Cruising on the Tidal Thames can be a most rewarding experience whether exploring the upper river or as the starting point to a cross channel passage. A safe trip requires a sound knowledge of the effects of the tidal stream, including the resultant currents and variable depths.
The tidal Thames is a unique river, running over 90 miles from the sea to Teddington, with many varied challenges along its length. In the upper river between Putney and Teddington the channel is narrow with shallow depths, low bridges and many small recreational craft. The middle river, between Putney and the Thames Barrier, is very busy with tugs and tows, fast commuter ferries and day tripping boats all sharing the relatively narrow channel, which is tightly packed with the central London bridges. Once through the Thames Barrier the river widens and changes to a commercial port, with the vessels becoming much larger and constrained to operating within the channel. These differing challenges mean effective passage planning is vital and the information provided here should assist the recreational user in safely navigating the Tidal Thames.
The Thames is one of the busiest waterways in the country with a wide range of both recreational and commercial users. As such certain speed restrictions and limits have been put in place for your own safety and that of others.
Please refer to Port of London Thames Byelaws 2012 for the full limitations, however in summary;
- vessels are not to exceed a speed of 8 knots above Wandsworth Bridge, in all creeks linked to the tidal Thames and off Southend. The limit is advisory at Coryton and Thurrock when gas tankers are berthed.
- There is a mandatory 12 knot speed limit which applies to vessels navigating above Margaretness unless a valid Certificate of Compliance has been issued by the Port of London Authority for the areas between Margaretness and St Saviour’s Dock, and Lambeth Bridge and Wandsworth Bridge.
The guidance on this page covers the entire river, for local information please get in touch using the contact details below.