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Vessel Licensing - Coaching Launches

Coaching Launches - Wash Testing

Wash, and the effects of wash, can be a major danger on the tidal Thames, especially in the main rowing and leisure section above Wandsworth Bridge. This area is subject to a strict eight-knot speed limit, which applies to all powered craft.

However, under the Port of London Thames Byelaws, rowing coaching launches are permitted to exceed this speed limit when escorting a rowing vessel for training purposes or during a boat race or regatta.

Anyone wishing to operate a coaching launch for these purposes, and where the craft will carry more than two people, must first undertake a PLA Wash Test. This ensures that any such vessel does not produce excessive and potentially dangerous wash when exceeding the eight-knot speed limit.

The PLA Wash Tests are subject to a moderate administration charge of £20 per vessel and will check the vessel's wash at varying speeds. We would encourage you to contact the Port of London Authority (PLA) Marine River Inspector to arrange a mutually convenient time. Requests for assessment are to be made by telephone to 07711 640 095 (08:00 hours to 17:00 hours) or by email: HarbourServiceUpper.District@pla.co.uk.

Once approved the wash assessments will remain valid for the life of the vessel or until the vessel is subject to a major modification, such as the installation of a different outboard engine. In the event of a proven case of excessive wash against a coaching launch, the wash approval may be withdrawn at the discretion of the Harbour Master.

Filming from Coaching Launches

Any and all professional filming or photography on the water with a professional or commercial film/tv/camera crew/ photographer requires a PLA filming licence (whether or not a financial transaction occurs).

Boats owned by clubs (including coaching boats, safety boats and tinfish etc) should NEVER be used for professional/commercial filming UNLESS the vessel is licensed by the PLA as a passenger vessel.

A very cautious approach needs to be taken with any filming on the River Thames. This includes any filming by a club for training/analysis purposes etc. However, ‘training filming’ by an appropriate person directly attached to a rowing club – eg using a GoPro to be used for technique/training purposes would not normally need a filming licence. It must be emphasised that:

• filming should never impede the ability of the person at the helm to navigate or to keep a good lookout at all times (in other words it would be considered similar to using a phone whilst driving!)

• therefore filming should be done, either:

i. by a second appropriate person, who is a member of the rowing club, or

ii. from a GoPro rig or similar attached to the boat/appropriate clothing, or

iii. safely from the shore and/or safely from bridges over the river, etc.