Overview of Applicable PLA Navigation Rules
Right Hand Rule
The whole stretch of the tidal Thames follows starboard or right hand rule (note that this is the right hand side of the forward-facing cox, not your right hand side as you sit in the boat travelling backwards!).
Other than rowing boats, all craft go up the Middlesex side of the river and down the Surrey side. Please speak to an experienced member of the club, or the club’s safety advisor, Noel Durkin, if you are unsure what this means! Please also be aware that as the river is shallow at the edges, larger craft often have to keep to the central part of the river (particularly at low tide).
In Shore Zone (or Special Rowing Lane)
Between Putney and Kew the river meanders around 3 long bends, around Barnes, Chiswick and Kew. So that rowers do not have to take the outside of these long bends against the strong tidal stream, a special concession has been made through the creation of a so-called “inshore zone” or “special rowing lane” along the short side of each of the bends, which allows rowers and their coaching launches to take the short route.
As the point of this lane was to benefit craft going against the tidal flow, the direction of traffic reverses according to what the tide is doing. This is illustrated by the following diagrams (click each one for an enlarged version):
Inshore zone on the Surrey side
Inshore zone on the Middlesex side
The larger darker arrows on each diagram indicate normal (non-rowing) traffic. The lighter arrows show rowing traffic. Notice how the rowing traffic sticks closer to the edge of the river. Also notice how the crews going against the tide are segregated from the other traffic.
Further details on the key rules and crossing points on the stretch of water we row on when boating from MAABC are on the following page.
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