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Safety boost for Thames leisure boaters

The new leisure websiteThe Port of London Authority (PLA), supported by British Waterways and the Environment Agency, has launched a safety campaign to help leisure boaters make the most of the Thames.

Targeted at all types of recreational river users from super yachts to kayaks and narrowboats,  the drive highlights the dangers of travelling unprepared through a busy, commercial, tidal river.

The initiative centres on a new website - www.boatingonthethames.co.uk – which helps boaters plan their trips. It uses films to highlight regulations, warning signs and potential hazards on the river, and gives guidance on how to navigate safely, particularly between Tower Bridge and Westminster.

The PLA's chief harbour master, David Snelson, said: "Travelling on the Thames through central London gives a unique view of the capital.  But it is also one of the most challenging stretches of river in the country. It has a large tidal range, strong currents, lots of bridges and obstructions, and heavy traffic.

"Last year we saw a number of incidents where people were not as well prepared as they might have been.

 "With this new website and our updated 2010 Recreational Users Guide - each presented in a clear, easy-to-follow format - there is no reason why boaters can’t plan for an enjoyable, safe trip on the Thames."

In addition to the films, the website features an interactive map, news, events and a facility for river users to post their shots of the river.

Harry Whelan, centre manager and kayak instructor at Chelsea's Cremorne Riverside, said: "The Thames is a fantastic piece of water. It offers some great experiences. This new website will help leisure users make the most of it responsibly."

Michael Shefras, from the Association of Thames Yacht Clubs added: "I welcome this initiative by the PLA to make its services more easily accessible to all classes of recreational users."

Gareth Stephens from British Waterways said: "The new website and guide will be particularly useful to boaters accessing the Thames from one of the tidal locks that British Waterways manages along the river. Anyone who is making the spectacular journey from the inland canal system and onto the River Thames would benefit from viewing the film. Even if you have done the journey before, there are new issues and regulations that apply to the river that need to be considered."

More information from: Martin Garside, Port of London Authority, Tel: 01474 562366.

Notes to Editors:

  • the Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for navigational safety and related matters on 150km (95 miles) of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington
  • London is the UK's second largest port, handling about 45 million tonnes of cargo each year.
  • London also has a busy passenger boat trade for tourists and commuters and is a popular destination for international passenger cruise ships.
  • The tidal Thames is also used widely by those with small recreational craft of many types
  • Photographs of leisure activity on the tidal Thames are available on request from Martin Garside, PLA. Tel: 01474 562366.