qu’on respecte les votres!

Under item Publications, download the brochure "Share and respect the canal" (in French)